It’s a lot.
And it’s natural if you feel overwhelmed as you consider the new school year, so I'm going to talk you through an exercise that will help you face and process your fear.
I’m framing this exercise as a series of prompts for journaling, but it can also serve as a jumping off point for reflection or a conversation with a friend, parent, or mentor.
Before we begin:
My goal in sharing this exercise is not to eliminate your anxiety. Everyone experiences anxiety at various points, to varying degrees. Rather, my goal is to help you ease your anxiety—both through having done the exercise and having created strategies that you can put into practice in the future.
This activity is worth doing by virtue of its ability to help you feel (even a little bit) better.
The problems or fears won’t go away all at once, and that’s okay.
1. What Are You Afraid of?
Take out a pencil and a piece of paper, and make a list of your misgivings, concerns, worries, and stresses going into the school year. What are you afraid will happen or not happen? Do your best to keep writing for five-to-ten minutes, or until you run out of things to say.
2. Connect the Dots
See if any of the items are connected to one another. For example, a concern about not getting everything done might connect to a worry over feeling disorganized—the action steps to help with one may help with the other.
3. Make a Game Plan
Now is the time to brainstorm specific action steps that address the fear. For example, if you are afraid of feeling overwhelmed by your workload, come up with ways to manage your time, decrease distractions, and/or boost your energy. In addition, writing down the name of a person you can talk to or an activity you can do to process your experience when you feel overwhelmed gives you an action plan if and when these feelings arise.
The action might be quite simple, such as taking a full breath (inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 2). Some ideas (e.g. turning off your phone while doing homework) you may do regularly, while others you might keep in your back pocket until they are relevant.
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4. Have Your Own Back
You now have specific steps you can take to improve your experience. Moreover, actually taking the steps provides an additional benefit beyond alleviating your fear. As time goes on, you’ll begin to trust yourself as you would a good friend. You’ll know that you have your own back—that you are willing and able to support yourself through your thoughts and actions.
For now, having gone through the exercise is an example of that willingness, and you can keep this exercise as one of the tools you may use in the future when you begin to feel anxious. Take five minutes to list your concerns. Connect the dots. Make a game plan. Take the appropriate action steps.
If you want someone to guide you through this process, feel free to reach out about scheduling a single coaching session or a consultation for a Mindset Coaching or Test Prep Coaching package.
You may also contact me with any specific questions or ideas that arise during this exercise.
For a different approach to goal setting, read my post from January of this year, “How to Create New Year’s Resolutions That Work for You.”
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