Moving into KS2 (or ‘Juniors’ as we used to call it)
By Vicki Watson BEd
Year 3 heralds the start of KS2 – for some it’s just a move along the corridor, for others it’s a new building within school or even a new school. Either way, it’s the beginning of a new period in schooling and often the most important question is – where are the toilets?!
This year will bring many more questions for all children. Most of them will have met their new teacher for a short time, either in small groups outside or on Zoom and some will have seen them round school ‘back in the day’!
But what are they coming back to?
In a nutshell:
The classrooms will be set out in rows with everyone facing the front.
Children will have individual or paired resources. The general rule will be to stay in their seats and respect other people’s space.
They will be expected to stay in their class or year group bubbles with staggered arrival times and playtimes. Hand washing will be frequent.
Because there will be limited contact between adults as well, it will mean that they see less teachers than before.
A comfort to some but a worry to others – especially those who rely on being able to see older siblings at break times.
As a parent, what can you do?
A lot of schools have sent out Transition Booklets at the beginning of the holidays but don’t worry if yours hasn’t.
Talk to your child about who they are and what their strengths are – tell them we are all in the same boat.
Find their ‘brave’…..
Set some goals to help get back into a routine – devise a timetable and organise ‘back to school’ stationery, etc.
Talk about what is going to be the same and what will be different.
Get them to voice and face their worries by writing them down and feeding them to a ‘Worry Monster’ or a ‘Worry box’. Encourage them to share.
Create a little jar of memories about lockdown. Write down all the positives so they can be reminders for when you or your children are having a wobble.
Read, read, read. Share books where both of you can read to the other and not just at bedtime.
Have faith that school will catch them up with everything else.
Pastoral care will be at the forefront of every year group and your teachers are there to help your children discover the new normal. Share with them and they will share back. Together, the world will become a safer place again for your children.
Why Include Strength and Conditioning in my Exercise Regime?
Many of us may be aware that incorporating strength and conditioning into our fitness routines has many benefits and goes hand in hand with other types of training.
However some people assume the most effective fitness regime is only cardio activity (mainly running) and there is often miss-conception that strength exercises will make you ‘bulky’ and the stereotypical concept of body builders lifting weight in the gym.
It is important to understand that there are different types of strength and conditioning techniques for meeting specific goals or for general improvement / maintaining health and fitness.
Is strength training as effective as cardio?
Many studies have demonstrated that incorporating strength and conditioning programs within your physical activity regimes contributes greatly to optimising performance and fitness, whist decreasing the risk of injury and helping to prevent loss of lean muscle that comes naturally with ageing.
Of course cardio and aerobic exercises will help with fitness and maintaining healthy weight, but strength training does help too.
You may notice your fitness tracker shows a greater amount of calories burned going for a run than a strength / resistance session (depending on type and intensity of that session). Some assume this means they have worked harder and therefore this type of training alone is more effective.
Research suggests regular effective strength and resistance sessions contributes to longer period of calories burned and keeps your metabolism active post work out, longer than an aerobic activity (depending on type and intensities).This is due to improved muscle fitness increasing your resting metabolism.
However, it is important to understand that if your goal is for ‘shaping up’, don’t completely rely on weight but focus more on body composition. Remember muscle weighs heavier than fat and lean muscle provides a more ‘toned’ body composition despite weight.
If your goal is to become fitter, run further, improve stamina, or general overall improved fitness and energy, incorporating strength & resistance training into fitness programmes improves overall muscle fitness which noticeably improves aerobic and cardio fitness.
Are there other benefits of regular strength and conditioning exercises?
Yes, absolutely! Other important health benefits from Stregnth and Resistance training, include;
Strengthens bones and improves muscular fitness – Muscle strength is crucial in making maintaining strength and energy to carry out everyday tasks.
Facilitates healthy aging – Strength exercises are even more important as we get older to slow down the natural muscle lose that come with aging.
Contributes to making aerobic exercise more productive – Stronger muscles result in greater posture, movement and stamina
Improves heart health – Along with aerobic exercise, muscle-strengthening activities is proven to improve blood pressure by reducing hypertensionand lowers the risk of heart disease.
