Making the most of your summer holidays

Kathryn Lovewell is a teacher trainer specialising in emotional resilience and author of 'Every Teacher Matters – Inspiring Well-Being through Mindfulness.'

TLC! By the end of the term, most teachers are pretty pooped, many have colds or sore throats and your immune systems are usually low. Support your body by taking plenty of Vitamin C, drink lots of water, wrap up warm and enjoy some gentle exercise in the fresh air. This will help recharge your batteries for the holidays.

Allow yourself time to unwind. Diarise “down time” so that you don’t over book your social calendar, leaving you little time to rest. “Party on” for sure and leave time to chill. This way you will have more energy to enjoy the holidays and embrace the opportunity to dance, sing and be merry!

Set your boundaries. If you’re holding a gathering, give a start and finish time (especially if you’re fatigued). It’s often hard to get people to leave, so pre-frame your “pumpkin” time as Cinders (and Prince Charming) need their beauty sleep!

Suit yourself! Holidays are a time to catch up with friends and family. Stress often arises because you try to please everyone and accommodate everyone else’s needs. It may seem like the easier option to say yes to everyone, but long term it will create exhaustion and resentment. Decide what you’d love for yourself, who and what events you’d like to prioritise and embrace those. Of course you may have to compromise in some situations; decide how much time you’re willing to give to Great Aunt Flo for example, bid them good cheer and leave when you’re ready. Give yourself permission to serve your needs first. Quietly but firmly structure your boundaries so that you are not overwhelmed by obligations. This is your holiday, you’ve earned it, choose what you’d love!

Prepare for delays! To avoid stress over the holidays, leave plenty of time to get to your destinations. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a jam and fretting about how late you’re going to be. Sometimes unexpected delays are unavoidable, so be prepared. If you’re travelling a distance, ensure you have a phone charger car adaptor, a flask of something warm and some protein snacks. These preventative measures will ease the stress if needed and reassure if you don’t.

Count your blessings. If you’re finding it hard to be grateful for this “time off” when all you can see is the pile of exams to mark and the lesson plans to complete, stop for a moment and realign your thinking. What have you to be grateful for? You have the best job in the world – inspiring young people – or if that’s too hard – you have a job! You may have a cold, but you are well in yourself; you have family and friends that love you (even Auntie Margery that always criticises your weight/outfit/children when you visit!) You have yummy food and a warm home... You get the picture.

Time to reflect. Even if you are cream crackered right now, give yourself time to reflect on your achievements this term. Especially if you’re an NQT and you’re feeling done in, just look back and dig out all the little wins you’ve enjoyed - A magical lesson; a fabulous assembly, a wonderful form party, an unexpected thank you from a student, a well done from a colleague. You’re doing an awesome job – remember that!

Have Fun! If you are feeling rather grey and you have more “humbug” than “ho ho ho” in you, give yourself permission to gentle your way into the holiday. There are often heavy expectations placed on this season more than any other. If you’re tired and blue, be kind to yourself, keep it simple and let your tension ease away with loving “activities” like having a duvet day; snuggling up on the sofa with a soppy movie or spending hours in bed chatting on the phone or Skype. Choose what will re-balance you and do that. Let go of all the shoulds and ask yourself “What’s the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?” and do that.

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