Covid-19: Mental Health Exercises to face this incredibly challenging situation No3

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www.luckyblueye.etsy.com

Dear friends,

My emotional disturbance about Covid-19 could be dealt with the following psychological techniques which were especially useful for me for helping me to grow out of fear and emotional stress, into happiness, peace and emotional balance: Radical acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, my meditation stone and forest therapy.
Radical acceptance improves the quality of my life. Butler and Ciarrochi (2007) define acceptance as “a willingness to experience psychological events (thoughts, feelings, memories) without having to avoid them or let them unduly influence behavior”. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s in, “Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness”: “Acceptance doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean passive resignation. Quite the opposite. It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is- especially when you don’t like it-and then work wisely and effectively as best you possibly can with the circumstances you find yourself in and with the resources at your disposal, both inner and outer, to mitigate, heal, redirect, and change what can be changed.” By learning to accept this unpleasant event rather than struggling with it, I could reduce my experiential avoidance of perceived future threats and negative emotional experiences.

Psychological resilience has been characterized by the ability to bounce back from negative emotional experiences and by flexible adaptation to the changing demands of stressful experiences. According to the broaden-and-build theory, positive and negative emotions have distinct and complementary adaptive functions and cognitive and physiological effects. This theory posits that negative emotions narrow one’s momentary thought–action repertoire by preparing one to behave in a specific way (e.g., escape when afraid). In contrast, various discrete positive emotions (e.g., joy, contentment, interest) broaden one’s thought–action repertoire, expanding the range of cognitions and behaviors that come to mind. Positive emotions can also act more directly on physiology, dampening the cardiovascular system and the hormone system. In both cases, the link might be what’s called the sympathetic nervous system, the largely unconscious part of our nervous system that controls, among other things, the fight-or-flight response to threats. If the activity of the sympathetic nervous system were dialed down, heart rate would decrease; that is generally regarded as a marker of good cardiovascular health. Blood pressure would also fall, reducing your risk of stroke. Quieting the neuroendocrine system would lower blood levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine, the fight-or-flight hormones.

One powerful mechanism by which positive emotions could affect health is through immunity: They have been shown to increase levels of growth hormone and the hormones prolactin and oxytocin.
There might even be a more direct effect of positive emotions on the body. Some neurons in the brain, called sympathetic fibers, connect all the way to the thymus and lymph nodes, which are production factories for immune-system cells. Activating these neurons in the brain via positive emotions might therefore activate the thymus and lymph nodes, unleashing infection-fighting cells. Sympathetic fibers also release a slew of substances that bind to receptors on white blood cells, again priming them to attack invaders. This perspective on positive emotions might help explain why those who experience positive emotions in the midst of stress are able to benefit from their broadened mindsets and successfully regulate their negative emotional experiences.

Positive emotions solve problems concerning personal growth and development. Experiencing a positive emotion leads to states of mind and to modes of behavior that indirectly prepare an individual for later hard times. Two decades of experiments by Alice Isen of Cornell University and her colleagues have shown that people experiencing positive feelings think differently. Overall, 20 years of experiments by Isen and her colleagues show that when people feel good, their thinking becomes more creative, integrative, flexible and open to information. Even though positive emotions and the broadened mindsets they create are themselves short-lived, they can have deep and enduring effects. By momentarily broadening attention and thinking, positive emotions can lead to the discovery of novel ideas, actions and social bonds. Barbara Fredrickson and her students tested these ideas by surveying a group of people to examine their resilience and optimism. The people were originally interviewed in the early months of 2001, and then again in the days after the September 11th terrorist attacks. They asked them to identify the emotions they were feeling, what they had learned from the attacks and how optimistic they were about the future. They learned that after September 11th nearly everyone felt sad, angry and somewhat afraid. And more than 70 percent were depressed. Yet, the people who were originally identified as being resilient in the early part of 2001 felt positive emotions strongly as well. They were also half as likely to be depressed. Barbara’s Fredrickson statistical analyses showed that Gratitude was the most common positive emotion people felt after the September 11th attacks.

Feeling grateful was associated both with learning many good things from the crisis and with increased levels of optimism. Feeling grateful broadened positive learning, which in turn build optimism, just as the broaden-and-build theory suggests. So “feeling good” does far more than signal the absence of threats. It can transform people for the better, making them more optimistic, resilient and socially connected.

