August brings the summer holidays!
This can be a joy but also can have some additional strains. The 6 week school holiday may increase your stress levels, perhaps with finding child care, entertainment on a budget for parents and meeting the demands of “at home” kids. For those who are older and don’t get tied up in child care provision, the summer holidays means that the local places to visit such as social groups, National Trust venues and supermarkets are suddenly packed with children with energy to spare ! I can almost hear those clattering feet and screams of joy along the supermarket aisles as I sit here typing!
At least the daily commute will be quieter for a few weeks.
Another potential strain is that this is the time that most people take their annual leave (me included) and so it begins to feel like nothing gets done! Appointments are thin on the ground and groups take their annual break.
Farmers will be working hard to bring in the crops or worrying about the quality of their harvest if it is wet.
The best stress relief is free and all around us. So take advantage whilst the weather is good (Oh I hope I haven’t jinxed the weather by saying that!)
Take time to sit under the shade of a tree and appreciate the way you can feel the temperature drop on your skin as you move out of the sun. If it is raining, look out of a window and look closely at the patterns of the rain on the windows. Take time with children to look closely at nature. I whiled away several hours with my daughter once, banging the earth to bring up worms and studying their movements. We then watched the way the ants run in circles and work as a team.
Belly breathing is an amazing way to slow and reduce stress. Take 5 minutes to stop and slowly breathe in, inflating your stomach, holding for a count of 10 and then breathing out for 10 for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times, listening to your breath and imagining breathing out all the bad air and feelings, and bringing in the new. There are many apps to help you do this such as “calm” and “Headspace”. I found it very difficult to breathe slowly enough and at first would count very fast and finish quickly but discipline and practice has helped me slow down and I find it really works! There are also some lovely children’s meditation videos that you could complete as a family so you don’t get disturbed mid breath!
Don’t under estimate the power of a smile. Pulling your face into a smile when you are feeling frazzled can immediately pour good feelings into your system. Just trying to take your face from a grimace into a smile can inject a little humour into yourself. Perhaps google some laughter therapy videos for some amusement.
Enjoy the long days of summer and relax!