3 Mindful tips to curb back to school anxiety

Fear of the unkown. You don’t have to suffer!


If you are headed back to school or are a parent sending your baby off, there is likely anxiety for you both. Having a few tricks up your sleeve for those moments when you think your heart might pound right out of your chest can make all the difference.

Mindful Tip #1 Preparedness


Whether you are on your way to your first Kindergarten classroom or your first year of highschool, being prepared minimizes the opportunity for triggers. This includes health and hygiene. Make sure you get enough sleep – have plenty of time to fully wake up and get yourself prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally. We’ve all overslept only to franticly throw ourselves together and rush out the door. Starting out as a ball of anxiety you are guarteed to carry these feelings into the rest of your day. If it happens (and it happens to all of us at some point) take a minute of silence, close your eyes and slow your breath down. Intentionally breathe a little slower for 60 seconds. This is a great way to slow your heart rate and take your power back. Think about it this way – What you are experiencing, you are magnifying and attracting more of. You would rather be 5 minutes late and put together than on time and frantic.


Put something healthy in your body. When your health is well taken care of you feel energetic and confident; the opposite of anxious. Did you know that the bacteria in your gut is highly related to what feelings you experience at the emotional level, and is sometimes reffered to as the second brain. For example, when anxious your stomach my feel bubbly and uneasy. You can minimize some of this by filling it up with good stuff. Fresh fruits and veggies, living foods are best for gut health.


Know your routes. Take a tour of your school and bus routes, make yourself familiar. Knowing where you are going and some of what to expect greatly reduces the fear of the unknown. Preparedness fosters confidence – by being prepared and thinking ahead you can cut out so many opportunities for anxiety to sneak in.


Mindful Tip #2 Ground Yourself


Being prepared helps, but lets face it, we can’t plan for every encounter. So what can you do when you feel anxiety sneaking in? When you are experiencing anxiety you are fully in your head and disconnected from the body. All you know is that the walls are closing in around you and you might die. Chances are you won’t actually die. Finding ways to ground yourself back in the moment and into your body will stop feelings of unease in their tracks.


Use your senses. To ground yourself just use your senses. Find 3 or 4 things you can touch, smell, taste, hear, and see. This will help you to quickly return to the here and now and relax back into your body, taking your focus away from whatever is triggering you. Keep some of your favorite gum handy (for smell and taste), carry a fuzzy keychain or clicky pen (to feel and hear), really you can use anything but it is helpful to already know what your going for since you will likely already feel in a panic. It is a good idea to practice this exercise regularly so it becomes natural and you will think to do it when feelings of distress occur. 


Mindful Tip #3 Breathe productively


I can guarantee that when you experience anxiety you begin to breathe super shallow or may quit breathing alltogether. I am 28 and just learned to breathe productively a year ago, did I mention that I have to practice every…single…day. It is important to practice this in times of calm so you will know to do it when stressed. Mindful breathing connects the mind to body, allowing you to be aware of the nonphysical feelings you are experiencing. Discomfort is the body’s way of speaking to us, by practicing productive breathing we break down the language barrier. The more you do it the more natural it will become for you.


But how?


Take some time to play with this. Start by taking your focus to your unconcious breath, is it shallow? high in the chest? fast? slow? Just notice what it’s doing for a minute or two. Once you are familiar you can begin to mindfully change it – Through your nose breathe in slowly. Fill the lungs completely, then hold it for a second before exhaling through the nose. The goal is to breathe deep into the chest and belly, as opposed to high in the chest. Practice this for 5 minutes or so until you get the hang of it. Then, let your breath return back to it’s unconcious state. Do this often, 2 or 3 times a day.


I know breathing seems super subtle but this is by far the simplest and most powerful way to control your state. Creating a healthy relationship with your breath can absolutely change your life.


Going back to school doesn’t have to be rough! Prepare yourself, stay centered, and just BREATHE.


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