Mindfulness

This is one of those words that has become really popular fairly recently. Type it into google and this is what you get:

mindfulness
ˈmʌɪn(d)f(ʊ)lnəs/
noun
  1. 1.
    the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
    “their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
  2. 2.
    a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

It’s a buzz word used to describe the act of taking time out of one’s day not to worry about to stuff, but to instead do something relaxing and enjoyable. Adult colouring books have become incredibly popular over a relatively short space of time, and are seen as a mindfulness tool. I bought one of these books about a year ago but didn’t really use it until yesterday. Colouring isn’t really something that we, as adults, ever really get to do normally, even though it’s commonplace for children. I had forgotten how fulfilling it can be to finish a page in a colouring book. It’s so simple but quite therapeutic. No wonder these books have taken off.

Meditation, yoga, taking a walk, and trying new things are also examples of how you can be more mindful in your everyday life. I always feel a bit strange going for a walk without a dog but it’s something I’ve been trying to do more of recently so that I can shift a bit of weight. I will feel much better about going for a walk when we eventually get a dog.

Sometimes it can be so difficult to let go of the stresses and strains of life and just focus on the now, but it is so important that we do.

Summer: Time to Chillax

I’m writing this post from my parents’  holiday apartment in Tenby, Pembrokeshire. I’m here for a few days with my two best friends – also teachers – for some chill time. The weather may be a bit pants but having a change of scene, especially away from the South East, and by the sea, is just what I needed after an exhausting end of term at school. I am, however, missing my husband a bit but I’ll see him tomorrow evening, which I’m looking forward to.

I’ve got a busy weekend planned: I’m (bizarrely) taking part in a plus size beauty pageant on Saturday in Brighton – don’t ask! On Sunday we’re dog sitting which means we’ll be walking a lot- can’t wait as it’s a good substitute for not having a dog of our own full time.

Next week however I have nothing planned, apart from a trip to the doctors to discuss potentially reducing my meds. The long term plan is to wean myself off my meds before we try for a baby. My GP has said that the process will take at least 6 months; I don’t want to rush it so I’m aiming for it to take even longer than that just to reduce the risk of relapse as much as I can.

And then we’re off on a cruise with my parents to Iceland; I’ve done cruises for over a decade but this is a totally new destination so I’m even more excited than normal. 

After the cruise I’ll start getting back into work mode; I’m going on a 2-night Sutton Trust residential for Biosciences teachers at Cambridge and then it’ll be GCSE results day which I’ll go into school for. Then I’ll have one more week which I’ll use for preparing for the new term.

What are your plans for the summer break?

The Aftermath of the Education Act 2011

As well as being a teacher, I am Conservative town councillor and, because of my political allegiance, I do get a fair amount of stick at work because of the Education Act of 2011. I love a good political discussion so I don’t mind this. I even bought a copy of the Act signed by Gove in an auction at a Tory party dinner and posted the picture on Facebook much to the dismay of some of my colleagues.

 I think that our education system needed serious reform but, in hindsight, the changes could have been implemented more slowly. But, of course, with Government potentially changing every five years, I know that this is just not possible if MPs want to actually achieve anything.

My fear now is that, following the turmoil the Tory party are now in, they will lose the next General Election and a Labour government will change everything again. This is potentially up to 4 years away but I’m already worried!

I think revamping all the Schemes of Work has, overall, been an exciting task – they needed a refresh and the current Year 7s seem to have enjoyed their Science lessons more than in previous years. We are now finalising the first term of the new GCSE for the new Year 9; we are teaching it over 3 years to fit it all in. The new AS Biology spec was not much different, apart from the coursework being replaced by core practicals; the lack of an issue report has made the year less stressful overall for the staff and students!

But everyone at work is stressed to some degree… Some people thrive on it, others feel it like a weight pulling them down. School leaders need to try their best to make sure no one goes under in these pressured times.

The Final Countdown…

Under 7 weeks until the Summer holidays… (Not that I’m counting ;))

I hope that all my readers had a pleasant half term break; apart from coming into work to run a revision session for some Year 11s I did NO work! And I’m proud. I needed a proper break as exam season had clearly been taking its toll.

I spent the half term doing what I love: going to Wales, seeing Busted live, catching up with family and friends, getting my hair done… all finished off by celebrating my 27th birthday with my husband at the Harry Potter studio tour, and then with my parents in their garden followed by Cafe Rouge.

My new half term resolution is to do more of what I love: getting outside (weather-permitting!), swimming, seeing friends and playing Mariokart. I also, genuinely, love getting right into projects at work so I will actually enjoy writing the new Year 8 scheme of work that I’ve been asked to do during my gained time.

So, as we look forward to the summer hols, try to #domoreofwhatyoulove 🙂

Combat Stress

Summary of “Combat Stress” – article in the April/May ATL magazine, Report.

 

Consequences of stress

  • Headaches
  • Stomach upsets
  • Chest pain
  • Reduce in confidence
  • Impairment in decision-making
  • Significant impact on cognition

 

What happens to our brains when we get stressed?

  • “Every time we’re stressed, the emotional part of our brain is triggered and is on full alert. When it’s on full alert, it switches off the neocortex. This means you cannot learn, reason, understand or make decisions.”

 

Ways to bring down stressful feelings

  • Mindful breathing
  • Finding your own way to calm down, e.g. doing something you enjoy doing
  • Replace negative thoughts with “I can do this” or “I’ll focus on one thing at a time”
    • This is why I personally make lists – almost to the point of obsession!
    • Congratulate yourself when you tick something off
  • Get enough sleep
  • Cut down on sugar and eat as healthily as you can
    • But treat yourself to the odd chocolate/wine/etc. every so often
  • ATL has a number of courses about mindfulness and resilience
    • These traits are as valuable for staff as they are for students

 

Key message: “Small changes to work patterns can really make a difference to how members feel about their working lives”.