It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that this year has been tough on everyone. With the added pressure of exams and generally catching up on lockdown education, it has been particularly hard on students. A study conducted by Young Minds clearly indicates that students are struggling with going back to school after having so much time in isolation. I have had pupils asking me questions to which I simply don’t have the answers. Will exams happen next year? What will happen if the mocks don’t go according to plan since not all material has been covered yet? Will schools completely shut down again? It can seem impossible not to feel overwhelmed at times, especially when it feels like no one has the answer.
As a result, I’ve been looking for ways to chill out and focus on the positives. Whether it is running a few seconds faster than last week (or even just managing to go out for a run!), finishing my book (I can confirm that Alice in Wonderland is a whimsical tale for all ages), or finding the time to chat to my friends, it’s become increasingly important to take care of ourselves and stay optimistic.
It is for this reason that I am very excited for November! There is no better time to begin finding reasons to be happy and lift that mood! Below is a list of ways to celebrate and raise awareness for important causes in November. By taking part in National Awareness days, we can encourage each other and students to pick themselves up and take part in something nationally, even whilst locked down. These days are more important than ever and since we have limited social contact, this is one way we can still feel connected to the wider community.
International Stress Awareness Week – 2-6th November
- Mindfulness – This is fashionable for a reason! A 2018 study by Harvard University showed that 15 minutes of mindfulness a day for 8 weeks actually alters how your genes operate which in turn decreases stress and improves a whole host of other health conditions!
Many resources can be used to practice mindfulness. Headspace has a free subscription for teachers (win!) with tonnes of meditations for relaxation and sleep. Smiling Mind also has lots of free meditations available in different categories to choose from.
- Exercise – There is overwhelming evidence that exercise is a great way to combat stress. The Mental Health Foundation states that just ten minutes of exercise a day can have a hugely positive impact on your mental wellbeing. With gyms closed, and the weather taking a turn into winter, why not give pilates, yoga or HIIT a try at home? Yoga with Adriene has lots of different types of practice to try, and The Body Coach has a whole range of different HIIT workouts, lasting from 10 minutes up to 40 minutes. Get your friends involved or set a challenge for your students and sweat the stress away!
- Gratitude – Every day, write down three things for which you are grateful. It can be anything from a pretty sunset to something much more personal. Keep a log, and at the end of Stress Awareness Week you’ll have a great list of reasons to be positive and to calm your nerves if you are feeling overwhelmed in the future. Presently is a great app to log and share your gratitude with others.
World Kindness Day – 13th November
Psychology today reported that people derive joy from being kind, and so by celebrating World Kindness Day, not only will you be kind to others, but you will also be kind to yourself! A few easy ways to celebrate this day can be:
- Leave notes – I, for one, love receiving a handwritten note. Well, I imagine I would if I ever got one…but the next best thing is leaving a kind note for a friend in a place they wouldn’t expect or having a “kindness” board at school. The reaction when someone sees their note is priceless!
- Create a kindness group at school – If you are a teacher, you can get a committee together to organise random acts of kindness to be spread across the school. Alternatively, during form time, get students to discuss their local heroes and talk about what makes them so inspirational.
- Say thank you – Make a conscious effort to show others your gratitude and how important they are to you. It is amazing how this little change can improve your mindset and wellbeing.
World Hello Day – 21st November
- Self-explanatory! – Given that many of us at the moment have much less interaction with others than before, why not set a challenge for yourself on World Hello Day to greet (from a 2 metre distance!) 3 new people when you go to the supermarket, or go for a walk. Perhaps even inspired by the NHS rainbows, students can create fun greeting posters to put up on windows or doors to bring joy to the masses.
Don’t forget about Anti-Bullying Week –16th-20th November. There are tonnes of great resources online, and fundraisers to participate in, including Odd Socks Day (which I assumed was every day…but maybe that’s just me!)
Ladan is a maths tutor with Newman Tuition, and is currently studying towards her PGCE in maths. To book a lesson with her, or one of our other excellent tutors, please call us on 020 3198 8006, email us at [email protected], or complete the form on the ‘Contact Us’ page.