Monday, February 8, 2016

Wellness: Happiness Habits: Part 1

I will begin by saying that this is a bit of a deviation from my usual posts.  However, with our busy lives, I believe wellness is a very important topic.  It’s also something that I’ve personally struggled with.  As an educator, I feel like there is always more I could do for my students and it seems the demands on us are always increasing.  I find it difficult to make time for everything I want to do.  Often, exercise/wellness/hobbies have been low on my list of priorities. In recent months, I’ve been making an effort to re-prioritize and take time for “wellness activities”.  If you are a fellow educator, a parent or a community member reading our blog, I hope you will find this post useful/interesting, but if you’re really after a post about what’s going on in our classroom, please scroll past this to find just that! :)

I was lucky to receive a special gift this Christmas from my fellow educator and close friend, Mrs. Devon Caldwell.  Over the past 7 years of my teaching career, our classes have worked together on many occasions, we have done some team-teaching via technology, we’ve co-presented a number of professional development sessions and we often work/learn together.  We are both passionate about education and most of the time that we’re together, we’re busy working on our latest idea to improve teaching and learning.   However, we both tend to go overboard once in a while and lose that precious life/work balance that everyone talks about.   To help us make wellness a priority, we started practicing yoga together with local instructor Kaycelyn Rosales-Knight about one year ago.  In addition to those yoga sessions with Kayce, we started to practice yoga together occasionally and to complete online yoga challenge videos.  Since then, we have reaped the benefits of yoga and other wellness activities.  

This Christmas break, I was thrilled to open my Christmas gift  from Devon and find a ticket to the Snowflake Winter Wellness Festival!   Devon and I attended this one-day event hosted at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg, MB on January 24, 2016.  The day featured a variety of sessions, including yoga classes, presentations and a keynote.  It was a very interesting day,which we both enjoyed very much.  The part that I felt was most relevant to my classroom was the keynote address by Tracy Hutton.  She spoke to us about happiness habits – basically, things we can all do which have scientifically been shown to increase our happiness. 
Ways to Promote Happiness: Part 1
 reflections from Tracy Hutton's keynote at Snowflake Winter Wellness Festival 2016
Move – Engage in some form of movement/exercise.  Pick something you enjoy - whether it’s dancing, yoga, walking or hockey.  I think this is particularly important for my young students.  We have been trying out a yoga pose of the week, we love to dance along with videos (such as the ones on GoNoodle) and our day is structured in short blocks of 15-30 minutes, so we are frequently moving around the room as we transition from one activity to another.  Of course, there’s always our daily gym class and recess too! 

Hug – What a simple way to promote happiness!  And one that children are already very good at!

Practice mindfulness/meditation – I am personally working on this one.  Quieting my mind is difficult for me, so I’m making an effort to try meditation. (I just completed the free 7 days of calm with the Calm app, which offered nice, short 5 minute guided mediation sessions).  I have difficulty “turning off” my brain at night so I can fall asleep, so I also find guided sleep mediation helpful.  I recently read an article about teaching mindfulness in our Park West School Division newsletter.  This is something I have an interest in and I continue to learn more about.   

Forgive Others – an ongoing lesson in an early years classroom(And one that many of us adults can practice too!)

I have a lot more notes on promoting happiness and my classroom connections, but I fear that this post will be far too long, so I'm saving Part 2 for later this week!  Check back in a few days for more happiness habits!

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