Mental Health Awareness Week- Escaping stress through writing about 'Happy Places'.

Escape to Rio De Janiero

Green feathers, sparkling sequins, yellow silk and multi-coloured madness all flash past you in a blur. Amid these colours are people dancing to a heavy samba beat, while smiling and waving up at you. You are sat on a hard concrete chair in the stands of a massive auditorium, but you don’t mind the hard chair, because you are bobbing up and down in excitement. The crowd is so close to you that you can smell a mixture of sugary and musky perfumes. The air is hot, but you cool yourself down with a sweet, cold can of fizzy drink. Aaaa. It feels refreshing at the back of your throat and it makes your tongue tingle. You look around you at the buzzing crowd and feel encapsulated by a fervent energy as everyone is smiling and dancing along to the carnival beat

A Two Minute Holiday

When you are stressed, sometimes you just need a holiday in a safe and happy place where you can recuperate. However, a daily trip to the warm buzz of Brazil Carnival as detailed above is very unrealistic. In today’s fast-paced world there often is barely five minutes for a short break in times of stress, so what we need is a way to create an escape that we can dive into for two minutes anywhere at any time. This is why I am encouraging young people to write about their Happy Places. This means that when a young person is feeling stressed they can simply listen to a recording or read an extract of their happy places. Young People should be encouraged to make their description of their happy place as detailed and descriptive as possible so they can fully immerse themselves in this place, but also so they can develop and practice a number of their literacy skills whilst creating this stress-busting resource.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Stress is the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week and it is particularly apt as 90% of headteachers report an increase in the stress and anxiety of their students over the last 5 years. The week also falls at a poignant time as the exam season kicks off with 6/7 and 10/11 year olds sitting their SATS, and 15/16 year olds beginning their GCSE’S. It is at potentially stressful times of the year like this that we really need to ensure that as well as the knowledge to do well in their tests, young people also have the tools to manage the stress and expectations that also come with exams.

Escaping in the Classroom

At a Primary School in Addlestone, Surrey we have been helping children to turn their happy places into a book, so the whole class has a book full of places to escape to when they feel stressed. The children couldn’t believe it when they saw their work in a book and were full of ideas for when they could read it, including when they felt stressed, when they needed a brain break and when they felt sad or angry.

Get Involved

If you would like to learn more about how to support your students to manage their stress along with other emotions, whilst also building on their academic skills through reading and writing activities. Please contact

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In the meantime, grab yourself a comfortable chair and enjoy the rush of carnival fever again before you head back to work.

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