Improves balance and prevents injuries – Improved muscle fitness supports posture, balance and movement.
… And of course, overall makes you look and feel better, including improving mood and the benefits of the ’feel good’ endorphins from exercise.
How can I fit a variety of regular strength & conditioning exercises into my fitness programmes or busy lifestyle?
There are various ways you can incorporate ‘Isotonic’ and ‘Isometric’ strength and conditioning type training into your regime or everyday tasks, whilst also ensuring correct form and technique for effectiveness and safety.
In case you are wondering the difference between these movements…
Involves contracting your muscles against a non-moving object without a noticeable change of length and the joint doesn’t move.
Examples: Plank, Wall Sit and some Yoga poses.
Involves contracting your muscles through a range of motion, changing the length of the muscle through concentric or eccentric contractions.
Example: lifting a bicep curl, concentric (shortening muscle) to curl up, then eccentric to curl back down.
As lockdown restrictions are easing, allowing use of Gyms, swimming pools, sports facilities, exercising in groups and studio classes, for many, this is providing more opportunities for a more structured physical activity routine and motivation.
However, you definitely don’t need a gym membership or expensive weight machines to incorporate strength or resistance training to your routine, you have a lot of options, using weights, resistance bands, household objects body weight movements, or using your own body weight as resistance.
Lunges (forward, backward, lateral etc)
Bicep curls, triceps dips, shoulder press, lateral raises etc.
(See previous blog post: ‘Looking after You and PKU – Exercise Benefits’ for more tips on this and check out Cambrooke’s ‘Thrive in 5’ booklet)
My Top Tips for Strength and Resistance Training with PKU
All types of fitness ties in with a healthy and nutritious diet.
Consuming the right nutrients and staying hydrated afteryou exercise is just as important as what you eat and drink before. Particularly carbs and protein after workout for efficient muscle repair and restoring glycogen.
So carbs is pretty easy to tick off in the PKU diet
… however, many comment on how PKU patients are able to consume post-workout protein when following a low protein diet.
Note that PKU prescribed supplements has protein in but minus the one type we can’t process, ‘Phenylalanine’. So the other proteins within our formula make up for the natural protein others would typically consume post-work out…
…therefore, I find taking PKU supplement with a healthy snack and a drink to rehydrate within about 30 mins post work-out allows muscles that have broken down during the session to repair quicker and to refuel glycogen stores.
Time PKU supplements and healthy meals / snacks throughout the day to allow for optimum energy and recovery.
Experiment with what works for you and your fitness routines, you may find focusing on pre and post workout nutrition and timing of nutrition not only increases your energy, stamina, stregnth and performance, but may also noticeable reduce any DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness)…it does for me.
Try to make time for rest days and good sleep – Although this can be difficult with hectic lifestyles, rest days are just as important when working out to allow muscles to rebuild and grow, replenish glycogen stores and help re-optimise the nervous system.
Plus of course you will feel more energised, refreshed to stick to your exercise routine.
In addition to the benefits of strength and conditioning mentioned above, incorporating the many different types of exercises keeps your fitness routines varied and fun.
Design our next “PKU & Proud” water bottle, to celebrate International PKU Day!
For every child that sends their design, we will donate £10* to the NSPKU. Winner announced on International PKU Day, 28th June 2021
Step 1: Complete and submit the competition form below. Within minutes you will receive the design template to your chosen email address.
Step 2: Get creative! The theme is “PKU & Proud!”
Step 3: Scan or take a picture of your design and send it to email@example.com before 27th June 2021.
Remember to keep your design safe as we may need you to post it to us if you win!
Step 4: We will pick a winner on 28th June and have the design printed on our next Kids water bottles! If you sent a design, you will also get a bottle in the post!
*Up to £1000. Multiple designs can be submitted per child, but only one donation will be submitted per child.
Terms and Conditions
Only children with PKU under the age of 18 are eligible to submit a design.
For every child that sends us a design, we will donate £10 to the NSPKU up to the value of £1,000. Multiple designs can be submitted per child, but only one donation will be submitted per child.
By sharing your design you are providing consent for Cambrooke to share the design on social media throughout the competition period and post-competition. If you do not wish your design to be shared, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This competition will run until 28th June 2021. Any designs submitted after 27th June will not be entered.
