Categories
Wellness

Self Care – What it means to us and how it can help you.

Do you take care of yourself? REALLY take care of yourself?

What does self care actually mean for you?

The busyness of everyday life, the juggling of commitments and responsibilities plus the never ending to do list can all take their toll on even the strongest most resilient among us.  The phrase ‘recharge your batteries’ is used a lot – but how do you ensure that your ‘battery’ really is recharged so you can be the best version of yourself?  How can you tell when your battery is running low?

At Go Well, we have adopted the ‘Six Dimensions of Wellness’, developed by Dr Bill Hettler, co-founder of The National Wellness Institute:  https://nationalwellness.org/resources/six-dimensions-of-wellness/

 

This model enables us to focus on parts of our life where the impact of action has a positive effect on our daily life and as a result our mental health.

This open and honest personal reflection might give food for thought as well as throw a spotlight on your own self care plan!

Those six dimensions contribute to a collection of self care options and the potential to focus on some or all of them in order to maintain the version of ourselves which we know allow us to function well in our everyday life.

What could that look like?  These examples might get you thinking;

There may be some of these dimensions which feel easier to address than others, there may be some aspects mentioned which we seldom get an opportunity to consider – but for me, when I reflect on what makes me well and what recharges my batteries, there are a couple of stand out cogs which really help my metaphorical wheels keep turning;

Social – Being Connected. 
Feeling low? Phone a friend!
Got some exciting news? Phone a friend!
Need to rant? Phone a friend!

That’s always been me – sharing news, experiences and stories with those closest to me and harvesting the responses, the commiserations, the support and advice, the sympathy at times as well as the laughs – a range of outcomes needed at different times and all met through connection.

However, being truly connected is much more than that for me. Being able to reach out when things are going wrong and know you have people to lean on is like a security blanket.  Having those friends and family members who see you at your lowest and help you reach back up to where you want to be is priceless and if we are lucky, we can all picture those people in our lives.  Also, the knowledge that somewhere along the line, this is reciprocal – feeling that connection in the other direction when a friend needs to lean on you, being valued as someone who can be turned to – what a privilege.

Friendship is a partnership, play your part and enjoy what then surrounds you

Making an effort to initiate, maintain or react to connection takes effort, but responding to that text, answering the email, picking up your phone brings that Oxytocin brain chemical boost that we all often crave.  Feeling wanted and part of a group is human nature – lockdown won’t lessen that desire, it just demands that we feed our craving for it in a different way.

Seek out those who bring something positive to your life and welcome them
Be the positive influence that someone else might need. 

Lockdown has brought with it a detraction from human contact as we know it, our family and our friends unable to be a presence on our doorstep.  And then came ZOOM! For even the most technically challenged (who, me..?!) the chance to feel we have been in the same room sharing quiz, a chat or just a smile has been a new experience for some and a welcome opportunity to remind ourselves of who is out there holding our hand along the way.  Connection.

Find ways to be together when you can’t BE together. Unleash your creativity!

Sharing a meal time as a family – if we manage just once a day, it works for us!  An opportunity to not only refuel our bodies but our links to each other too.  ‘What made you smile today?’ ‘What was the best part of your day?’ ‘Any plans for the rest of the week?’ ‘How are you REALLY doing?’ Food for the soul.  Perhaps consider how often a family meal would work for your family?

Use every opportunity to connect and reconnect, take the time and make the effort, feel the benefits.

Bonding with our neighbours like never before.  Standing on our step and clapping for our NHS led to chats across the street; finding out our neighbours hobbies, which books they like to read, popping out to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ when no one else could visit to do it, a shared recipe for soup, a plan for a street party post-COVID where we will invite the world!  Never again will these people just be faces in our street, we know them, we have forged connections and we have shared the experiences of some of the trickiest times lately.  That knowledge of being part of a community and a sense of wanting to be there too.  Create a WhatsApp Group for the neighbours? I’ll do that.  No longer will anyone just sit at home and wonder if the couple at number 2 are ok…do they need some milk picking up while I’m out?  We’re on it. Connection.

Be open to making new connections and enjoy the surprises!

Physical – Being  Active

As the reality of lockdown hit us, and the list of things we couldn’t do seemed to grow – the one thing we COULD do was be active.  The Government encouraged us to walk, run or cycle, keeping our bodies as well as our minds fit and healthy. For me, grasping this invitation was vital in order to maintain not only my physical health but my mental capacity to cope, to gain some perspective at such a confusing time, a chance to clear my head and tackle things with fresh eyes, an opportunity to experience a surge of those much needed feel good chemicals in my brain which would help me take care of myself, as well as prepare me to be stronger to take care of those around me. Self preservation.

To run – on the footpath, on the road, through mud, enjoying the sunshine or the dark of night became my solace!  Conversations with myself as well as with my amazing running buddy who shares this mindset, the miles we covered putting not only the world right, but ourselves too. Fast running, slow dawdling, jogging, running familiar routes and the fun of getting lost and discovering new places, out for ages or back home in a flash…it really didn’t matter, but what did matter was that every time I looked for an excuse not to go, I remembered how I felt the last time I ran – and I laced up my trainers.

