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Stress is all over the headlines and it saddens me so much that our children and young people are suffering from it too.
I don’t remember people discussing stress when I was growing up…Maybe I am wrong but it seems life was slower, easier and calmer back then. But now stress has become a huge issue - affecting people of all ages and all walks of life. I have and continue to teach stress management, meditation and mindfulness to people of all ages and have done since 2004.
Over this time I have noted the increase in stress levels: our children worrying about their academic levels and results, our young people aware of the pressures for jobs, us adults trying to juggle everything in our busy schedules.
But I don’t believe stress is the enemy… I think we are!
Stress is an important reaction and the body's way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength and stamina.
The events that provoke stress (stressors) make the body naturally react through a series of changes and these create the perfect response (a stress response). This ‘fight or flight’ response enhances and supports performance in a range of stressful situations, be they physical or mental.
So why are we the enemy?
Because our self-created modern world has now become a source of constant, low-level stress. Let me explain myself a little more…
So, let’s imagine you are in the wilds of Canada, you walk around a corner and you are confronted by a huge Bear (your stressor). Straight away your body will react (your stress response) - boosting your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, vision and more so your reactions are optimised. Luckily in this case, the bear doesn’t see you! Phew! Once the bear wanders off the stressor has gone, so our bodies once again relax.
This is a rather dramatic example but we are all familiar with those feelings. The problem with modern life is that we have filled each waking moment with small low-level stressors and the bear never wanders off – so to speak. Because we have constant low level stress it remains ever so slightly active over an extended period - not doing what it was designed to do. Eventually our bodies can’t keep up with this level of constant stress hormones every day so we become physically tired, mentally exhausted and maybe physically or mentally ill.
Now I am certainly not claiming to have cracked this one! I have a very busy life – I run my own business and have two kids for starters. But what I do know is how much better I feel when I remember to take time just to be.
I LOVE the saying ‘We are human beings, not human doings’ but I have to remind myself of this constantly! It seems our society is now in the throes of a pandemic of being busy – ‘I’m so busy’ this has become such a common saying – do we think we will be frowned upon if we were to say ‘I’m so relaxed’?
I have linked a 10 minute TED talk from a man called Andy Puddicombe at the end of this blog. He is an expert in Mindfulness and speaks a lot of sense. In the talk he mentions how Harvard have recently found that 47% of the time our minds are wandering, and not in a good way because according to them this type of thinking makes us unhappy. Let’s just stop and process that…that’s nearly half of our lives thinking unhelpful thoughts!
Mindfulness and meditation are often misunderstood as something a little bit ‘out there’ and thus it is often pushed aside but I want to try and do my little bit to amend this. I believe it is simply a term used to explain methods that are all about stopping and just being where you are right in the moment.
You don’t have to be a spiritual guru, a hippy, religious, sitting on the floor, cross legged, chanting, empty minded… you simply have to be a person who just stops and does nothing for a little bit of time.
I am a big analyser and thinker, this can be a good thing but can also be a very exhausting and negative thing because I never stop! I think about the past, the future, new ideas, my loved ones, memories, practicalities etc… occasionally I stop, breath, switch the incessant brain off and look around me, and when I do I feel so much better for it. In its simple form that’s mindfulness.
I would invite everyone to give it a try, no matter what age – if you don’t like it I won’t be offended. Me? Well, I’ll keep trying to find those pockets of quiet in my busy life because I know when I do I turn from robotic tendencies to human ones!


This time of year, for years before and years to come, is the time when many of our ‘kids’ go to Uni’. All over the country parents are going through the process of letting go as their children are going through the process of learning to be independent.
And so it is that a few weeks ago I too joined the ranks of those parents with cars bursting at the seams, hauling up the motorway with boxes brimming, only to return with a few unwanted items and a surreal realisation that the end of a major chapter has been thrust upon me with such a mixture of sadness, happiness and pride it was enough to send me into a torrent of strange emotions which is never a good thing on a motorway!
There are so many transitions in a child’s life – I deal with these regularly in my sessions with schools. The children worry that they won’t fit in, the work will be too hard, they will be bullied… As parents we learn to put our own worries aside and be strong to carry them through - if only they knew that each step is as scary for us as for them! Because of course each step is new for us too – we may be adults but we have never been adults before!
I realised on my long drive home that day that the process of being a parent – a mum - is all consuming. From the moment that child is born you worry and think about them – are they too hot? Too cold? Happy? Hungry? Thirsty? That’s just the physical stuff… there’s the emotional and health aspects too and then as they get older giving them the chance to be more independent whilst still keeping them safe…
So it was on this long journey home that I contemplated such things. That little girl that, along with her brother, has filled my waking moments is now embarking on her journey into adulthood. On the one hand I feel incredibly proud that I have helped get her to this place in her life, studying what she loves but on the other hand there is now a big gaping hole where my daughter’s daily needs were absorbed into my life.
I have come to love working with parents alongside their children. Doing sessions for them both ‘covers all angles’ within the PSHE subjects that I teach and this type of education for all is something I am very passionate about – it is so important not to forget parents!
The power of sharing and realising you are not alone on your journey, no matter what age or issue you are going through is a powerful tonic often forgotten.
I wonder, if we could somehow create a system where everyone with a problem was able to talk to at least one other person with the same problem, whether our mental health as a nation would reap the benefits? I suspect it would…big time.
So, I’ve told you how I feel…anyone out there feel the same?
  • Launch of independent PSHE teaching for children, young people and their parents
  • PSHE courses and sessions now available directly and 'out of hours' to parent groups and individual families
  • HR departments in companies and organisations encouraged to offer PSHE education to employees and their families[Kate Daniels. Director of PSHEeducation]