Children and young adults under 18 years old will be eligible to take part, in the UK and Ireland.
Only one design can be chosen to win the competition and will be printed on a set number of water bottles, decided by Cambrooke.
All participants will receive a water bottle for taking part in the competition, to the delivery address provided in the competition form.
By opting into our mailing list and/or other communications, you are providing express consent for Cambrooke UK to hold your details in a secure manner in order to carry out these communications and activities. Participants can opt out of receiving communications from Cambrooke at any time by clicking on the ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of any email correspondence or by emailing email@example.com.
The winner will be contacted and informed, and if consent is provided to disclose the name of the winner, we will also announce it on social media. No names of patients will be disclosed without express written approval.
As a PKU adult, working mum with a busy lifestyle and currently home-schooling, I understand the challenges of keeping on top of juggling work, life, parenting etc. plus finding the time to try to focus on ourselves and keep our phe levels in desired range. This can often lead to stress and anxiety, which is noticeably heightened when phe levels aren’t fully controlled.
One way I manage this is through exercise. My main hobby is distance running, I run most days and enjoy being outdoors. My experience and background of growing up with PKU combined with my passion for health and fitness stems not only from my natural enjoyment for it, but also because of the noticeable benefits of keeping active has on mental health and wellbeing which in turn can help balance the pressures of everyday life.
My passion for wanting to help people, by sharing and promoting these benefits, and to achieve their fitness goals, has lead me to a career in health and fitness. I started out as an exercise to music / fitness instructor, then took my studying further to gain a Level 3 Personal Training qualification.
I am pleased to share a series of blog posts, focusing on the benefits of exercise, my experience of balancing an active lifestyle with managing PKU, plus how to stay motivated during difficult times and during periods of bleak, cold weather. Along with tips and tricks for creating your own workouts and staying active.
Benefits of movement and exercise
Many of us within the PKU community understand and can relate to how symptoms of high phe levels or living with the restricted diet can impact mental health. Whether you’re a patient, a parent or carer of someone with PKU, as with other conditions and aspects of life, there may be times when you feel the struggle to keep the condition and symptoms under control and not let it control you.
Many other factors can also lead to stress and anxiety disorders, which I find these can also have an impact on my phe levels as well as being heightened by uncontrolled phe levels too. This is when we can sometimes find ourselves in a bit of a vicious circle.
Also, I sometimes hear comments that following a PKU diet limits our physical ability to achieve fitness goals. I have received comments myself around the misconception of PKU and fitness…
‘How are you able to lift weights, train and have the stamina and endurance to run marathons when you follow a low protein diet?’
My answer is usually …
‘PKU is a low phenylalanine vegan type diet. Our prescribed formula provides required amount of other proteins / amino acids and nutrients, to provide us with as much adequate required nutrition as those without PKU.’
My studies and career in fitness has enabled me to better understand how healthy and beneficial the PKU diet is. The diet provides various nutrients to fuel optimum levels of physical performance and fitness. It can be really easy to fit the recommended 5 portions of fruit and veg within the PKU diet – check out the useful cooking demos and resources by Cambrooke which proves this!
Along with individual measured required amount of protein substitutes to be used for body and brain functions, providing energy, focus and helping to repair, grow and maintain muscle as well as optimising concentration and balancing mood.
One thing that can be challenging, is achieving the correct balance of activity intensity with the nutrient requirement to achieve stable phe levels within desired range. By this, I mean we may notice links between the type, intensity and duration of exercise and energy consumption to avoid cactabilsm (which causes high phe from muscle break down).
Therefore, as with everyone, quality, quantity and timing of nutrition is just as important for our bodies as well as our mind. This emphasises the importance to re-fuel with healthy carbs, including fruit and veg and prescribed protein substitutes.
I certainly notice, reduced energy, performance and slightly increased post-exercise muscle soreness if I have missed any protein substitute. I aim to time my substitutes within a short time frame post – exercise and evenly throughout the day for immediate and on-going recovery, and protein synthesis. Plus consistent mental focus.
