How to handle back-to-school stress

Back to school is sometimes hard.

Back to school is sometimes hard.

Tymber Sandvig, Staff Writer

As we settle back into the school year, stress becomes more apparent to students as the realization of responsibilities and situations they may be faced with settle in. Getting back into a school routine can be difficult after a summer of staying up late, not being held to the deadline of school work, and having the ability to avoid social situations. 

I talked to Kim Louvin, one of Sam Barlow’s guidance counselors and she provided me with some helpful insight into this situation. As we started talking about back-to-school stress, I asked her how she would handle it if she were a student. Louvin said, “It’s a big change for everyone, more than likely more people who don’t look stressed are stressed.” 

She was able to connect it to her own personal experience as an adult who is also experiencing back-to-school stress. It’s important as a high schooler to give yourself permission to take time to yourself and destress. One thing is you can’t push away anxiety that is caused by the school, because it will only worsen. 

“Give yourself the ability to  feel stressed the first month of school,” she said, doing this allows us to adapt to the change we are going through. After the first month, stress won’t be gone but you can’t let it consume you. Check in with yourself and focus on finding balance within your life.

COVID impacted everyone’s social skills in different ways as they were “trapped in solitary confinement” as Louvin put it. Whether it was being able to explore their sense of self, being forced to be alone, or finding new ways to connect with people, COVID changed all of us. 

As we are back to school without masks, this year is going to set us into normalcy and help social skills develop the ways they may not have last year. Communication is very important as assignment anxiety seems to rise, and teachers have the pressure to give a certain amount of work to their students. 

Asking for help is very important if you need it, it also works to talk about the assignments you have so you can organize your thoughts. Parents and teachers may not understand anxiety the same way that we do, their generation may not have been taught about anxiety like Gen Z is, and they were told it was something to suppress and keep quiet about, but it’s very important to try to explain how you feel so you have the support necessary to feel safe. 

Sometimes you need other people to help communicate with your parents. Louvin recommends having a third person talk to your parents so they can be given resources. It may be more comfortable for said adult because they may not feel comfortable listening and learning from their child about something they don’t understand.

Extracurriculars are very important. They give you a chance to find out what you like. If you go to the first meeting of different clubs it gives you a chance to test them out and see what you like. Having multiple extracurricular activities helps you get involved in a new place. “Having options of extracurriculars can help balance out your time,” said Louvin. If you can’t do one of them, you still have the others so you won’t feel like you have nothing to do, etc. It’s also important to balance the amount you have because having too many can be overwhelming and create unnecessary pressure. 

Finding time to unwind and destress is important as school puts pressure on students. You can do different things such as journaling, listening to music, playing games on your phone, playing with a pet, or anything else. If you’re overwhelmed with assignments, you can take 15 minutes to get out of your head, set a timer, and do something to help relieve stress. In school or out of school, you can always reach out to talk to your guidance counselor, below you will find Louvin’s email, and a list of different apps available on your phone you can use.  [email protected] 


  • Sorting Therapy – an anxiety calming through distraction app where you sort colors while listening to music 

Combined Minds – an app for friends and family to support those struggling with mental health concerns