Contributed by Thomas Nelson, Assistant Principal at West Yas Academy.
With the current distance learning, students, now more than ever, need to ensure their emotional and mental wellbeing is looked after.
The focal aim for educational institutions is to develop students holistically. Done by equipping young people with the skills to be able to flourish with the high and low points of society. Global policies and measurements have steered several schools into placing additional focus on whole-school approaches towards student wellbeing provisions in recent years. These will become even more prevalent given the current global challenges we are all facing.
The ability to function well in society falls within the ‘eudaemonic’ perspective of wellbeing, which enables students to conquer the low points and maintain the high points of life. Additionally, Hedoism defines wellbeing as being fundamentally about reducing pain or unhappiness and increasing pleasure, leading to high levels of wellbeing and happiness. Regardless of the affiliation with these domains, it is pertinent to note that we all need to place a spotlight on wellbeing more so than ever.
It is pertinent to note that there are no clear policy or structural frameworks for how educational institutes should prepare students for life, nor teaching and learning pedagogues of how educators should teach these character skills. However, the concept is now being reflected explicitly in UAE policy agendas, continuing to place a focus even more so on improving the country’s levels of ‘Happiness’ and ‘Wellbeing’.
I want to provide students and parents with a five-step ‘Mental and emotional wellbeing toolkit’ during the distance learning phase;
1. Sleep and exercise
Your sleep is the time when you reset, and your body recovers, mentally, and physically. We are encouraging our students to sleep between 6-8 hours per day. Exercise can be challenging at home. However, 30 minutes per day is all that is takes to feel better physiologically and mentally.
2. Talk to others.
We are all in this together; some days you may be demotivated or missing your friends or even feel isolated. This is normal but keeping your feelings inside will not help you. Your family, friends, and teachers are here to listen and support.
3. Maintain a routine.
Wake up and get dressed as you would normally do for a school day. Eat breakfast, hydrate, and take regular breaks, in-between your on-line learning.
4. Take a break.
Reduce your screen time and do something new away from technology that will develop your skills. Try cooking, art, and design, meditate, or exercise. Moving from your device to your TV is not a break!
5. Be positive.
It is scientifically proven that when we smile, we release endorphins which make us feel better and therefore better equipped to deal with any challenges in life. There is a lot of negativity sometimes in the news, look for something good and celebrate this!
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