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Austin: Coping With Back-to-School Anxiety

It’s that time of year, back to school. With that, pre-performance jitters are also here. Much like the Olympians who performed in Tokyo, back to school always comes with a mix of excitement and anxiety. So, how do we cope as families?

Here are some ideas: Talk about hopes and fears with your children. Help them (and yourself) develop a picture of both the positive and negative visions in the imagination.

Back-to-school jitters are especially strong given that uncertainty has become the new normal as we live with COVID-19. Just as we were imagining a world where COVID-19 didn’t rule our everyday lives, we begin to realize that it is here to stay.

With that, normal back-to-school uncertainty has been exacerbated. We should expect that the anxiety and fear that we’ve all experienced so many times in the last 18 months are triggered — including for children.

In order to cope with this stressor, we should remind ourselves of what we have learned. Information and preparation are extremely helpful in times of uncertainty.

Dr. Harlan Austin is a performance optimization psychologist with Howard Head Sports Medicine.

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