Managing stress during SATs and beyond
Year 6 children are experiencing a challenging time this week but SATs week can put a lot of pressure not only on our children but also on families and teachers.
It is essential to create a positive approach to this period for all involved. Mental health is a subject that has been receiving increased attention in most work and education environments and it is, indeed, the answer to how we are going to ensure the negative impact is kept to a minimum.
1. Mindfulness practices for everyone
Mindfulness as a concept has only become popular in the UK in the past 5 years, but most of us have practised mindfulness at a point in our lives without noticing. It’s more a matter of remembering to be mindful and setting time aside to do this. There are many ways in which we can do this, from taking a 5 minute break in a quiet space to just breath, to playing instrumental music and close our eyes for while or just taking a walk in the park, looking at the trees, or the clouds. We can all teach our children to do this and even do this together: at school, or at home.
Remember that life will happen the way it does, but the one thing we have control over is our attitude towards it.
2. Healthy food
You don’t need quinoa salads to stay healthy. A weekly or fortnightly run to your nearest fruit and veg market will be just fine. Stock up on seasonal foods and try to eat as many as you can in their raw state. Drink a lot of water and yes, you are allowed to eat that chocolate bar. Balance is what matters most. Encourage children to eat their daily portion of fruit too, or vice versa!
3. Good sleep
In times of stress, falling asleep can be difficult, but routine here is key. Children are also very susceptible to staring at screens until close to bed time, so think of making a general rule for your household about phone or laptop use in the evening. Instead, sit together with a hot drink, listening to music or reading a book even if it’s just for 15 minutes. A hot bath or gentle arm and leg stretches prepare your body for sleep too!
Run, cycle, swim, do yoga or pilates, go for a walk or hula hoop, do your best to find something that you enjoy doing and start doing once a week. Children can join you too or have their own activities! Not only this will build another healthy routine, but it is a great way to eliminate stress and ensure a good night’s sleep!
Yes, we may listen to the radio every day, but try something else. Classical, traditional Irish, zen instrumental, African drums, folk or ambient music can create a calm and relaxed atmosphere in your home while everyone is busy with their night routine. On the other hand, an upbeat breakfast playlist could get everyone ready for a long day!
If you live in the city, it’s easy to become disconnected from one of the best sources of energy and well-being. Ensure your children can breath fresh air regularly by visiting parks, or going on day trips - you don’t need to spend much if you just hop on a bus to the nearest park or forest with a picnic. Spring is a gorgeous time of the year so make the most of it in your time off - it’’s a favour to you as much as it is for the young ones!
7. Talk about it
Don’t let it eat you from the inside. If you are feeling anxious, reach out - and make sure the children know that you are going through something. Not sharing our experiences with them will only lead them to become afraid, closed and just as anxious. Talking about your problems does not make us weak, but the opposite. And it will make us all kinder too.
You got this!