Although following the low phe diet and taking supplements has noticeable benefits on our physical and mental health, we can still experience periods of low mood and mental health symptoms. Especially during difficult times and stressful situations.
It is important to be kind to ourselves and make time to focus on our own health and wellbeing.
Looking after ourselves will help us look after others and manage our every-day responsibilities and challenges of life, work, education, relationships and to generally thrive.
There are techniques to help manage our health and wellbeing including, exercise, outdoor activities, positive thoughts, keeping connected and acts of kindness.
When I say exercise, this doesn’t mean hours of intense exhausting sessions in the gym. Any type of daily activity or movement that raises your heart rate contributes to activity and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
So as I sit here sipping my first PKU supplement of the day, after an early morning run and exercise session, I can straight away feel the benefit of this energy boost for focusing on the day ahead and would like to share some top tips with you…
Try to fit in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week (nhs.co.uk)
Daily cardio activity pulse raining activity: i.e. walking, jogging, cycling, dancing etc.
More vigorous activity; running, HIIT, circuit sessions etc.
At least 2-3 strength and conditioning activities per week: i.e. weights; dumbbells, barbells, household objects, resistance bands, or body weight.
Find activities you enjoy and find time to fit them into your day.
Perhaps a hobby and even combine with a family activity
Follow work out videos
Take the stairs
Incorporate short bursts of exercise between daily tasks, examples…
Keep some weights or resistance band by desk; get in a few reps 10 – 15 targeting various muscle groups between meetings, email, home schooling tasks etc.
Get some body weight reps in; squats, planks, press ups whilst waiting for kettle to boil during coffee breaks
Get the family involved. Make it fun. Be Creative.
Join a club or connect virtually with others.
Although in the current situation, restrictions means we are unable to attend usual mixed group exercise or attend the gym, don’t let this demotivate you! There are alternatives, including online virtual exercise sessions, videos and various resources.
Uncertain times, lockdown, isolation and disruptions to usual routines has led to many losing the motivation to exercise, try not to let it de-motivate you.
As a fitness trainer, I hope to help keep you motivated.
I am pleased to work with Cambrooke on providing you with virtual online resources to follow for exercise tips and to share community motivation. You may recognise some from the ‘Thrive in 5’ booklet:
Have you been battling with decreased motivation, low energy and mood, which has led to a reduction in staying active and exercise?
I think it is fair to say we all experience this, especially during the last year when we have all been riding the emotional and challenging rollercoaster of the pandemic – which has really tested our resilience in different ways.
Be kind to yourself and allow for a gradual process to regain the motivation and fitness. One way to do this, as with other aspects in life, is to set manageable goals and challenges?
Types of Goals
Many associate goals with weight loss and comment that they are disappointed when they step on the scales and don’t see any difference after a few exercise sessions and become easily de-motivated.
Set yourself measurable and achievable fitness goals and challenges to feel good in yourself. Improved fitness will benefit your overall physical health, including weight management.
Weight related goals become more achievable as you meet your fitness goals, including helping mental health and positive mind-set with increased confidence which will help in other more long term goals such as weight.
Instead of focusing on body image, try to apply fitness goals with the objective to improve how you feel;
To improve sleep
Which in turn should contribute to improvements in other areas of life and other longer term goals.
S – Specific – What do you want to accomplish? Think What, When, Where, Why and How
M – Measurable – How will you track progress and measure the outcome?
A – Attainable / Achievable – How do you plan to achieve the goal? Plan a strategy to achieve desired results.
R – Realistic and Relevant – The goal should be challenging but realistic and relevant to your objectives –
T – Time – When do you plan to achieve the goal? Applying a time / deadline to achieve a result enables strategic planning as well as providing motivation and maintaining momentum to reach the goal.
Benefits of Objectives, Goals, Planning and Reviewing
Objectives are important to help define an individual customised plan / strategy, with specific goals to achieve the desired result.
Goals are important to have a target to be able to measure effectiveness and success. As well as providing focus, confidence building and accomplishments.
Fitness programmes are an opportunity to plan an effective strategy for achieving short, medium and long term health goals.
Regular reviews allow us to monitor progression and apply any necessary adaptions, enabling us to stay on track, provide motivation and make sure objectives and goals continue to be achievable.