A number of studies suggest that the cardiovascular activity associated with stress and negative emotions, especially if prolonged and recurrent, can promote or exacerbate heart disease. The undoing effect suggests that positive emotions can reduce the physiological “damage” on the cardiovascular system sustained by feeling negative emotions. But some other research suggests that there’s more to it than that. It appears that experiencing positive emotions increases the likelihood that one will feel good in the future. Resilient people are characterized by an ability to experience both negative and positive emotions even in difficult or painful situations, she says. They mourn losses and endure frustrations, but they also find redeeming potential or value in most challenges. When not-so-resilient people face difficulties, Fredrickson notes, all of their emotions turn negative. If things are good, they feel good, but if things are bad, they feel horrid. Resilient people, on the other hand, tend to find some silver lining in even the worst of circumstances. While they certainly see and acknowledge the bad, Fredrickson says, “they’ll find a way to also see the good. They’ll say, ‘Well at least I didn’t have this other problem”. According to Fredrickson although the use of humor, laughter and other direct attempts to stimulate positive emotions are occasionally suitable, they often seem poor choices, especially in trying times. Based on their recent experiment with college students, her advice would be to cultivate positive emotions indirectly by finding positive meaning within current circumstances. Positive meaning can be obtained by finding benefits within adversity, by infusing ordinary events with meaning and by effective problem solving. So, you can infuse ordinary events with meaning by expressing appreciation, love and gratitude, even for simple things. And you can find positive meaning through problem solving by supporting compassionate acts toward people in need.

So, gratitude (appreciation) helps me to notice how much positive is in my life. I slow my life down, and I appreciate all that I have. My daughter, my husband, my dog, my home, a beautiful sunset, the flowers, the trees…
As a result, acceptance, gratitude and awareness of the present moment without judgment (mindfulness meditation) could help me to be better able to tolerate my negative thoughts and feelings.

But the most important healer for me is the nature. My meditation stone also helps me to overcome my negative thoughts and promote mindfulness. When I repeat the powerful affirmations often, and believe in them, I can start to make positive changes. When combined with meditation and forest therapy this can have multiple benefits.
A study from Portugal found that people living near industrial “gray space,” as opposed to green space, reported “decreased use of coping strategies” and less optimism. These are just some of the benefits that scientists, academics and teachers have discovered occur when a person gets some nature therapy into their life:

●Reduces blood pressure and heart rate.

●Reduces anxiety, anger, depression, obesity, post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

●Improves sleep.

●Strengthens the immune system.

●Increases energy and vitality.

●Increases sensory awareness and perception.

●Promotes a healthy body-mind-heart connection.

●Increases brain power and clarity of thought.

●Increases self-esteem, empathy, kindness and compassion.

●Boosts creativity and intuition.

●Calms the nervous system.

●Relaxes an overworked brain.

A study in Environmental Science and Technology found a link between decreased anxiety and bad moods with walks in the woods, while another reported that taking a walk outdoors should be prescribed by doctors as a supplement to existing treatments for depressive disorders. The Journal of Affective Disorders released analysis that declared how every green, natural environment (not just forests!) improved mood and self-esteem, a crucial element for personal happiness, and that the presence of water — a lake, a river, the ocean — made the positive effects on happiness even more noticeable. Studies show that exercising in forests — or even just sitting in one — reduces blood pressure and decreases to stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenalin, which helps us to calm down.

Even looking at photos or drawings of trees has a similar effect. Researchers from Sussex University tested the brain activity of 17 healthy subjects listening to a variety of natural and unnatural soundscapes. When asked about how the sounds affected them, the participants reported that the natural sounds led to relaxation and a feeling of positivity, whereas the unnatural sounds made them feel stressed. Brain scans taken just afterwards backed this up, with researchers noting how artificial sounds activated anxiety related brain activity. Even research involving the use of nature videos of the forest or the ocean have the same physiological effects.

So, take care and stay at home.

Love,

Vassiliki

How Positive Affirmations Can Help You Heal Your Emotions And Your Thoughts.

My dear friends, hello!

