Stress is a fact of life these days and ‘Back-to-School’ days can be stressful if you allow it. With the arrival of autumn comes the feeling of a fresh start and also a time of change for both kids and parents. You can still enjoy the transition and keep heightened stress levels at bay. This time of year is a new beginning and an opportunity to implement a fresh approach to stress.
Parents can’t wait to get back into the routine! The structure of school is welcomed after the relaxed summer schedule of camp activities and long summer days. Ahhhh… The joys of summer. With routine comes that back-to-school excitement or mild anxiety along with the onset of structure, planning and school year responsibilities.
The challenges occur when our stress runs out of control. With unprecedented levels of stress in our lives, it seems it is here to stay. We are more accustomed to the concept of having increased levels of stress and we accept this as normal. Beware, there is a cost. In this age of distraction and multi-tasking each individual reacts and interprets stressors uniquely and personally.
Stress is energy. The stress response is a physiological mechanism that relies on the body’s hormonal system for producing the physical and emotional energy to function throughout your day. Stress is neither good nor bad. Without stress you are dead.
Stress helps us accomplish our goals in life. It is also a signal for our mind and body to rest and refuel. When we are out of balance or danger lurks, we get a kick of the instinctive hormonal and adrenal reaction to fight or run from the metaphorical lions and tigers. This physiological fight or flight mechanism is kicked into action with perceived fear or danger. These days, kids and adults do not get a rest from the constant levels of stress because the lions and tigers are close behind. When short term stress effects are allowed to continue over time (without intervention) the long term negative effects of stress can occur. Ignoring these warning signs can affect physical, emotional and mental well-being. The challenge is to embrace the balancing act and take action.
You can take simple steps to reduce family stress with planning, communications, organizing and self care. Keep in mind that some children take a little longer to jump back into the routine and to be mindful of how the kids are responding to the routine and stressors of school. Last but not least, plan a little down time for yourselves as parents. Put your feet up and celebrate the start of a new school year.
Here are a few starter tips for you.
Breathe! Learn 10 minute relaxation exercises you can practice anywhere.
Organization & planning: Use a family calendar. Plan and prepare your meals weekly.
Take a break; take a walk.
Take stock of what makes you happy in your family, home life and work environment. When satisfaction is up, the stress levels go down.
Be kind to yourself and others. Happy actions help you to feel good.
Learn to say no when you need to.
Rebecca Darling is a Life Coach Certified by the Canadian Institute of Stress/Hans Selye Foundation, a Martha Beck trained Coach & Board Certified Hypnotist (NGH).