Learning peace of mind
STUDENTS and staff at St Anthony's Catholic Primary School in Kingscliff are taking self-care seriously after learning about mindfulness in the classroom.
The initiative aims to improve the physical, mental and social health of staff and children by teaching them to pay attention to their bodies when feeling stressed.
Occupational therapist Angela Lockwood organised the program and said the strategy acted as a method for handling stressful situations.
"Children's ability and learning style has changed significantly and their attention spans are a lot shorter then they used to be,” Ms Lockwood said.
"They're feeling the pressure of always having to be switched on.”
She said the first step to the program was to get the teachers to recognise when they felt pressured or drained.
"Children pick up on cues when adults are exhausted or stressed,” she said.
"Teachers have such big jobs and particularly now there's a lot of complex situations teachers have to deal with from students and the family units.
"They're constantly giving of themselves, their energy and their time.”
Principal Lynne Pull said the program had already made an impact.
"The teachers took the message on board and we had a great term,” she said.
"I felt the staff were actually lifted and more in control, particularly nearer the end of last term.”
Ms Lockwood said the program offered a chance to create a more relaxed environment in the school.
"It's about supporting each other and being okay with the fact that things are stressful in life,” she said.
The program also extended outside of the classroom and into the homes of the children.
"Each Friday I sent out an alert to all of the parents as a reminder of how to create a healthy habitat over the weekend.
"It was just a few bits of information so parents could go into the weekend thinking they can actually switch off from the busyness of the week,” Ms Lockwood said.
Top tips for mindfulness:
- Take deep breaths.
- Don't check emails at night.
- Exercise regularly.
- Be aware of any body signals suggesting stress.
- Talk to friends or family if feeling pressured.