Health and Wellness Week at Home

It’s Health and Wellness Week at SMUS next week and members of our community have great tips and ideas to help make your mental and physical health a priority at home.

We reached out to a number of our students and teachers to share tips to help you stay happy, healthy and well in times of change:

Prioritize sleep, nutrition and exercise

“Sleep, nutrition and exercise are the foundations of wellness. Without these three, the other pieces of emotional well-being are much harder to put in place. Make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep for someone your age. Be mindful of what, when and why you’re eating, and making sure that you’re consuming a balance of healthy foods. When you are stressed it’s all too easy to make choices that aren’t good for us, like over-eating or having too much screen time. Engaging in regular exercise or movement is like pressing a reset button on our bodies that allows us to access a positive state of well-being. Prioritizing these three will help with your physical and mental health, but also with being able to focus on your school work.” – Tessa Lloyd, Junior School counsellor

Try a simple meditation technique

“The most basic meditation technique is something called a body scan. Work from your toes to your head right to the ends of your hair, specifically acknowledging each part of your body and each muscle group, and actively encouraging them to relax. Bringing awareness to each physical part of your body brings you directly into the present, which is the foundation of meditation. That focus on the present, and away from thinking about the past or future, allows your heart rate to slow, calms down your body and helps you feel more relaxed.” – Raechel Jones, Senior School psychology, yoga and physical education teacher

Practise mindfulness

“Mindfulness, to me, means to present awareness of your thoughts and live in the moment. There are lots of way to do this but I recommend mindful breathing. This is a really important one where you do deep breaths and that helps you calm down. It helps me be focused, be prepared for what I have to face and it just helps me really get through things.” – Matthew Nacey, Grade 4 student

Set realistic expectations for yourself

“If you need time to relax and time to process what’s going on in the world, take that time for yourself. Don’t let social media tell you that you need to be productive all the time by finishing everything you’ve been putting off. This is such a big change for everyone and it’s OK to feel the whole rainbow of emotions at different times. Accept every part of the journey and try to embrace how it’s making you feel so you can do what you need to do to get through it.” – Abby Samuels, Grade 12 Health and Wellness Prefect

Be kind to yourself

“We need to offer self-compassion to ourselves more, particularly when we feel like we didn’t do something well. It’s often a lot easier to be empathetic toward others but it’s so important that we offer kind words to ourselves. I have a set of positive affirmation statements I tell myself every day that help get me through these times; tell yourself kind words, repeat them and think about how you feel as you’re conscious of reframing your well-being.” – Heather Sandquist, Grade 4 teacher

Try a new physical challenge

“Take this time at home as an opportunity to get creative and challenge yourself by going on a new hike, trying yoga for the time or taking a new running route. Often the hardest part of doing anything new is getting up and starting it so schedule the activity as part of your day. Now more than ever it’s so important to get outside because we know physical activity improves your mood, allows you to sleep better and improves your brain health.” – Jackie Cunningham, Middle School Athletics Coordinator

Focus on what you can control

“You can’t control what’s going on in the world, but you can control how much media you consume, how much sleep you get, when you take a break from your schoolwork. Not knowing and not being able to control the things around us can cause anxiety, and left unchecked it can lead to feelings of helplessness. You have power, you have control, and when you focus on those things it helps you move into a positive head space.” – Carole McMillan, Head of Personal Counselling

Start a gratitude practice

“One of the quickest and simplest ways to increase your level of happiness is to intentionally make time to be grateful for the good things in your life. It immediately puts you in a positive frame of mind and can give an uptick in your brain’s happiness chemicals. Having a routine to actively practise gratitude can look however  you want it to look; some people like to journal, some people like to meditate, some people have a jar of awesomeness where they write something positive that happened to them on a sticky note, crumple it up and throw it in the jar. Practising gratitude opens people up to recognizing and appreciating the small things around them.” – Ritch Primrose, Director of Health and Wellness, and Senior School Assistant Director of Student Life and Leadership

Get creative away from technology

“When we talk about digital citizenship at the Junior School it’s all about balance, and I think it’s more important than ever to make sure that all students find time to be creative away from computers and devices. The whole purpose of the Imagination Lab is for students to be in charge of their own learning and building hands-on skills by tinkering and being creative. You can adapt that at home by doing fun activities that don’t require technology that continue to help build skills.” – Alison Galloway, Junior School Imagination Lab coordinator and Education Technology specialist

Connect with your community

“It’s so important to find different ways to connect with your friends and people in your life you don’t get to see every day right now, whether that be through Google Meet or with an app like Houseparty. It’s amazing how much more happy you feel when you go in and get to connect with people online; it has such a positive effect on my mood. Check up on those people in your life and keep that sense of community going.” – Suzie Stone, Grade 12 Health and Wellness Prefect

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