The school holidays are here. Let’s talk about stress levels.
We all know the drill: gone is the stabilizing structure of the school year with its precise timetables, sports activities and the "educational nanny" provided for working parents. But when school’s out and the children are home all day - every day - the squabbles, boredom and ongoing requests are enough to drive even the most patient of parents to despair.
Here’s how to zone-out of the stress, and tune-in to enjoying good times with your children during the long summer break:
1. Practice stillness: We spend our lives moving our heads, gesticulating with our hands and generally fidgeting about – especially when we’re angry or stressed. It’s amazing how sitting or standing absolutely stock-still will not only calm your entire body and mind, it may just surprise your kids enough to get them to pipe down for a moment. The result? You’re calmer, and back in control.
2. Get the download: When the noise or demands get to be too much, plug in some earphones and listen to the Anxiety Slayer app. Featuring conversations, meditations and centering techniques, it will help you regain calm when all about you is chaos. Free on iTunes.
3. Breathe like a free driver: The reason free drivers can plunge to depths of 100 meters or more is that they have incredible control over their breathing – something we all lose when our stress levels rise. Take a page out of their book and practice one of their breathing exercises to help you gain better control: Exhale out fully, then take a huge inhale, filling your lower belly first, then your diaphragm, your chest and finally your neck and mouth. Hold for two seconds, exhale for 10. Hold for two seconds, inhale for 10. And repeat...
4. Get TripIt: Travelling with kids can be a challenge. TripIt takes the hassle out of having to locate multiple emails or print out wads of confirmation details by simply collecting everything you need in one location and building your personal itinerary. Free on iTunes.
5. Embrace "leaky attention" syndrome: We all know that feeling of having so many things to do that the most urgent task gets buried beneath an avalanche of thoughts. Well, say hello to some good news: a study by researchers at Northwest University suggests that those who are open to distraction while performing a task can actually be more creative in life. So once you’ve learned to tune in, feel free to tune out for a while too.
Feeling zen for the summer ahead?