Education has an odd calendar. When we talk about a “new year”, champagne, confetti and the lingering sounds of “Auld Lang Syne” are not echoing through the corridors. Instead, a “new year” means a classroom of new faces, coffee and the smell of dry erase markers. It is also a time of excitement and hope with additional stress and anxiety.
With only days left of the summer holidays instead of weeks, the signs are already appearing. Teachers waking up earlier, planning spread out across the dinning room table and worried looks appearing across faces.
But, this year will be different! Developing your own mindfulness will be good for your health and well-being and will support the health and well-being of your children.
Over the next few weeks, I will share some simple mindfulness strategies YOU can use in order to get your new year off to a mindful start.
Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences.
Many of us hold stress in our shoulders. As the day becomes more stressful, our shoulders become more tense and creep up towards our ears. It is like a primitive form of contracting our muscles to spring into the fight or flight mode. During the day, take a moment, without judgement, to relax your shoulders and accept the feeling of restfulness that accompanies the moment.
– Breath deeply and, on the exhale, allow your shoulders to drop towards the floor as if someone is pressing them downward.
– Continue to breathe deeply for five breaths, allowing your shoulders to slightly rise on the inhale and then completely drop on the exhale.
– Recognise how the muscles feel in the shoulder and neck. Remember, do not judge the tension. Just recognise it is there and release the tension.
Do this at least five times during the day.
This is particularly useful technique to use when having to deal with situations that are escalating into an argument or emotional situation. I also encourage shoulder relaxation in basic deep breathing as part of the everyday practice.