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Blog: Embarking on the New Year with a fresh and positive perspective
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7th January 2020

New Year is a time where we celebrate new beginnings and fresh starts but while for many of us it’s a time to reflect on what we’d like to achieve or change in the year ahead, sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming. January is dark, many of us have just had two weeks of really positive, fun family time and possibly some January Sales shopping- might just be me! Christmas is also the worst time of the year if things are not so good, if a family member is poorly or if it’s the first year without a loved one.  

After the party season, once you get past the first week of January and finish packing up the Christmas tree you start to hear about ‘Blue Monday’ on 20 January – the time that’s supposed to be the most depressing day of the year.  So how do you keep a positive mindset when it’s back to work?

Here are my tips for focussing on five areas that can help you maintain a positive mindset in the New Year and they are rooted in #teacher5aday :

Goals

You may not be into setting resolutions but it’s rather difficult to escape hearing about them! As leaders and teachers we’re so used to thinking about others, but January is a good time to consider our own needs.

– If you are wanting to change something, be realistic and ask yourself WHY? By making sure your goals align with your own personal values you’ll be more invested in trying to achieve them

– Don’t be over ambitious, take small steps and recognise that striving for perfection can lead to negative thoughts if you are too idealistic

– Expect setbacks as they are part of life, but don’t try to reach your goals on your own.  By asking for help you’ll feel supported and will be more likely to adapt plans and implement positive strategies to get there along the way

– Consider how your students are feeling.  What are they looking forward to this term and what challenges may they face?

Focus on physical activity as well as mental health

Making sure we carve out time to stay active is really important at this time of year even though the mornings and evenings are still dark.

-You don’t need to sign up to a gym membership to get active: a small stretch as soon as you get up can wake your body up or a quick brisk walk at lunchtime  

-Eating healthy food and getting quality sleep play a huge part in keeping a positive mindset.   Start your routines as you mean to go on and if something isn’t working, don’t feel bad about changing it. It’s about what works for you- habits really are everything!

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Create a positive environment around you

Spending more time with people who make you feel good, whether that be in a professional or social capacity, will have a desirable impact on your positivity and productivity. 

– Reading blogs, listening to audio books or podcasts from those who inspire you can also have a constructive effect. Equally listening to music is so uplifting! I love putting on my dance tunes and having a dance around the kitchen!

– Make a regular appointment in your diary to try something new that you’re interested in or allocate ‘learning time’ to yourself.  This could be a 10-minute chat with someone you know, perhaps a mentor/coach or simply reading a professional magazine.  It may be attending an event or booking on a CPD course

– Think about the effect you have on others as well.  Smiling can make such a huge difference to someone’s day whether that’s in the classroom or in the staff room

Focus on solutions

-It’s easy to procrastinate and go around in circles worrying about things.  But this only perpetuates negative thoughts.  Break projects up into bite size chunks and get the ball rolling.  Everyone has to start somewhere!  You’ll feel better if you make even the smallest steps

Be thankful and remember who you are outside of school

– Be kind to yourself and remind yourself of your top positive personal characteristics. Ask a friend or family member what they think.   I like to reflect on what I’m grateful for throughout the day – even if it’s something small.

– Remember how important your role is and the positive impact you can have on a young person’s life or a young teacher’s life.

–  Juggling work with personal/family time