Taking a deep breath

We have come to the end of a historic and, at times, extremely challenging and exhausting term, during COVID restrictions. A time to pause and replenish is critical for our boys and for us.

While school holidays are generally a happy time for families to enjoy together, it’s worth being aware that they can place stressful additional pressures on families and potentially on the mental health of some children and young people and their parents (especially during these COVID times). 

“The wellbeing of children is inseparable from the wellbeing of all the critical adults in their lives” - Stuart Shanker, Founder and Science Director of the Self-Regulation Institute.

So how can we make these two weeks a positive and powerful time of connection and rejuvenation?

More and more research is identifying that decisions we make about our daily living determine our mental health, capacity to strengthen relationships, and physical health. 

The Wheel of Wellbeing is an ongoing collaboration between the Mental Health Promotion Team in London and other significant mental health organisations.

It represents six universal aspects of wellbeing: body, mind, spirit, people, place and planet. Addressing all six dimensions of wellness in our lives is highly conducive to our overall health and wellbeing. On the brink of school holidays, it may present as a useful visual and planning cue for your family.

BODY: Be active 

Go for a walk or run, swim, cycle, play a game, do gardening, dance - just move! Your body is the engine that powers your wellbeing. It’s designed to move. Physical activities can positively influence the way you think, feel and function.

MIND: Keep learning  

Learn a new skill or follow an area of passion. Playing board games and doing puzzles are also fabulous ways of having fun whilst boosting cognitive skills. Investigating an idea or an interesting ‘place’ together (eg. Antarctica’s ice and the new Australian Icebreaker vessel or finding and identifying ‘backyard bugs’). Learning and challenging the brain helps create new neural pathways. Setting challenges your son enjoys whilst learning, can also boost his confidence.

SPIRIT: Give to others through acts of kindness

Practicing random acts of kindness, volunteering time, children sharing home tasks or simply saying ‘thank you’, all work wonders for your wellbeing. As a family, perhaps organise groceries for an elderly neighbour, do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone/smile/volunteer your time. Encourage your child to be on the look out for ways they can help others (even sharing home chores, especially as the adults are so busy in lockdown). Cultivate a habit of gratitude and having a ‘glass half full’ mindset. Be mindful of your own thinking and the messages you send with your words and actions. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

PEOPLE: Connect with others

Encourage children to call one another and make arrangements to meet up (while adhering to NSW Health guidelines), connect with other families, or reconnect with relatives, extended families or others. Where face-to-face connection is not possible, try letters, notes, phone calls, FaceTime or Zoom. We are hardwired to desire social connections; they are the cornerstones of our lives and essential to good mental wellbeing.

PLACE: Get outside and take time to notice the good things, however small.

Model curiosity, catch sight of the beautiful, remark on the unusual, savour the moment, whether you are walking, eating lunch (a ‘picnic’ enjoying your favourite food) or simply chatting. Encourage your child to focus on the moment and to spend time appreciating the natural world around them. Noticing nature helps us press the pause button. It reduces the stress of our 21st-century ‘hurry-worry’ lives. Savouring our surroundings gives us, quite literally, more breathing space. 

PLANET: Care for the whole world

Do what’s right for our global community – self-isolating, caring for others, and engage in sustainable living. We are a global community – both connected and interdependent. With small steps we can achieve significant change.

The upcoming break has the potential to be a special time of connection for your family without the pressures of home-schooling, and a powerful rejuvenating opportunity for your son and you. Perhaps sit down as a family and use the six dimensions of wellbeing to brainstorm a list of fun and engaging activities, both individually and together.

Hopefully a change of routine and more time in ‘the open air’ will invigorate and enhance your family’s cohesion in these difficult days. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 1:28-30

Peter Grimes| Headmaster 


Link - Wheel of Wellbeing