It is already the final week of April, and with a quick flip of the calendar we will enter May. May presents a huge balance challenge for many families.*
Parents are juggling their work schedules to accommodate extra practices for recitals and concerts. Students are facing pressure to catch up with missing work while their daily schedule at school becomes less predictable with field trips and end of year tests and parties
End of year added responsibilities increase the stress quotient. In the interest of resilience, we need to “make waves.”
Making waves is all about energy out, and energy recovered. Ideally we plan for time to be busy, and time to rest (not pass out). We all have a unique rhythm that works for us, and it changes with age and the stage of development and responsibilities. We can’t control the unpredictability of added stress that May brings to our family, but we can make intentional changes in our unscheduled time that often robs us of much needed recovery.
Exercise is a physiological example of waves at work. In a 60 minute workout, you will spend approximately 15 minutes warming up, thirty minutes of energy expended, and 15 minutes cooling down. Your body even does the cool down for you if you don’t allow for it yourself. Your heart rate, respiration, and perspiration recognize that it is time to wind down. This is one of the many reasons why health professionals (medical and psychological) recommend exercise as a regular routine for well-being. Your body memorizes this pattern of stress and recovery for stress which is an immunity booster for when you are under stress that you can’t control.
Here are the signs and symptoms of Tsunami (Too much energy out—poor use of energy recovered):
Magnified sense of pressure and stress
Amplified anxiety and nervousness
Increasingly negative attitude
Frequent cold/flu symptoms
Diminished work enjoyment
Physical aches and pains
In the recovery phase of your wave you want to do something that makes you say “AHHHHHHH” with a sense of relief. That may be laying down, reading a book, finding a fun blog, crafting, knitting, playing a game with your children, listening to music while sipping exotic tea . . . It is a planned rejuvenation that allows you to bounce back from your day with a smile . . . and has no side effects. If your idea of recovery is a tall glass of red wine some evenings—that may be helpful. If a tall glass of red wine is your only go-to for stress recovery you can see how that might become a problem.
Even though we are using the waves analogy, beware of “surfing.’ Television and Internet are the “go to” stress buster for students, but it is not best. Give the green light on choosing shows or games that are special and make your student feel like they get a break, but research has shown that “surfing” the net or cable does not reduce stress. It is distraction, not relaxation.
Before you turn the page on your calendar to officially begin the countdown to summer, make plans to build resilience into your May schedule by creating free time for yourself and your family. Go to the library to check out some books, dust off the games, and scope the weekend movie listings. With intention, you won’t be hurdling through May and crashing into summer.
It’s all about the waves!
*If the end of school doesn’t trigger feelings of overwhelm, don’t skimp on taking inventory of your stress response this month. Consider the activities that are “just for you” that you never seem to find time for in your life. Don’t postpone making a life change for when everything is going smoothly. Life is tricky, create memorable rejuvenation time starting now.