We know it can be very tough to go through a bullying situation. Suzy Reading is a chartered psychologist specialising in wellbeing, stress management and healthy lifestyle change. She’s also a friend of Kidscape and in her book Stand Tall Like a Mountain she shares strategies we can use if we’re going through a difficult time. Here are some extracts from her book that she has shared with us:
When I feel hurt I will...
Know that it’s ok to cry.
Try to calm my mind and relax my body.
Ask for a hug.
Be gentle on myself.
Remind myself that my feelings matter.
Repeat to myself: “I am safe, I am loved, I am held.”
When I can’t sleep, I will...
Remind myself that it’s ok. Sleep will come and until then, rest is just as good.
Feel my breathing.
If it’s hard to slow down my mind, I’ll give it something to think about. I can either replay my day, trying to remember all the little bits, or if I choose to, focusing on the parts I enjoyed the most. Or I can create my “Best Day Ever”, walking through my day from start to finish, imagining the most amazing ways to fill it, with people I’d love to share it with. I might nod off before I get to lunchtime.
Try the “blue sky mind” exercise. Watch my thoughts, feelings, memories and sensations and imagine they are just floating clouds in a wide blue sky. Watch them come and go. I am not my thoughts, I am the wide blue sky.
Sing a calm song.
Repeat a mantra: “I am calm, I am still, I am me.”
Yoga poses to help us cope
Purpose: to build the skill of mindfulness and to tap into inner strength
Stretch your arms out by your sides at shoulder height and step your feet wide apart so they are roughly beneath your hands. Turn your right toes out and your left heel away from you. As you breathe in, reach your arms up above your head. As you breathe out, bend your right knee deeply and bring your arms level with your shoulders. Repeat this six times, heating your body and limbering your joints. On the last repetition, stay in the lunge.
Notice how this feels for your body – what can you feel working? Do you notice your arms and shoulders? Can you feel your front thigh working hard? After a few breaths holding the pose, notice if you start to label your experience of this work... is it tough, does your inner dialogue become negative, do you want to get out of it? For another few breaths see if you can just surrender to the sensation of your body working hard, letting it be as it is, reminding yourself these feelings will pass quickly.
Come out of the lunge, give your legs a shake and try the same exercise to the other side, again noticing your reactions to how it feels. Practise allowing the sensations to just be as they are and notice how this can take some of the edge off it. The feelings are still there but the way we experience them changes. You may have also noticed that it was hard to think about other things while you were concentrating on the pose. Yoga can be a wonderful distraction when your thinking gets sticky.
Stall tall like a mountain
Purpose: to energize, uplift and boost confidence and courage
Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Place your arms down by your sides and gaze forward. As you breathe in, raise your arms out to your sides and reach them overhead. Gaze up and press your palms together. As you breathe out, lower your arms down by your sides, reaching through the crown of your head and look forward. Focus all your attention on how it feels to be moving, keeping your mind anchored on this present moment. Repeat this arm movement with your breath six times, noticing how it helps you breathe deeply and how you feel when you breathe better. On the last repetition, hold the pose with your arms overhead for a few breaths, feeling the length of your spine, the strength of your legs and tummy. Notice the sense of power, energy and focus you feel when you reach up and stand tall like a mountain.
Purpose: to let go of anger and things that are hard to express
Come down to all fours. As you breathe in, look forward, draw your shoulders away from your ears and lift up your tail. As you exhale, round your spine with your chin to your chest, point your tail down, stick out your tongue and roar like a lion. Repeat this six times, feeling it release any anger or other emotion you’d like to let go of. Ladybird pose (see page 68 of Stand Tall Like A Mountain) can also feel relaxing after Roaring Lion. Enjoy a few calming breaths in ladybird pose.
Stand Tall Like a Mountain by Suzy Reading is published by Aster. Illustrations by Ella Mclean.