Every movie I’ve ever seen about the end of a school year has students racing off into the summer in a state of near euphoria. These movies tend to gloss over or completely ignore the anxiety, sadness and overwhelming emotions that can accompany the end of a school year.
It’s a busy time of year. A time of transition and change. If you’re a student, teacher, parent or friend of a student, then your schedule is likely changing. Potentially your whole life is about to change.
All this change can leave you feeling overwhelmed and down. Even positive change can be overwhelming. If you’re someone who is faced with uncertainty as the school year ends, then you might also have feelings of anxiety.
A normal reaction to overwhelming emotion is to attempt to avoid it. We wall of our feelings because they are painful and scary to experience. Unfortunately, with our feelings walled off we’re only half present during what are often some of the most important moments of our lives.
Although the end of a school year can be full of anxiety, it is also a time of anticipation and celebration. The end of school means graduations, yearbooks, school picnics, proms, award ceremonies, sports and extra-curricular celebrations and gatherings with friends and family. It can also mean moving, leaving friends, facing realities about your future and changing large portions of your life.
When you focus on all of the events at once it can be scary and make you want to put your head in the sand until it’s all over.
Rather than getting caught up in thinking about everything at once, which is overwhelming, try being one-mindful. One mindfulness means:
- Do one thing at a time. If you’re eating, eat. If you’re walking, walk.
- Let go of distractions. If thoughts about the future or the past interfere with what you’re doing, bring your mind back to what you are doing again and again.
- Focus your mind. If you find you are doing two things at once, stop and go back to doing just one thing. This means doing just one thing with both your thoughts and your actions.
Being one-mindful means that you don’t worry about a summer job during graduation or ruminate on disappointments at the school picnic. It takes practice. However, by allowing yourself to be fully present during these activities you experience and express the joy and pride of accomplishment, the caring you have for classmates and friends, and the anxiety and sadness of moving on. Focusing entirely on one thing at a time allows you to experience your emotions one at a time, which is much more manageable than feeling them all at once.