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North Yorkshire County CouncilNorth Yorkshire County Council

Happy New Year!

Posted 4/1/2021

Hello & Happy New Year!  I hope you found some time over the past couple of weeks to rest, relax and clear your head - we’re nearly there!  2021 starts filled with hope; vaccines are on the way and we’re all in a giant queue to receive our two magical doses.  Until then we just need to keep going and:

  • keep wearing our masks;
  • stay a safe distance from other people (more difficult than you would think for touchy-feely people like me!); 
  • wash our hands;
  • not panic buy;
  • not frighten our children;
  • check on vulnerable friends and family;
  • chat away loneliness for those isolating;
  • shop for neighbours we barely knew before this began;
  • buy local so our economy doesn’t crash;
  • applaud the NHS;
  • use 111, not 999;
  • not fall ill (or fall off a skateboard on Christmas Day…!) and put precious resources under strain;
  • keep schools open but don’t allow children to play too close or hug their friends;
  • prepare Y11 & Y13 for exams which are scary at the best of times;
  • prepare Y6 for a transition to a school they haven’t had a chance to visit;
  • test for the virus;
  • socialise with friends we can’t physically be with;
  • keep working;
  • meet people by Zoom and still feel like you’re doing a good job;
  • find new and innovative ways to do your job and remind people ‘I’M HERE!’

– the list of things we need to do is endless and terrifying.  The consequences of forgetting something on the list feel life defining and yet, despite all that I’m going to add another item to your list – sorry!

  • Take time for you

Take time to breathe and get your thoughts in order.  On aeroplanes (remember those?!) we’re told to apply the oxygen mask to ourselves before we try to help others.  That applies now.  Put your oxygen mask on.  For me that’s a quiet cup of tea or a run, for you it might be something else.  Our Anxiety Workshops are most definitely written for children but that doesn’t mean the lessons in them aren’t useful to adults.  We show children how to slow their breathing and calm their heart rates with the full stop stretch.  Cloud blowing teaches them to empty anxious, intrusive thoughts from their minds so they feel in control again.  The elephant stretch releases tension being held in the body and regulates breathing and heart rate.  We suggest that, at the end of each day, children think of three things that have made them smile that day.  This changes mindset and resets our perspective to a more positive one.  I have recently taken my own advice and started doing this, it is lovely to go to bed feeling positive about the day that has just passed and to have the opportunity to empty my brain before I go to sleep.

We also ask children to share their worries and anxieties so that they don’t grow into fire breathing dragons they can’t control – you could do that too!  I can’t tell you what will be most useful for your anxious, harried mind but I can tell you that finding your thing, your quiet cup of tea, will help you this year.  It will help you feel more in control and more able to cope.  You can do this!

In November 2020, the Children’s Commissioner and OFSTED released reports highlighting the adverse impact that the pandemic is having on the mental wellbeing of children and young people.  The ‘things to do’ list for children is just as long as ours is and includes worrying about their parents and wider families.  Additionally, many Service children will have had parents who worked over the Christmas period delivering Covid-19 tests and you may have noticed that it has been suggested that the Army will be able to help schools in the coming months.  These additional pressures may affect the emotional wellbeing of our Service children.  Our Anxiety Workshops are available online; please get in touch if you are interested in using them at your school.  Last term Jess and I presented the Wellbeing Warriors 5 week courses in schools, the feedback from the children has been lovely and we hope they have had a positive impact.  Jess and I both have the capacity to present the Wellbeing Warriors in schools – as soon as you’re ready to have us back!

Jess has recorded some of her favourite stories which we hope will be useful for sharing in your military kids clubs or for a short PSHCE lesson.  For KS1 & KS2 Jess has read Lily Hates Goodbyes and Night Catch which look at deployment and separation, the different emotions children may feel and ways to cope with those emotions.  For KS2 & secondary school aged children Jess has read quotes from the gorgeous The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse book by Charlie Mackesy.  The beautiful art and accompanying words are relatable and describe how many of us may be feeling right now.  Jess’s recordings will be available by the end of this week on our YouTube channel: Service Children’s Champion.

In the meantime keep going!  I can’t wait to see you and give you a pat on the arm – or a big hug!

 

Happy New Year!

Nickie

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