Photo of a group of children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.

Bracing for Back to School

Managing Stress and Anxiety Sending Your Kids to School During the Pandemic

2020 has proven to be one of the most challenging times in our modern history and it’s not over yet. Everyday, we are faced with issues affecting our physical and mental health as well as a declining economy and serious pressing social justice issues. It’s enough to send the most stable-minded individual over the edge. Even Michelle Obama recently shared her struggles with depression in 2020 on her Spotify podcast!   

On top of all that, we are about to enter another transition period with students heading back to school. The preparation and thought of this can naturally put an increased burden of uncertainty, stress and feelings of anxiety on parents and families. 

However, despite the tornado of unpleasant circumstances we can’t control, there are resources and tools available to combat feelings of uneasiness that come along with back to school anxiety. 

Five tips on how to manage stress during back to school (not only parent stress and anxiety but also your child’s worries)

1. Focus on the things you can control

Determine what things you can control over what you can’t. For example, you can control your children’s participation in extracurricular activities, what your home-life looks like, and the social gatherings you participate in. 

2. Reduce the amount of social media and news you consume

It’s important to stay informed but also remember to take a break from social media and the news. Information found online and social media can increase anxiety in any age. Keep up-to-date on the need-to-know info, but try to reduce your screen time. All ages need time to “rest” after being connected and busy throughout the day.

3. Make “mask wearing” cool and fun

This works especially well with younger children who may be struggling with wearing a mask all day. You can do a DIY project, or get a mask that has a design of something they like, for example a favourite animal or superhero. Talk to them about how great they look and try to make it special.

4. Schedule in quality time

Family time was increased amongst most families during quarantine. Family time will be reduced with the responsibilities that come with going back to school. Try to continue scheduling family time to keep the attachments strong and help reduce anxiety. We know that attachment allows a child to rest within their environment.

5. Maintain routine and schedule

People (especially youth) thrive when they have a schedule and routine. The serious repercussions of the pandemic hit fast and  threw daily routines off. Eventually, new routines and schedules were established while children were off and parents were working from home. Back to school means establishing new routines and schedules in order for life to function smoothly without added stress.

Ask for support

It is important to try and take a proactive approach when managing stress and anxiety. Think about what you can do now to preserve your sanity, reserve space in your emotional giving tank, and prevent the stress you’re feeling from turning into more chronic physical symptoms. 

Managing stress and anxiety can be a challenge and you are not alone. Reaching out for support can have significant positive impacts on your mental health. As a psychologist I have been witness to the stress and anxiety that the pandemic has created amongst all populations. I can be that support for anyone looking to gain more coping strategies during this difficult, stressful time.

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