It’s understandable to feel a mixture of emotions about returning to school next week. For some of you it will be the first time you’ll see your friends for a long time, it might feel strange having a routine again and you can expect things to be different. We spoke with Dr Rachel Dodge, Qualifications Development Manager (and PhD in Psychology – focused on student wellbeing) about how you can protect your wellbeing and support your friends during this unusual time.
1. Get your routine up and running
This period of lock-down has resulted in many of us losing a sense of routine. In the time leading up to returning to school try and start to get back to the routine you used to have during term time. A big part of this is maintaining good sleep patterns. The Mental Health Foundation has some great tips on how to sleep better.
2. Talk about how you feel
During the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, uncertainty and constant news updates are now part of our daily lives. Therefore, it is more important than ever to try and talk about how we are feeling. You are likely to have mixed feelings about returning to school so it’s important you don’t bottle up your worries and concerns. Putting our feelings into words helps us to understand them and ourselves better. This is because it forces us to take a proper look at our feelings and to get them into some kind of order. Talking to family and friends about how we feel helps them to understand us better too.
3. Try to concentrate on the positives
We have a tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive. In psychology we call this negativity bias. One way to counteract the negativity bias is to make a list of the things we can be grateful for. You can also start to think about the things you are looking forward to when you return to school. Lots of students have been talking about how nice it will be to see their friends and teachers again, as well as having a change of scene.
4. Accept that things will be different
Make sure you read about how things will be different at your school. All schools will have their own approach. You can expect to be asked to keep a social distance, your classrooms are also likely to look different and your timetable might not be the same. The more you can understand about these differences the better you’ll feel when you get back to school.
5. Remember to look out for others
At times like this, it’s easy to get caught up in your own fears and concerns. However, research shows that those who focus on others in need, especially during times of crises, tend to be happier and healthier. Why not catch-up with your friends via text, phone call or a virtual platform to ask how they are before you return to school? Keeping in touch with your friends at this time will help you feel more relaxed and you’ll know that you’re in the same situation. When you are back in school, remember that people will react in different ways. Being aware of this will also help you support those around you.