Nicole Havelka Consulting
in Change Leadership - Community - Healing - Mindfulness - Self Care

3 Mindfulness Tips to Ease Back-to-School Anxiety

3 images in a checkerboard pattern: Nicole's bare feet on a carpeted floor while sitting on a red couch. Nicole draping her hand over her head and pressing to do a neck stretch. Nicole laying her head down on a desk. The words: "3 Mindfulness tips to ease Back to School Anxiety."

Even though I liked to learn and did pretty well in school, I felt pretty nervous every year before starting class again. The anxiety amped up in middle and high school. I dreaded seeing students who picked on me. I was insecure about my body in gym class. I was awkward playing the team sports that so many others relished. I dreaded finding friends at lunch, recess or other breaks.

And that all happened without social media or a pandemic.

Now, students, teachers and staff are starting school as a new variant of the COVID-19 virus launches a new, threatening chapter of the pandemic story, with conflicts arising in school districts about mask and vaccination requirements elevating even the average back-to-school nervousness.

Two things can be true here: That students, parents and teachers are very nervous about starting this school year. And, that they also have the resources to help weather the anxiety storm.

I want you to be the best version of yourself in your classroom, parent association and school board meetings, and after-school activities.

Here are three simple practices that can be done almost anytime to ease anxiety and emerge as your best self in the face of anxiety, challenge or even conflict:

Feel into feet. Whenever you’re feeling scattered or having trouble focusing, use this simple grounding technique of feeling into your feet. Notice the outside sensations first: the pressure of socks and shoes on the feet, the touch of air on the skin, the pressure and texture of the floor beneath your feet. Then feel into the physical sensations in your feet: muscle hugging to bone, circulation in those muscles, the connective tissue that holds everything together.

Neck stretches. Sitting at a desk or hunching over a computer and phones leaves us stooped over with our upper back rounded. To bring your body back into a healthier alignment, come to the edge of a chair, or sit cross legged on the floor. Sit up with the top of your head extending toward the ceiling. Inhale your arm up and place your hand along the top and opposite side of your head. Gently press your head in your hand. (Use no more than 20-30 percent of your effort.) After a minute or so, release your hand down to the side and feel sensations in both sides of the neck. Repeat on the second side.

Putting head on desk. Teachers may have told you to put your head down on the desk when you were misbehaving. As it turns out, it may have been more than a punishment. Folding the body forward can help calm the nervous system. So if you have a free moment and you’re feeling overwhelmed, pull your chair out a little bit from the table or desk you’re sitting near, fold your torso forward and stack your hands on the desk, resting the center of your forehead on your hands. The gentle pressure on your forehead especially helps to calm the nervous system. If you have a few minutes for this pose, alternate resting your head to each side.

How do those practices impact you? 

More Back-to-School Tips: If you want to learn more of these great practices, join me twice on Aug 15 to for two special classes:

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