7 WAYS TO WELLBEING*
- TAKE NOTICE
Be aware of the world around you. “If we can be fully present in the moment that we are in, it is extremely beneficial for both our mental and physical health. There are many simple ways that we can do this; taking notice of our breath (even better if we can slow it down and increase our exhale) or connecting with our senses by identifying what we can see, hear, feel, smell or taste (mindful eating is wonderful!)” says Well Being Education Consultant, Julia Hankins. Next time you are doing an activity together, ask your children to describe what they notice and make an effort to enjoy the moment.
- GET OUTSIDE
Getting out and about in the fresh air does wonders for every aspect of our lives: it lowers our blood pressure, helps us sleep, tops up our vitamin D levels and even aids digestion. So even though it may be a bit chilly at the moment, try and get the family out in the great outdoors! See how many hills you can climb in a month! Visit a new park, fly a kite, enjoy a walking trail or take up Forest School.
- KEEP LEARNING
Try something new this year. You and your children could sign up for a course together. Try a new sport, learn to play an instrument, or try baking something new. Joining a club helps children to connect with others, outside of school, which will enrich their lives and provide them with new friendships. The Clubs and Classes section of the Raring2go! website is packed full of information on local clubs for children and families, from drama to dance; craft to karate.
- BE MINDFUL
Mindfulness is the practise of being in the present moment without judgement. Julia explains: “Too many of us spend our time planning for the future; by thinking about what we will have for tea, what jobs we need to do, or planning events, or living in the past; by thinking about things that have happened, or going over conversations we may have had. Another easy way to be mindful is to notice the thoughts that we are having as we have them, with no judgement. I believe that these skills (and many more) can be easily integrated into daily life and if we do this, we are preparing our children for a healthy future.”
So, don’t worry about trying to plan the holidays to the full. Children can simply enjoy their time at home - they need quieter periods, which afford them time to use their imagination and to learn to manage their own thoughts. So, tucking up with a hot chocolate in their PJs at Half Term is no bad thing!
- GET ACTIVE
Exercise is good for the soul, and the key is finding something you enjoy (dancing, gardening, playing a game together – all count!) If the weather is poor, you have always got the option of a family swim with Everyone Active at Pingles Leisure Centre or the new Warwick University Sports Hub. Many gyms and leisure centres offer a discount if you book family membership now.
Have you heard of Park Runs? These are free organised 5k runs for all the family to take part in, held in areas of open space. This is a lovely activity to boost children’s physical and mental health. There are weekly gatherings each Saturday at 9am at Memorial Park, Coventry and Miner’s Welfare Park, Bedworth. You can even run with the family dog! Find out more at www.parkrun.org.uk
- MAKE MUSIC
Both listening to and creating music can have lots of positive effects on mental health, by elevating our mood and helping us to relax. If your child suffers from anxiety or struggles to express their emotions verbally, you could perhaps consider taking them for music lessons; to a choir; or a theatre club – or just dance it out in the kitchen together!
- TALK TO THE ANIMALS
Owning a pet is a proven way to reduce feelings of anxiety or loneliness, but that isn’t an option for everyone. Thankfully we have some lovely farms and animal attractions on our doorstep where children can gain the therapeutic benefits of mixing with animals. West Midland Safari Park, Hatton Adventure World, Hoar Park Farm, Anker Wood (Mancetter) and Twycross Zoo – all have petting zoos; areas where children can stroke small animals, like guinea pigs, or meet the farm animals.
*Based on the 5 Steps to Wellbeing developed by The Economics Foundation
Special thanks to Julia Hankins - Well-Being Education Consultant and Children’s Yoga/Mindfulness Teacher.
Julia Hankins Well-Being; supporting schools and nurseries to enhance the well-being of their pupils through staff training and sessions for children.