Spotlight on…Hayley Macdiarmid

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Art specialist/deputy room leader at Active Learning Nursery, Dorking

spotlight-hayley-macdiarmid

Hayley Macdiarmid

WHY DID YOU RUN A MONTH OF ACTIVITIES FOCUSING ON MINDFULNESS FOR STAFF?

I’ve suffered with mental illness on and off for many years, and have learnt self-care is key. Some things might only take five minutes, like sitting and enjoying a cup of tea, while some are longer activities like a bubble bath or an evening walk to unwind. I wanted to share these acts of self-care with colleagues.

WHAT WAS ON OFFER DURING THE MONTH?

I set up two to three sessions a week, including Pilates sessions, lunchtime reading, a ‘hydration day’ with filtered lemon water and a selection of teas available, a ‘gratefulness board’ allowing staff to share things they are grateful for, the chance for staff to take home mint, sage, rosemary and wild garlic to use in home cooking, and slips of paper for them to share good advice.

WHAT WAS THE STAFF RESPONSE LIKE?

I didn’t expect everyone at the nursery to take part; that wasn’t the point. I also wasn’t offended if staff didn’t feel comfortable taking part in some activities. But it was lovely to see most staff did really engage and tried things out. I got a lot of positive comments.

WHY IS A FOCUS ON MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING IMPORTANT?

It’s our responsibility to nurture and support children, and I believe you can’t take care of someone else if you’re not taking care of yourself. Staff should know it is OK to have an ‘off’ day; no-one’s perfect. It is normal to feel low and staff should be able to discuss worries and feel supported.

IS THIS SOMETHING OTHERS COULD DO?

It didn’t cost a lot of money at all, in fact most of it was free. It just takes imagination. Nurseries could create a suggestion box for staff to provide ideas. These might include a fruit bar, a visiting yoga teacher, or adding resources to the staff room such as a library or relaxing music. These things don’t cost a lot or take up much space, but think about the impact it could have on staff’s well-being.

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