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  • Writer's pictureLaura

Staying Calm during the School Holiday Madness

As I am writing this, it is the first 2 days of the Summer holidays and I'm working from home whilst juggling work. The kids are off school and generally being typical kids - arguing, constantly requesting snacks, and declaring "I'm booooooooored" every 5 minutes.

With 6 weeks to go, I have work to do, a heatwave means that I am hot and flustered, the house is a mess, the dog is going loopy as she missed her lunchtime walk due to the heat and am starting to feel that niggle of irritability starting to creep in.

Have you ever noticed that some people stay calm under pressure much better than others? The secret is, remaining calm can actually be a skill you can practice and train yourself to acquire.

Everyone has a different tolerance for stress, but with practice, it is possible to become much more resilient in the face of adversity.

We all have different levels, but every level can be improved, whatever your starting point. There are a number of contributing factors that impact on your ability to deal with stressful situations, and a significant factor is what skills you have in your "toolbox" to turn to when required.

Here are a number of techniques that could enable you to learn to handle stress like a Zen monk during the school holidays, or in fact, any time:

Take care of your physical health:

A calm mind is best supported by a healthy body. What are the simplest and most effective ways to do this?

  • Eat well

  • Stay hydrated

  • Sleep enough

  • Get some exercise

Your body and mind make up the same machine. When your body is out of sorts, your mind isn’t at its most resilient, so a well-cared for body is the foundation of a durable and stress-resistant mind.

These four simple things matter more than you might realize.

If this seems overwhelming right now, then make just one small improvement in your physical health each week.

You could experiment with your sleep schedule, exercise daily in some meaningful way (even if its just a 10 minute walk to start with) or download a drink alert app on your phone.

You could even incorporate some of these as activities with the children which may help with the endless "I'm boooooored's". Ride those bikes after work or prepare a healthy dinner together as a family.


Your breathing is a key aspect of your physiology that you can control easily. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you always have your breath to fall back on.

There are plenty of breathing techniques you can try when you’re feeling stressed, but some simple starters could be:

  • Simply take long, slow, deep breaths.

  • Inhale for four seconds, hold it for two seconds, and exhale for six seconds.

  • Just breathe normally and keep your full attention on your breath. Feel the air moving in and out of your body.

There are lots of resources to guide you towards breathing practices to help people relax, so play with it, do some research and give some a try. See which style of breathing works best for you.

Mindful breathing is also one of the most helpful tools to teach your own children when discussing emotions and improving their emotional intelligence, and I incorporate mindfulness with every young person I work with. There are lots of fun mindful activities to do with the kids that you can find easily online.

Relax your body:

When you feel stressed, there is a part of your body that is stressed, too.

  • Find that tense, uncomfortable part of your body and focus on relaxing it.

In fact, do your best to relax your entire body bu focusing on each individual area starting from the head down to the tips of your toes.

Focus on the positive:

There’s a positive aspect to any negative situation. Look for the positive and your brain will feel more at ease.

  • Most of us focus on the negative and ignore the positive, its just how are brains are designed. If you find you are doing this, then make a conscious effort to focus the opposite and feel noticeably calmer.

Remind yourself that you longer have to do the school run, or that the kids can go to bed a little later so things are not as rushed, or that the weather is glorious and things would be much more difficult if everybody was stuck inside in the rain. If you really consider things, you can always find some positive aspects from all situations.

Focus on solutions:

As mentioned, when things are going wrong, it is human nature to focus on the problem itself - which can then increase stress levels even further. Focusing on solutions however puts you in a much more empowering position.

If there’s a solution, there’s no reason to worry. If there’s not a solution, there’s no value in worrying. There is NEVER anything to gain from worrying.

Manage your thoughts:

Do you imagine the worst when something negative happens? Do you sit around and ruminate on your difficulties? Managing your headspace is necessary to stay calm regardless of the situation.

Consider if your thoughts are helping you to remain calm or creating stress, most people imagine the worst and their brains and bodies respond accordingly.

  • Try putting your attention on your breathing until you feel calmer and then begin looking for solutions.

Take cold showers or baths:

Many people find that taking a cold shower or bath each day greatly diminishes their stress response. If you can handle a cold bath, you can handle just about anything!

Take action:

When you assertively deal with negative issues, you’re taking control. Sitting around and thinking is a passive activity. Only think long enough to find a good solution and then get busy implementing it.

  • Activity helps to dissipate stress and build confidence and optimism.

Stress is unavoidable, but your ability to manage stress can be greatly enhanced with effort.

You might be surprised by how stress resistant you can become by practicing these techniques consistently.

When you can handle more stress with greater comfort, you not only find that you begging to look forward to the school holidays, but you also empower yourself to make positive changes in your health, career, relationships, and happiness.

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