Clare Martin is the founder of the Positive Teacher Network, a psychology teacher and a trained cognitive behavioural coach who is passionate about wellbeing.@PosTeacherNet
Most people buy into the idea that physical fitness is something that you have to stay on top of, something you have to work at, otherwise you lose it. No one expects to stay physically in shape without doing any exercise. Yet we expect to stay mentally in shape, that is, happy and fulfilled, without having to do anything to maintain it.
What I would like to propose is that mental fitness is something that we have to work on. You don’t get to go to the gym for a couple of months and then be done with it for the year. Our happiness, success and fulfilment in life is reliant on our mental resilience, our ability to deal with difficulties in the short and long term and still come back smiling.
Some people seem to be naturally resilient but as is the case with so-called ‘natural ability’ there is often a lot going on behind the scenes that you might not know about. Perhaps they picked up these strategies naturally along the way, but they will inevitably be doing something that supports their resilience.
What I love about all things psychological is that you can learn new techniques and strategies that have been shown to work by countless people in scientific studies and change the way you think, act and feel for the better.
The first step in promoting wellbeing and resilience is to get people to be open to this premise. It is possible to learn new skills to develop resilience and increase wellbeing.
The second step is to get people to maintain them. That is why the Positive Teacher Network is a monthly membership programme providing training and support on a variety of topics to enhance teachers’ happiness, success and fulfilment in their work and lives.
One of the simplest tips that I give teachers and students is that it is incredibly important to watch what you are saying. I see many people walking around saying how tired they feel, how tough life is, how busy they are, how bad they are at certain subjects etc. I’m sure you’re familiar with this. And yes, sometimes I find myself doing it too. Let’s face it, sometimes we just need a good moan!! But once we’ve got that out of our system we need to become aware again. Because the unconscious part of your mind, the part that does most of the work most of the time listens to these messages and ultimately plays them out.
If I keep saying how tired I feel, my brain knows how to feel tired and starts to respond accordingly. Equally, if I keep saying how excited I am then my brain equally can flick this switch. There are so many examples and some powerful switches you can make to use language to your advantage. It is also very important to think about the language we use with others. I go into more detail on this in some free online training that you can access from our website. But be aware that if you can trigger a response to words with yourself, it is equally powerful with other people. Take time this week to notice your language and that of others. Could they reframe it into more positive words and end up improving their experience?
The Positive Teacher Network also offers a few other freebies so you can get to know what we do. But the online training is a great place to start. It is a 3 part video series that will give you strategies that you can use for yourself and with your students to promote wellbeing and increase resilience.
For those of you aspiring to greater wellbeing and believe in the importance of maintenance then you may well want to become a member of the Positive Teacher Network and gain access to continuous training and support.