It is almost time for back to school. Whether you are a college student going away for the first time or a middle schooler getting ready to enter high school — change can be hard. Really hard.
Lets be honest there are a lot of ways to look at back to school — you could look at the parents and the stress (or relief) they experience sending their children off, or you could look at the child/teen/young adult and some of the things that might be going through their always-moving brains. For the sake of this blog post we will focus on the children (mom and dad, you will come later, promise.).
Tips for Your Child/Young Adult as They Return to the Books:
- Healthy Habits — the beginning of a new school year is the perfect time to start fresh. Make developing healthy habits a goal from the start. Come up with a plan — homework and projects get started right after a snack after school, or during study hall. Bedtime promptly by 10 p.m. every night.
- Get Sleep — Summer was fun and there may not have been any real schedule to follow but now it is time to get back in the groove. Set a bedtime and stick with it, no matter what. Sleep is crucial to your overall health, and especially your mental health. It keeps you on top of your game. It helps with your concentration, your mood, and making wise decisions overall.
- Create a support system — Know where you resources are. Turn to the school counseling office if you need to. It is there for you. Talk to your friends, your parents or a trusted family member. Take some mental health time if you need it.
- Reframe failure — school — life — is intimidating no matter what stage of it you are in. Change the way you think about failure and take some of the pressure off. Begin to think of it as “a lesson learned on the way to success” and your possibilities become endless. Failure is temporary and if you learn how to overcome obstacles in a positive way you only become stronger. It is ok to make mistakes. In fact, many would argue that mistakes are crucial to success.
- Think about how you cope — Recognize that change can be a trigger for lots of mental distress. It is ok to feel “not like yourself” for a short while, but it is important to use the tools/resources around you to get to a better place. Coping mechanisms are huge. Think about how you cope and recognize any problem areas.
School Days Can be What You Make of Them
Do what you can to stay healthy mentally and everything will fall into place where it should. It is ok — in fact, it is necessary — to take time for YOU — so that you can go to school ready to learn and be successful.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.