11 March 2020
It is understood nowadays more than ever how important it is to look after ourselves and that our physical and mental health are intrinsically connected which is why, as well as studying mental health and well- being in Life Matters lessons, Year 9 students at St Catherine’s recently spent a day ‘off timetable’ trying out a range of healthy and creative self-care activities and workshops.
Healthy-eating and social connection is a key part of well-being. Our school catering team supported our aims with a hearty communal breakfast for everyone. Day girls enjoyed a fine boarders’ style breakfast of ‘Full English’ and pastries, fresh fruit, tea, coffee and hot chocolate to start the day on a special note. The opportunity to sit and eat together and talk, free of distractions, is one of the luxuries of school life. The School Dining Room is a ‘mobile- phone-free zone’ where girls understand that this is a time to put away hand-held devices and chat with friends instead. The lunch period is deliberately long – one hour 15 minutes – which allows girls time to eat, relax and also take part in all sorts of activities.
The ‘Self-Care day’ was built around a series of presentations delivered by our own pastoral team, School Psychologist and School Chaplain, speaking on a variety of topics including the barriers to self-care, the science behind it, and how to develop and sustain healthy habits.
Optional workshops were led by our school staff team, role-modelling the type of activities they enjoy themselves, contributing to a balanced life outside school. Included were Gardening, BMF (British Military Fit), Yoga, keeping a Gratitude Journal, Mindfulness Tasters, Juggling, Creative Crafts, The Science of Self-Care, Nature Photography, Scottish Reeling, Baking, Volunteering, Couch to 5K, Chapel time, Woodland Walking, Strategies for Calm, and Strategies for Focus. Girls were able to work with our resident gardener, Emma, planting a new wildflower meadow or ‘knitted and nattered’, making simple bonding squares and cannula covers for premature babies.
Laura White, Head of Life Matters (PHSE) summed up the day: “We want girls to understand that self-care is a school priority, and that it’s about so much more than doing what feels good at the time. True self-care takes practice, and the reward of getting lost in a good book, helping others, or immersing yourself in a creative endeavour builds resilience and optimism…. .