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Strategies for Returning to School After Anxiety Breaks

Returning to School

Girl returning to school

Heading back to school after taking time off for anxiety can feel like stepping into a brand-new world.

But with the right approach, there are strategies that you can employ to make your transition back to school smoother than you think it will be. Whether it’s catching up on missed work or fitting back in with friends, these tips are your trusty guide to getting back on track without the stress.

Start Slow and Steady

When you first think about going back to school, it might seem a bit scary. To make things easier, try taking it one step at a time.

Think about visiting your school briefly before your first full day back. This can help you get used to being there again without the pressure of classes or homework.

Another good step is to slowly get back into a school-like routine at home. Set your alarm for school time, have regular meal times, and set aside time for studying and breaks. This way, your body and brain can prepare for the school schedule, making the real deal less of a shock to your system and a break in your routine.

Talk with Your Teachers

Before you dive back into classes, have a chat with your teachers.

Let them know why you’ve stepped away from school for a time and what they can do to help you now. You could ask for some catch-up sessions, or maybe even for some extra time on assignments at the start. Teachers want to see you do well, and they’ll appreciate knowing the best way to support you.

Reaching out for help isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a really brave thing to do. Knowing when you need a hand and asking for it is a skill that’ll help you a lot in life, not just in school.

Set Goals You Can Reach

As you get back into school life, it’s super important to set goals you can actually hit.

Working with your school counselor to choose classes and a workload that feels right for you can make all the difference. These goals should be like steps on a ladder—not too far apart so you can reach each one without a stretch.

And remember, the goals you set for yourself aren’t set in stone. If you find your goals to be too tough or too easy, you can always adjust your plan. Your main priority should be to keep moving forward, even if that’s in the form of baby steps.

Keep Using What Works

All those cool tricks you learned to manage your anxiety? They’re still going to be very useful as you navigate student life.

Whether it’s deep breathing when a test is coming up or breaking down big projects into smaller bits, keep those techniques in your daily backpack.

Sometimes, the simplest things like taking a few deep breaths can turn a stressful moment into an “I’ve got this” moment. It’s all about keeping calm and carrying on.

Lean on Your Friends

Going back to school isn’t just about classes and homework.

It’s also about hanging out with your friends. Keep your friends close and don’t be shy to talk to them when you’re finding things tough. They can be your cheer squad, ready to help you laugh and keep things light.

Friends are the family you choose, and they can make even the worst days feel a bit brighter. Plus, helping each other out is what friendship is all about.

Celebrate Your Wins

Every time you hit one of your goals, give yourself a high-five.

Made it through a full day of classes? Awesome. Handed in an assignment? Great job! These might seem like small things, but they’re actually a huge deal when you’ve been away for a while. By celebrating these wins, you are reminding yourself that you’re making progress. It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being a little better every day.

Feel like you need some extra support? Reach out to the Anxiety Institute—we’re here to help you every step of the way.

About the Author

Headshot: Daniel Villiers, PhD
Dr. Dan brings over ten years of experience working with children, adolescents, young adults and families in a range of clinical and educational settings.