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Author: Kate

Kate Beddow is a holistic therapist who specializes in working with teachers and carers. After being diagnosed with a pituitary tumour in 2007 Kate made the decision not to return to teaching and to learn how to keep herself mentally and physically healthy using energy healing, mindfulness and relaxation techniques. By combining her teaching and holistic skills Kate has created classes and training to help teachers help their students and themselves stay happy, healthy and calm.

Can’t sleep?

Can't sleepIt is estimated that 86% of us suffer with disturbed sleep or insomnia to some degree.

Some people are able to get to sleep but then wake in the early hours and can’t get back to sleep (often writing lists or worrying about the day ahead). Other people can’t get to sleep in the first place. Either way a few simple tricks, which are a bit more powerful that the usual have a bath and a warm milky drink might be helpful. So before you resort to sleeping pills why not try some of these natural options.

So what are my top tips for getting to sleep, or back to sleep?

Show your muscles how to relax

When you are stressed or anxious, or if you have been snacking through the evening and your body hasn’t used all the energy the best method for relaxing and helping you sleep is to get physical.

The simple act of tensing and relaxing all the muscles in your body in sequence will help you to relax and sleep. This works by using up the cortisol and excess energy that your body has produced, either in fight or flight reaction to your stress, or due to the excess calories you have consumed. By using your muscles you expel some of that energy and allow your body to calm down and sleep.

Begin by tensing your feet, then your lower legs, upper legs, stomach and bottom, one arm, the other arm and finally your face and neck. You can then finish the process by tensing your whole body and releasing. You will instantly feel more relaxed and will find it easier to sleep.

Left nostril breathing

This is a yoga technique which involves lying on your left hand side and gently placing your finger on your right nostril so you are only breathing through your left nostril. Breathe deeply and slowly using only your left nostril and it will reduce your blood pressure and calm your body.

Belly Breathing

This mindful breathing technique involves simply lying on your back with your hands gently resting on your stomach. As you breathe deeply, feel your breath entering your body, feel your tummy and hands rising. As the breath leaves your body feel your hands and tummy fall and the breath leaving through your nostrils.  This is a very calming breathing technique. Often people will fall asleep during the process.

Meditate

Guided meditations are brilliant for helping you to sleep. They calm your body and your mind and give your busy head something to listen to. It is the adult version of a bedtime story. There are many guided meditations on YouTube simply find one that appeals and where the person’s speaking voice is pleasant and listen as you relax into a sleepy state.

White Chestnut Bach Flower Essence

This natural flower essence can be bought in health food stores and is for calming the mind. It removes unwanted thoughts and repetitive thought patterns which can cause sleep issues.

If you want more advice about this there are many practitioners and the health food store staff will be able to help.

Smiling Mind

This is a wonderful free app which you can download from the app store. It takes you through a programme of mindfulness which is suitable for you. You can use it whenever you need to feel calmer or to build your personal mindfulness practise. (I am recommending this as I have used it personally and with clients, I am in now way benefiting from this recommendation).

 

There are many, many more techniques. If you are struggling to sleep try these and see if they help. If not, let me know and I’ll share some more in a few weeks.

 

World Book Day Mindfulness

World Book DayI love World Book Day!

It’s one of my favourite days of the year. Seeing all the children dressed in their costumes and the teachers dressed up too. Knowing that they will be spending all day talking about and learning about and celebrating one of my favourite things in the world… books!

My children love it too.  My daughter in particular is a real book worm. At primary school she loved dressing up and trying to choose a character no one else would. (The image here is the year she went as Amy from Little Women, I think she was in Y6. Her head teacher challenged her as to whether she had read it, which of course she had!). My son is a more reluctant reader (unless it is the football pages of the newspaper!) but he still loves dressing up for World Book Day.

Magical memories!

Of course any day where the children are out of uniform and off timetable has the potential for chaos and much more noise than usual. It is days like this which are saved by your mindfulness practice. But don’t take my word for it. Fiona MacNab has been using mindfulness with her class for a little while and this is what she observed on Children in Need Day last year:

“Wow! My pupils (P3/4) were extremely excited as not only was it Children in Need but we had our school Christmas Fair on Saturday and we had a class stall at it. We did the mindfulness lesson, which went extremely well, then it was our allocated time to go to the Pudsey cupcake stall. I usually have to remind them to walk quietly in the corridor as other classes are working, but I decided not to as it was such an exciting day for them and I didn’t want to spoil that. We got almost the entire way to the dinner hall with the entire class walking calmly and chatting quietly before excitement took over – that was a very visible and immediate result of the mindfulness lesson.”

