Here Scott Thomas, our Head of Sport, and Neil Parker, our Sport lecturer who coaches students to success in the WBA Foundation Football Programme, share their 5 Top Tips for teachers and students dealing with a new lockdown routine, and how to tackle anxiety.
“We are entering into week 9 of lockdown, where we embark on Mental Health Awareness Week. Like many during this difficult time, we have had the chance to reflect, take stock and really think about how we can help others.
Hundreds of schools, colleges, and universities have started conversations around mental health that can change and even save lives. The campaign reaches millions of people every year. This year, we thought we would help Sandwell College raise awareness during these unprecedented times.
Teachers are nervous and worried about making outstanding lessons online and they are comparing themselves to others. Don’t do any of that. Nothing will change, and you’ll get disillusioned and burned out, quickly. Instead, you should work at trying to get better who you are as a character. Be the best version of you that you can imagine, and I guarantee that all the rest of it will just fall naturally into place.
Every struggle you go through will make you a better teacher. That’s what growth is. That’s what life’s journey is all about. It’s about taking who you are and making you a better version of yourself. Remember you are doing a fantastic job and our students appreciate it.
Our passion, and you could say purpose in life, is to empower teachers and students with the knowledge as well as mental strength to transform their lifestyle.
During a meeting with some Automotive & Construction students this week we got asked the questions: what was our lockdown routine? what tips can we give the students during this time?
What a great question we thought. And if one student was asking, then maybe there are more, and in particular teachers, thinking the same thing?”
Our Lockdown Routine
Finding balance in your work and social life is essential for your mental wellbeing. It’s very important to talk to loved ones, colleagues and friends more than ever. Like many of you, we felt overwhelmed at the start of lockdown; Zoom, online meetings (on a platform we’d never heard of), online teaching, student concerns with their exams and coursework, and of course the global pandemic. Seriously, getting your worries off your chest and asking for support is one of the most empowering things you can do.
So here are all of the things that have made a huge difference to us when we began tackling lockdown anxiety. During this period, like many others we have lost loved ones from COVID-19, so hopefully some of these tips will help. Remember that nothing works unless you try it…
If ever we start to feel overwhelmed, by changing the way that we viewed the world, we are able to regain control. Just like getting caught up on being ‘The Perfect Teacher’ – trust us it doesn’t exist.
Many sporting greats have employed Stoic philosophy in their approach to life. We have tried to apply it to our life. The only thing you have control over is how you respond to external events. We use accountability in our daily life to become the person we want to be. We love a to do list, so small wins throughout the day, but don’t get hung up on the ones you can’t achieve.
Lastly is gratitude. In today’s times we have to be thankful for what we have, whether that is your family, health, your home or job etc. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, have enough.
Positive Mindset. Be Kind. Accountability. Gratitude.
Since the beginning of lockdown, the Sport department have been recording sporting challenges, streaming live Instagram workouts and connecting with current and new students. These are a great way of keeping active with our Sandwell College community, and it’s great to see so many staff getting involved.
We have never really been keen runners however, we have clocked up over 200 kilometres each since the beginning of April (on the Run Tracker app). Having a regular exercise routine has been really helpful, by releasing endorphins (the feel good hormone) into the body. For us exercise washes away our anxiety. We always feel better within ourselves after exercising. It will give you a sense of achievement – a small win in the day.
Being involved in sport and exercise, we have a fairly good diet. Like everyone we love a nice takeaway! We are now 8 weeks into NO takeaways – our longest spell without one. You know what, we haven’t really missed them (we tell our wives that anyway). Moderation is key for a good diet, it helps mental health greatly. We see so many ‘fitness influencers’ on social media advertising the next weight loss pill, supplement drink or fad diet. We usually ignore them but people buy into this ‘celebrity’ culture and put themselves at risk of becoming disillusioned, increase risk of eating disorders and mental health problems.
Our advice on diet is don’t get caught up on cutting carbs or no carbs after 6pm or cutting them out completely. Don’t skip meals and don’t cut out the foods you love. This will only make you feel more anxious and miserable. Find healthier ways of cooking your favourite takeaways, guilty pleasures or treat yourself to one or two a month. For weight loss (the most common goal) what most fitness professionals fail to teach their clients is to count calories. Energy balance is the key: make sure you’re burning off more calories than you put in. It’s as simple as that, honestly. A good app we use is My Fitness Pal app (Free version). This is a great way to keep a food diary, track calories and measure water intake.
Yoga has been a great tool for us during lockdown. A simple yoga routine, along with focusing on breathing is definitely one of the hardest things that we’re currently doing, but we really believe that it leads to a deeper understanding of who we are and how to control our minds. Give it a try – it’s great after sitting at the laptop all day.
Leaving your comfort zone is one of the greatest ways to beat anxiety. We have had the pleasure of teaching at West Bromwich Albion Football Club for the past 3 years. To see the hard work and sacrifice our WBA U18 scholars make to pursue their dreams of becoming professional players teaches you to challenge yourself, and how to bank those extra percentages to become a better version of you. This is the power of sport. There’s no growth in comfort. Step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Like us writing this blog. This is new for us, writing down our thoughts and sharing our experience. We hope we can inspire others to take action. Learning to function outside of your comfort zone is one of the greatest cures to anxiety. It will be hard at first, but start small and build up to bigger things.
We will leave you with these thoughts…