The National Union of Teachers (UK) indicates the ways in which stress manifests itself:
“The effects of stress can be manifested in many different ways including physical effects such as raised heart rate, headache, dizziness, palpitations, skin rashes, aching neck and shoulders and lowering of resistance to infection. Over a long period stress may contribute to chronic health problems such as heart disease and stomach ulcers. Various psychological and behavioural changes affecting work performance and interpersonal relationships may also be noticed by stressed individuals’ colleagues, including inability to concentrate, overworking, irritability or aggression, becoming withdrawn or unsociable, or reluctance to accept constructive criticism and advice”.
The main causes of stress in the workplace:

  • Balancing multiple demands
  • Work overload
  • Lack of time
  • Inadequate resources
  • Inadequate administrative support
  • Inclusive classes
  • Student misbehaviour
  • On-going changes
  • Inadequate professional development

Negative thoughts ruin your life! When negative emotions like stress and anxiety fill your mind you are unable to battle the obstacles you encounter in your life. Psychologist Guy Winch notes that it is both possible and hugely beneficial to stop negative thoughts. “Studies tell us that even a two-minute distraction is sufficient to break the urge to ruminate in that moment,” he says. In this context, Winch uses the term “rumination” to describe the act of dwelling on negative experiences, circumstances, or worries. Though it’s easy to slip into rumination, you can just as easily change the channel in your mind. Every time you catch yourself beginning to worry, stop and intentionally think about something else. The mental distraction might be something completely unrelated, such as noticing the beauty around you or remembering someone’s act of kindness.

Affirmations are positive statements. The use of daily positive affirmations helps you counter the negative self-talk, with positive ideas. When properly formed, affirmations can counteract some of your negative thoughts and habits, resonating with the alpha brain waves and enabling you to achieve empowerment, to change your thinking. When you learn how to think positive, your self-image will naturally improve. As a result you will act differently and your circumstances will naturally change as well. This is a great start, as affirmations with words and valuable phrases can be quite powerful, imprinting positive messages in your subconscious mind.

How to create powerful affirmations:

  • Positive affirmations are always in the present tense.
  • Place your name in the affirmation
  • Positive affirmations only include positive words.
  • Add a feeling to strengthen the affirmation (I feel etc.).
  • Believe and repeat your affirmation with faith and attention. But they cannot be a parrot like repetition of a meaningless thought or sentence.
  • There’s no formula for how often or how many times you should repeat a positive affirmation.

Positive affirmations are words that help release the power within yourself. New strength and ability are released from your innermost being. Positive affirmations motivate you and inspire you. So remember to pick the right statements for your intentions, make it a daily habit to clear the clutter and reprogram your subconscious mind. Be aware that positive affirmations don’t magically manifest results—what they do instead is open your subconscious to new channels of information and opportunity, so you must take action on these in order for any major changes to happen to your life (Leena S. Guptha DO, Psychology Today).

But changes do not happen overnight. You need to repeating the positive affirmations again and again till they are firmly embedded in your subconscious mind.

All my mandala stones, wooden pebbles and bookmarks are stress relieving because they can be used as a focus for meditation. They always have a circular nature and offer balancing symmetrical elements and images symbolizing harmony and completion. These mandala stones, pebbles and bookmarks will help promote mindfulness, focus attention and emotional wellbeing. The Affirmation Stones and the Inspirational Stones can help you to challenge and overcome negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes. The Worry Stones, generally used by Ancient Greeks, can be used for meditation, relaxation or anxiety relief.

Remember that you are worthy of being happy, healthy and of being anxiety and stress free. I wish all of you a very happy life ahead in which you do not need to worry about anything.
If you enjoyed my blog post, please share it with a friend who you think might find it helpful too! I really appreciate your support.

You can also visit my website:

www.luckyblueye.etsy.com

Love always,

Vassiliki

Classroom Therapy Dogs Help Students De-stress

Hello my friends!

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In March, vice-chancellor of The University of Buckingham, Sir Anthony Seldon, spoke out about the benefits of therapy dogs in schools during The University of Buckingham’s Ultimate Wellbeing in Education Conference.
Speaking about the addition of therapy dogs in schools, Sir Anthony said, “The quickest and biggest hit that we can make to improve mental health in our schools and to make them feel safe for children, is to have at least one dog in every single school in the country”. The first known therapy dog accompanied Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud. From pictures and journals, Freud would often have his dog Jofi in his office during psychotherapy sessions. While the dog was originally only in the room as a comfort to Freud, who claimed he felt more relaxed when the dog was nearby, he soon began to notice that the dog also seemed to help comfort other patients during their therapy sessions (Sharon Paul).

