We are all aware of the need for, and benefits of, good sleep habits, healthy diet and exercise. Our bodies depend upon self-care. As we enjoy Spring and leave the colder months behind us, it’s a good time to recalibrate.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health and wellbeing has been well-documented and commented upon. We see the impact of isolation, physical distancing and uncertainty around COVID on young people’s social skills and social emotional learning. But, being back onsite at school has allowed us to focus on aspects of social development that were harder to engage with online.
We are not fixing; we are resetting and recalibrating - building emotional literacy and self-confidence. Something as fundamental as improved self-talk, which guides our perceptions, can lead to a healthier approach to life’s challenges.
Here are some ideas to build mental fitness:
Instead of saying “I am no good at….”, say “I can’t do …… yet” and work to make it happen – ask for help from teachers, parents, collaborate with friends, practise and seek feedback
Instead of saying, “I am …”, say “I feel…” (e.g. “I feel worried” instead of “I am anxious” or “I have anxiety”). Name your emotions to better understand them
Practice mindfulness or meditation – start with simple exercises
Reach out – there are caring adults, online help services and supportive friends. No one need ever feel they are beyond the reach of help when it is needed.
Keep a gratitude journal or quietly reflect at the start and finish of each day – “What am I looking forward to today?” “What am I grateful for today?”
Nurture spirituality - build a sense of purpose, divine mystery, peace, hope and connectedness
Practise noticing your thoughts. “Is this helpful?” “Is this kind?” Challenge yourself.
Explore new ideas and interests to generate a sense of calmness, openness, curiosity and being energised.
Over the Term 3 break and into the warmer months of the year, create your own mental fitness menu by exploring the many apps and websites available. Be discerning, not all sites are created equal and not all ideas are right for you.
For students, as you prepare for exam periods, find time for mental health as you study. You will reap the benefits in the short- and long-term if you do.