As us parents prepare to start the school summer holidays we are also slowly getting used to the changes which have come in with the lifting of Covid restrictions. From speaking to family and friends I have noticed that the spilt is pretty even on whether this news is the best thing ever or making them feel a little uneasy at what is to come. Whether it is the possibility of another lockdown in the autumn or just the personal debate over continuing to wear a mask in public it is easy to see why there is some uncertainty in the air.
All changes, even positive ones, can potentially affect our mental health. “When you change, it actually activates the conflict sensors in the brain and this causes brain chaos that we call cognitive dissonance,” Dr. Srini Pillay, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, tells Talkspace. “This activation of the conflict sensor becomes stressful to people.”
There are a number of simple ways we can all take that little bit of extra care of our own mental health, or the mental wellbeing of our children who will see their normal routines disrupted over these coming weeks. Whether you prefer to be active and play a sport or go for a walk, or a more relaxing method such as mediation or yoga there is a self-care ‘activity’ for everyone.
With children finishing school for nearly two months, it can be very beneficial to try and maintain a routine and daily structure with them and this will make the return to school in September less of a shock too. For anxious children, or parents who are used to juggling different daily schedules, it can be useful (and an enjoyable joint activity) to plan the day or week ahead so that everyone knows what will be happening where and when. On a similar train of thought it can be nice for a child to complete a journal at the end of the day, this can become a place to talk about the day’s highlights and also low moments- what has been enjoyed and what they have found a struggle. This can be used to open a conversation between a child and parent which might otherwise have been missed.
Getting a good night’s sleep and waking up feeling refreshed is a perfect way to look after our mental well-being. Poor sleep is linked to physical problems such as a weakened immune system and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. However, bed time can be a bigger struggle than normal during the holidays, not only is it lighter at night (and then in the morning too!) but also it can seem hard to justify a ‘decent’ bed time when our children know they don’t have to be up for school in the morning.
A weighted blanket could be the ideal tool to help your little one’s sleep at night whether they are poor sleepers in general or have additional anxieties (or giddiness!) at the changes occurring at the moment. The weight from a weighted blanket encourages the brain to create higher levels of serotonin and melatonin which are both relaxing chemicals. At the same time the pressure lowers levels of cortisol which is a hormone known for negatively impacting stress and anxiety levels. These chemical changes should leave the user feeling calmer, able to fall asleep quicker and have a deeper, better quality of sleep meaning they are more refreshed and ready to face the new day in the morning.
So, whether you are ready to embrace these summer months or you are dreading the juggle of work and childcare there are a number of ways you can try to alleviate some of the stress and tension without having to change the world. However you do it, you will get through it ❤️