Isn’t it funny how what is supposed to be the best time of the year, those long summer days that are always characterised by advertisers as sun-soaked, languid and restful for all the family, so often prove to be anything but!
The pressures of supporting teenagers through a seemingly never-ending series of exams followed by the holiday hell of congested roads, delayed flights and trying to keep every age group happy all the time in a new environment can mean summer just seems such hard work sometimes.
Definitely not the idyll so fondly imagined and portrayed by the media, but don’t be dismayed by that – real life could never match up to such idealised images that are so unrealistic and unachievable anyway.
However, what is achievable is changing your expectations and mindset with regard to situations that might prove pressurised and how you deal with them so that you feel happier and more in control, rather than tense and irritable. So if, for example, instead of the ‘perfect’ start to the holiday, you find yourself stuck at the back of a long queue in an overcrowded airport, the victim of a strike or holiday firm crash, and you can sense your levels of irritation rising, or if you are feeling anxious about an impending exam or test, what can you do to feel better?
Firstly, take some time out for yourself and give yourself a little distance from the situation so that you can keep everything in perspective. Do this by thinking about your breathing. Breathe deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth, to a slow count. It might seem a bit obvious, but for most of the time we tend to breathe rather too shallowly and quickly.
Secondly, consciously relax your muscles. Your jaw and shoulder muscles are usually the first to tense up, so relax your facial muscles (by clenching and then releasing them) and gently roll your shoulders forward and back and lift them up and down. Your stomach can tighten up too, so think about relaxing your tummy muscles. If you sense tension anywhere else in your body, relax those particular muscles too by tightening then releasing them.
Thirdly, think about the place where you feel the most calm and serene – it might be your favourite beach or a quiet spot in the countryside – and imagine that you are there and not in a queue or about to sit an exam. Make it as real as you can by using all your senses to visualise the scene, reflect on the sounds, smells, colours and textures that are surrounding you in this peaceful place and fully enjoy being there.
Finally, address your mindset and any negative thoughts you might be thinking about the situation you are in. Replace any unhelpful thoughts about it such as ‘I can’t cope’, ‘it’s all too much’ or ‘I wanted everything to be perfect’ with positive ones, reminding yourself that you can cope and putting the whole scenario into its true perspective, thus keeping things in proportion.
So, try out these tips and make the most of a more relaxed you in the face of those summer stress points!
Claire Dunworth-Warby of Aspire Associates Coaching is a Personal, Business and Education Coach working with individuals and organisations one-to-one, over the phone or online and leading workshops across the UK. Training the trainers is also available.
For more information or a free taster session contact her on:
01746 765104 or visit www.aspire-coaching.bizairport.biz