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Managing back-to-school overwhelm: Strategies for a smooth ride

teen sitting on a couch with head in her hands

So, we're already in the thick of the back-to-school season, and I bet things are kicking into gear. If the whirlwind of school life has you feeling a bit swamped, don't worry – we've got some solid tips to help you navigate through it all and keep that overwhelm at bay.

1. Master Your Routine:

No doubt, transitioning from lazy summer days to a structured school schedule can be a bit of a jolt. The good news is, you can make this shift easier on yourself. Start by establishing a consistent daily routine, even if we're a few weeks into school. Getting your sleep patterns in check and setting a steady wake-up time can work wonders in taming the school-day hustle. And hey, don't stress if you didn't prep for this in advance – you can always jump on the routine train now. (Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2018)

2. Get Organized and Plan Ahead:

If things are feeling chaotic, it might be time to take control of your space and schedule. Before you get lost in the school shuffle, take a moment to organize your school supplies, textbooks, and backpack. And remember, having a system to track assignments and deadlines can be a real game-changer. Whether you're old-school with a planner or tech-savvy with a digital calendar, the goal is to make your life easier. Oh, and breaking down big tasks into manageable chunks can do wonders for keeping stress at bay. Planning ahead pays off big time. (Source: Understood, 2021)

3. Set Attainable Goals:

Feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to measure up in every area of your life? It's a common struggle, but you've got the power to manage it. Start by setting goals that are realistic and achievable. Forget about trying to keep pace with others – focus on your own growth. Break down those goals into smaller steps, and make sure to celebrate even the tiniest of victories. By setting attainable goals and acknowledging your progress, you'll build up your confidence and take charge of the overwhelm. (Source: Mayo Clinic, 2021)

4. Prioritize Self-Care:

Taking care of your mental and physical well-being is crucial for keeping overwhelm in check. Remember to stay active, eat well, and ensure you're getting enough rest. Engaging in activities you enjoy and spending time with friends are more than just fun – they're essential for your overall well-being. And yes, it's perfectly okay to take breaks and make your mental health a priority. When you weave self-care into your routine, you'll find that tackling school stress becomes a whole lot more manageable. (Source: Mental Health America, 2021)

5. Reach Out for Support:

When things start feeling like too much to handle, don't hesitate to lean on those around you. Seeking help isn't a sign of weakness; it's a smart move. Teachers, counselors, and your family are there to support you, so don't hesitate to share your concerns and ask for guidance. And if you've got a group of friends who've got your back, that's even better. Remember, you're not alone in this journey. (Source: Child Mind Institute, 2021)

In a nutshell, while the school season might bring its fair share of challenges, you've got what it takes to navigate through it all. Stick with these strategies, make sure to prioritize your well-being, and don't hesitate to reach out for help when needed. With the right approach and a solid support system, you've got this school year covered. Keep up the good work!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Sloop is a 4-H Youth Development Specialist in Health and Wellness. She provides leadership to the 4-H youth development program focusing on 4-H clubs, 4-H groups, and youth education initiatives. Susan delivers researched based educational programs to youth and adult audiences geared towards healthy lifestyles, social-emotional learning, positive youth development, and workforce preparation.   


American Academy of Pediatrics. "Healthy Children: Back to School Tips.", American Academy of Pediatrics, 2018. []

Understood. "8 Tips to Ease Back-to-School Anxiety.", Understood, 2021. []

Mayo Clinic. "Setting and Reaching Goals: 10 Tips for Success." Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2021. []

Mental Health America. "Self-Care." Mental Health America, 2021. []

Child Mind Institute. "Back-to-School Tips for Parents: Stress and Anxiety." Child Mind Institute, 2021. []