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A PUPIL'S 'FIVE A DAY' FOR GOOD MENTAL HEALTH

1    Structure. Know how much work there is to do and when you’re going to do it. Plan your non-school time in term (evenings and weekends) so you create guilt-free down-time (and do resentment-free work). Don’t spend too long, but do spend the time your teacher tells you (and no Instagram or Facebook while you work). Programme in clubs, after-school practices and the time you want to spend on-line (time limit games and social media – neither more than half an hour).

2    Exercise and play. Get your heart-rate up so you sweat every day – kicking a football, running around, getting a skipping rope out, in the garden or back yard. If you have siblings, do play together, whatever your ages: card games, board games too: they help you switch off and keep your siblings as friends.

3    Try working at home in communal area: if the house goes quiet while everyone works, it’s good for everyone, and your parents can see what you’re doing without prying. Only use the computer when it’s needed: if you have wifi, again use the laptop/tablet where you can be seen.

4    Recreational reading. Reading is a brilliant release where you step into an imagined world. It cuts through your worries and preoccupations, and gives you a real break. It also does wonders for your reading speed and comprehension. If you haven’t time to read every day you may just be too busy.

5    Sleep: good quality sleep (enough hours, and regular patterns) means undisturbed peace. No smart phones, no tablets, nothing that beeps other than an old-fashioned alarm clock in your bedroom. Tell your parents to do the same. Don’t have a television or a computer in your bedroom.