PSHE as a classroom subject is quickly climbing the political and educational agendas this year, with calls from parents and MPs for it to be given more attention and status. But few schools presently offer an adequate or comprehensive PSHE curriculum*. To fill that gap, PSHEeducation (http://www.psheeducation.co.uk/About ), an independent service in the south east of England, will be offering PSHE education directly to young people and their parents through parent groups and parents' employers, as well as privately to families, from October 1, 2015.'PSHE' is Personal, Social, Health & Economic education, designed to help children and young people through the complications of childhood and teenage years and prepare them for the adult world. It encompasses everything from self esteem, relationships and burgeoning sexuality to cyber safety, social media exposure and responsibility about drugs and alcohol. It is widely agreed that there has never been a greater need to equip children and young people with the knowledge they need to face the world.[Parents' sessions.]

PSHEeducation is run by Kate Daniels, for more than a decade a highly experienced upper payscale classroom teacher and PSHE lead before she left full-time teaching to found PSHEeducation. Kate is already providing PSHEeducation's services with great success to children of all ages (and often their parents) in primary, secondary and sixth form schools* but from next month will also offer them directly to 'end users'.

Kate says: "There are countless frustrated parents who want to know how to keep their kids safe, happy and better prepared for today's and tomorrow's world. They see schools still trying to sort out their PSHE programmes while their own children are growing up and in need today.

"So PSHEeducation now offers custom-designed courses and sessions that parents can book directly at a time and place to suit them, including evenings, weekends and holidays, whether at home, in a local hall or at the work place."

She continues: "It's time for families to get proactive. In the tabloids we read how young people are growing up in a world where there's huge competition and 'no jobs', a world of legal highs, ubiquitous phones and cameras connected directly to social media, where silly mistakes can go viral and be online forever, where naked selfies are 'normal' and sexual predators are grooming ... it can be very scary."

"PSHE provides the route map for this world and the new PSHEeducation service provides it now: parents don't have to wait until schools get their act together."

Parents can book the PSHEeducation service directly. HR departments in businesses and other organisations are also encouraged to contact PSHEeducation about offering the service as a vital employee benefit. Highly affordable, it is available across the south east, charged at an hourly rate, with initial consultations free of charge.

PSHEeducation also continues to provide its service to schools, that are equally welcome to ask about bespoke courses designed with each individual cohort in mind.

Kate Daniels has a long list of testimonials at http://www.psheeducation.co.uk/testimonials, she blogs on PSHE at http://www.psheeducation.co.uk/Blog and she has a topic-informative, regularly updated Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PSHEeducation

Kate concludes: "We continue to strive for compulsory PSHE education in schools but meanwhile we think we're probably the first service in the UK to offer it directly to those who need it."

Parents, employers and schools can call Kate on 07746 252774 or email kate@psheeducation.co.uk .

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Notes for editors
* "Learning in PSHE education required improvement or was inadequate in 40% of schools. The quality of PSHE education is not yet good enough in a sizeable proportion of schools in England." Ofsted report, 2012, Not yet good enough: personal, social, health and economic education in Schools. Personal, social and health education in English schools in 2012: http://bit.ly/1Ou4tT8

** PSHEeducation services provided to schools and now offered directly to parents include sex and relationships; cyber safety; pressures and stress management; drugs and alcohol; self awareness and self esteem; respect and bullying. PSHEeducation also offers sessions on mindfulness, meditation and social fitness.

About PSHEeducation
PSHEeducation exists to help children to be equipped to deal with the modern world through high quality PSHE lessons. It offers professional, affordable, tailored and fresh ways to tackle tricky PSHE subjects.

Based near Lewes, South East, the service is run by Kate Daniels BSC Hons. QTS. Kate has more than ten years' experience as a qualified teacher (upper pay scale) and, since 2009, PSHE lead teacher, with a long list of other credentials and many teacher, parent and student testimonials.