The last year has taken its toll on all of us.   

Our tutees are resilient, but this year, as they return to classrooms and we ease out of lockdown, we need to be aware of how the past 12 months may have affected their mental health. 

Our Manchester Secondary Tutor Veronika Sukhareva shares some of the techniques she uses to incorporate mindfulness into her tutoring sessions.

I find that whenever I have the chance to incorporate mindfulness activities at the start and occasionally in the middle of a lesson, students always find them refreshing.

It is unusual for them to see these activities in their normal classrooms. Plus, if the students are in Year 11, these activities encourage a different mindset where they can enjoy what they are learning instead of focusing on perfect performance in preparation for their exams; which stresses most of them out and is especially unhelpful in the climate of the pandemic! 

Some of the techniques/examples I have used are:

1. Gentle and quick face dot massage
2. Energy boost via pressure point G26 - hold a pressure point under the nose located in the top 1/3 between nose and the upper lip for one minute – 
3. Head and scalp massage – two minutes gently running fingers/fingernails on the scalp 

Deep breathing and short guided meditation exercises:
1. Balloon breathing – 
2. Finger breathing – a simple breathing exercise that students will be able to do even during exams (see video clip from about 3:40 to the end)

Engaging the senses: 
1. Spidey Senses – this exercise encourages students to tune in to their five senses and enables them to feel more grounded in their surroundings. I ask them – what can you see, hear, feel, taste, smell? This is suitable as a Do It Now task for all year groups and all abilities, but probably better suited to SEN.
2. Mind gym - finger exercise. This one involves making both hands into fists. On one hand the person must stick up their thumb while on the opposite hand take out their little finger. The point of the exercise is to be able to, as quickly as possible, alternate on each hand between finger and thumb. You could give your students a minute to do the exercise and see how many switches they can make. 3. Emojis– students draw emojis on white boards or paper and hold them up. These emojis could indicate how they are feeling. This can be done at the start of the lesson and at any point throughout.