How to deal with normal school anxiety amidst Covid
Feeling anxious at school is not a new feeling for many students. Over 4 million children aged 3-17 in the US have diagnosed anxiety and 31.9% of teens aged 13-18 have an anxiety disorder. While school closures have led to feelings of depression and anxiety for many students during the COVID-19 pandemic, returning to school is also causing many children and teens to feel anxious. For those who struggle with the school environment and may feel anxious about various school-related matters, from socializing to tests, going back to school means further concern. Dealing with "normal" anxiety at school is already difficult, but how can students navigate COVID-19 regulations on top?
Some children might feel self-conscious on their return to school. Wearing a mask can still feel uncomfortable and some children might feel it draws attention to them, even if everyone else is wearing one. They might also feel more self-conscious than usual after being out of school for so long. Not having had the time to socialize with others face-to-face, especially in a new school, has affected the self-esteem of many children. Teenagers may be self-conscious about the changes their bodies are experiencing, especially when these things have taken place at home over the last year.
One thing that can help is realizing that many others are feeling the same. All students are in the same boat with face masks and other requirements, as well as having not seen their friends or peers for a long time. It will take time to adjust to being back in the school environment. Talking about the changes taking place allows children and teens to share their feelings.
Dealing with Shyness
Shy children can struggle to communicate their thoughts and feelings at the best of times. They might feel timid about speaking up at school about COVID-19 guidelines and requirements, such as social distancing. Even more confident students might find it difficult to ask others to follow the guidelines. At the same time, it might feel embarrassing to have someone else ask them to move away. Combined with general anxiety about the coronavirus and the possibility of catching it or passing it on to others, this can be a difficult problem to deal with. Building confidence and encouraging students to speak up for their own safety can help them to approach the issue in the right way.
It can help to learn how to deal with negative emotions using techniques such as mindfulness. Being able to let negative emotions pass you by is a great way to approach an anxiety-inducing situation in a more logical way. Instead of these feelings becoming overwhelming and preventing action from being taken, they can simply be acknowledged and allowed to happen and dissipate. Allowing these feelings to take place can help them to leave more quickly compared to trying to ignore them or concentrating on them for too long.
Anxiety at school is already tough to deal with and COVID-19 may exacerbate it. However, there are ways to deal with anxiety and feel more comfortable. Bridge to Balance can help children and teens address their anxiety with both individual and group therapy.