I have to admit that, despite the chaos, the noise, the ever-empty fridge and the mounds of washing, I felt quite down once I had dropped the kids back to school after their holiday break.
For those of us prone to depression or any form of anxiety, times like these can be a flash-point where we can be suddenly thrown back into unhelpful patterns of thinking or feeling.
This is because, during a family break, there are so many other things to think about and focus on.
Mindfulness And Mediation May Help.
Happiness is very much about directing your focus. That’s why Mindful Meditation is so useful because it teaches you to live in the ‘now’ and to focus on the current moment.
Lots of us get anxious when we start listing all the things we have to do in our heads and then we find the weight of our responsibilities may trigger a stressful reaction.
Some of us don’t even realise the reasons why we are suddenly feeling blue.
But if we know we are likely to feel down once we have delivered our little bundles of joy (or bigger bundles!) to the school gate, we can make sure that we take some time to be kind to ourselves during the early days of the new term – and ideally all the time!
When Your Sadness Interferes With Your Daily Life….
Of course if you are feeling extremely down and it is interfering with your daily life – for example you can’t sleep or you are having panic attacks, you should make an appointment with your GP to talk through what it worrying you.
Try to do the same with a trusted family member – or a friend if your problems are caused by a family situation. I have a list of helpline numbers you may find useful HERE.
There is no shame in admitting that you are struggling to cope. I have had counselling on previous occasions and found it extremely beneficial. There is something about hearing yourself discussing your problems that can trigger an ‘ah-ha’ moment.
You may find yourself admitting to feelings you try to hide even from yourself or finally realise what the true nature of a concern may be.
Psychologically, our habits can often be a smokescreen to hide what we are feeling. There is a hidden pay-off for sticking firmly to habits that we know are not doing us any good.
We might sit on the sofa eating chocolate not because we are lazy but because we find going out and meeting new people extremely stressful.
We may spend too much time buying make-up or clothes not because we just enjoy these activities but because we are trying to shore up our fragile self confidence by endlessly seeking the ‘perfect’ outfit or the foundation that will give us the ‘perfect’ complexion.
The danger of course is that if we don’t address our less-than-healthy habits, they can sometimes spiral into bigger problems such as addiction.
Talking through your problems is key.
Time To Be Kind To Yourself
For those of us who are just feeling a little down because our babies are back in school (although I know quite a few mums who have got the flags out!), here are some quick tips to be kind to yourself.
Treat yourself to flowers
Buy yourself a bunch of flowers and display them in your best vase. Aldi and Lidl have great, inexpensive bouquets
Visit your local library
Leaving aside the importance of keeping our precious libraries alive, you could stock up on some juicy novels to enjoy in the evenings instead of the endless reality TV shows.
If you are prone to anxiety and depression, some of the current Soap storylines aren’t exactly cheering either so you might want to give these a miss for a while.
Or add some Classics to your E-reader
Why not download some of the free classic novels for your Kindle or E-reader. You could try Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” and spend your time dreaming about Mr Darcy. There are plenty of free and bargain books to be had on the weekly book linky HERE.
Plan some family activities for the weekend
These don’t have to cost money – just a trip to the local beach or park with some sandwiches and a flask would be fun.
Plan a special traditional Sunday lunch
So many families no longer seem to sit down to eat together around a table, or even to have a good, old-fashioned Sunday roast.
Why not make Sunday special with a roasted chicken with all the trimmings followed by an apple crumble or custard, or a vegetarian or vegan feast?
Plan activities for the next school holiday
Have you written down all the school holiday dates with bank holidays and Inset Days?
Book some activities now or if you are planning to go away on holiday, the sooner you book, the better the availability will be.
There are loads of fabulous places to visit in the UK and there are loads of sites which offer deals on hotel accommodation – or why not try a local B&B?
Clean the house from top to bottom
Cleaning can be very therapeutic. I’m not suggesting you go all Marie Kondo (in her best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying-Up”) but a sort through of some of the piles of post (admit it, you have them too) and a bit of a dust will burn some calories and lift your mood, particularly if you do it to your favourite music.
Sort through the kids’ toys
Get rid of all the broken bits and pieces, incomplete jigsaws and toys they no longer play with.
Old toys can go to charity but it’s probably best to check with the kids when they get home to avoid a total meltdown.
You could encourage the kids to make a bit of extra pocket money to put towards a family trip by selling their old toys. Perhaps you could have a weekend family car boot sale.
A half hour walk a day will help clear your head and give you some focus. If you don’t fancy leaving the house, why not treat yourself to an exercise DVD. You might feel a bit more confident learning your Zumba moves at home before venturing out to a local class.
Review your childcare
If you work, now might be a good time to check that you have the right childcare. It’s important to feel confident that your child-minders and babysitters are the right ones for your children.
If there are any issues festering or you feel that your kids just aren’t happy, take some time to do some research and talk to some of the other mums about who they use and who they would recommend.
Find Some Mum Friends
If you are a stay-at-home mum, it can be difficult to find adult company during the day – particularly if all your friends are at work. There are numerous “meet-a-mum” sites online where you can look for friend in your area. Or why not see if any of your Facebook friends live close to you and invite them for a coffee?
Talk To Someone About Any Relationship Problems
It’s not surprising that, with the kids out of the way, your focus may turn to the other relationships in your life – particularly your partner and your immediate family. Now may be the time to sort out any niggling disagreements or even seek counselling if a long-term problem is dragging your down.
You may find some useful advice in my regular agony column, Relationship Dilemmas, and feel free to message me if you would like my advice on your situation.
Hopefully these tips will help dispel the feeling of gloom that can descend during the first few days of a new term.
There’s Light At The End Of The Tunnel!
And remember, usually, it’s only another 5 or 6 weeks till the next holiday when we’ll all be stressing about how we’re going to fill the time!
Take this time to look after yourself and recharge your batteries so you’ll be ready for whatever this term – and the next holiday – throw at you.
How do you cope with the back-to-school-blues?