April 11, 2023

School Holidays: the importance of rest and relaxation

School holidays are a great opportunity for children to take a break from the intensity of the school routine and embrace the joys of lazy days, playtime, and exploration. However, while many parents make an effort to plan activities and outings to keep their kids ‘busy’ and entertained, they often forget the importance of rest and relaxation time during these breaks.

Dr Daniel Siegel has developed a tool called ‘The Healthy Mind Platter’, which contains seven daily essential activities to ensure a balanced approach to life, and therefore optimal wellbeing. One of the activities in ‘The Healthy Mind Platter’ is DOWNTIME. 

It’s essential for children to have sufficient downtime (at all times), but particularly during the school holidays to reset their nervous systems. Rest and relaxation allow the body and mind to recover and rejuvenate, which is crucial for maintaining overall health and wellbeing. From a neurological perspective, research has shown that downtime helps children to regulate their emotions, reduce stress levels, and improve memory and cognitive function.

By incorporating rest and relaxation into your holiday plans, parents can help their children to unwind and recharge, setting them up for success in both their academic and personal lives. 

Here are some of the benefits of rest and relaxation during the school holidays:

1. Reduced stress levels – a small amount of stress is a natural part of life, but too much of it can have a detrimental effect on a child’s physical and mental health. Taking time to rest and relax during the school holidays can help to reduce stress levels, decreasing the chance of children experiencing anxiety or other mental health issues.

2. Improved sleep quality – rest and relaxation are essential for getting a good night’s sleep. When children are overstimulated or engaging in too many stimulating activities, it can be difficult for them to wind down and fall asleep. By incorporating rest and relaxation into their routines, parents can help to improve their child’s sleep quality, allowing them to feel more refreshed and energised throughout the day.

3. Enhanced creativity and imagination – children’s brains are like sponges, constantly absorbing information and making connections. However, to foster creativity and imagination, kids need time to let their minds wander and explore. Rest and relaxation can provide the downtime children need to let their imaginations run wild and come up with new ideas.

While it’s essential to provide children with engaging and stimulating activities over the school holidays, it’s equally important to schedule in some downtime for rest and relaxation. By doing so, parents can help their children to regulate their emotions, reduce stress levels, improve sleep quality, foster creativity and imagination, and even perform better academically. Ultimately, rest and relaxation are essential for maintaining overall health and wellbeing, and should be a priority in every child’s holiday plan.

You can find a copy of ‘The Healthy Mind Platter’ here.

I use this as a planning tool with some of my adolescent clients to ensure they are incorporating balanced activities in their daily lives to improve their sense of wellbeing. I encourage you to have a look for yourself and see if this is a tool that can help you and your children find a more balanced approach to life.

With gratitude