Given the impact therapy dogs can have on student well-being, schools and universities are increasingly adopting therapy dog programs as an inexpensive way of providing social and emotional support for students. The role of therapy dogs is to react and respond to people and their environment, under the guidance and direction of their owner. For example, an individual might be encouraged to gently pat or talk to a dog to teach sensitive touch and help them be calm. Therapy dogs can also be used as part of animal assisted therapy. This aims to improve a person’s social, cognitive and emotional functioning (The Conversation).

Just with the presence of a therapy dog within the classroom, medical science has shown that a therapy dog can reduce blood pressure, promote physical healing, reduce anxiety, fatigue and depression, as well as provide emotional support. In research published in Stress and Health, researchers surveyed 246 students before and after they spent time in a drop-in therapy dog session. Students were free to pet, cuddle and chat with seven to 12 canine companions during the sessions. They also filled out questionnaires immediately before and after the session, and again about 10 hours later. The researchers found that participants reported significant reductions in stress as well as increased happiness and energy immediately following the session, compared to a control group of students who did not spend time at a therapy dog session. While feelings of happiness and life satisfaction did not appear to last, some effects did.
“The results were remarkable,” said Stanley Coren, study co-author and professor emeritus of psychology at UBC. “We found that, even 10 hours later, students still reported slightly less negative emotion, feeling more supported, and feeling less stressed, compared to students who did not take part in the therapy dog session” (University of British Columbia).

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Patricia Pendry, from Washington State University, said her study showed “soothing” sessions with dogs could lessen the negative impact of stress. The study of more than 300 undergraduates had found weekly hour-long sessions with dogs brought to the university by professional handlers had made stressed students at “high risk of academic failure” or dropping out “feel relaxed and accepted”, helping them to concentrate, learn and remember information, she said. “Students most at risk, such as those with mental health issues, showed the most benefit,” said Dr Pendry (BBC News). It is therefore perhaps not surprising to discover that dogs are now being used in universities across the UK at examination times as a means of supporting students by reportedly relieving stress (Barker et al., 2016).

“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” – M.K. Clinton

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

Rick Snyder’s Hope Theory and The Role Of Positive Psychology In Academic Achievement

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Hello my friends!

In 1991, the eminent positive psychologist Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues came up with Hope Theory. According to their theory, hope consists of agency and pathways. The common conception of hope is based on Snyder’s hope theory (1994, 2002) which describes hope as a positive motivated state and a cognitive process with three distinct, yet related elements (Snyder & Lopez, 2007):

1. goal-directed thinking – valuable but uncertain goals providing direction and end-point.

2. pathways thinking – the perceived capacity to find routes to desired goals.

3. agency thinking – the requisite motivations to use those routes.

According to hope theory, conceptualized by Snyder and colleagues, hope is a goal directed cognitive process. It is characterized as a human strength that involves a person capacity to (a) clearly conceptualize goals (goals thinking), (b) create ways or strategies to achieve those goals (pathways thinking), and (c) initiate and sustain motivation for using those strategies (agency thinking) to effectively obtain what a person is looking for. Any deficit in this cognitive theory (goals, agency, pathways) reflects low hope. Indeed, neither agency nor pathway thinking alone is sufficient to sustain hope. The  person who has hope has the will and determination that goals will be achieved, and a set of different strategies at their disposal to reach their goals. When high-hope people encounter obstacles in pursuit of a goal, they do not despair. Having identified multiple routes to reach objectives, they simply choose another route and go around the barrier. Low-hope people, in contrast, may give up when encountering barriers to goals because they cannot think of other pathways to surmount the obstacles. This often results in frustration, a loss of confidence, and lowered self-esteem. In order to sustain movement toward one’s goals, both a sense of agency and a sense of pathways must be operative (Snyder, 2000).

