Summer is, sadly, coming to a close. Some people have already gone back to school, and soon students from around the country will join them. Back to school time can be a stressful period: you might be nervous about a new roommate or new professors, maybe this’ll be your first time away from home, or maybe you’re scared of inching towards graduation. These anxiety-inducing feelings are only magnified if you are neurodivergent or mentally ill in any way.
However, there are ways to make the transition back to school far smoother. Here are my tips!
1. Adjust your sleeping schedule sooner rather than later
If you’re anything like me, your sleeping schedule is a total mess. You might stay up late and sleep late into the morning or afternoon. However, you’re going to be seriously discombobulated if you don’t adjust your schedule until the night before your first day. To make the switch easier, try laying down for bed just a little bit earlier each night until you’re in a comfortable routine. Don’t worry if you can’t fall asleep right away. Try occupying your mind by reading or doing a mindless but pleasant task. Just try to avoid screens and social media as much as possible at bedtime.
2. Plan your first-day outfit the night before
Everyone knows that the first day of classes can be the most anxiety-inducing. Picking out your outfit early will eliminate one potential stressor right away. You can use the extra time that frees up in the morning to do some light exercise to help wake you up and energize you before class.
3. Make a playlist of your favorite songs to listen to before class
I find that music tends to relax me or cheer me up, depending on what I choose for that day. So, listening to some music to pump you up before class can make it much more bearable.
4. Plan something fun to do after class
If you’re not a fan of school or you’re anxious about a class in particular, plan something fun afterwards so you can look forward to it. That way, when you feel nervous, you can think about all the good things you have to look forward to later. Some activities you might try are: yoga, watching your favorite show on Netflix, calling someone you miss from home, or planning a DIY spa night!
5. Set several alarms for the first day
If you struggle to wake up in the morning, you might want to set several alarms so you don’t oversleep or end up late. If you use your phone as an alarm, try to make your alarm sound something pleasant.
6. Make a travel “emergency kit” to keep in your backpack/purse
If you’re prone to having panic attacks/dissociation/psychosis or anything similar, having a little kit on hand to help ground and relax you will help you while you’re in class. That way, you don’t have to ever worry about going without certain things you need during a mental health emergency when you’re away from your dorm/home. Carry items such as any medications that you may need, stim toys, phone numbers of your emergency contacts, aspirin, gum if you find chewing on things relaxes you, and anything else that you find comforting.
7. Keep a planner
And no, it doesn’t have to have a beautiful aesthetic if you find that to be too much work. Your planner should make things easier for you, not harder, so if making your planner pretty stresses you out, just keep it simple. Or, if having a super decorative planner makes you happy, do that. The important thing is to just have a place for you to write down important dates and assignments, especially if you tend to forget things easily. And be sure to write things down immediately so you don’t forget about it.
8. Get familiar with your school’s mental health resources
Many colleges have free counseling appointments, clubs for people interested in mental health activism, and activities tailored for neurodivergent individuals. Get familiar with what your school offers by checking out your school’s website so you can take full advantage of it all!
Even though school can be stressful, I hope you all find some enjoyment during this school year! I wish you the best of luck!
Question of the Day: Let’s kick it off with a bit of positivity. What are you most looking forward to during this coming school year? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and follow!