Stress Busters

28 Aug 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

The start of the new school year can be a stressful time for the whole family, but Y has found there are ways to keep your cool 

Many mums say the back-to-school season rivals the holidays as the most stressful time of the year. The whirlwind spans from shopping for supplies to scheduling new autumn activities. Whether you’re a single parent or part of a pair, everyone can benefit from reducing stress during this busy time of year.

One full-time working mum who lives in Muscat admits she is dreading the start of the new school year, saying that getting back into the swing of a stricter routine is stressful for her family.

Thanks to the long summer holidays enjoyed by students in Oman, she says her children resist the earlier bedtime and wake-up times, while the school run is a nightmare. 

“We have to be on the road by 7.15am to get to school on time,” she says. “So being super organised in the evening is a must if we are to make it in time.

“The crazy drivers and traffic jams do nothing for my stress levels and I still have to get to work myself! I race back to school for the afternoon pick-up and drop them at home before heading back to the office again. 

“Then there’s homework, after-school clubs, play dates and all those other school-related activities that parents have to attend.

“Every day is busy, but it is much more difficult for the first month or so of the new school year.”

Nancy Peplinsky, founder and executive director of Holistic Moms Network, a US-based non-profit organisation, offers some of her favourite ways to relax and stay calm as the family gears up for the new school year. 

“There are some very simple and inexpensive things every busy mum can do in just a few minutes to reduce stress,” she says, including: 

  • Breathe deeply: Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a teaspoon of organic olive oil. Rub it into your temples, on the back of your neck (where many of us feel stress), or on the soles of your feet. Cup your hands in front of your face and breathe deeply for 30 seconds to inhale the scent and grab a little calm. Try it before chauffeuring the kids to school and from their after-school activities in rush-hour traffic.
  • Try tea time: After yet another hectic day, brew yourself a cup of chamomile tea. Add some honey and enjoy. If you can find the time to sit down for 10 minutes to drink it, even better. 
  • Create calm: Lying awake at night thinking about the next day’s schedule? For sleeplessness due to mental hyperactivity, try a relaxing herbal tea and avoid drinking caffeinated coffee or tea, which only serves to heighten alertness.
  • Take a time-out: When you find yourself worrying about the costs of school supplies, extracurricular activities and tuition, stop! Devote 10 minutes to quiet meditation. Relax your mind and focus on breathing. Check out great apps such as Headspace to get you started and to guide you.
  • Defuse arguments: Communication is key. Set up a strategy before you go out shopping and share it with the children. Explain that there is a financial limit for spending, and guide them to stay within the budget by presenting choices between items, including the expensive, trendy clothes they want. This will make them feel empowered and help them to grow. Also discuss and agree on bedtime before school starts.
  • Power down: Sleep is vital for anyone to function optimally. Parents and children alike should get into the habit of powering down all electronics at least an hour before bed to decrease sleep disturbances. Research shows these devices stimulate the brain, so should be avoided at bedtime. Also, cut out caffeine and sugar after a certain time and avoid eating a heavy meal before bed.

“Mums need to be healthy to support their families,” Peplinksy says. “Reducing stress keeps mums healthy so we can be more effective parents.”

Our Muscat mum agrees. 

“There’s a lot I should be doing to make going back to school a more relaxing experience for my family,” she says. “As a working mum, sometimes it is hard to take a step back and see the forest for the trees. 

“But this year, I will be trying to make an extra effort to keep everybody calm, happy and looking forward to going back to school – even if it means stopping for 15 minutes to take a deep breath and slow down.

“If only I could do the same with the traffic.”

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