So, you see it really does work! If you haven’t tried using mindfulness with your class before, using it on a day where they are more excitable than usual might seem a strange thing to suggest. But believe it or not it just makes the results more obvious.

If you are thinking of having a literacy based mindfulness lesson on Thursday there are lots to choose from in my shop.  Alternatively, if you are wary about spending money when you have never tried it, why not use one of my free lesson plans: Harry Potter or Where the Wild Things Are.

However, if you really want to give your class a treat, my Roald Dahl lessons are so much fun! You can buy them in a discounted bundle or you can grab one of my Literacy Packs and calm the whole school!

Whatever you decide to do I hope you have a magical World Book Day. I can’t wait to see all the photos appear in my Facebook timeline!

 

 

 

Moana – A mindfulness and relaxation lesson plan

Moana Mindfulness lesson planI recently saw the latest Disney “princess” film Moana with my children…

Honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect, there is always so much hype when a new Disney princess is born. Those of you who know me will know by now that I’m a sucker for a good Disney film but there are so many and there seems to be a new princess born every other week.

I don’t know why I doubted Disney though. I was completely blown away by the message of this film. Long gone are the days of Snow White and Cinderella. We are no longer giving our daughters down trodden, manipulated women whose sole ambition is to find a suitable husband and get married. This generation of girls have role models like Merida (Brave), Else and Anna (Frozen) and Tiana (The Princess and the Frog). Independent women. I was impressed when the “need” for a husband to fulfil you seemed to fade and we had women of independent means who controlled their own destiny. Moana takes this message a step further and, thankfully, doesn’t even mention any interest in romance. She is a strong, courageous Chief who makes brave choices and survives an amazing adventure to save her island.

What has this got to do with mindfulness?

As I watched I couldn’t help thinking what a great relaxation lesson this story would make. There are so many amazing themes.

So I have made one for you.

I have intentionally created a simple, age appropriate lesson for you to enjoy as a calming treat with your class.

If you would like to download this gift you can grab your copy here:

Moana

 

If you enjoy this lesson why not take a look at my other lesson plans and make mindfulness a regular part of your timetable.

 

Changing the way you breathe can change your life

Are you aware of your breathing?

Is your breath usually slow or fast?

Do you breathe deeply or is your breath shallow? 

This simple practice of paying attention to your breath is the starting point for mindfulness. For teachers it is so much more though. The way you breathe has a huge impact on your health and your mood. When you breathe slowly and deeply your body naturally relaxes and you feel calmer. Not only that, everyone around you feels calmer too because you exude calm.

Are you starting to understand how this can have an impact on your classroom?

When we are stressed or in danger one of the first things that changes is our breath. Our body prepares for Fight or Flight and our breathing speeds up to enable us to be strong or run quickly. Unfortunately our bodies haven’t realised yet that we don’t often need that reaction in modern life. We are highly unlikely to run away or hit someone when we find out we have OFSTED coming (well not until they arrive anyway – tee hee!).

So, in order to calm your body you must learn to slow your breathing.

There are many breathing techniques you can learn, and teach to you classes, to help everyone breathe slowly and control their anxiety. Many of these are included in my free Calmer Classroom Cards which you can download here.

Breathing properly can also make a huge difference to your voice and your ability to project and preventing sore throats. If you breathe from your diaphragm and project from your chest rather than from your throat and head you will put less strain on your throat.

 

6 Ways to Introduce Gratitude in your School

6 Ways to Introduce Gratitude in your School

 

Gratitude is a word which is used a lot these days, particularly in alternative and new age circles, but what does it really mean?

Well, it is about being grateful. Grateful for; what you have, for the people in your life and for the opportunities your have been given.

Why is gratitude a magical thing to introduce into your school?

Well, there are lots of reasons. It’s so easy to focus on the things we don’t achieve. The media are always very quick to jump on failure but rarely look at all the amazing things happening in the world. We as humans seem to be pre-programmed to dwell on our inefficiencies and almost ignore our triumphs. Gratitude is a great way to reset the balance a little.

It is a basic human emotion to be thankful for the things we have. But in the modern world, we increasingly take basic things such as food and shelter for granted. Teaching children to be grateful can only be a good thing, even if it only helps them to put into perspective the fact that “everyone else” has the latest gadget and they don’t!

It is also proven to increase happiness considerably (if you want to read some science you can do so here.) Happier children are more confident, more cooperative, are less likely to be influenced by others and, importantly for schools these days, they achieve more.

How can you encourage an “attitude of gratitude” in your school?

