How to overcome the back-to-school blues

Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself and your family for the new academic year

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By Delna Mistry Anand

Published: Fri 11 Aug 2023, 7:44 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Aug 2023, 7:03 PM

It’s that time of the year again; almost the end of summer and ‘back-to-school’ sales remind us of the new academic year that’s about to begin.

Undoubtedly, returning to school with a new bag of books can be an exciting time. However, for many, it may provoke feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. It is normal and highly common for students to feel nervous at the start of a new academic year. It could be social anxiety, vacation inertia, or apprehension about moving to the next grade. Whatever the reason, if your child is feeling the ‘back to school’ blues, he/she isn’t alone.

Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself and your family for the onslaught of the new academic year and return to school feeling confident and relaxed:

1.Positive mindset:

Take some time to remember all the good things to look forward to; what excites you the most? Let the energy of this outweigh that of what makes you nervous.


Try to pinpoint what’s making them most nervous about the new year. Often, it’s just the end of a relaxed holiday routine that they dread. If it’s more than that, address the issue, together.

3.Adjust your body clock:

Sleeping in late, eating out, etc. are a part of the summer holidays. A few days before school starts, get back into the rhythm of sleeping and waking up on time. Make sure to feel completely rested before you start.

4.Spark joy:

Make shopping for new supplies (school bag, uniform, shoes) a fun exercise for you and your child. Buy materials that spark joy.

5.Vision board:

A vision board is a collage of images and words that represent your goals and intentions for the new year. You can do this digitally or on a large sheet of paper; write down your goals and aspirations, find pictures that resonate with these goals, paste them, caption them, and then put them up in a place where you’ll see them often, like a visual reminder.

6.Organise your space:

Take some time to organise your study space, room, bag, and books to help you get back in the ‘zone’ mentally. A clean and tidy workspace is key.

7.Plan ahead:

Shivani Kumar, Director of Admissions at Unihawk Global, stresses the importance of planning. “It’s important for students to organise themselves right from the start; be it their study material, classes, extra-curricular activities, or interests. The older students must have their university application planning in mind from the very start so that they don’t have to rush when closer to deadlines. And the younger ones can plan which school events they wish to engage in, based on their area of interests”, she adds.

8.Build relations and connect:

Making an effort to connect with peers and classmates can help immensely. Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and Mindfulness-based CBT Expert Dr Shefali Batra advises her young clients to allow their minds to accept the challenge of engaging in a new activity or club once school reopens.

Prioritising positive relationships is one of the best ways to improve student outcomes in many areas — not only do positive relationships lead to better academic performance, but they also promote healthy development in many other areas of their lives. “For senior kids, engage in Model United Nations (MUN) and other networking means to connect with peers,” she says. “Always remember that your parents (and extended family) are there for you,” she adds.

9.Check and revise:

Go through your notes for any pending homework and check the notes that need revision.

10.Let’s talk about it:

If your child is more anxious than usual, avoiding the issue or being generally positive about it won’t exactly help. It’s important to address the emotion. Children — especially teenagers may not be the easiest to communicate with, but it’s necessary that they feel heard. Anxiety is very real. Help your children steer through these emotions, either by showing them ways to manage anxiety or talking to a professional if needed. Simple tools like breathing or journaling can be introduced.

Dealing with change may not be easy, but we all must experience it. Only when we accept and embrace it, can we see how to make the most of it and truly live life in the moment.

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