How to help children de-stress: The HappySelf Journal

As a mother of two school children, I am very much aware of the pressures that they face nowadays, pretty much from pre-school. With every passing year the demands, targets, expectations placed on them only seem to be increasing progressively. Instead of daydreaming, playing, exploring nature and many other things that we grew up doing, our own kids seem to buckle under the enormous pressures of the activites before, during and after school. While academic, creative and sport achievements are important, children only have one health and happiness and that makes it paramount for us grown-ups to safeguard it. Question is, HOW on earth are we supposed to do that when we try not to buckle under our own mountain of professional and personal pressures? Well, thanks to the creative and thoughtful vision of productivity consultant and mother of two Francesca Geens, The HappySelf Journal might just offer a solution.

Francesca has two kids, an 11-year old daughter and a 7-year old son, so she has first-hand experience with the pressures they face daily, both at school and socially. Every week she read articles on stress, yet none really seemed to come up with effective and long-term solutions. Nowadays some of the schools put mindfulness and growth mindset at the centre of their approach to raising the new generation, but not everyone is lucky to go to such schools. So what to do, Francesca kept on asking herself? Working as a productivity consultant and keeping up with the modern technology advances, she knew that the destructive side needs to be tamed and good habits and routines that worked in the past and will work in the future need to be reinforced.

After doing a ‘Science of Happiness’ course in Berkeley, which looked into things like what practises make us feel better and how we can naturally engrain them into our children, Francesca pulled her sleeves up and starting putting pen to paper, or rather creating The HappySelf Journal. She spoke in detail to teachers and educators and consulted her own kids and their friends. She discussed content, colours (in psychology yellow is the colour of happiness), length of time a diary should cover and the ‘weight’ of the journal (mums are known for their practicality .) This summer the first copy of the journal went into print and and in the autumn it was launched.

HappySelfJournal came into my life via Instagram and within 24hrs of seeing it, I purchased a bundle of three. One was meant for my daughter (girls loves writing, for boys it comes into force a bit later, as calligraphy in early years definitely seems to be the quality more attributable to the girls), the other for my son and the third possibly for me?

As life would have it, after a particular intensive week in school, something made me pull our the HappySelf Journal and give it to my son in early October. And from then on, he just feel under its spell and pretty much every evening, after reading, he would giggle and fill it in. In his own time, on his own term, by himself. Relishing the moments of peace before bedtime, thinking about the day he just had. He also wrote about it in the weekly newspaper that he produces for his school, sharing something that helps him deal with the 11+ prep pressures that he and his classmates are currently under.

Then my daughter got her hands on hers, as a treat for her hard work at school. She carefully studied it and within days it became part of her own evening ritual too. When I asked her why she likes it, she paused for a second and replied that it helps track of the things that make her happy and in the future she could look back on the things that she did that made her happy. Her own reminder of the fun things. Pretty impressive answer for someone still very young, don’t you agree?

Now, what can you expect to find inside the HappySelf Journal? Without giving too much away, after all it will be much more fun for you and your child to discover it by yourselves, here are the things that we think are great:

Time spent using the journal is an analogue antidote to screen time. Children are becoming increasingly distracted by social media and online games, activities that are proven to contribute to stress and other mental-health problems. The journal encourages family dialogue on this topic through numerous prompts for screen-free activities.

  • each order comes with a card from Francesca and funny character stickers (even iI think they are cool .)
  • daily pages to do and each diary lasts three months (a good time to engrain a good habit)
  • quotes of the day to help a child feel inspired
  • questions to help think about the way the week is going or what was good about each day
  • little checklists to help develop a growth mindset
  • encourages to write down that things that inspire you
  • helps practise gratitude and kindness
  • allows children to start analysing their moods and address their emotions

As a fan of journalling since my own school years, I am very happy that a modern-day equivalent to my simple copybook not only exists, but helps my own kids form their own mindfulness habits that will hopefully make them feel happier and more empowered by their own abilities and actions. And who says that you shouldn’t get one for yourself .)

The HappySelf Journal details: £19.90. A5 size, 128 pages, premium 100 gsm paper, soft binding, lie flat. Also available in 3 or 5 bundles, priced £49.90 & £79.90.

P.s There is a ‘teen’ version of the journal in the works, so do keep an eyes of The HappySelf Journal website & blog.

If you place an order via the link below, The HappySelf Journal team will enclose a little extra as a ‘thank you’ for your custom (this is not an affiliated link, so please be assured that I don’t earn a commission on any of the orders placed).

For more insights on The HappySelf Journal, please click here

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