Schools out

Insights from Ruth Williams

Mixed would be the best word to describe how I feel about facing the summer holidays with my incredible boys (age 2 and 6). Memories will be created and adventures will be had. Alongside the laughter I expect to encounter moments or more when a sensation washes over me akin to ‘my head is about to explode!’ So, after many years spent knee deep in psychology I thought I might share with you a few things I do that get me through.

Smile

Wonderful things happen when you smile, even when you don’t feel even a little bit like doing it! When your facial muscles form a smile, even if it is forced then your heart rate reduces and your stress levels go down. The study called ‘Grin and bear it’ tested genuine smiles and forced smiles. It’s a quick easy lift when you need it most.

Breathe

Maybe because I tend to almost stop breathing when I feel under pressure, this is my all-time favourite quick stress buster. There are a wide range of ideas on offer out there. Here’s my favourite:

1. Breathe from the stomarch

2. Breathe in through the nose and blow out through the mouth as if you are blowing through a little funnel held to your lips.

3. Count – 7 when breathing in and 11 when breathing out.

Side by side

There can be so much pressure to do the big outings and multiple playdates that it can be easy to miss your children preferring something else, maybe something simple. This is great time to get curious and discover things they love which probably, above all else, is time playing with you. I try to put the household jobs to one side and get down on the floor to just do what they’re doing with them. With my boys playing without loads of chatting can work wonders. I build lego models alongside them and wait quietly for them to initiate the conversation. I’m still surprised by how much they share when we do this together.