This week is Children’s Mental Health Week, and at Braintastic! Science we are passionate about about talking to young people about mental health. You can find some great resources for PSHE lessons on mental wellbeing here. But I also think it’s important to lead by example, so today I wanted to share a personal post, and discuss some of the wellbeing habits that I use in my own life. Your own mental wellbeing is unique to you, and the techniques that work for one person won’t necessarily work for another, but there is evidence to support each of the techniques I use.
I have been meditating on and off for nearly 10 years now, and I find it a really helpful tool to slow my ever-busy mind, and help reduce my tendency to ruminate about the past and worry about the future. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to let thoughts come and go, while you focus on your experience- breathing, the sounds around you, or the feeling of the path you are walking along. I currently use the Calm app, which I find really helpful- their daily 10 min meditations are easy to fit into a busy schedule, and I also love their bedtime meditations and stories for when I have trouble sleeping (not sponsored- I just think it’s a great app!)
2) Healthy Eating, without restriction
I know that I feel best when I eat a varied diet, based mainly around plants. But food is more than just nourishment- it’s fun, it’s celebration, and eating with friends is a huge part of my life. So it’s also important to me that I can enjoy all foods, without feeling guilty, or labelling them as ‘bad’.
I love anything crafty- crochet, embroidery, papercrafts, calligraphy- I just love the process of making something from nothing. I’ve also recently started playing around with watercolours. I was never good at art at school, but my understanding of our amazing flexible brains made me realise there was no reason I couldn’t learn- and that’s pretty empowering! In the modern world, it often seems like we are pushed to turn everything into a ‘side hustle’, but I think it’s really important to have something you do just for fun, and that you push yourself to try things you think you won’t be any good at!
These aren’t something I use all the time, but I have been known to pull them out when I need them. In the lead-up to my book being published, I was really nervous, and imposter syndrome began to creep in. So I wrote myself some affirmations (in calligraphy, on a pretty water-colour background!) and stuck them to my mirror. Every morning, I said them to myself, and over time, I began to believe them. It may sound (and feel) a bit odd, but research has shown that using affirmations to help us focus on our core values can help us deal with things that might normally make us doubt ourselves.
5) Time with friends and family
Humans are a social species, and we thrive through connections with other people. Spending time with people I love is really important for me to keep my mental well-being in great shape. We can get so busy that it’s easy to neglect our relationships, but they are so important for our mental wellbeing, so I try hard to prioritise them, even when it’s difficult.
There are so many other things I could have talked about, and other techniques that might be more important for you and your students. Time in nature is really helpful, and you can find out more about the power of nature in our nature and wellbeing worksheet. Exercise is also a vital part of the puzzle for many people, and sleep is a hugely important factor too. But I hope this gives you a few ideas for things you could build into your own routine, or help your students build into theirs, to improve your resilience and protect your mental wellbeing.
To finish this post, I wanted to share a few of my favourite quotes that have formed part of the Calm daily meditations that I completed over the last few months. I hope one of them resonates with you.