August 15, 2022

Practical Ways to Preserve Mental Wellness This Back-to-School Season

Selecting the first day of school outfit. Finding out who’s in your class. Meeting new teachers. Reconnecting with classmates after a summer apart. Picking extra-curricular activities. These are all common back-to-school jitters I recall when I reflect on my time as a student. Including a few years ago when attending my Master’s program as an adult. Yes, change can be scary, for adults and kids alike. 

A new school year goes hand in hand with change, often accompanied by a wide range of emotions. Whether you and your family experience joy, worry, excitement, fear, or otherwise, remember that what you are feeling is normal. 

Acceptance is an important attitude of mindfulness to keep in mind when approaching the transition period ahead. This will be a time of unknowns, adjustments, and heightened emotions. Acknowledging this reality helps us see more clearly and empowers us to be with what is, rather than what we think should be. When we say yes to life just as it is, rather than resisting, we’re better able to do what needs to be done and become more open to possibilities. 

How to Take Care of Mental Wellness with Mindfulness While Navigating Back-to-School Season

Talk It Out

Hold space for open conversations with your kids. Give them the generosity of time to really tune into what they share about their feelings. Listening mindfully by giving children your full attention will increase their willingness to talk through what they are experiencing, or ask for help when needed. It’s a vulnerable time for everyone, so if difficult emotions are present, acknowledge them with kind attention. Validate that what they are feeling is perfectly normal. 

Model Healthy Coping

Practice self-care. Your ability to manage stress with healthy habits is not only beneficial to you, but also models the behavior for your children. Minding your sleep hygiene, engaging in positive self-talk, and making time for movement as well as relaxation are all good ways to care for your mental health in times of challenge, while role modeling positive examples for your children. 

Lion’s Breath is an aptly named practice to reset the breath that you can introduce to your kids (or yourself!) to release energy, stabilize mood and have a little fun while you’re at it. 

  1. Get into a comfortable seated position. 
  2. Press your hands on your knees with fingers spread wide. 
  3. Take a deep breath in through the nose. 
  4. Open your mouth wide with exaggeration, stretching your tongue down to your chin. 
  5. Breathe out forcefully with a “ha” sound. 

Cultivate Gratitude

Create balance from the stressors by intentionally noticing little wins, acts of kindness, humorous moments, or feelings of joy in everyday life. Switch it up from asking your kids “What did you learn today?” to “What are you grateful for today?”. Gratitude, the skill of acknowledging the good, is an effective way to counter stress and contributes to greater happiness and well-being.

Prepare for What’s to Come

It may also be helpful to do some prep work to get your family off to a strong start. You can try getting your children in the mindset for school by creating a countdown on the family calendar so that it’s not a shock to the system. Making gradual adjustments to schedules that align with school season sleep times and mealtimes can also help normalize the change. 

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Familiarize yourself with the support available to you within your community, family and friend network, and the school system. If asking for help doesn’t come easily to you, you’re not the only one. You might find eM Life’s 7 Days of Asking for Help on-demand program useful. 

To learn more about how mindfulness can help you and your family embrace the new school year, check out the Mindfully Return to School on-demand program.  

Written by Annie Slaby