Gratitude JarHere are some of my favourite ways:

  • Gratitude Jars – This is one of my favourite things in the whole world. You have probably seen it on social media at this time of year. It is so simple but so effective. All you need is a container and some scraps of paper. Simply write a little note every time something happens which you are grateful for. “I am so proud of the whole class because they were so well behaved on the school trip today”, “I am delighted that Sarah wrote her name for the first time” whatever it might be. Write it down, date it and pop it in the jar. You can write them all or you can allow the children to pop their own notes in too. Then when you are feeling like nothing is going right or at the end of term, read through some of the achievements in your jar.
  • Gratitude Journals – Similar to the Gratitude Jar, but this involves each child writing three things they are grateful for in a book or journal every day. This helps older children to really look at what makes them happy and how others are helping them in their daily lives.
  • Gratitude Display – Why not make a display of all the things your class are grateful for at the start of the term? Write thank you letters to someone who has done something special for them. Have your gratitude big and bold in your room.
  • Staff Gratitude Display – Many schools are now including a display in the staffroom where teachers and support staff can thank other members of the school for their help or for an action which really helped them.
  • Random Acts of Kindness – Why not choose one child or member of staff every week to receive a random act of kindness? It may be a little note saying something positive or a small gift.
  • Circle Time Games – Circle time is the perfect opportunity to express gratitude. You can ask each child to thank another member of the class for something. Give them an chance to say thank you for something that has happened to them or something they have received. Encourage them to think about all the amazing things they have which many children do not.

I hope this will give you a few ideas for how you can encourage your school to be more grateful. Start with yourself. Why not start a gratitude journal? It will begin to have an impact on you, your classroom and on the school.

I am very grateful that you have taken the time to read this post. I am thankful to everyone who takes something away and implements it in their school.

Thank you x 

Do you Dare to Blossom?

Rediscovery CardsWhen I am approached by people to look at or promote their products I am always a little cautious. I love sharing resources, especially if I feel that you will find them helpful.

When I received Mary Lunnen’s Rediscovery Cards and the accompanying book through the post I was delighted. Mary runs a small independent business working as a coach but she is passionate about helping children and someone had recommended that she try to get her cards into schools as they felt that they would be helpful for teachers. I agree!

There are fifty cards in the pack and each has a word clearly printed on a coloured background. The idea is that you choose a word for the day and think about how that word can help you and inspire you as you work. Then at the end of the day you can reflect back on the word.

Often the colours trigger an emotion or a response of some kind too so it is fun to talk about the colours used as well as the words.

How could you use the Rediscovery Cards in school?

The beauty of these cards for teachers is that they encourage discussion about emotions, as well as introducing new vocabulary and engaging with the children in a fun and exploratory way.

Perhaps you have a card monitor every day who gets to choose and then put it up on the board. Maybe you choose the words every day and ask the children to think about the word as they work. You could even use the words as part of your daily mindfulness or meditation practice. The possibilities really are endless.

If you would like to know more about Mary Lunnen and her lovely cards you can visit her website:

http://www.daretoblossom.co.uk

 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!

We're going on a bear huntI love “We’re Going on a bear Hunt”! I first came across the folk song as a Brownie in the early 80’s (I know I’m getting old!) when we we would sing it on coach trips and round the campfire. So when I started teaching in the 90’s and discovered that it had been made into a beautiful children’s book in the late 80’s I was delighted. It was one of my favourite books to read to classes when I was teaching. When I had my own children we would read it and sing it and sing it and read it. We went across Cannock Chase on our own bear hunts. There is something mesmerising about the repetitive onamatapoeic language. It is perfect for teaching children so many aspects of language.

Imagine my joy when I discovered that this wonderful story had been made into an animation. Even my daughter (who is now 12 years old) is excited about sitting and watching it on Christmas Eve with her cousin. (My niece is only 2 years old and the perfect excuse for us to watch it – if we needed one!).

Would you like a magical “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” mindfulness lesson plan?

Given my love of this folk song and story I couldn’t resist creating a relaxation lesson plan for you. Classrooms all over the UK and probably the world, will be buzzing with the swishy swashy sound of teachers reading this magical story.

Treat yourself and your class to a wonderfully relaxing lesson. Teach them some mindfulness skills for life and have fun at the same time.

You can get your copy lesson plan for less than a cup of coffee, what are you waiting for?

 

Can Mindfulness Really Help Children with SEND?

mindfulness-and-sendThe use of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, or MBCT to support and aid children with SEND has been studied for several years now. This is a complex and very varied subject but I felt you might benefit from me bringing together some helpful information and studies on the subject. I hope to help you make an informed decision about the children you are working with.

