It’s that time already. Students are heading back to class. For many, heading back to school is unpleasant. The experience can increase depression or anxiety and leave students feeling terrible about the start of the semester. The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce these feelings.
In looking back on how I used to experience back to school, I vividly remember the dread. I knew back to school meant losing the freedom and easy-going nature of summer. It meant stress, frustration, and forcing myself to work on things I didn’t really care about. For others, back to school means test anxiety, self-doubt, panic attacks, worry about interacting with others, pressure, insecurity, the list goes on and on. Oh, and let’s not forget, students are trying to manage all this in the midst of a pandemic.
What can I do to help the transition?
If you know a bit about our practice, you probably know we employ Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to assist clients. CBT can be incredibly helpful for easing the back to school transition. It contains two parts. The first is examining your thoughts about back to school. What’s likely happening is you don’t feel great about heading back to class, so you’re telling yourself all sorts of pessimistic messages about what the experience will be. Those messages are fueling negative emotions. Those feelings, in turn, are piling on additional pessimistic messages, and before you know it, you’ve got a feedback loop between negative thoughts and emotions that’s hard to break. We can train you to recognize your pessimistic thoughts and dismantle them so they don’t carry as much power. CBT can show you how to see the experience of back to school in a more objective way instead of the horror story your brain is tricking you into believing. If you see the experience of back to school more realistically, you won’t be feeling those intensely negative emotions as a result.
The second part of CBT is looking at your behaviors and making adjustments to your actions. There may be issues with time management, procrastination, organizing, problem solving, etc. that are contributing to feeling badly about back to school. With CBT we can assess how behaviors are serving you and make adjustments to them to increase your confidence and improve school outcomes.
If you’re worried about back to school and want to work on it in counseling, I’d love to chat with you. Please give our office a call, and we can discuss further.