The weather is turning cooler and the leaves on the trees are beginning to transform. Fall is a great time of year, but for many fall means one thing: back to school. No matter how hard you tried to ignore all the back to school commercials, by now you are well and truly into the school year.
For young children, teens and adults alike, going to school can be a depressing experience. School is synonymous with waking up early, tests, homework, teachers and drama with classmates. Any prior symptoms of depression, like low mood or low self-esteem, compound the difficulties faced by a student. School doesn’t have to be disastrous, though. With the right planning and preparation, even the most reluctant student can have a school year filled with success.
Many students start the school year off in a poor way. They consider homeschooling, online schooling or dropping out altogether rather than actually making a commitment to their current situation and studies. Can you imagine how many people would finish a marathon if they weren’t committed? Committing to your studies for the duration of the year tricks your mind into finding ways to make the situation work. If you’re entertaining the options of dropping out or going elsewhere, you’re focusing on finding problems. The more you focus on the bad, the worse the situation will seem. Instead, choose to be solution-focused.
No matter how many negatives you associate with school, there are always positive aspects. Are there certain people that you communicate well with or a teacher that goes out of his way to check in with you? Does the cafeteria have unbeatable tater tots? Try to appreciate these things, no matter how insignificant they seem, and your outlook will become more optimistic.
Negatives exist in every situation, but some of them you have the power to prevent. Make a list of the things that you do not like about school. Which ones are changeable and which are unchangeable? You cannot change how early school starts, but you can change how early you go to bed and how you prepare yourself for the next day. If tests create anxiety or depressed feelings, try changing the way you study. If your relationships are poor with other students, find new ways to communicate rather than giving up. Being successful means being resilient.
School is not easy, and often there are not many meaningful rewards in place. If getting an A on a quiz does not excite or motivate you, find other ways to reward yourself. If you completed your homework for the night, treat yourself to an episode of your favourite show or a special snack. Chances are excellent your parents are committed to you succeeding at school, so find ways that they can reinforce your behaviors. If attendance is an issue, suggest a reward like a song download for every day of school attended. With this sort of approach, everyone wins.
Surrounding yourself with supportive, positive people will help tremendously when it comes to avoiding school depression. Keep in mind your goals, though. Talking with friends that hate school and plan to quit will likely sabotage your commitment. Supports that will prompt and persuade you to meet your goals are best.
School is a perfect example of delayed gratification. You have to put off what is fun today for what is better long-term. Today spent staying in bed and avoiding homework will very likely lead you to a future of “Would you like fries with that?” With commitment and hard work, you’re more likely to be asking for a drink with an umbrella as you lay on the beach. Which sounds better to you?