We are dedicated to supporting our students in all aspects of learning during their time with us at Safety Bay Senior High School. This extends from classroom learning support, to emotional and mental wellbeing support.
Mindfulness is the quality of being fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment. In teaching the mind to be present, we are teaching ourselves to live more mindfully — in the present, taking a breath, not beholden to reactive thoughts and feelings — which is particularly helpful when faced with challenging circumstances or difficult situations.
The Difference Betweeen Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is not a temporary state of mind that is present during meditation and then vanishes for the rest of the day. It is a way of living in which we are able to step back and be in the present moment in any situation. Mindfulness doesn’t eliminate stress or other difficulties; instead, by becoming aware of unpleasant thoughts and emotions that arise because of challenging situations, we have more choice in how to handle them in the moment, and a better chance of reacting calmly and empathetically when faced with stress or challenges.
Meditation is the training ground for learning mindfulness. At first, we meditate to become familiar with the here and now for a limited period of time. Over time, regularly practicing mindfulness helps us develop the ability to be present throughout the day, every day. Practicing mindfulness meditation can be a great way to manage stress and boost compassion, focus, empathy, patience, energy, and happiness.
Meditation is the practice of intentionally spending time with our mind. Taking time out of our busy days to sit, breathe, and try to remain focused on our breath, helps us become more aware of our thoughts, act more compassionately toward ourselves and others, and connect with the present moment.
When meditating, practice letting thoughts come and go, rather than trying to stop them. Think of thoughts like traffic in the mind, always zipping by - you may see a flashy car and chase after it (ie. caught up overthinking, daydreaming, overanalysing), or you may see a roadblock ahead and try to resist it (ie. thinking about something uncomfortable). Meditation trains us to notice the traffic without chasing or fighting it - just to let the thought come. Then gently shift our focus away from it and back onto our breath - to let the thought go.
What matters most is consistency.
Try meditate a few times a week or daily. But even completing one meditation can lead to a reduction in mind wandering. We’ll feel more and more benefits the more we practice.
The best time to meditate is whenever we can.
It doesn’t matter when (or where) we meditate, so choose whatever time works best. Meditation could be nice to do first thing in the morning before our day begins or at night in bed. Anytime we feel overwhelmed, we can take a break and meditate instead of pushing through.
We only need a few minutes to meditate.
A short meditation can be five minutes or less. If we feel like that’s not enough, a 10-minute meditation is great for beginners. Once we have a consistent practice, we can slowly increase our time.
Be prepared for noisy distractions.
We don’t need perfect quiet to meditate. Total silence might be too overwhelming in meditation for beginners. We become extra sensitive to every little sound when things are completely quiet.
Sit and dress however feels good.
As long as our back is straight, our neck and shoulders are relaxed, and our chin is slightly tucked, we can sit wherever we feel comfortable for the length of the meditation. We can sit on our couch, a dining or office chair, propped up by pillows on the bed, or on a cushion. Cross or uncross the arms and legs, whatever feels natural. Consider loosening any clothing that’s too restrictive, taking off our shoes, or removing any accessory we tend to fidget with.
Try guided meditation to learn from experts.
Guided meditation is a type of meditation led by a teacher who explains what to do. They cue us when to open and close our eyes, how to breathe, and break down other meditation techniques. Because they’re experts on how the mind works, they offer friendly motivation and practical advice beginners typically need, like tips for using what we learn during meditation in real life.
There’s no right or wrong way to meditate.
If we have trouble meditating at first, that’s okay. Even if we find ourselves wondering if we’re meditating correctly, don’t forget: they’re just thoughts.
Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our bodies and minds. For many of us, our relationship with sleep can be complicated. For something that should be relaxing and rejuvenating, sleep can often be a source of frustration and stress. We worry about its quantity, quality, and consistency; some of us might even worry whether we’ll ever sleep soundly again.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep for healthy adults. Children and teens need more to enable growth and development. While these general recommendations can offer a useful guideline, we are all unique and require a different amount of rest to maintain a healthy body and mind. Healthy sleep is more about the quality of rest than the quantity, and the best way to achieve that superior slumber is with a calm mind.
How to Get a Better Sleep
Sleep hygiene is about creating the best environment for a quality night’s rest. Good practices include finding a relaxing and consistent evening routine, making our bedrooms a sanctuary for sleep, and creating good habits throughout our waking hours — like good diet and regular exercise — that will help us to sleep soundly at night.
One of the most important things we can do to promote a healthy night’s sleep is to try to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day, including weekends. A good routine throughout the day can also help, including regular exercise, not eating too late and enjoying the same wind-down ritual — like a bath, reading a book, or listening to sleep music or sleep meditation — each night.
