3rd August 2020
Back To Reality
Thanks for 'tuning in' again to our Thumbs Up blog. Now like hopefully like many of you, I have just returned from a holiday; a carefully planned trip in our motorhome around the South West of Scotland, or commonly known as SW300, however COVID took probably around 150 miles off our journey, some of the campsites closing due to the strict measures that had been put in place. We stayed in four different sites over eight days, and even tried out 'wild-camping', which really got us back to nature, experiencing four seasons in the space of three hours, but witnessed with a view of Clatteringshaws Loch which was no hardship!
So how do we return to 'normality'? Working in education, we know the value of the summer holidays, and perhaps now more than ever. Undoubtedly you will be preoccupied by the uncertainty surrounding the schools reopening, so I suspect many of you maybe finding it difficult to discover that 'off' switch. I don't know about you, but enjoying a holiday lends itself to being able to put yourself in a 'bubble', find that switch and enjoy some physical and mental relaxation, however, the 'holiday blues' has become prolific since the end of term and I suspect for the remainder of the holidays for the teaching fraternity because of the sense of the unknown that awaits your return.
During these times that concerns over mental health are at the forefront of our minds, taking a break is of the utmost importance, however of course this is not possible for everyone, logistically it is in fact proving somewhat of a nightmare. So firstly let's look at those families that can't manage to get away; this does not stop you 'taking a break', mark it down in the diary as though you were leaving your home, and prepare as you perhaps would normally. Don't know about you but I like to change the bed and hoover before I go (always nice to come back to a tidy house, it makes the washing onslaught somehow more manageable), so go about your normal holiday routine, and then make some plans; whether it's the zoo or the park for a picnic or a bike ride, mark it on the calendar or in the diary and DO IT. Set yourself some achievable goals and reward yourself when you conquer those goals, but don't forget to not set yourself up for a fail, for instance if you thought 'I would like to run 10 miles before I go back to school', don't try running the 10 in week one, build up to it, feel the physical and emotional sensation of that sense of achievement, goals can be set individually or indeed as the family. In achieving goals - it can give a positivity a huge boost by levels of dopamine (our 'feel good' chemical) being set free around our bodies.
Conversley, if you do manage to go on holiday, whatever your destination, invariably about two days from the end, as an adult, we may start thinking about all those tasks awaiting us when we return home. The first thing to remember is that when those thoughts raise their 'ugly' head, just reassure yourself that worrying about what is to be dealt with at home, is just that; it cannot be dealt with whilst still on your holiday, so leave it where it belongs - at home. If we constantly 'bring' the future into the 'now', it brings in a sense of anxiety into that moment that in fact cannot be changed. We talk to children about 'those' words - 'what if...?'. For instance as the end of your holiday looms, you may find yourself thinking, 'what if we don't go back to school in September?', or 'what if I can't complete that lesson preparation by end of August?' and so on. But the fact of the matter is...worrying about these issues won't change anything, so just enjoy every moment of your holiday. When we work, in particular with year 6 children, in about June we find many 'what-if's?' creeping in to their thoughts - 'what if I don't get put in a class with my friends?', 'what if I find the homework too difficult?' etc, but the fact is they are potentially giving a lot of focus to situations that may not occur - a wasted energy for sure. This really is lending itself into our topic of mindfulness - 'to have the ability to live in the now', which I will cover in my next blog.
So upon my return from holidays - for the first time we left our son who is 17, our daughter is on holiday in Cornwall with her boyfriend's family, so he was left with a lengthy list of tasks to complete (well 'leave the fish alone' didn't require much energy). To be fair - he did very well - the lawn was half mowed ('it was wet'), his washing basket was full ('it won't take you long to do!'), and none of the food I left him was eaten ('I ate out every day'), but yes - I did worry on my holiday about what I was coming home too, and of course once I returned home, I realised that I wasted far far too much time thinking about what was or wasn't to greet me.
I guess the moral of this post is to remind us that worrying about the past or indeed the future bring on symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, so why do we do it to ourselves? Enjoy this moment, for this is the only one we have control over and....relax.
See you next time.