“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey.
What are you grateful for in this present moment?
A positive, powerful and thought-provoking question, that has been proven by research to improve your wellbeing. This article aims to do just that! Gratitude is expressing appreciation in the world we live in, as well as being more thankful about the lives we have. Being more thankful is a mindset and lifestyle. Showing gratitude every day will have life-long effects on your emotional and physical wellness.
As teachers and school community members, we are currently turning up every day to serve the wonderful children and young people in our classrooms. With guidelines changing and constant new measures in place, it can seem all too overwhelming for many. To feel overwhelmed is a very valid and natural emotion and reaction.
Today I write in support of your mindset, and to show you that, how you look at the perspective of gratitude and thankfulness, can impact not only yourself but the children and young people in the classroom too.
Our mind is a formidable muscle and what we tell ourselves, is internalised and thus we act upon it in our daily lives. If we constantly tell ourselves words that do not serve us, in turn we act those out, create a culture of ill feeling which ultimately will show up in our classrooms, which none of us can afford to take on right now.
Studies show practicing an attitude of gratitude can increase happiness, strengthen resiliency and improve self-esteem. Why? Because coming from a place of thanks, shows you acknowledge the world around you and are present in the current moment. It then supports your ability to empathise and create stronger connections with those around you. This is why practicing gratitude with everyone in the school community is not only important right now, but is highly necessary to form strong connections whilst at physical distance.
Tips to show gratitude for your own self care
- Try journaling what you are thankful for and why, for example, I am thankful for having a roof over my head because it allows me to stay safe.
- Meditate or practise yoga to stay grounded and present
- Put reminders on your phone of what you’re grateful for so they come up before work, or during your lunch break to keep you present and grounded.
- At bedtime say 3 things you’re grateful for.
Gratitude actually helps rewire our brain producing dopamine and serotonin, which are the ‘feel-good factors of happiness. Research shows gratitude before bed supports a more positive mindset and energy throughout the day, where you are proven to have better sleep than those who don’t practice gratitude.
- Celebrate minor accomplishments of yourself.
- Daily affirmations: I am _______ kind, caring, smart
- Smile more- yes, this releases serotonin the wellbeing part of your brain and acts as an antidepressant.
- Volunteer – this can be done within your team or the community around you. Kindness and giving are associated with gratitude.
- Exercise – it releases endorphins the feel-good factor of our brain and a mild pain reliever.
Ideas to be grateful for, for yourself
|A roof over your head||A loving family||A kind friend/colleague|
|A job that pays you||Food to eat||The ability to exercise|
Practice Gratitude with the pupils in your class
Every Thursday with my Year 1 class we practice ‘Thankful Thursday’, this is a really calm and important time for my pupils to reflect on their week and show awareness and gratitude towards themselves and to acknowledge others.
It also promotes human connection and rapport as I am consciously acknowledging and praising them for their reflections.
‘Thankful Thursday’ is a safe space where the children literally say anything they are thankful for.
They start with the sentence: I am thankful for____________. Their ‘thanks’ range from toys, mummy and daddy to friends. When they have finished their sentences, they are encouraged to ask their peers, what they are thankful for and pass on the thanks. It truly uplifts the children and can be done with any age.
I then ask the children to thank a person who has helped them this week and to be specific about how that person helped them. For example: Thank you Tim for showing me how to colour in the robot. Tim is then encouraged to thank the child who complimented him and pass on the: ‘What are you thankful for question to another student.
I end the session by thanking them for allowing me to teach them and acknowledging their efforts during this time. They truly appreciate being acknowledged by their teacher and some have even passed their thanks onto their parents at home, which is always a plus! Kindness is contagious after all!
Ideas of gratitude for children
|My mum and dad||My school||My toys|
|My lunch||My friends||My pets|
Leaders practice gratitude with your colleagues
For some leaders being specific and personal with praise can often be challenging, however as leaders the simplest act of gratitude could be acknowledging your team and literally saying: ‘thank you all for your efforts today, it really means a lot that you’re giving your best, despite the circumstances and it is noticed.’ Your colleagues will really appreciate your efforts of recognition and will go on and praise their fellow colleagues too.
Teacher and teams practice gratitude with one another
I know many of us do this already, and it’s great to show thanks to colleagues who are there for you. Reaching out to colleagues at this difficult time, via WhatsApp while physically distant, is not only good for them, but good for you too. Praising others actually releases serotonin in the brain and is contagious, as others go onto show kindness and thankfulness to those around them. This helps to create stronger connections and rapport, making your team stronger and supportive. An example of a WhatsApp message could be: ‘Hey, thanks for sending across the timetable today, it really helped speed up the process of organisation for me.’ Don’t forget to say, ‘You are welcome, .’back too.
Facts about adopting the gratitude mindset can improve:
|Areas of improvement of your life||Positive self-talk|
|Your physical health||My health is a gift.|
|Your psychological strength||I am happy and thankful to have a job.|
|Your self esteem||I am able to support my pupils at the best of my ability.|
|Your relationships||Thank you for supporting me on that assignment today.|
So, after all of this writing on gratitude, I must acknowledge you by saying thank you for taking the time to read this article.
What are you grateful for today?
Cas Germain – Wellbeing Advocate and Primary Teacher
Cas Germain is a Primary Teacher and certified Life Coach. She is passionate about promoting wellbeing to her pupils and peers through positive education. Her Master in Social Sciences and PGCE in Special Educational Needs enables her to support all members of her community in a caring and inclusive manner.
(Source: The Science of Gratitude- www.tremendou.us)