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Boost your mood! – Headmaster’s blog – Wednesday 7th June 2017

June 7, 2017

Boost your mood!

As the Headmaster, I am a member of three professional associations which serve the School in many and varied ways: IAPS (representing Prep Schools), ISA (representing over 450 private schools through to the secondary sector) and TISCA (for schools with a Christian foundation and ethos). In each case, their recent conferences / meetings have had the same key note theme: ways of understanding mental health in schools and how we might better boost well-being. The Government has also been sponsoring studies into this area and various charities have been promoting ‘mindfulness’ in schools. It seems that young people (let alone staff in schools) are facing unprecedented levels of mental pressure, and not simply at key exam times.

It was with all this in mind that I was attracted to an article in a recent copy of Women’s Weekly (not, I might add, my normal choice of reading, but definitely full of useful features and advice). The article in question was called, ‘Boost your mood in just one day’ and I share a few suggestions from it – either for your own well-being or even for that of your children. It was written for key moments of the day:

  • 7.00am Let in the light: daylight stimulates our body’s serotonin (the so-called ‘happy hormone’) and thus it’s good to open the curtains early
  • 8.00am Eat yogurt for breakfast: probiotic-rich foods are great but I am also profoundly aware that some of our pupils arrive at school having had little breakfast at all
  • 9.00am Log on and laugh: a great antidote to the backlog of emails awaiting me which I’ll tackle much better once I’ve seen one of the 50 funniest YouTube films
  • 11.00am Catch up with coffee: it’s not just the caffeine which (in moderation) can be helpful but also the stimulus of the oxytocin horm
    one which is released when we bond with friends

2889139947_42eb09916d_z wine and choclate blog

  • 12.30pm 10-minute tidy up: even sorting out a small pile of mail can help create some inner calm and combat the stress hormone cortisol
  • 1.00pm Have a happy meal: ideally not the fast-food variety but a low-carb lunch, again with friends or colleagues to assist bonding
  • 2.30pm Flick through photos: it’s a real mood-booster to look at a few pictures of family and friends
  • 3.00pm Get up against a wall: apparently a 30-second stretch pressed up against a flat surface will enhance our mood
  • 3.30pm Say thank you: my favourite – and see below for an example. Writing one appreciative text, email or letter a week boosts our own satisfaction and happiness levels. Just think what one a day might do!
  • 4.00pm Try speed-thinking: give yourself 30 seconds to list all you can about a loved one or friend. Quick thinking has been proven to improve our mood
  • 4.30pm Cheer up with chocolate: say no more (except it ought to be the dark variety for best results)!
  • 5.00pm Do a good deed: volunteering, giving to charity, doing a random act of kindness – all boosts our mood but also enhances others. A ‘win win’ situation!
2017.3.24 role reversal day (10)

Role-reversal day – an example of our charity fundraising

  • 6.00pm Chop some fruit: see, feel and smell the fruit – another great activity to raise the spirits
  • 7.00pm Have a fish supper: omega-3 rich salmon is apparently best and thus don’t just wait for Friday (or that seaside holiday) for fish
  • 8.00pm Start your wind down: steady breathing, relaxing muscles…you might fall asleep before you know it! Begin to switch off your devices and have a break before bed
  • 10.00pm Go to bed on a kiwi: apparently this fruit is high in serotonin-boosting nutrients and vitamin C…the perfect way to drift off for a happy sleep


The thank you note

And so to return to my favourite from the list above – the ‘thank you note’. The following, from a parent who has had three children through Ballard and with the youngest just about to leave, was by all accounts stimulated by one of my earlier blogs. I quote just a few sections here and will let them speak for themselves. Suffice it to say, emails such as these go a long way to boosting my mental health:

Thank you for your latest email about mind sets, I found it very interesting and it was this that prompted me to write to you, yes I know another e mail for you I’m sure you get so many, but I hope this will be a welcome addition…

I have thought long and hard how I can thank you all for having (my children) and helping my husband and myself and all our family to shape them in to the adults that they have become. It is our belief that basic principles, attitudes and morals are so important to teach children from the minute they are able to recognise them and whilst this indeed starts at home, we have always felt that they have been enforced at Ballard alongside the way we would teach them. I could buy wine, chocolates, but to me this seems so impersonal whereas I hope the sentiment in this e mail will stay with you and your colleagues for a little longer than a drink or a box of sweets…

There are so many proud moments that will stay in our memories for ever thanks to Ballard, nothing compares to hearing from teachers that they like and enjoy our children’s company, I know that parents evening are some people’s nightmares but we always looked forward to it as we heard only positive comments, we felt that the teachers really knew and understood our children. It is important to us to teach the children to be kind and considerate to others in life as many other things then tend to fall in to place. The act of kindness week was a fabulous idea it really makes us stop and think that it doesn’t take much to make others happy.

To say that all of you go beyond your duties as teachers is an understatement…thank you to all the teachers and Ballard staff that have been a part of our family for all this time, I truly believe that it takes a very special type of person to be involved with kids learning and wellbeing on a day to day basis and Ballard have managed to get it right on every level.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

For another article from our blog on mental health – see this one from January 2017

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Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here.

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