This week is Mental Health Awareness Week – a week set up by the Mental Health Foundation to help break the stigma surrounding mental health. Current statistics show that two thirds of people will experience a mental health problem during their lifetime – and one in three children will experience a mental health problem throughout their time at primary school.
Fittingly, the focus of Mental Health Awareness Week this year is stress. Children in Years 2 and 6 have been sitting their SATs exams during this week – a time that can be particularly stressful for children and can lead to anxiety problems. Many children will find themselves under pressure to perform at a high level and achieve the best scores possible – and these pressures could come from their school, parents or even their peers.
Children at this young age should not be subject to such high amounts of stress and should be encouraged to simply do their best in a pressure free environment. YogaBugs have been working with a number of schools across the country over the past 10 weeks running SATs preparation courses in the build up to this week.
During YogaBugs sessions, children combine Yoga inspired movements with breathing and relaxation techniques to help develop a sense of mindfulness. By using these techniques, children can shift their focus away from worry and anxiety – reducing the levels of stress they may feel from their upcoming exams.
Children’s mental wellbeing is not only a focus in YogaBugs classes, but in all FootieBugs, DanceBugs and MultiBugs classes too. Throughout all our school sessions, community classes and holiday camps – we make all children feel like superstars by boosting their confidence, self-esteem levels and providing fun sports classes!
Here are some of The Bugs Group’s top tips to helping develop positive mental wellbeing in children:
Keep them active – physical exercise helps to reduce cortisol levels (a stress hormone).
Encourage play with their friends – social interaction is extremely important for young children as this can boost both their self-esteem and social skills.
Use positive affirmations – by using positive affirmations, children can become more confident and suffer less stress/anxiety.
Use breathing and relaxation techniques – techniques such as the finger breathing exercise below and help regulate children’s breathing and can be used in stressful situations.