Ask Jigsaw: Worried about back to school

Ask Jigsaw: Worried about back to school

Monday, 31 August 2020

I’m worried about going back to school I’m going into leaving cert but I keep getting really spaced out and cant focus on what’s around me. I’m worried that it will happen in class or exams.


Hi Anonymous,

It’s been a really difficult few months school-wise. It can’t have been easy doing 5th year from home. It’s totally understandable that you’ve been finding it hard to focus on what’s around you. With normal routines out the window, it can be especially hard to concentrate or be productive  in your home environment. It’s a space we’d usually use to switch off, but suddenly have to use it to study also.

Losing focus

I’m curious about the difficulty focusing. Does it happen at particular times or during certain activities? Have you noticed a change in your mood or has anything happened that’s caused this difficulty?

It can be helpful to look at our daily activities and track how we feel when doing different things and with different people. In a notebook or diary write down each activity you do and how you feel during it. See you you can spot a pattern.

Try this for a week, see what you were doing when you felt more relaxed or engaged with what you were doing. For the following week plan to do more of these activities. The leaving cert is a stressful year and it can actually help our productivity to schedule in some time for self care too.


Jigsaw clinician
Write down your thoughts and fears and any practical steps you might be able to take.

Focus on study

Getting into good study habits can help when it comes to classes and exams. Some people find it helpful to put their phone in another room while they work. A website and app blocker such as Stay Focused can also help. Schedule regular breaks in your study time too.

You might also find this ACE grounding tool helpful for when you’re in school, if you’re finding yourself getting distracted.

Worry time

If you’re finding yourself feeling anxious, or distracted by worries, you could try giving yourself a worry period of about 20 minutes in your day. So, if your daily worry period is from 7-7.20 pm and a worry crops up outside that time, you can tell yourself ‘I’ll worry about that later’. Then bring yourself back to the task at hand. At 7pm, by all means worry as much as you like. Write down your thoughts and fears and any practical steps you might be able to take.

Talk it through

Do consider reaching out to an adult you trust about how you feel if things are on your mind. Or, you could also contact Jigsaw live chat and talk to someone in real time.

Look after yourself, Anonymous. Wishing you all the best with the return to school and exams.


Jigsaw clinician

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