Slowing Down At The Campfire

Posted on: 08/07/2022


Yesterday I had one of my final Mindfulness sessions with the Year 6 pupils and we discussed the importance of having ‘campfire time' to deal with the stresses of modern day living. Back in the days when humans had to go out hunting for food, our bodies were programmed for survival and that fight, flight or freeze reaction was a lifesaver - it enabled us to ‘act smart' without having to 'think smart' (which takes longer). Campfire time gave the hunters time to rest, relax and recover from a stressful day of hunting.  

Modern stressors trigger mental activity rather than physical activity. Because of this, we do not tend to spend and burn up our stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Instead, these may end up getting stored in our bodies. They can accumulate over time and increase our baseline levels of stress, so that we may end up living our lives in a perpetual state of stress! This in turn may lead to more over-thinking and rumination. If this sounds familiar, you are definitely not alone.

As I discussed these ideas with the Year 6 pupils, there was a lot of nodding and agreement and they shared their thoughts with each other. They articulated where they wear their ‘stress signatures’ or how they feel ‘stress’ in their bodies, minds and actions.  Our pupils are so astute and tuned into their minds and bodies that some of their responses in this session were incredibly moving. 

Adults and children alike need that campfire time. As adults, we need to model healthy behaviours to our children, including being able to slow down and allow ourselves to rest, relax and recover.

I have been following Carl Honore for some time now and he is such an advocate of ‘slow’. His latest book, Bolder, certainly hits a note for me. In this, he attempts to eradicate the negativity surrounding ageing and argues for recognition of the positive aspects of ageing. I am now happily embracing my mid-fifties!  

The last few weeks in any school are incredibly busy but here at St. Helen’s College our last few weeks have really packed a punch. Tonight I felt quite overwhelmed at what I still have to achieve in such a short space of time. I recognised this in my body as I reached for paracetamol for the headache I had been ignoring! But instead of popping the paracetamol I picked up a magazine which has been sitting on my desk for several weeks, flicked through it and chuckled as I savoured the Kids National Geographic!  I slowed down and did something enjoyable, rested and read a short snippet about how music matters. Grooving along to funky music, singing, chilling and listening to music improves your mental wellbeing (we all know this but do we all do this enough?). I now admit to you all that the weekend before last I had a ‘Glastonbury’ weekend! No, I was not at Worthy Farm - but I danced around my living room on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and had the time of my life, so that by the time Monday came I felt rested, refreshed and ready for the week ahead! 

So, what are you going to do for your campfire time - how will you slow down this weekend? Whatever you are doing, however you rest and recharge, value this time - it could be a lifesaver!

Happy weekend!

Ms Drummond