These goals don’t need to be just fitness related, you can apply SMART goals to other areas of your life to achieve your objectives.
How to Define your Goals
It is important to think of your most important goal, rather than listing many goals. Too many goals can cause us to lose focus, leading to more difficult task of achieving any of the goals.
Needs: Start by thinking of
‘Why have they chosen to embark on a programme / plan to achieve your goal?’
‘What would you like to achieve from the programme / plan?’
‘What is your long term goal?’
This then allows the SMART method to be applied by breaking down this long term goal into smaller manageable goals.
Short, Medium and Long Term Goals
Short term: This is typically each week of the plan / programme to reach medium and long term goals. Short term goals can be identified by thinking of relevant aspects of life such as, general health and fitness, psychological wellbeing and physical ability as well as lifestyle, to allow an individualised plan to achieve medium and long term goals.
Medium term (typically 1-3 month duration): These can be identifying steps or processes to create medium goals to achieve the long term overall goal.
Long term (typically 3 – 12 month duration): Identified by thinking of overall objective for the programme and what you would like to achieve.
Importance of Recognising and Overcoming Barriers
Whilst trying to achieve any type of goal, whether it’s exercise, fitness, diet or lifestyle goals we will come across barriers. It is important to recognise these barriers and acknowledge relapse, in order to define realistic strategies to overcome the obstacles.
Try to avoid seeing barriers and any relapse as failure, but instead view these as short term challenges to overcome. This supports the importance of programme / plan reviews and evaluations, by identifying the triggers, develop coping strategies to deal with situation and plan how to course-correct a relapse.
An example of this can be to note strategies to commit to long term change including:
Listing motivational statements
Periodically review and update these motivations
Regularly charting of progression in achieving SMART goals
Ref: ‘Stages of Change Model’, part of The Transtheoretical Model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983; Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross, 1992) to make small steps towards SMART goals for gradual progression through intentional behaviour change.
Be kind to yourself, I find I need to remind myself this. Hopefully this has provided you with some motivation and tips to set yourself meaningful manageable goals the SMART way. No matter how small or big, something that is important to you. Focus on the ‘feel good’ accomplishments you will achieve at each stage of these goals.
Stay tuned for more…
Keeping smiling, keep moving, stay active and stay safe.
Best Wishes Louise, PKU Fitness Instructor
Feel free to follow me on Social Media
This event was so popular in North America, we are bringing it to the UK!
We are offering families a special and unique opportunity to watch ‘So What Can You Eat?’ together with us, followed by a LIVE Q&A session with Creator & Director Jack Everitt and fellow co-stars! NOT TO BE MISSED!
“So What Can You Eat? is a documentary film examining the world’s growing obsession with food and the freedoms it brings from the perspective of those who don’t have the choice.
The relationship we have with food extends far beyond its impact on our physical health or personal satisfaction. Underpinning every decision we make surrounding food lies a primal right to choice, and across all cultures around the world, food, and the ritual of eating, is directly used as a means of bringing communities together.
Presented by filmmaker Jack Everitt, So What Can You Eat? examines the stories of the rare individuals who follow one of the world’s most restrictive diets in a lifelong battle to avoid severe and irreversible brain damage. In doing so he tasks his close-friend, and fellow filmmaker, Liberty Hanson, with trialing the diet for 1 whole month. Through Liberty’s struggles we discover what it really means to have freedom of choice, and how recognising these freedoms can empower us to take complete control of our health and mental wellbeing.” – Source: “So What You Can Eat?”
