By Mary Scruggs
Oh boy, back to school! How exciting and terrifying. As a general statement, I think it’s safe to say that most of us are ready for more of a routine and the school year is the best time for that. But we don’t know what we don’t know. If the last year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that life happens while we’re making other plans. Going into the school year I am sure that many students are hopeful for a full year of no masks and no virtual learning. I am sure that parents are excited to be back at the office where they get a break from teaching. This last year I have worked with quite a few teens who have developed or experienced increased social anxiety. This isn’t just teens though, it’s adults, children, parents, professionals, and even dogs! So, what can you do to mentally prepare for this school year? What tools do you have to manage the stress of the unknown? Many of my teen clients and I have practiced mindfulness meditation, emotion regulation, cognitive restructuring, and more to help build up their coping skills set.
I hope that you and your family know that all your emotions are normal. I know that we often try to remember to be positive and grateful, but sometimes we must appreciate the pain we experience. Pain is a function in our system that notifies us that something needs to change. Whether it be on a societal, familial, or individual level, it’s so important to first recognize where the pain is coming from and how much control you have over managing it. Self-awareness is self-knowledge is self-power. All this to say, it’s okay to have mixed feelings about this school year. It’s okay to have anxiety around being in social situations. The question is – what will/can you do about it? Keep the conversations going and please approach your children with empathy and open arms.