The elation of our first 10k – a virtual version of the long cancelled event in our town – and the euphoric feeling of my running buddy and I crossing our imaginary finish line is a precious memory and the buzz from it lasted days!  To crave those highs that keep me so well is a habit I will forever be grateful to 2020 for.

Explore until you discover a physical activity you enjoy, remember the feelings you experience as you enjoy and complete – and repeat!

So, what is YOUR self care plan?  How do you maintain the best version of you?  Have you got a plan…or do you need to create one?

This plan will have you at the heart of it, it’s for no one other than you and no one understands what makes you tick better than you.  So be kind to yourself, think your plan through and start it today.  Help yourself to be the best version of you – because that version is brilliant! 

I hope you found this blog helpful, Annalisa (annalisahopkins@go-well.org).

Categories
Go Well Blog

6 ways to integrate physical activity into your school day

There are many benefits to being physically active, regardless of our age. The positive effects on the body are numerous – strengthening our heart and lungs, lowering blood cholesterol levels and regulating blood pressure, developing stronger bones, muscles and joints….a pretty impressive list.  Additionally, the mental health benefits enjoyed by those who include some form of physical activity as part of their daily routine – relieving stress, improving memory, boosting their overall mood and positively impacting on depression, proves that physical activity is a winner!
Is it possible in a busy school environment to include and provide opportunities for physical activity every day? Yes!
 Creative thinking, coupled with the desire to be a positive role model will enable school staff to provide an exciting physical activity menu for children, where everyone can reap the benefits.
Here are 6 simple ways you could use, to integrate physical activity in to your school day:

1. Planned Daily Activities

The daily mile may work for your school, a daily dance may work just as well or a daily workout.  We advise a vibrant and varied menu – offer something different every day or every half term.  This could also go some way to help all children find an activity they enjoy and hopefully would want to pursue.  Today, it is possible to find lots of interactive online activities to encourage movement and dance, yoga and functional fitness – search, search and search some more.  Involve the children in creating a weekly menu and give them some ownership – excite them in the planning stage and they will be a captive audience when taking part.

2. Active Curriculum

Physical activity isn’t just for PE lessons! Active lessons across the busy Primary Curriculum can help not only with academic learning but can increase motivation and enthusiasm, address different styles of learning that children may have, by focusing on the kinaesthetic, bringing learning to life in a fun and exciting way, using the creativity Primary teachers possess in bucket loads! Can you teach your maths topic through physical activity? Is there the opportunity to deliver your literacy lesson in a practical way that gets children out of their seats and moving around?

3. Active Playtimes

Opportunities to develop leadership coupled with the provision of activities at playtime is a win – win situation. The less sporty can sometimes be the most amazing leaders, showing empathy and understanding to the less active and promoting regular physical activity through fun games on a daily basis. Two baller, skipping with a long rope, hula hooping and What Time is It Mr Wolf – can you remember the joy they all brought?!  Training of lunchtime supervisors or employing a PE Apprentice can really support active playtimes!

4. Travel to and from school

How do the children travel to school? Walking trains, scooting and cycling are all options to consider – as are incentives in school for doing it.  Promoting this even once a week as a focus day and celebrating participation across school is a possible approach to help develop a healthy habit.  An active start to the day will have children entering school ready to learn! 

5. Regular Brain Breaks

During the school-day, regular brain breaks in the classroom are a positive way of ensuring learning is productive. Brain breaks can be energising, fun, stimulating and effective.  If you implement just 6 x 5 minutes opportunities in a day = 30 minutes of physical activity achieved!

6. The PE lessons count

EVERY SINGLE PE LESSON COUNTS.  Maths doesn’t get cancelled to practise the Christmas play – so why should PE?  A subject which brings so much to our pupils socially, benefits their physical health and fitness as well as their mental health and well-being, develops communication, leadership skills and problem solving surely deserves our full attention!  Sticking with the recommended 2 hours of PE per week, in 2x1hr lessons will cover Active 30 for 2 days (Just 3 days left to plan for)!  Although, we would still advise regular brain breaks and active playtimes, even on a PE day!

A commitment to value PE lessons needs to be a staff culture – something worth nurturing for the benefits it will reap physically, socially and cognitively!

 Is it possible in a busy school environment to include and provide opportunities for physical activity every day? Yes!

More practical ideas:

Schools can access some amazing resources on the free to access County Durham Active 30 Hub –  https://activedurham.org.uk/active30durham

Our Fit for Life programme is designed to support schools to implement Active 30 with 10 minute moderate to vigorous workouts and a series of classroom brain breaks – www.fitforlifeschools.org.uk

Our Active Ted resource pack can help you to track and reward participation as well as inspire activity at home – https://www.go-well.org/product/active-ted-pack/

 

We hope this blog was helpful.  For any further information please contact Annalisa Hopkins – annalisahopkins@go-well.org.