3 Strategies to Manage Back to School Stress

In my experience the beginning of September is always a big transition.  I find myself craving schedule again.  I am ready for less indulgence in summer food and drinks and my body is crying to get back to a regular exercise, yoga and meditation practice.  But it comes with a lot of other things…back to school shopping, new shoes for everyone (indoor and outdoor runners, dance shoes and rugby cleats, new rainboots cuz the boys go through 2 pairs a season…the freakin’ shoes, ugh), early mornings, shopping for school lunches, after school activities, getting the 4 kids to different locations, on time, sometimes at opposite ends of town.  Yikes.  It stresses me out just writing it down.

So often I catch myself, at the beginning of September, feeling like I’m sitting on a beautiful, sunny beach on the last day of a fantastic Hawaiian vacation. I am wasting the last hours of it clinging desperately onto something I don’t want to end while missing the crimson sunset.  This year I’m determined to keep a more level head.  I want to enjoy the last few weeks of summer.  I want to keep my anxiety down.  And I want to be the best version of myself that I can be- not the tight, pinchy face, angry Mom that is barking at her kids and pulling away from her husband’s attempts at calming her.  Ask Kevin.  It’s all true.  He really calls me Pinchy Face when I’m stressed out.

So below I have 3 strategies that I am going to practice this next week as I head into September.

  1. Honour transitions.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a big or a little transition- we need to honour them. The little transitions: when I wake up, roll out of bed and my feet hit the ground.  Another day ahead.  After work, sitting in the van, about to pick the kids up from school (we’re down to 3 schools this year for our 4 children!).  Here we go!  The bigger transitions: moving from my easy, breezy summer not-schedule into the business of September.  Waiting for my bonus son to make the big move into high school and english stream.  My own transformation from government worker to entrepreneur.  Getting used to a new ebb and flow.  So I am going to honour these transitions.  Stay present.  When I feel my heartbeat speed up and the subtle weightiness in my chest that is anxiety, I will STOP.  I will take a moment.  Just a moment.  I will take a deep BREATH.  I will take it all in.  I will remember to stop and breathe.  My practice is to close my eyes, and just breathe for 2 minutes.  That’s it.  Two minutes.
  2. Gratitude.  The word maybe be overused in today’s hippie-granola-touchy feely-yoga circles that I hang out in, but it is definitely not over-rated.  Having a gratitude practice brings your awareness to the things you want to expand in your life.   I personally use the 5 Minute Journal.  It is short, sweet and powerful.  Everyday has an inspirational quote.  I take a few minutes at the beginning of my day to fill out the few morning questions: I am grateful for…? What would make today great? And an affirmation: I am___.  And I take a few more minutes at the end of the day to answer the evening questions:  What were 3 amazing things that happened today? How could I have made today better?   The added bonus about putting pen to paper is that on the days that you are struggling, you can flip back and remind yourself of all that you have to celebrate and all that you want to expand!
  3. Brain Dump.  This is a great stategy for when you bump up against overwhelm.  You have so much on your mind, so many things to do and obviously not enough time in one day to finish them all.  Grab a pen and paper.  Sit down and write down everything that is on your mind.  Everything.  All the feelings.  All the worries.  All the to-do list.  Write until you have nothing left to write.  Blank mind.  Nothing left.  Then stop.  Close your eyes.  Breathe.  2 minutes.  Then open your eyes and read over your list.  Pick 3 things that you can actually accomplish today.  Then make a plan to do them.  And do it!  You can’t do it all, you can’t be everything to everyone, you can’t be everywhere at the same time.  But there is something that you can cross off today.

So to sum it up…2 minutes to stop and breathe.  Another 5 minutes to journal.  I’m at a total of 7 minutes per day.  And then brain dump.  About 10 minutes for this if it comes up.  I’m up to 17 minutes per day to invest in my peace of mind.  Not too much to ask.  So ask yourself: What do you want to expand in your life?  What can you reasonably accomplish today? And how much time are you willing to invest in your peace of mind?

From my home to yours, Happy September!

Comments 2

  1. Loved this Cathy! You are amazing with your honest and inspiring words. I feel so much better already just from reading your post. I’m inspired to apply all these strategies in my life. Thank you ? Happy September ?

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