How to Handle Back to School Anxiety

School just started and everything feels like it’s piling on top of you.

You’re probably thinking, “How am I going to balance school, work, and my personal life?”

Some of you may have 1… 2…. or even 3 jobs just to help you pay for college. This on top of a full-time school schedule and extra-curricular activities to keep your resume competitive can make anyone feel overwhelmed.

We at ArcZap are right there with you. We are a group of interns and life-long learners who are doing the same thing as you, trying to balance this act called LIFE.

Here’s some ways to get through this rut successfully:

Get a planner, make a kanban, whatever

Seeing all the things you need to do week by week on paper is better than letting it accumulate in your head. Get a planner, make a planner, whatever you enjoy having to give you a week’s view of your academic life.

What’s a kanban?

A kanban is a process used by Toyota to get the most out of their automobile production. Without getting into the history, it is basically a way for you to organize what you need to do and get them done. Basically, it looks like this:


The first column has a list of everything you need to do (for the week).

The second column has a list of things you are doing. This lets you focus on one thing at a time.

The last column is a list of things you have accomplished already (for the week). This feeling makes you feel less overwhelmed and more accomplished.

Sounds like your way of thinking? Give it a shot and tell us how it worked!

Look at the big picture

Mark Strobl

If one day felt like you want to hit your head on a wall over and over again, step back and look at everything again. This time, look at the big picture. This one day of this one week is not going to be how it feels like everyday. Here’s a method of simple meditation that works for some people.

Close your eyes (later, keep reading this first)
Imagine you are sitting in a room.
Imagine that room inside of a building
Now imagine that building on the side of a street. What does that street look like?
Now imagine that street in a small town.

You can keep going outwards until you see the Earth, the solar system, the galaxy. But, once you get as far out as you want, you have to have time to go back in.

In the small town, focus on the street, then the building, then the room, then you sitting in a room.


Try this exercise when you feel overwhelmed and see how you feel after. It should take only 3-5 minutes.

Plan ahead

Life is all about routine. Create a rough plan of what you want to get done per day of the week or month. By dividing up large assignments into smaller digestible pieces, your mind can handle it easier. After that, stick with the routine. It’s amazing how much people can get done with a plan.

The first week of your routine may make you feel like life is passing you by. But don’t worry, it gets easier and easier and before you know it, you’ll be done with school.

Conant Graduation

Create study groups

Don’t feel like you are the only one freaking out. Everyone else is just as concerned. This is a great reason to create study groups. Not only are you using time to study and get help with certain concepts but you are also finding an open space to vent.

Study groups = Support groups

You can vent on email … in person … on social media … or even on ArcZap.

Just find a place you feel comfortable and tell your group it’s ok to vent. They will understand and listen and hopefully all of you can grow stronger together.

Take breaks

Your brain can only handle so much at a time. That’s why it’s important to take breaks to let your mind rest and recuperate for the next study session.

Naps are study breaks, just FYI


Here’s some reference to scientific studies of why (nap) breaks are necessary:


Life really is what you make of it. School may seem ridiculous right now but in the end, it’s worth it. You will feel like it was the best part of your life and honestly, you will miss it.

But for now, focus on where you want to be and why you wanted to go to school in the first place. Keep your inspiration and love of learning alive by knowing what you love, not what others love.

Have more suggestions to handle back to school anxiety? Comment below!

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