Overcoming and Embracing Back to School Anxiety

Aug 29, 2018

The first day of school can conjure up nervous butterflies in many people. Whether you're 12 or 22, the beginning of a new school year holds uncertainty that can make even the most level-headed students anxious. Dr. Michael Bordieri visits Sounds Good to discuss this back to school anxiety, and how one can deal with their own school related jitters. 

MSU psychology professor, Dr. Michael Bordieri, visited Sounds Good to discuss the butterflies and clammy hands often associated with first days of school. Dr. Bordieri and Tracy Ross discuss causes of new semester anxiety and how to handle it, including ways to put a positive spin on that uneasiness. 

While entering an unfamiliar classroom can make many people queasy with nerves, Dr. Michael Bordieri suggests that this anxiety might not be all negative. According to Bordieri, high levels of anxiety can be a positive sign, suggesting that whatever is triggering the anxiety is something that is significant or important to the anxiety sufferer. Because anxiety is often paired with noteworthy life events, it can be beneficial to one's own experience to not shy away from butterfly-causing moments. By diving into situations that force an individual out of their comfort zone, the individual is more susceptible to significant or otherwise beneficial life events. 

Dr. Bordieri also warned against ways in which we can easily increase levels of anxiety, such as attempting to gather too much information in an attempt to be as prepared as possible. Bordieri compares this to looking up health symptoms on self-diagnosing health websites -- a slight cough can quickly turn into something much more serious if researched by an already anxious individual. While back to school jitters can be calmed by orientation days, finding familiar friends from previous years, or acquainting oneself with the teachers, Dr. Bordieri suggests that it is important to revisit the idea of leaning into discomfort, or willingly entering situations that make a person nervous, anxious, or uncomfortable, in order to reap the most benefits from unfamiliar experiences. Stepping out of one's comfort zone can and often does place them in a more educated, experienced, or confident state of being.