Operation Transformation – Week 3 – Mental Health

Week 3: Mental Health (22-26 January 2018)

We can’t believe we are half way through our challenge already! So during week 1 we worked on Exercise and we’re still doing plenty of moving and shaking to keep our bodies fit. During week 2 we learned all about Nutrition and what our bodies need to grow and stay active. Now it’s week 3 and we’re learning about strategies to help our minds stay healthy and happy.

Positive Brain Training

What is your happy thought of today? Do you have a happy place where you can go in your mind if you’re feeling sad? What makes you happy? Can you recognise your feelings? What helps you if you feel worried? anxious? scared?… these are some of the questions we asked ourselves this week. We also learned that it is good to question, to discuss and to share our thoughts and feelings if we feel like it.

We kicked off the week with an early Monday morning assembly. Lisa (our Home School Community Liaison Teacher) talked to us about how we can focus on the positive things in our lives – yes, even on an early, dark, wet Monday morning we were able to come up with hundreds of happy thoughts. Some kids were brave enough to share their happy thoughts with everyone and we learned that we can train our brains to replace negative thoughts with happy ones. A visit to Nana, a horse-riding trip, fun with our friends, signing the Principal’s book, playing football, going to the cinema were just some of the happy thoughts of the day. We left assembly smiling, ready for the week ahead and with a promise to Lisa to share a happy thought everyday with our teachers or families. Would you believe it got easier as the week went on? You should try it out.

Visitors & Strategies

Here are some techniques we learned this week to express, cope with and share our feelings and thoughts:

Some of the junior classes brought in their teddies. We lay with our teddies and thought about nice things while Aisling Gordon did a mindful meditation. Helen from In Tune Parenting also did some Mindfulness and breathing exercises with us.

 We sang our hearts out with Máire Lynam and some of us realised that music is a great way to help our minds focus, vent our feelings or simply to enjoy listening to. We always finish Máire’s class with a smile or a giggle. We loved it!

Sarah Barr from New Beginnings, named 3 things we can do to make us feel better:

  1. Breathe – we all do that but we will try to slow down and take bigger breaths!
  2. Share our worries or talk to someone – we’re working on this one!
  3. Do some exercise – we’re doing lots of this!

We painted stones with Sarah and we took them home. We can hold them in our hands and release our worries through them. They are our worry stones.

For those who are not that into music or who may not be crazy about sport another release is drawing or painting. Jarla Duffy spent the afternoon demonstrating his cartoons. He taught us how to draw elephants and snails. We learned that drawing and painting can help us express our feelings when saying or writing about them can be difficult.

Louise Ozbay came to do some yoga with us and after a long exciting week, it really helped us to calm down and relax.

Laura Gallagher (Donegal Ladies Football) and Aisling Pat McDaid (Operation Transformation Lead) offered their advice and help. Aisling talked about how hard it can be to change your diet at the beginning but after awhile you get used to it. Aisling said it was important to encourage each other to stay motivated. Laura agreed that support from your team members makes you stronger and more determined mentally and physically.

Everyone agreed that doing something active can clear your mind and make you feel better. The senior classes did just that by walking to LYIT and spending time in their refurbished sports Hall. We were put through our paces by the students from LYIT who shared their knowledge and organised P.E. stations for us. Even the sun came out for our walk back to school!

We ended the week with family Friday and a ‘mindful being’ session with Denise Diver from Integral Therapy. We did some stretching and relaxing and learned that calming our minds can improve our schoolwork and our homework. There was a great turnout from our families and they enjoyed joining in the session with us.

We had a busy but relaxing week. A huge thanks again to everyone from the community who gave up their time to help us out and share their experiences with us.

Next week our theme is Fun! Doesn’t that sound exciting?