The first week of my ‘Big Holiday’ has flown by. 5 weeks left to review, relax and recharge so that I’m ready for September. I've been making the most of the sunshine by sitting in the garden (cheeky mid-afternoon beer anyone?) and generally pottering around, eating the occasional ice-cream.
However, if you are anything like me, this switching off business can be hard, especially when there are loose ends, or whole schemes of work in my case (;/), still flittering over my consciousness like an irritating fly from July.
The wellbeing wheel
In my previous post, I blogged about the wellbeing wheel. This tool allows us to assess 10 areas of our lives, giving each a score out of 10 – 1-3 suffering, 4-6 surviving, 7-10 thriving. It is a ‘wheel’ as each aspect impacts on the others, and our holistic wellbeing.
Nutrition and Exercise
Rest and sleep
Social – friends, family and community
Career / work
Fun, play and creativity
My wellbeing wheel update
From completing this exercise, three areas stood out at this moment in time: Nutrition and exercise , my physical environment and money and finances. So, what have I been doing about them?
Nutrition and exercise
Exercise: I have been to yoga three times this week (all in the morning) and swimming once (early afternoon). If I could fit in a run, perfect. These are three forms of exercise I love and the holidays give me time to do them.
Nutrition: Not great. In my mind I wanted to lose half a stone before my holidays, but this is not going to happen. This is something I’m working through – body image and my critical inner talk. It takes up a lot of headspace and it is not a positive or productive use of space!
Work: The aim was to go in this week, have a general tidy up and cull my resources – they are breeding. Have I done this? No. I needed a break from the place so I’m aiming to visit twice next week. I am a believer in outer order, inner calm. However, it is not something that comes naturally to me!
Home: I’ve had a wardrobe clear out and tidied up my bedroom a little. I would say this is a work in SLOW progress. So many things I want to do, but it’ll take time and…
This is the area I’ve made some headway in. I’ve arranged a loan so I can upgrade my bathroom, boiler and guttering. I cannot wait to have a lovely, soothing bathroom to chill out in. This should all be done within the next few weeks 😊
Please let me know if you have been working on your own wellbeing goals!
The holidays are within reach and we have a good chunk of time to use as we please, right? Well, maybe so, unless you have a family to look after, organise and entertain (and possibly endure :/), work tasks and projects that didn't quite get done before we broke up, and a plethora of other commitments and responsibilities that fill our time.
So, how do we make time for ourselves and, crucially, what do we spend that time doing? I think we have idea of an answer to the second part of the question, it might help us make decisions and find solutions for the first.
The Wellbeing Wheel
This is not a new concept and one that is used widely in wellbeing classes and counselling. I have found it useful in assessing where I am in my life right now - which aspects are ok and which areas need a little TLC.
The wheel looks like the picture on the right. I created my own in order to cover as many of the areas I thought someone working in education would find useful to reflect on.
The task is to rate these different areas out of 10, reflecting on how you currently feel about them: 1-3 suffering, 4-6 surviving and 7-10 thriving.
The table is then used to zoom into 1-3 areas that you feel need some attention. Mine were exercise and nutrition, physical environment and finances. You can then consider possibilities to help move these areas up the wellbeing scale and ONE action you could take to make this happen. For example, my bathroom is VILE and makes me sad, so I'm going to look up different bathroom designs and costings, which in turn will help with planning finance (unfortunately not with exercise and nutrition, but oh well).
The BIG holidays
This exercise will, hopefully, give you a focus for the 6 weeks. We have to remember we cannot do everything - small steps.
Please let me know if you find this useful!
I'm introducing the staff wellbeing week in briefing this morning... Scary! I'm going to talk about how staff wellbeing is paramount if a school wishes to retain new staff, lessen absence due to stress and anxiety, and be a place teachers want to work and thrive!
Awareness is the key, particularly of the fight, freeze and flight response we feel on a daily basis. Our poor brains feel they are constantly under 'attack', whether that be from students, e-mail, parents, our co-workers, management, management's management (QUAD days for example), the government - the list is endless. The tricky part is much of this is subconscious. No wonder we feel exhausted and frazzled.
And this is ok. It will not change; we will always feel under attack as that's how humans process the world around them. It is why we instinctively retreat to places of comfort when it all gets too much - bed for example or the settee or the pub or the staffroom, if this is a place of refuge.
The key to dealing with chronic stress is awareness of our emotional and physical responses to these threats and this is where mediation and mindfulness come in. Through practise, we can become conscious of our natural inclinations, thought patterns, behaviours and choose, mindfully, how we will deal with any given situation.
This does not mean we become passive; the opposite is in fact true. It can help us see what really needs to be done to make teaching a healthier occupation than it currently is. We may realise that certain school policies or demands are unrealistic or adding unnecessary strain. We may find new ways of working that are more productive and avoid duplication. Or, we may find that simply walking away for ten minutes and taking a breath can change our day and help us gain perspective.
And many, many more.
We are professionals - let us start to look after ourselves so we can look after others.
The 'big' holidays are 13 get ups away and it is now time to start to think about what we want to do with them. My usual tactic is to get horrendously drunk on the final Friday of term, have a hangover that lasts a week and then go on holiday to Spain to drink Sangria for 7 days and eat copious amounts of Lays crisps. I then spend the rest of the holidays trying to shift the half a stone I've put on through said Sangria and Lays and kind of worry about September while not doing very much apart from playing Mario Karts and spending money I haven't got. And napping, of course.
Not this year though, oh no. Well, apart from the going to Spain, Sangria, Lays, naps, Mario Karts part. Ok, and maybe the getting drunk on the final Friday BUT not horrendously wipe myself out for days type way. This year I'm thinking ahead...
Making a Plan
I'm approaching the 6 weeks with more awareness than previous years. This is because I know what I'm like. I have ideas of the all the books I want to read, all the places I'm going to visit and the projects I'm going to start. Yet, inevitably, very little of this happens due to the events in paragraph one. I drift into the season of sun with high hopes and aspirations and then wash up in September wishing I'd just taken the time to think this precious time through a little more. So this year, you've got it dear reader; I'm making a PLAN.
My first step is to do what I kind of do for school, if and when I actually sit down to do it, and create an overview of the holidays (I am aware of all the dos in this sentence). We 'design' our kids' curriculum and 'schedule' our other teacherly duties, so I'm going to 'produce' an overview of my holidays. This can be done in various ways but I'm going to 'go about it' in the old fashioned way - a piece of A3 paper and some coloured pens. In fact, I'm going to start 'creating' this in about five minutes.
I'm going to:
1. Draw out the six weeks ( you can spreadsheet, table it, whatever)
2. Make it into a calendar with big boxes for every damn wonderful day
3. Fill in my holidays and events
4. Probably draw a few pictures and smiley faces
5. Sit back and admire
Right, off to 'do' it now.
See you tomorrow for Step Two - what to fill those boxes with (in addition to naps).