As 2021 gets off to a positive start with a number of “donut days” (despite that small scare a few weeks ago), we can afford to keep looking at COVID19 and the days of lockdown as something in the past, and a powerful learning lesson.
One of the greatest standouts for me of 2020 was the need to be much more conscious of my own wellbeing, and what contributes to it.
In lockdown, many of the things we often did to release tension or to improve our self-esteem and general happiness were not available to us. For me, it was the coffee dates with friends, the exploration of new places and the yoga classes that helped me be the most relaxed I was all week. For my partner, it was riding his bike in the country, alone and for hours on end to clear his mind. For many of my students it was the team sports they participated in, or the part-time job that helped them achieve independence or even, dare I say it, the joys of actually coming to school and being a part of that community.
I don’t think any of us realized the importance of all these things until – all of a sudden – they were taken away from us.
To do more than just survive, we had to find new ways to be balanced. I learnt that a walk in nature (fortunately for me there were still some green spaces within 5 km of my home) will do wonders for improving my mood and releasing tension. And that Teams calls and similar were good ways to catch up. I even learnt to like puzzles and rediscovered the childish joy of building with Lego (although there is nothing childish about some of the Lego projects you can do today!).
Being conscious of this was crucial – I felt that in order to combat the sense of being “stuck”, I had to actively seek ways to feel the opposite. And this made me feel empowered – I had the inner resources to manage myself.
This is the intention of the Senior School Wellbeing Theme – Self-Monitoring. We want all the young people we work with the feel that same level of confidence and understanding about themselves, and to recognise that looking after their wellbeing isn’t something they just do as a reaction to difficult times – it is an ongoing process to achieve and maintain balance. And it’s okay for it to be a priority!
We use tracking to improve and monitor many areas of our lives… you might have a pedometer for example, or use your phone or smart watch to keep track of exercise. You might track small achievements towards a goal, like which weight you lifted at the gym last visit or how fast you did your chores. Many of us track sleep to make sure we understand what contributes to a good night of rest. Sometimes we use paper, sometimes technology and sometimes we even write in a journal.
At St Margaret’s Berwick Grammar, Senior School students use the online check-in tool Skodel to register their levels of wellbeing three times per week. Skodel allows students to choose an emoji to best describe their mood of the day, and Heads of House pose some simple questions to flesh this out. Not only does this give staff a valuable insight into the young people we work with, but over the next term we will be working with students to go over their own wellbeing data and look for patterns. Are they able to determine when they are likely to be super positive? And what might spark less positive feelings?
We will also work with students on determining what boosts and hampers their wellbeing, and focus on important protective elements such as self-talk and drawing on their characters strengths.
All of this works towards creating their own personal wellbeing plan, that assists them to better maintain those positive emotions. In addition, the school will be researching the benefits of self-monitoring – whether raising individual’s consciousness of their own wellbeing leads to maintaining greater levels of happiness. Interesting times ahead.
You might like to follow our progress and consider a focus on monitoring your own wellbeing for the term. A quick check in is a good place to start:
Even just a few simply questions can highlight some areas of strength and some to work on – so imagine what we can achieve with a term-long focus!
Photo by Burst from Pexels