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Ask Andy – Blog 25

Looking after you! Strategies to improve your own wellbeing.

One of the most striking aspects of those who work in our schools is the way that they put the children in school first, time after time at the expense often of their own children. Whilst professional responsibility is key and all those working with children understand their corporate parenting role, we must maintain a balance; our own children deserve nothing less.

However, once we’ve met the needs of our children in school, our own children, the needs of our partners and sometimes the needs of elderly parents, there seems to be little time left for us as individuals. However, our own wellbeing is key. We can’t be the best version of ourselves if we don’t attend to our own wellbeing needs.

As a company supporting those in schools with wellbeing, SAS have a raft of strategies to support your own self-care, from clinical physiological and mental welfare and support to support for doing your job to the best of your ability. We are there to support in whatever way we can. SAS also have services that support all the staff covered in your policy, so leadership teams are supported with “Be Well Lead Well Pulse.” School culture is supported through the Mentally Healthy Schools Award and Edupod both of which are complimentary to SAS client schools with absence insurance policies. Very recently our physical fitness team created an exercise routine for SBL’s as their needs are often very different from caretakers and teachers.

Previous blogs of mine have discussed key areas such as heart health, diet, and exercise, all of which support the health and wellbeing of all those working in our schools and all are available to read again on the Ask Andy blog page.

However, I want to share a strategy with you, that I have developed to deal with stress and pressure “in the moment.”

It worked for me and I hope it works for you too. It’s worth a go!

I want you to imagine the scene. I was teaching Year 6. For some reason I had built my weekly timetable so that Art and Craft (DT) was planned for a Friday afternoon. On this particular Friday afternoon, the children hadn’t been outside all day, it was windy and wet and the classroom with those old sash windows painted shut were all steamed up. It was 2pm, I had no TA, there were 30 very pent up Y6 children all wanting my attention at the same time and we’d been working for just half an hour. I was beginning to wonder how I was going to make it to 3:30. I needed a momentary refresher from the situation I was in. Something that took me out of the moment just for a second.

I spied a postcard I’d sent to the class from Greece when I was on holiday, which was part of a geography display and my mind went back to the crystal blue waters, the lovely warmth of the air and the beaches and those lovely Tavernas. It was only a second or two but in that time my mood changed.

I’d had a Serotonin boost!

What I didn’t know was that:

a) it was Serotonin,

b) how Serotonin stabilises your mood, feelings, and happiness and

c) how it also helps with digestion, sleeping and eating.

I was able to remind myself of a lovely time in Greece, how tough times like this helped me to be able to have lovely experiences like my holiday in Greece and how lucky I was. I focused on the children, their learning and their challenges feeling refreshed.

I was struck by the impact that that one postcard had, had on my wellbeing in literally seconds. I decided to develop the idea. I built the montage of images below, that travelled with me from that classroom through to deputy headship and on into headship. In fact, they were some of the last things I removed from my office when I left headship.

There are no prizes for guessing why these images meant something to me or how I decided to choose them, but they all mean something to me. The football ground is where I have spent many happy and despairing hours following my team and where at times of high stress, I have been able to take myself out of those moments.

The image of Greece I have covered, and the car is what I promised I’d buy myself when I earned enough money. Sadly, they don’t make the car anymore but the dream and the serotonin boost from the dream was really important to me.

I wonder if you had to build a montage of three pictures that would momentarily give you a serotonin boost to cope with those tough times in school, what they would be. I’d love to know if this has been useful for you and maybe we could incorporate your montages on our website. They key thing is that they support your wellbeing and mean something to you.

Happy montaging!


Ask Andy

If you have questions about wellbeing practice, would like to suggest future content for Andy's blogs or if you are having success with wellbeing culture in your school and would like to share your story, please complete the form below.