Settle down everyone!
As the kids are excitedly bouncing about their classrooms, hopping from foot to foot, desperately counting down the days to their summer holidays, are your mind monkeys behaving in a similar fashion?
If you’re feeling the overwhelm as end-of term draws near, then read on.
There are lots of changes approaching at this time of year, which will undoubtedly heighten emotions. As parents or carers, you may be feeling that you’re drowning in forms to complete, payments to make, fancy dress to magic-up, baking to produce, project deadlines to meet, presents to make or buy – all the while trying to steer the family ship to holiday shore, in a calm and controlled manner.
Teachers are also feeling the heat from looming deadlines, coping with over-excited kids (and rising noise levels!), organising end-of-term trips and shows and proms and sports days and producing end-of-year reports… and the list goes on… Some staff may also have concerns about how vulnerable pupils will fare over the holiday period, when removed from the stability of the school routine.
Kids may have fears about exam results, as well as worries about next year’s classes, new school environments and friendships.
Other families will carry the looming heartache of being separated from Mum/Dad/children during the holidays.
So how can we deal with this overwhelm in a mindful way?
- Start by pausing and noticing any feelings of being overwhelmed. Spot where this affects you physically in your body and observe how you react to these feelings. Perhaps you feel frustrated with yourself for “not coping”, or just desperately want the holidays to be here now.
- Remember to breathe! Simply pausing and taking 5 minutes of deep in-breaths and out-breaths – breathing into the stomach and breathing out in a steady, controlled manner (as if gently breathing through a straw) – can help to reset a busy mind. Allow thoughts to gently come and go – our minds wander all the time and this is perfectly normal. Just do what feels comfortable – if you start to feel light-headed, let your breath return to its natural rhythm and simply observe the rise and fall.
- Be kind to yourself – don’t take on extra responsibilities at this time if you’ll end up sinking. Also, ask yourself “do I really need to do this right now?”
- Be kind to yourself (again) – don’t start last-minute pre-holiday dieting now. Instead, movement and exercise are much better ways to unwind, keep fit and improve your sense of wellbeing.
- Be kind to yourself (spot the theme?!) – get out in nature. Scientific studies have proved that this can dramatically boost our health. Instead of battling against the holiday shopping crowds, can you shop online instead and use the time to enjoy some fresh air in the great outdoors? Pop the mobile away for a bit – if you can – and allow all your senses to open up, being mindful of colours, sounds and smells.
- Take it easy at work where possible. Racing to meet deadlines prior to heading off on summer holidays, combined with numerous other demands, can weaken our immune systems. The last thing we want is to end up feeling completely run down on vacation.
- Try daily mindfulness meditations (even 5 minutes of mindful breathing can make a difference) and get a good night’s sleep. Cut down on caffeine and electronics at least an hour before bedtime, to help your brain to switch off too.
- Do your best not to judge or criticise yourself when things are going wrong. Instead, congratulate yourself on small achievements at this busy time.
- Be aware that this is a short-term phase and will pass.
- Also remember that you are not alone in this. There are hundreds of others feeling the same!
When our minds get caught up in a continuous “doing mode”, we forget to pause and just be present in the “here and now”. Instead we often find ourselves ruminating about what has gone before and what may be. If we train ourselves to pause more often, we can appreciate life better and enjoy a calmer, clearer mind.
Wishing you all a peaceful and mindful end of school year _/\_.