A Wish for Wellness in 2022

January 4th 2022

2022 has finally arrived and it is also Day 5 of my COVID isolation. I know I am nearly better because the world doesn’t feel like a permanent menopausal hot flush and I can now sleep with two pillows instead of five.

To some degree, having a positive test result for COVID and recovering without much discomfort gives some psychological reprieve from the fear factor but I wish we could be sure that it is not like the postman, and it doesn’t ring twice.

No doubt, avoiding COVID may have hit the Top 10 New Year resolutions along with the usual ones for getting fitter and slimmer. The diet books will be selling fast and lots of people are already signing up for Dry January. I have been ‘dry’ for over a week and eaten very little but sadly not an ounce has shifted. In my opinion, popular diets don’t always work for the vast majority of people or they are modestly effective for a while, but after a year or so the benefits are largely gone. We need to move from wanting to be skinnier to being healthier – enabled by the food choices we make on a daily basis.


Self-isolation can also force you to think more about deeper issues. There is only so much Netflix, iPlayer and Spotify you can watch or listen to. I started to think about what people most remember about the great leaders of our time so that we can adopt some of their leadership styles now. This may have been prompted by Liz Truss telling us that she is the next leader of the Conservatives, the new Mrs Thatcher.  Clearly, Liz has failed to check out the wider view of how Mrs Thatcher was remembered and is now living in a Tory echo chamber or Lalaland.


Leadership is about unleashing our inner power and becoming a force for good. Leaders are not just the ones in charge, everyone has the power to lead. Think back to school or previous jobs.  What do you most remember? Was it the times tables or Pythagoras theorem? Was it the way reports were filed? Unlikely! You remember those who remembered your name, who asked about your interests, who remembered to ask about your children’s events or even turned up to hear them. You remember being chosen to represent the organisation for a media interview or lead some research or be recognised and congratulated publicly. You remembered them leading you in great off-key renditions of the Happy Birthday song or When Santa Got Stuck Up the Chimney.

What they remember is that you were real, transparent and able to not take yourself too seriously. They will remember you teasing them and making them laugh with you. They might also remember you for thinking about your wellbeing. After all, many aspects of ‘wellness’ have had a shake-up over the past 18 months, and we have all learned about the importance of taking good care of ourselves and our employees.

With that in mind, here is a taster of our new ten-chapter wellbeing handbook for Early Years staff: Think Feel Do, that suggests how we can use the nursery environment and the activities of an average nursery day to strengthen ten key elements of wellbeing. I’ve also attributed a 2022 tip against each chapter to hopefully encourage you to think about your wellbeing goals for 2022 and ‘being well to do well’.

Chapter   Chapter Title Top Ten Tips for 2022
Chapter 1 The Body Positive Think Healthy not Skinny. Chuck out those diet books they are making a skinny person rich!


Chapter 2 Moving Our Bodies Walk fast for 30 minutes a day or simply count how often you run for the bus.  In addition, do 20 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. Combined that also reduces the chances of Alzheimer’s by 50%


Chapter 3 The Pleasure of Small Things Relax, meditate, do yoga, read a book, go to the spa or have a bath – do anything that makes you relax


Chapter 4 Boundaries and Limits Don’t smoke, it’s generally bad for you.  But it’s very hard to give up so maybe employers could also help and support staff


Chapter 5 Bounding with Energy Learn a language, learn to dance, do a course, practice a musical instrument. You don’t have to be good at it, it’s the learning that is key


Chapter 6 Friendships: The Chocolate Chip in the Biscuit Be social, make friends. Five is a great number of people and then connect with them often and deeply. Not just silly texts an occasional WhatsApp


Chapter 7 Back to Backs Watch your posture especially when sitting. No slouching! Remember to lift correctly. Bend those knees and keep your back straight
Chapter 8 Making Kindness Your Modus Operandi Support a cause or find a purpose.  Work for a social enterprise and then everything you do has purpose
Chapter 9 The Stress Factor Play more games that are mentally challenging and it is even better if they are social and fun. So, don’t avoid the team quizzes
Chapter 10 Bounce Back: Be Resilient Be positive. Surround yourself with people with a positive outlook. It’s good for your health and everyone else’s’ too!
Many pairs of trainers in a box

No shoes to buckle

On Saturday morning (19/09/2020) I chaired a discussion with Neil Leitch from Early Years Alliance and Liz Bayram from Pacey for the Childcare Expo. We talked about…