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First-Week Stress: Finding Ways to Cope

Do you suffer from the back-to-school-blues? Symptoms of this generally occur in the first week of the semester and may involve high levels of stress, uncertainty in yourself, the fear of permanence in the choices you make, worrying about things you can’t control, and more.

A student surrounded by many back-to-school stressors.

Although the back-to-school-blues is not a real condition, it certainly is felt by many. Students often express how stressful exam season is but, a neglected period of time is the first few weeks of school. In my personal experience, the uncertainty I feel involving class scheduling, choices in my degree and their effect on my future career far outweighs any stress I may feel during the rest of the semester.

If this is something you can relate to, you can join me in attempting to manage these symptoms in the following ways:

1. Schedule

  • Time-management can be a challenge. By prioritizing tasks and setting limits on the amount of time they take, you may be able to accomplish more realistic goals.

  • Try these planning forms created by the Academic Learning Center:

2. Prepare

  • Preparing yourself in advance for the start of classes can help reduce that initial wave of stress that you may face.

  • Try reviewing the syllabus before classes start.

3. Exercise

  • Exercise is known to help relieve stress for many people. Taking a short break in between classes may help you to refocus and decompress.

  • Try setting aside ten minutes for a walk.

4. Thought Record

  • Managing stressful thoughts takes practice and awareness! One way to improve this skill is to write down any worries you may have and reflect on them.

A table highlighting methods to manage negative thoughts.
Thought Record
Download PDF • 43KB

These practices are not guaranteed to cure the back-to-school-blues, but they are a great start in developing healthy ways to manage stress. Since stress can occur at any time, they can be implemented at any time too. Their use is definitely not limited to the beginning of the semester.


About the Author

Jayden (She/Her)

Hello! This is my second year with the Healthy U team and I have loved gaining knowledge about a variety of health topics and working alongside the many talented members. I am currently in the Faculty of Science and working towards majoring in Biology.

I enjoy getting to know new people and spending time with my family. My hobbies include running, camping and skiing.


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