Don't Deal Well With Change? Me Either.

Kate Griem

September 4th, 2018

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Here are some simple, effective things you can do to make going back to school easier—and to make your life a little better once school starts.

For me, Sunday nights are tough. Fridays hold the promise of a whole two free days, stretching out almost endlessly. Come Saturday, the weekend is still just beginning, and you are determined to enjoy it. Sunday morning, it’s still easy to use the coming day as a buffer between you and everything you have to get done before school starts again.

 

But on Sunday nights, everything comes crashing down. You’re forced to finally face the mountains of homework and obligations you had been denying for the past few days, and you mentally have to deal with the fact that five whole days stand between you and real relaxation or free time. I’m sure many of you have experienced this situation as well.

 

For me, these past few days have been like all the Sunday night meltdowns and panics I have ever experienced, combined and multiplied. My body and my mind are freaking out, and I’m not ready for the stresses, deadlines, rainy Tuesdays, and extra-long commutes that come with school. To put it simply: I’m really, really bad with transitions. Some mix of denial and worry combines to produce dread and I feel physically averse to the idea of stepping through my school’s doors once again.

 

Realizing that changing my mindset would be necessary to make going back to school seem feasible, here are some strategies that have worked for me in the past:

 

Dissolving those mental blocks

  • Make a list of everything that’s bothering you or that you’re stressed about; acknowledge and understand it. Then, identify and document at least one concrete thing you can do to aid or amend each item on the list.

    • For example: “I’m stressed that I’m going to have to spend so much time on the subway again.” Solution: “I’m going go get podcast recommendations from friends and make my commute more fun.”

  • Make a list of everything you’re looking forward to that comes with the start of school. How can you increase and emphasize the presence of these things in your life?

    • For example: “I’m excited for fall--it’s my favorite season.” Increases the presence of this thing in your life: “I’m going to walk home through the park instead of taking the bus/walking on the sidewalk.”

  • Clean out your drawers and clean your room -- starting the year off in an uncluttered space will also clear out your mind.

  • Create a calendar -- either online or on paper -- with all important dates coming up (a friend’s birthday, days off of school, meetings you know you have, any deadlines, when your orientation is, dates of a sports competition). Knowing what you have coming up will help you figure out how to be prepared when that event comes.

  • Make a playlist -- whether it’s for your commute or just for casual listening, compiling the songs that represent summer to you -- that will never fail to make you calm or make you smile -- is invaluable.

 

On the more practical side

  • Start waking up a little earlier than you usually would in the summer, but not too early -- still sleep in, but make sure that your sleep schedule isn’t 6 hours off from what it will be during the school year. For me, at least, the earlier I wake up, the earlier I can fall asleep, and vice versa.

  • Figure out what you need to get before school starts -- did your backpack break at the end of the year? Do you have school supplies?

 

The day of

  • Go to bed early the night before the first day. If you’re a night owl or have a hard time falling asleep, unplug (especially from social media) earlier than you usually would, and hang out in your room either reading or watching a favorite show until you’re tired rather than scrolling through instagram or texting friends. For me, relaxation time can be just as important and fulfilling as sleep.

  • Pick an outfit and pack your bag the night before -- this way, you won’t be stressed out, second-guessing yourself, or running late in the morning.

 

Some general tips for mental well-being

  • Start a journal -- I’ve found that a problem that seems really big/scary in my head becomes a lot smaller once I write it down and put it into proportion.

  • Try meditating when you can. It might sound silly (it did to me), and it might not ultimately be for you, but it has a multitude of benefits and it’s really good for alleviating stress!

  • Exercise -- whether you’re on a sports team, go for walks and runs on your own, or download an app and do nightly 7-minute workouts, I can’t stress enough that endorphins are pretty much the greatest thing in the world. For me, my mental well-being is impacted more than my physical health by exercise. Do it for you, not for anyone else!

  • Invest! In! Self! Care! Take some time for yourself -- listen to music, curl up with a pet and eat some ice cream under a blanket, watch a show that makes you laugh, sleep in -- esp if you’re feeling really upset/down -- remember that you don’t owe anyone anything, and make sure to put your well-being first. If there’s a ton of pressure on your shoulders, is it coming from you or from someone else? Do you feel like you spend a lot of your life trying to make other people happy? If so, make a change.

 

Change is a part of life. Denial works in the short term, but unfortunately it doesn’t in the long term (though I wish it did) because time will always continue to pass. That test that you’re dreading? Yes, it’s going to happen. But yes, you will also get through it; whether the outcome is good or bad, it’s inevitable. Regardless of how much you deny it late on that dreary Sunday night, Monday’s coming is inevitable, and it’s never as bad as it seems.