How to Cope with the Stress at the Beginning of the School Year

by | Sep 22, 2022

The beginning of the school year can bring a variety of different emotions, especially if you are an educator. As a School Counselor, I felt eager and excited to bring the students into school and help them open their locker, read their schedule, find their way, get to the right bus, etc… It felt like a buzzing energy, the excitement of a new year, new intentions, new opportunities to connect and help children.

I also felt extremely stressed and overwhelmed, knowing that in my role I was responsible for getting schedules accurate, which required an intense focus on detail. One wrong data entry in the scheduling program and you can have a class of students in the wrong place with no supervision. Not a good scenario for 10 year old students! With hundreds of students on my caseload, my to-do list was often very long, never-ending, and every item was just as important as the others.

I also felt pressure to make a good first impression with the students. I wanted to build rapport and a sense of safety before they even entered the building. Why would they reach out to me for support if they didn’t feel safe with me?

So how have I coped with these stressors in the beginning of the school year?

I used Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), or more commonly known as Tapping. Tapping is a set of stress-management tools that works on a somatic level to help calm the body’s fight or flight response. One of the reasons I turn to Tapping so often is that it can be self-applied!

(If you have never tried Tapping before, please watch my video on how to get started.)

On my morning drive to school, I would tap in the car. I identified how I was feeling, if I noticed a sensation in my body and what specifically I was thinking about at the time. For example, “Even though I feel this nervousness in my chest, just thinking that I might have made a big mistake with the schedule and students will be left unsupervised, I deeply and completely accept myself.” I tapped on the specified points as part of the protocol and checked back in to see if something new emerged or if it seemed to be dissipating. I would repeat that exercise until I felt the emotion calm down, which allowed me to walk into the building from a calm and centered place. I ultimately came to the realization that if I made a mistake, I could also fix it.

I would then do another round of tapping at the end of the day on anything new that came up. For example, it was often the case that I was rushing out the door to pick up my son from practice. This round of tapping looked like, “Even though I feel really stressed right now, I feel it in my jaw, I’m rushing to pick up my son and I didn’t check off those items I wanted to get to today, and I accept this is just how I’m feeling right now.” After one round, I checked back in to see if the stress was still there. If it was, I did another round on the same emotion until it calmed down.

It is important to note that when you are tapping, you want the words to resonate with you. Although we might have the same exact scenario playing out, you might have a different emotional response and that’s ok. EFT works best when you can tap using your own emotions, your own body sensations, and your own details of what happened.