Thursday 18th March 2021, 7pm – 8.30pm GMT
24 hours before session: You will receive a Zoom link and Movie link/access
19.05: Premiere of Film (55 minutes)
20.00: 5 minute break
20.05: Q&A with Creator and Cast
So What Can You Eat? FREE Movie Premiere Screening
30-45 minute LIVE Q&A
Cambrooke Gift Box sent after the event (UK residents only)
You will get the chance to take part in a LIVE Q&A with:
Award-winning filmmaker Jack Everitt began his career after graduating from the prestigious BRIT School for Performing Arts in 2006. In his early career Jack honed his skills directing music videos and short documentary series for music schools. His narrative feature debut emerged in 2015 in the form of ‘Goodnight, Gloria’, which featured Thai front-runner, Russell Geoffrey Banks. Jack then went on to work on to work on various projects, directing a number of short films and as cinematographer for the action feature ‘English Dogs in Bangkok’, starring Byron Gibson and Ron Smoorenberg. In 2021 Jack released the feature length documentary ‘So What Can You Eat?’ to shed light on the rare genetic condition condition, PKU, which picked up an International award for Unforgettable Film at the Spotlght Documentary Film Festival. Unlike narrative film projects that had motivated him previously, ‘So What Can You Eat?’ was the first auto-biographical project and was inspired by his own experiences of navigating his career while living with an incurable illness.
Liberty tries the PKU diet for one month to show the impact it has on her life as someone that does not live with PKU. Find out how she got on! Her journey is fascinating.
Lynn and David Paolella:
Lynn Paolella and David Paolella are the co-founders of Ajinomoto Cambrooke.
Lynn represents the heart and soul of Cambrooke’s mission. Originally inspired to feed her two children who have PKU, Lynn’s passion for feeding others keeps her at the forefront of food science and processing technology. A recognized leader in the PKU community, Lynn continues to focus refining existing product formulations while working with the Cambrooke team to develop new and innovative product ideas. Amongst her roles, she serves as a support group liaison that provides support and patient advocacy while building strong metabolic community ties to both the families and the clinicians that serve them throughout the US and abroad.
John Adams is a founding trustee and board chair of the emerging Global Association for PKU (GAP) and is President of the Canadian PKU and Allied Disorders non-profit which he co-founded in 2008. He has an adult son with PKU, who benefited greatly from newborn screening, early clinical intervention and lifelong therapy. That son is a university graduate and urban firefighter.
Mark has classical PKU and has been on 6 exchanges most of his life.
“I try not to let PKU get me down. At the end of the day, I have PKU, PKU doesn’t have me. But there are days / times that having PKU does get to me. I try my best to overcome this and stick to the thinking “I got this”. Like others I went to primary and high school but after that I went into the world of work… I’ve now been in food manufacturing for 21 years this August”.
David built a dedicated organization to develop, manufacture, and commercialize Cambrooke’s successful line of medical food products for patients with metabolic disorders. He now serves on the Board of Directors.
Suzanne Ford RD:
BSc, PG Dip Diet, PGCE
Society Dietitian National Society for Phenylketonuria and Metabolic Dietitian North Bristol NHS Trust
Suzanne has been a dietitian in the NHS for over 25 years, and for 3 years she has been the Dietitian Advisor to NSPKU. Suzanne teaches nutrition to undergraduates at UWE and works in the NHS providing a service to adults with various metabolic disorders in Bristol.
The NSPKU/Suzanne has published about the challenges of living with PKU, women’s reproductive experiences, prescription difficulties, contributed to a review paper about ageing in PKU and most recently a paper based on the UK PKU community’s experiences of aspartame and the sugar tax.
There is a lot more work still to do, for PKU awareness generally, and also amongst decision makers in the NHS.
There is a need for developing reliable and trusted information about PKU for the community and wider, and this is ongoing work for the NSPKU (me, alongside the team of volunteers who make up NSPKU).
PKU is a rare, inherited and metabolic condition that affects around 1 in 10,000 people around the world.
It is inherited because you inherit one PKU gene from your mum and one from your dad.
The body cannot break down or metabolise phenylalanine (Phe) found in protein.
A low protein diet for life, PKU protein formulas, blood-the monitoring and regular dietitian check ups are essential.
All babies are screened for PKU shortly after birth using a heel prick test.
Cambrooke’s founders, Lynn and David Paolella made it their mission to develop a variety of nutritious and great tasting protein substitute (formulas) for their children, Cameron and Brooke, and to help all other children and adults with PKU around the world. Their mission started 20 years ago and is stronger than ever today.
I’m Lillian, a yoga, meditation and mindfulness teacher. I attended my first yoga class in my early 20s and fell in love with the practice. Yoga is not just about making shapes with our bodies, it’s about linking movement to breath, being in the present moment and taking time at the end of each class to deeply relax the body and mind. I became hooked on how I felt after each class and started to practice regularly, in studios and also at home via YouTube.
