From education to employment

Retrain to make stress something we can work with rather than against

Nick Bennett, Co-founder and Co-CEO at Fika

#StressAwarenessDay – Reframing stress with Fika and @NCFE 

Stress is a part of our lives. There is no getting away from it. But it doesn’t always have to be something we try to run from and avoid.

For this year’s National Stress Awareness Day, Fika the Mental Fitness platform – in partnership with educational charity and leader in vocational and technical learning, NCFE – is encouraging people to reframe how they perceive stress and retrain themselves on how to respond to it.

Fika demonstrates that by making stress something to work with, instead of against, it’s possible to get a better handle on it and use low level stress to help thrive in challenging situations.

Some of the tips and advice for training to increase mental fitness include:

  1. Take some time out to get creative. Being creative can lower stress hormones and open the mind to new ways of thinking.
  2. Breathe for instant stress relief. A few minutes of slow, deep breathing can help encourage relaxation and clear thinking.
  3. Choose the right words. Repeating positive and calming words (in the mind or out loud) is a great way to remind ourselves of our ability to cope and lower stress.
  4. Remember, a certain level of stress can be positive and help performance. Five minutes of mental fitness training a day, like the activities above, can be effective in improving resilience and reducing stress.

There are 6000 staff members at further education (FE) centres across the UK who have been using Fika, including the stress management module, positivity training and focus technique skills training, since March 2021.

This train the trainer programme has evidenced an uplift in mental fitness skills development across the FE sector and has prepared staff for the rollout of Fika’s formal year of mental fitness training for learners.

Nick Bennett, Co-founder and Co-CEO at Fika, said:

“Life is often stressful, practicing reframing low level stressful situations from threat into challenge and learning techniques to manage stress can result in increased performance. Our technology has been designed to empower staff and learners in our partner FE centres, to be better equipped to deal with stress.

“By training our mental fitness just as we would our physical fitness, we are aiming to shift the focus to whole self-fitness for study and work.

“Fika and NCFE are committed to the mission to bring mental fitness to further education and giving staff and learners the skills they need to thrive in work and in life.”

As part of NCFE’s commitment to supporting an education-led approach to mental fitness, the organisation is currently funding the use of Fika’s ‘Seven Skills of Mental Fitness’ curriculum for 85 FE centres nationally.

Fika’s evidence-based curriculum has been fully endorsed by NCFE and is easily accessible via an app and web browser. The platform is Ofsted-mapped and proven to build mental fitness in both students and staff in just five minutes per day. So far, there have been over 24,000 staff and students register on Fika across FE, with 19,600 of those actively using the app to improve their mental fitness.

Mary Fudge, Careers Advisor at Lewisham College, said:

“Fika has enabled colleges to develop positive attitudes and language around mental fitness. Covid has accelerated this, but Fika can help both staff and learners improve. For example, even just five years ago colleges generally didn’t talk about mental wellbeing – that has changed.”

Dave Bostock Smith, FE Development Manager at Newcastle College, said:

“By allocating staff an hour of Fika time, they’ve been able to see first-hand how it helps learners and themselves cope better with any challenge they face.”

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