31/03/2017 07:19 BST | Updated 31/03/2018 06:12 BST

A Must For Education

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The first physical signs of stress I remember having were on my hands.

They were red, itchy and shaking. The irony is that I can't even remember exactly what I was stressed about all those years ago. I remember being in a job that I didn't enjoy. I started to tell myself that I'd made the wrong career choice and couldn't really see a way out.

Since then I've been stressed about money, relationships, exams and my kids.

I've suffered from headaches, sleepless nights, eczema, spots and outbursts of crying.

Luckily the times I have been stressed are getting less frequent. It's not that life is giving me less to stress about, it's just I've realised that stressing out doesn't do me any favours. I look at it differently.

Over the past few months I've been coaching teenagers about to sit exams. I was brought in because they were already stressing. They felt like failures, they were worried about letting their parents and teachers down and that they weren't going to get the grades they wanted.

I've talked to them about stress, how it shows up in the body and how it is linked to the thoughts that they're thinking.

We've tried out different techniques for letting the stress go and their favourites were yoga and meditation.


Image author's own

In fact, I got cheers when I announced that each session would start off with a meditation and end with yoga.

Just recently, Prime Minister, Theresa May has been revealing her plans to ensure that every child in the UK has access to good education, regardless of their class.

I'd love her to consider giving every child (and teacher) in the UK access to meditation and yoga.


Because they both help you realise that you can control your thoughts, which in turn impacts upon your beliefs, your behaviour and your expectations.

They both help you deal with the increasing pressure that's piled upon pupils and teachers. You can learn how to calm down, assess what your situation is and take action that's not fear or stress-based.

You learn to listen to your own voice, find your own passions, know what helps you be happy and what helps you be calm.

You become more focused, relaxed and more tolerable of others around you.

You can find your 'happy place' and take it with you wherever you go.

I've taught yoga and meditation to children as young as three. They've helped my eldest, who's just 7 deal with his emotions after two separate periods of being bullied. He's one of the most caring and compassionate kids I know. Before we taught him how to meditate he was like the Incredible Hulk - "Hulk Smash" with his emotions pouring out of his body in a way he couldn't handle. Now, he talks to us, asks for a cuddle, or takes himself off to bed with a good book to help calm himself down. He knows what works for him.

I'm all for great education for everyone.

But to get that we have to look after the people already in our schools. The environment to learn has to be right. At the moment the majority of people I come across are stressed.

Some schools graded as 'in need of improvement' have some of the most kind, passionate teachers I know. They're staying up until midnight most nights just to stay on top of their paperwork and they're in desperate need of time to chill.

The pupils, dismissed as 'trouble makers', or with 'no hope of doing well at school' are in need of help to understand their true worth. Meditation and yoga can help them take time out to see how great they are and how wonderful they can be.

So, as the plans to reform education are pulled together, let's hope that some thought is given to the pressure our pupils and teachers are under. They don't need more pressure. They need ways of dealing with pressure so that they can thrive and reach the potential that they already have.

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Help teenage girls have more confidence by pledging to this Kickstarter campaign to get copies of 'The Happy Teenager: Fun Book' printed and donated to schools, children's centres and social services.