Anyone who has ever worked with children knows that to give a blanket “this always works” response to any issue is a huge mistake. All children are different. All will respond very differently to the approaches we try. Having a few generalities can be helpful though so we know what it is worth trying.

ADHD and Mindfulness

Are you affected by ADHD and want to know more about using mindfulness? These articles are a wonderful starting point.

Mindfullyadd

http://psychcentral.com/lib/mindfulness-skills-useful-in-addressing-adhd/

Suffice to say that it has been proven that 8 out of 10 people felt that they were less affected by the condition after they embarked on a programme of mindfulness.

ASD and Mindfulness

When affected by ASD a person will often struggle to shut off their internal monologue. They may get stuck in the “doing” mode of life. By encouraging mindfulness we can enables them to feel more comfortable in the “being” mode.

For more information please read:

Autismandmindfulness.org

I hope you will find this a valuable resource, it gives a list to many sources of information and research.

Research Autism

Other conditions

Interestingly there is now considerable evidence that mindfulness benefits conditions as diverse as eating disorders, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue. It is also shown to improve relationships and improved self esteem.

If you are interested in this subject or there are specific conditions you would like information regarding, let me know and I will guide you as best I can or point you in the direction of more research materials. I am acutely aware that however many conditions I include in a post like this there will be people who feel I have missed their condition. I have focused on the most popular issues in schools. I would love to help you if you have specific questions or needs that you require help with.

 

 

 

Children in Need – Helping children to be more mindful of the world they live in

Pudsey Bear Mindfulness LessonI love Children! There’s no hiding it. I loved children when I was no more than a large child myself. At 14 years old while my friends were raving at the school disco I was looking after the teachers’ children in the foyer. (I know, I sound so sad, but I was a teenager in the time that good taste and good music forgot, I could not do acid house!). I also love Children in Need. When it comes to charities, I have always prioritised children’s charities. I have sponsored children and done all I can to help our most vulnerable and precious citizens.

This year I thought it would be lovely to create a mindfulness lesson plan to help our children to live in the present. To help them to notice and appreciate the world around them. If we are not careful, on days like Children in Need where we intentionally shift the focus away from the upset and heartbreak of the people we are raising money to help, it is easy for the message to get lost in the fun. Mindfulness is proven to help improve concentration and behaviour, even test results, as well as reducing anxiety and stress. What a wonderful gift to our children on such a magical day.

 

Children in Need Mindfulness LessonThe lesson walks the children through an imaginary morning for Pudsey Bear on the day of the big Children in Need television fundraiser programme. As he goes through his morning the children explore very simple mindfulness techniques.

The lesson comes in the form of a simple to follow script. All you need is a little time, a little space and your fabulous voice to help your class to stay calm and focused.

If you would like to download this special mindfulness lesson plan to share with your class on Children in Need Day just click here. It is only £3.00 and 50% of the profits from the sale goes to Children in Need.

Have fun and stay mindful!

Glad to be Dan – a mindfulness book review

Glad to be Dan - cover

Those of you who know me are already aware of my love of books, particularly children’s books. Imagine my joy then when Jo Howarth got in touch and asked whether I would be happy to review the new book. She has written Glad to be Dan with Jude Lennon and it is lovely.

This book is a triple whammy for me!

  • It’s a children’s book – tick.
  • It is a book about mindfulness – tick.
  • The main character is called Dan (my son’s name) – BIG TICK!

So when it arrived in the post I was delighted to discover that this book is everything I could have wanted it to be and more.

It is a picture book which has been beautifully illustrated by Trev Howarth. Deeper discussions would inevitably come from this book with older children, it is definitely suitable for the whole primary range. I would suggest possibly even into secondary schools too as a starting point for dialogue about negative emotions and mindfulness.

The story of Dan is a familiar one. He is fed up, anxious, angry and generally struggling to see the positives in life.

jo-howarthWhat I love though is that this book doesn’t just giving wishy washy solutions to his woes. This book gives practical ideas to help over come these negative emotions. Better still, it explains these techniques not only as part of the story but in greater detail at the back of the book.

If you are looking for a gentle and accessible way to introduce mindfulness to your children, at school or at home, this is the perfect starting point.

It will definitely be staying in my “toolbox” for schools and sessions in general now. I just wish that I had written it.

If you are interested in finding out more or would like to get a copy yourself you can buy your copy here.

* Disclaimer – I did not receive any financial incentive for writing this review, nor is this an affiliate link. I received a complementary copy of the book so I could review it.