Mrs Fairweather, Principal Deputy Head at Norwich School, spoke in Cathedral Assembly about the importance of taking care of our personal wellbeing.
"This Thursday is the 10th October and every year this date marks World Mental Health Day. This day serves as a reminder for us all to stop for a moment and engage with the importance of our own personal mental health. Caring for ourselves could not be more important – in doing so we are more likely to achieve our best academically and professionally, we are more likely to realise our potential and we are more likely to be better friends to those around us.
As we all know life can be hard at times – it really is a rollercoaster of ups and downs and it is important for us all to remember that a natural fluctuation in our mood is completely normal from day to day and week to week. Life can be awesome, it can be sad, it can be terrifying and it can be exciting. But it is true to say that without the lows we really would not appreciate the highs and without the average, mediocre and boring we would not enjoy the good times quite so much.
So how on a day to day basis can we take care of our own personal wellbeing? The best advice I have found over the years is known as the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. It is now used widely across the world but comes originally from New Zealand, where the Maori people believe in the interconnected aspects of mind, body, spirit, family and land. The 5 ways are a set of simple evidence-based actions that have been proven to improve wellbeing in everyday life. Introduce any or all these simple concepts into your life, at any time and you will feel the benefits. I am going to share these with you this morning.
Firstly connect with others. We have our own unique community here and each one of us plays a part in creating the climate and culture we share. You each have control and choice in every interaction you have with other people as you move through your day – it costs us nothing to be positive, to smile, say hi, open a door and choose to give life to those around you. The wellbeing of individuals is bound up in the wellbeing of their communities so let us foster a warm, friendly and supportive climate here at Norwich School.
Secondly, be active. Research shows a strong correlation between physical activity and increased wellbeing, as well as lower rates of depression and anxiety. Get outside, play rugby, play hockey, run on the beach, walk your dog – whatever most appeals to you – there is plenty of evidence to suggest that physical activity can increase self-belief and the ability to cope with the difficult situations we will all sometimes face.
The third way to wellbeing is to keep learning – naturally, in school, we are in a position to learn new things every day but beyond academic learning, we need to push ourselves to embrace experiences and challenges – get involved in new opportunities, do something different, be brave and you might just surprise yourself.
Fourthly we should try to give – give your time, your words and your presence – these things mean so much more than giving material things. Think for a moment about one of your most favourite memories – I would like to bet that the memory that springs to mind is linked to a person or people rather than an object or thing, with you spending time with the people you love and are most important in your life. Volunteering and community service have been strongly linked to positive feelings and functioning so take those opportunity to get involved in the community and be part of something bigger than yourself.
The final of the 5 ways to wellbeing is to take notice. Too often we find ourselves busy worrying about something that has already happened and that we have no power to change, or we are caught up in thinking and sometimes catastrophising about what is to come. Try and slow down now and again, stop and take the time to notice where you are and what is happening in the present moment. Some of you may have learned mindfulness techniques or might find that meditation works for you but you all have the power to calm your mind and nervous system through your breath. Breathing in and breathing out for a few cycles of breath can be amazingly calming and restorative. Look up, look around and notice where you are.
So remember - Connect. Be Active. Keep Learning. Give. Take Notice.
We can do a lot proactively to care for ourselves so that we can be there for others. Get involved in Mental Health Awareness on Thursday and Friday this week. Wear home clothes on Friday, donate a £ or two, and try to include at least a splash of yellow in what you wear to celebrate the work of Young Minds and all that they do to promote and support good mental health in young people throughout the UK."