For many of us, this fall will be the first time back in school for full days, 5 days a week since March of 2020. This means for many, in-person schooling is a distant memory.
For those who had a few months of in-person schooling in the spring, the return to a regular full week schedule after the summer break will present the same challenges it does every year.
Getting back into the school year routine is always a challenge after enjoying lazy summer days.
As we head back to school, there will certainly be some excitement and first-day jitters. There are also likely to be questions about health and safety as we go back to in-class learning.
So we wanted to have this chat where we can share our best practices and experience, for going back to school.
Disclaimer: Please NOTE that we are not medical experts, we are also not aware of the current situation in your country! This article has the sole purpose of sharing tips on going back to school. We ask that if you have any concerns about your HAE, or other medical questions, you turn to your physician!
Tip #1: Set Expectations
We can all agree that this year’s school/university experience will most probably look different, than the years before. Depending on where you are in the world, there might be different rules on wearing masks, social distancing, and in-person education.
Most of us have probably lived with restrictions for a longer period of time than others, some might still be in some sort of lockdown or similar. We have also all been socially distancing from friends, family, and classmates since March 2020, which is why going back to school comes with a certain level of excitement, anxiety, and maybe worries-all at the same time.
Our advice is-set realistic expectations for yourself! Avoid stressing over the things you cannot control and be open to your family and friends if you have some questions or worries.
Tip #2: Set Standards
While remote learning had its drawbacks, we cannot argue there were some benefits we will surely miss. ’What would that be?’ – you might ask. Rolling out of bed 2 minutes before school (Zoom) started was a convenient and comfortable way to start the day (and some of us might miss it more than others) but those days are hopefully behind us!
Another thing we would definitely miss is the comfort of your home when you start feeling an HAE attack coming up, or laying down once you’ve taken your medication. Try to revisit the emergency plan you and your family had before and see if it fits with the current situation in your country.
We need to remind ourselves that there is currently a new normal and that we can work with what we have!
Tip #3: Get a Solid Morning Routine
If at all possible, aim to get a more structured and formal morning routine a couple of weeks before the school season begins. If you are going back to in-person school you might want to start waking up earlier and going through your to-dos before heading out the door.
If you are still doing remote education, maybe try to find a new space for yourself in your house/apartment or dorm. Changing small things in your surroundings can give you a whole new motivation and focus. And we still recommend you try to wake up earlier than 2 minutes before the learning begins 😀
Make sure you pace yourselves and avoid stressing out as much as you can! As you know stress is one of the most common triggers for HAE, so the more in control you can be of your routines, the less space you leave for stress.
Tip #4: Create an Evening To-Do List
The best way to make your morning blissful and stress-free is to take care of any time-consuming activities the night before. If you are a visual person, write down your evening to-do list and place it somewhere you can easily follow it through:
- Preparing your lunch for the next day is always a great idea and a very healthy option. Pack your lunch with all the greens, proteins, and fibers! And yes some sweets are always a good idea (we are all human after all)
- Pack your bag- books, pens, notepads, and medication! If you have access to HAE medication (prophylactic or emergency treatment), and you can self-administer it then make sure you have it with you and you store it correctly. (Please NOTE you can ask your physician on how to correctly store your medication)
If you don’t have access to HAE medication or know how to self-administer your medication – don’t worry! Make sure you know your symptoms and always have your emergency plan close by. One thing you can also use is HAEi’s Emergency Cards (https://haei.org/resources/emergency-cards/ ) The emergency cards are developed by HAEi’s Regional Patient Advocates and contain clear and simple information about HAE and the treatment required in case of an attack.
- Plan your outfit of the day (OOTD) and lay it out somewhere. If you are wearing a school uniform, make sure it is all ironed and tidy for the next day. A fresh look is always a good look!
- Setting the alarm clock (and no more than 1 snooze in the morning ;))
Tip #5: Schedule in Plenty of Family Time
During this past year, many families had the opportunity to spend much more time together. Suddenly, having the option to spend hours away from home every weekday may cause some anxiety for both you and your family.
So make sure to plan a movie night once in a while, or spend a few minutes talking about your day with the fam.
If you have experienced any HAE symptoms, or you are simply worried about HAE, share those worries and thoughts with your family! Make a plan to cope with those worries together.
Whether you are thrilled to go back to school or anxious about the many changes ahead, know you can do this. We are here to let you know you are not alone in this new adventure.
Stay safe everyone!