I studied law at university and trained as a corporate lawyer, during this time my yoga classes became my favourite part of each day and helped me to deal with the stresses of a corporate career. These days I’m a full-time yoga and meditation teacher. I teach adults, kids and teens how to use yoga to feel calmer, more centred and to take the techniques learned in a yoga class off of the yoga mat and into daily life.
Introduction to ‘Mindfulness’
Mindfulness is a bit of a “buzzword” these days. It can seem like a big topic to approach, maybe it seems like another thing to add to your already busy life or something that you don’t have time for? Mindfulness is actually really simple. It just means being fully present in each moment, and even five minutes a day will make a huge difference to your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
It’s especially important to practice mindfulness when managing your own health or caring for others. The busier life is, the more important it is to take small moments through the day to pause. We speed up by slowing down and by taking moments throughout the day to take stock and check in with how we are feeling. Mindfulness helps us to feel fully present in the moment, rather than thinking about the past or worrying about the future and today’s to-do list.
Morning Mindfulness – 5 minutes
This can be done before getting out of bed, or once you have made a cup of tea. Take a nice notebook, turn to a blank page, grab a pen and write! Journaling is an amazing way to start the morning and taking just five minutes before checking your phone or before family members are up really sets the day off in a positive way. You can “free write” whatever comes to mind, writing out thoughts and worries so that these are left on the page before you start your day.
Another quick and easy way to journal is by writing three things you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude can sometimes feel difficult when life is stressful but reminding yourself of the positives (food in the fridge, a warm home, happy memories with loved ones) can help to keep things in perspective and set you up for a great day.
The journal is just for you, you don’t have to show it to anyone so write away!
Lunchtime Mindfulness – 5 minutes
Five senses check-in.
This can be done while sitting at your desk, sitting in a quiet space or while walking.
Start with sight, notice five things you can see, focus on each one by one. Then notice five sounds, even if you think there is “silence” pick out five different sounds from it. Listen out for a barking dog, a dripping tap. Then notice any smells. What are they? What associations do they bring? Notice the taste on your tongue. Lastly, feel your clothes against your skin, feel the surface you are sitting, standing or walking on. Tune into each sense one by one and really connect with the information you are receiving.
This practice is a really nice way of getting back into our bodies and reconnecting with our senses, especially when we feel overwhelmed and not fully present in the middle of a busy day.
Evening Mindfulness – 5 minutes
Belly breathing is an amazing way to destress the body and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Throughout the day we tend to breath only into our upper chests and our breath can become shallow and constricted during times of stress.
Lie on your back (this can be done in bed or lying on a yoga mat or soft surface), placing your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your heart. Breathe deeply in through your nose, feeling your belly rising up to the ceiling. Pause for a moment and then slowly breath out through the mouth, feeling the belly softly falling. Try to breathe in for a count of four, and out for a count of four.
Practice belly breathing for two minutes, increasing to five minutes as your body becomes more comfortable breathing in this way.
Five minutes is enough to feel the benefits. Five minutes of deep breathing, quiet meditation or gentle stretching will make a huge difference to your day.
Mindfulness can be done during your usual daily activities. Preparing food, eating, walking and even cleaning the house can all be done mindfully when you fully focus on the activity in hand.
Team up with a friend and keep one another accountable. Try doing an online yoga class together or going on a mindful walk (leaving your phones at home or on silent) and really tuning in to everything around you.
There are some great apps which feature breathing techniques and guided meditations that can be done anywhere, even on public transport!
Mindfulness can be practiced by the whole family, children as young as four can be taught mindfulness and breathing techniques.
I hope these tips and techniques will enhance your mindfulness each day.
T&Cs: Competition closes at midnight BST on 31 August 2020. 3 winners will be chosen at random and announced on 1 September 2020. Winners must contact Cambrooke within 14 days to claim their prize. Prizes are not exchangeable or transferable. ALL competition entrants will receive our 5 Day School Dinner Planner and Hand Sanitiser. Entrants must reside in the United Kingdom or Ireland.