Ah, the summer holidays. Alfresco breakfasts, paddling pools and throwing caution to the wind when it comes to bedtimes. However, the harsh reality is that for working parents the summer holidays bring a particularly intense brand of stress to daily life.
The added expense of childcare outside of term-time means that many of us are run ragged juggling work and looking after little (and not-so-little) ones. Carefully constructed routines are knocked completely out of kilter and on long, hot days you find yourself negotiating outrageous bribes and peace offerings just to get 5 minutes peace – ice cream for dinner, anyone?
Hence the launch of our #just5minutes campaign, where we plan to share our top tips for keeping your blood pressure in check during the long summer break. So without further ado, here are our 5 favourite tips for staying sane when it feels like you only have 5 minutes peace – max! – a day…
Burning an Aromatherapy Candle.
Fragrance is an incredibly powerful tool for dealing with moods and emotions. A particular scent or fragrance can dredge up memories we thought we’d completely wiped from our brain decades earlier and perfume companies spend thousands each year on researching the connections between certain fragrances and positive emotions. But it’s not romance – it’s science. Smells are routed through the olfactory bulb in the brain; a section closely connected with the amygdala and hippocampus which oversee – guess what? – memory and emotion. Look for candles with Rose, Lavender, Ylang Ylang or Clary Sage – all of which are thought to calm and promote relaxation or grounding – and take a moment just to breathe.
Devote five minutes to decluttering your brain. Write a list of everything whizzing around up there, be it a nagging To Do list or a list of worries and fears. Finally, write a list of 3 things to be grateful for. Alternatively, if writing isn’t your thing, then doodle away, colour it in and let your mind wander. Don’t aim to achieve anything; it’s not about the end result but rather the process of expelling worrying thoughts.
Take your favourite hand lotion, settle yourself down in a comfy chair and treat yourself to a hand massage to ease any tension. New to hand massage? Pinch the ends of your fingers with a healthy pressure (but not so much it hurts). Gently kneading the pad just below the palm will release any tension held in the jaw, whereas small pressure circles applied to the centre of the palm will ground and centre you. Finally, if you use a hand lotion fragranced with calming essential oils, bring your hands to your face and inhale deeply.
If it’s the summer holidays, the chances are you’ve already been outside today, come rain or shine. But this time, go for you. A 5 minute pace around the block will suffice; just leave your phone at home, get your heart rate up and enjoy some fresh air and space to gather your thoughts.
5 Minute Rituals
My 5 minute evening ritual is to properly cleanse my face. Strangely, it isn’t really to do with skincare but it’s more of a signal to my body – and my mind – that the day is done. Afterwards, I feel like I have permission to unwind and relax. In fact, as soon as the kids are off to sleep, I head to the bathroom and ‘take off the day’. Doing the same sequence of activities daily over a period of time creates a shift in your thinking and trains your brain to jump to into a different – more relaxed – state. Clever, hmm?
Any ritual will do, as long as it means something to you and helps you to relax. It could be making a cup of tea, a 5 minute pace, a stretching sequence or a short meditation. It’s about setting a new rhythm for your mind to tune into. Rituals work brilliantly first thing (for getting your brain into the right mindset for the day ahead) or at the end of the day (for switching your brain off). I’d love to hear yours – do share in the comments or on social media!
Wishing you lots of peace, love and camomile tea to get you through to September.