Simple WellBeing: Just Be

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James Manwaring

James Manwaring is Director of Music for Windsor Learning Partnership, a Multi-Academy Trust in Windsor, Berkshire. He oversees music for the 4 schools in the trust and has been working in music education for 16 years. James has been nominated for a National Music Education...
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Are we overcomplicating our approach to wellbeing, or could it be more simple?

The Wellbeing Agenda

There is a song by Paloma Faith called “Just Be” and it got me thinking about what it looks like for a teacher to stop and ‘just be‘. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the wellbeing agenda, I think it’s great. Us teachers are under more and more pressure and we simply must think about our mental health.

What’s the problem?

My main gripe is that sometimes I don’t want to read another book, go for a run or try something new for the first time. Sometimes, when life is really tough, I just want to stop. I don’t want to feel like I have to do something or start doing yoga. I want to feel like it is okay to just stop and just be. Paloma Faith is, however, not writing a song for teachers, and I can’t see it being the next ASCL conference anthem. I am simply reminded of the title of what is essentially a love song: the lyrics in this song I am thinking of most at this time is:

“Don’t say nothing. Just sit next to me. Don’t say nothing, shh. Just be, just be, just be…”

I think there is something in this and for the year ahead, we need to take the time to say nothing, to just sit and take in the world, the fresh air and the sunshine. We don’t need any wellbeing agenda which creates any feelings within us that produces a sense of, ‘we are not well’ if we aren’t reading the latest book or taking up tennis. We simply should just be.

If you can wait and not be tired waiting…

Rudyard KiplingThese thoughts led me to remember a poem I love by Rudyard Kipling. I won’t quote it all here, but I will give just a few lines:

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting. If you can dream and not make dreams your master. If you can think and not make thoughts your aim…

Do you agree that sometimes we need to stop and just wait?

Stopping and just allowing some time pass – contemplating, breathing in and out. We don’t need to jump into any teacher holiday and think that we have to make the most of it. It might be good to allow yourself some time to just wait and let the world pass you by. Then, when you feel like you have truly stopped, try something new, cook a new recipe, climb a mountain or finally get around to reading that Teacher Toolkit book that is all over twitter!

Life is so fast-paced and full. It’s often hectic and we’re moving from one thing to the next without really stopping to think. And yet, the journey is so important, and of course, what we learn along the way, but there is something to be said for allowing ourselves to just be.

Don’t say nothing. Just be…

Being a teacher, is it all about fulfilling an unending to-do list, or is being a teacher? An extension of an inner passion for education and a love for working with young people. Being is the essence or nature of a person, it is our very existence. We need to find that for the year ahead, we must allow ourselves to just be, being who we are will lead us to a much better state of wellbeing. We are allowing our own passions and journeys to define the way we live our life rather than chasing the elusive.

For the year ahead, I urge you to give yourself a break and be kind to yourself. You don’t have to fulfil an agenda or strive to be your best of yourself, every second. Stop and take stock of the year that has been, but don’t look to the year ahead until you have processed all of that, that has been and gone. There is a need in us all to learn to stop, to reflect and develop. Let’s do that from a place of peace and contentment in order that we are might grow from the inside out. Thanks to Paloma Faith for the reminder that it is okay to say nothing and just be.

Let’s let go together. Let us unfold one another…

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