If you have children heading back to school and you feel anxious about September, thinking about hectic mornings, busy schedules, tiredness : here a few tips and ideas to enter this period with a different outlook.
The most commonly accepted definition of stress (mainly attributed to Richard S Lazarus) is that stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” In short, it’s related to our perception of the situation and what we feel when we think we’ve lost control of events. The stress response inside us is therefore part instinct and part to do with the way we think.
So, if you feel like jumping in a time machine and revert back to Day 1 of summer break to avoid September… Don’t worry, this transition period is not easy and let’s see how we can think it over differently.
Write down the 5 main things you hate, you are anxious about or you would like to avoid in September.
Now, take time to think about : Which ones or which aspects are inevitable and beyond your actions or impact? Which ones or which aspect can you control or have an impact on?
Identify and write down positive actions and use your creativity.
For example, if you or your children do not like to wake up early.
First, all agree that if school starts at 8am, no way you can change it and complaining will not help!
On the other hand, you can do quite a lot to ensure a smoother transition for your family and more peaceful morning time. It’s all about changing how you are seeing mornings ; think about what you want to happen and reframe it.
Some simple changes can have a great impact, like:
- adapt your sleep routine for you and your children one or two weeks before school start;
- change morning routine; prepare the table breakfast the night before;
- dedicate 15 minutes when the children are still in bed to organize the morning and spending that time packing your bag, laying out clothes, sorting stuff they need, etc.
- if you have a big meeting at work, tell your child / partner the night before and ask them what they can do to help you.
- re-organize the shoe area / school bags / sport equipment.
Be prepared to answer your children needs
Change, whether positive or negative is rated high as a stressor for children. The schedule change from summer to school is enough to create feeling of stress and anxiety for some children. Couple that with change of school, different friends, after school activities… Your children are very likely to experience stress in this adaptation period and stress being contagious, your own stress management and full capacity to support them will help.
Ensure that your children:
- Get on a schedule (children respond very positively to routine).
- Have a connexion and communication time with you so schedule peaceful down time.
- Eat healthy and get sufficient rest and sleep time.
To be fully able to support your children and accompany them in this transition period, take care of yourself: nutrition, physical activity, sleep….
To help you releasing your own stress, we suggest practicing abdominal breathing exercise.
10 minutes are usually sufficient to experience a first calming and relaxing effect, preferably in the evenings. Practice lying down at first. Find a comfortable position lying on your back. You may prefer to keep your knees slightly bent and your feet flat against the surface.
Start by paying attention to your normal patterns of breathing for a few minutes: Do you breathe into your chest or abdomen? Does your breathing feel slow? Fast? Be aware of the movement of your breath in all your body.
Then, place your hands in a position that will allow you to track your breathing. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your ribcage. Relax your hands as much as you can, allowing your elbows to rest.
Then, inhale slowly through your nose and into your abdomen. And exhale slowly through your nose, with the abdomen moving downwards. Observe the regular movement of the air getting in and being pushed out through your abdomen. Continue this exercise for about 5 to 10 minutes.
In case of negative thinking or anxious feeling, try the following:
Take a few deeps breaths while focusing on the exhalation:
Exhale the negative feeling or thought in this moment: the ‘Mummy Guilt’ ; the one-hour queue to buy school furniture; the busy schedule …
And afterwards, inhale deeply a positive feeling or though and send it to yourself: the pleasure of being present to your children in this period ;the opportunity to relax and rest while queuing,the calming thought that September only lasts a few weeks -:)
In September, give your stress wings and it will fly away!
Nadège Ravoux – HealthyLux Passionate Contributor
HealthyLux September theme – Ready to Start School?