Mobile phones and electronic devices are perhaps the most disruptive influence on our sleep. We produce the hormone melatonin in the evening to induce drowsiness, and our bodies rely on light cues for that process. Artificial light can confuse our body clocks and the blue light emitted by phones has been found to play havoc with our body clock and melatonin production, making it harder to get to sleep, as well as having a negative impact on sleep duration and efficiency.
In order to wind down peacefully at night, it is important to get enough exercise during the day. Exercise can help stabilize our mood and decompress the mind, and research has shown that exercise helps us fall asleep faster and improves sleep quality. However, due to the endorphins released during physical activity that can get the mind buzzing, try not exercise within an hour or two of trying to sleep to give ourselves a chance to unwind.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life. Tight deadlines at school, someone in your family is having health problems, or maybe both are happening at the same time.
Softening the way we perceive stress and relating to it in a more accepting way is the first trick for how to deal with stressful feelings.
Mindfulness lets us step back from unpleasant thoughts and emotions (aka stress) that arise because of challenging situations by calming the mind, getting in touch with our body, and gaining perspective of the world around us. This can be achieved through meditation.
Exercise and Stretching
Exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones, and stimulates the production of endorphins, which elevate mood. Any type of exercise where you use large muscle groups in a repetitive fashion, will help you reduce stress.
Stretching relieves muscle tension created by carrying stress in our body.
Music can facilitate positive emotions, as well as change our mood and heartbeat. A gently melody can slow a racing heartbeat, as our heart begins to sync with the beat of the music.
Talking to someone
Venting about what’s stressing you out can feel really good and helps you process your feelings, while also helping you bond with others. This can be a coworker, friend or therapist - anyone who allows you to lift a load of stress off your shoulders.
Train your body and mind at the same time with exercises to strengthen your mental and physical wellbeing.
Studies have found that people who walk have lower stress levels. When we focus our attention through a walking meditation, we’re able to take it one step further, by bringing body and mind in sync to train our mind in awareness while we move. A walking meditation is designed to bring body and mind in sync while we’re out and about by allowing the mind to focus on certain cues for 30-60 seconds each:
- Body check - how does your body feel? Heavy or light, stiff or relaxed? Become aware of your posture and the way you’re carrying yourself.
- Observe - Without trying to change the way you’re walking, simply observe your gait.
- Tune in - passing cars, other people, window displays, trees, or any other sights that come into your awareness. Try not to think about any of these things, just simply acknowledge what you see.
- Noting sounds - Notice the sounds that drift in. Try to realize any noise but not dwell on it.
- Familiar smells - Turn your attention to any smells, whether pleasant or unpleasant. Your mind may create a story out of each smell and remind you of somewhere, something, or someone.
- Physical sensations - Notice any physical sensations, from how the weather makes you feel to how it feels as the sole of your feet touch the ground. Simply notice, acknowledge, and let go.
- Movement - After a minute or two, contemplate the sensation of movement in the body: how the arms hang or swing by your side or how the weight steadily shifts from right to left. Observe your stride, your pace, and the rhythm you’ve become accustomed to.
- Focus on your rhythm - Use that rhythm — the soles of the feet touching the ground — as your base of awareness, a place you can mentally come back to when the mind wanders off. Repeat this throughout your walk, step by step.
Running does wonders for your cardiovascular health and makes your mind less prone to age-related cognitive decline. Running outside causes us to flex our ankles more, vary our movements, and use different muscles than we would on a treadmill. Engaging in meditation while running can improve the strength of your mind and your run, as well as causing decreased levels of depression, higher pain tolerance, more energy, and improved speed and endurance.
Good mental health and wellbeing is when everything is ok, you feel happy, can enjoy life and have fun with family and friends. Sometimes things can be a bit hard and you might feel very sad or upset. When you feel like this there are people who can help.
- BeyondNow Suicide Safety Planning - BeyondNow is an app created by Beyond Blue to support people experiencing suidical thoughts and feelings. You can use the app to create your own easy-to-follow plan to help you in those moments when you can’t think straight.
Student Wellbeing Hub
Want to find out how to keep healthy, happy and get the most out of school?
This is your place to find topics and student learning resources on things like dealing with bullying, how to be smart online, and lots more. You can find games, videos and websites just for you!
The Wellbeing Distillery
Safety Bay Senior High School will be working in partnership with David Bott and the rest of the team at The Wellbeing Distillery in aim of developing a student well-being framework based on the Positive Education PERMAH Model, outlining the explicit support of student wellbeing by staff.
Here we will be aiming to develop positive mindsets for students, gratitude, empathy and supporting one another. It is bespoke, moving with our school needs and The Safety Bay Way.