I’ve seen some real movement around mental health in school recently, with fantastic opportunities being provided to increase pupils' understanding and help them feel relaxed, happy and secure in school.
However, it’s so important that we teachers continue in this mindset during the October break, using this time as a true holiday and taking the opportunity to rest, recover and get fired up for the term ahead.
Here are three really simple activities that have worked for me, which you may also want to try while you’re away from school.
Talk and walk
Get outside and take a walk with someone, using the opportunity to have a good talk. Fresh air is good for your lungs and studies show it could make you happier. Take your walk in a stunning or unusual location and you have a topic of conversation for the day. If you have young children at home, suit up and go for a "puddle walk" – they'll love it and you will, too. Who doesn’t love jumping in big puddles?
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Take a bath
Studies have shown that taking a bath is good for your muscles, joints and bones as well as your brain and nervous system. You might be feeling a little stiff after spending days on your feet or bent over marking at desks, so this heat and relaxation is just what your body yearns for. If you go the full hog and take in candles, music and a magazine, then it will relax you further and allow for some real me time.
Cook a really nice meal
If you’re anything like me, you survive during the week by cooking whatever thrown-together dinner you can manage for your family. The time and/or energy levels just aren’t there. I always like to plan a week of nice meals when I’m on holiday, though. It gives me something to look forward to and I find it relaxing. There has been research citing cooking as a form of therapy. It should certainly be good for your mental health – not to mention the physical benefits of a home-cooked meal with fresh ingredients.
These are just three things to do to improve your mental health. I’ve chosen them specifically because research backs up their positive effects but also because they’re free (ingredients aside!) and achievable within a fairly short October holiday.
In this time when we’re all trying to improve awareness of mental health of pupils, please also make sure to remember yourself.
Adam Black is a teacher in Scotland who, in the New Year's Honours list, received the British Empire Medal for raising awareness of stammering. He tweets @adam_black23