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Back to School: Are you setting intentions or expectations?

This is such a transitional time for many families and adults. When school starts up again, we suddenly have routines and activities and schedules to keep that we may have taken a break from over the summer. It can be challenging to pick it all up again. As I navigate it myself this month, I have found some strategies to be super helpful. If you are finding yourself feeling stressed and tired in this transition, keep reading for a few of my tips on managing it all.

First of all, prepare for what you know is coming as much as you can, but do it in a sensible way without constantly pre-living. Pre-living is when we worry about what's coming next. Planning for what we can includes activities like making a calendar and tracking it for the family to see, making a meal list, meal prepping when possible, choosing outfits and/or packing lunches the night before, etc. Planning what you can without worry ensures that you feel less stressed or anxious about it. Not all of this is possible for all people, but I suggest to choose what brings you the most anxiety or what will alleviate some of the stress of the "worst part of your day." For example, if getting out of the house in the morning is when you feel the most stressed, pick some part of that to plan ahead. If it's mealtime that leaves you feeling the most stressed, plan those meals ahead of time. If you make choices ahead of the time, then you feel less anxious about making last minute decisions or getting stressed at the time when maybe we are not at our best (bedtime or wake up). This can provide some relief from pre-living those situations.

Secondly, it is often the case that we experience feelings of stress and anxiety because situations aren't meeting our expectations. This is why it can be helpful to set intentions rather than expectations. Setting intentions is more about positive qualities or feelings you wish to experience or generate versus a specific outcome. We can intend to be patient because we know that everyone is tired or be kind to ourself or have an open mind when things get challenging. Setting intentions also allows us to pause and take a moment to breath and set intentions during transitions rather than rushing around from one thing to the next all day long. It brings with it the possibility of being more present.

The back to school transition can be both challenging and exciting. Incorporating some mindfulness can alleviate some of the anxiety and stress of it and help you find more joy and peace as you step into a new year! Will you be starting with intentions or expectations?

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