Hope involves the will to get there, and different ways to get there. Psychological well being in society is improved if people are allowed to pursue goal directed activity and achieve rewards. A considerable body of research suggests high-hope individuals are more resilient, experience lower levels of anxiety and depression and experience better outcomes in the workplace and at home (Lopez et al. 2004; Snyder & Lopez, 2007). They are less like to abandon their goals and more likely to stay the course in pursuing their aims. The experience of hope has a positive influence on individual health and well-being (Gallagher & Lopez, 2009; Shorey, Little, Snyder, Kluck, & Robitschek, 2007; Snyder et al., 1996). Optimism as a trait is also studied in positive psychology, and appears as the VIA Strength of Hope and Optimism. Hope and optimism are both part of cognitive, emotional, and motivational stances toward the future, indicating a belief that future good events will outweigh bad events (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Individuals with high hope experience better overall physical, psychological, and social well-being. Hopeful people have also been found to be less reactive to stressful situations (Chang & DeSimone, 2001; Snyder, 2002). Scheier and Carver (1985) emphasize generalized outcome expectancies in their theory and assume that optimism is a goal-based approach that occurs when an outcome has substantial value. In this optimism model, people perceive themselves as being able to move toward desirable goals and away from undesirable goals (antigoals; Carver & Scheier, 2000a). Although pathways-like thoughts and agency-involved thoughts are implicit in their model, the outcome expectancies (similar to agency) are seen as the prime elicitors of goal-directed behaviors (Scheier & Carver, 1985, 1987). High-hope people embrace self-talk agentic phrases as “I can do this” and “I am not going to be stopped” (Snyder et al., 1998).

The acquisition of goal-directed hopeful thought is absolutely crucial for the child’s survival and thriving. Children with higher levels of hope are more creative, have better academic results, better social skills, higher self-esteem, self-realization, better perceptions of being able to solve problems and face obstacles ( Snyder et al., 1997). These children are guided by successful experiences rather than frustrations and are more apt to set challenging (and achievable) goals and develop more satisfactory life goals ( Snyder et al., 2003). On the other hand, children with lower levels of hope are more prone to frustration, anxiety, depression, and aggression ( Snyder et al., 2003). Teachers who perceive the plight of low-hope students in the classroom, however, should resist the impulse to “give them a break” and not demand as much from them as from other students in the classroom. Rather, a caring adult who has high expectations and who demands high levels of performance can instill hope in a young person  (McDermott & Snyder, 2000). It is important to emphasize that in order to give hope to others, you must first have hope yourself (Snyder et al., 1997).

http://www.udemy.com/teacher-emotional-wellbeing/?src=sac&kw=57%20helpful%20ways%20to%20benefit

I love Vicki’s Zakrzewski article How to Help Students Develop Hope in Greater Good Magazine published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

1.Identify and prioritize their top goals, from macro to micro. Start by having students create a “big picture” list of what’s important to them—such as their academics, friends, family, sports, or career—and then have them reflect on which areas are most important to them and how satisfied they are with each. Keep in mind that the goals must be what the students want, not what their parents or schools want. Otherwise, as studies suggest, they will quickly lose their interest and/or motivation, especially as they come up against obstacles. Finally, students should rank their goals in order of importance.

2. Breakdown the goals—especially long-term ones—into steps. Research has suggested that students with low hope frequently think goals have to be accomplished all-at-once, possibly because they haven’t had the parental guidance on how to achieve goals in steps. Teaching them how to see their goals as a series of steps will also give students reasons to celebrate their successes along the way—a great way to keep motivation high!

3.Teach students that there’s more than one way to reach a goal. Teaching them to visualize different paths to their goals will help them get beyond insurmountable barriers. Perhaps most importantly, teachers need to make sure that students don’t equate those barriers with a lack of talent; instead, they need to be reminded that everyone faces obstacles. Success usually requires creative ways to overcome these obstacles, not avoiding them altogether.

4.Tell stories of success. Scientists have found that hopeful students draw on memories of other successes when they face an obstacle; however, students with low hope often don’t have these kinds of memories. That’s why it’s vital for teachers to read books or share stories of other people—especially kids—who have overcome adversity to reach their goals.

5.Keep it light and positive. Research has found that students who use positive self-talk, rather than beating themselves up for mistakes, are more likely to reach their goals.

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

 

What kind of life might be called good? and what really matters?

Hello my friends! Some life changing thoughts that will change your life in the most positive way!

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What it is that qualifies as a good life? Do people think that money buys happiness? Do they believe that career success is more important than relationships? Is the good life the easy life? We are all fallible humans and we have to work on and at times even struggle with being mindful, accepting and committed but things could be better. Difficult lives could be good and good lives could be better. As a teacher and mental health counsellor I give emphasis on people’s emotions and feelings and thoughts. Well, I am of the opinion that the change of our life starts within us. I could say that relationships are the heart of human existence. Seligman found that every single VERY HAPPY individual had strong strong relationships. Scollon and Diener found that increases in work fulfillment and relationship fulfillment both correlated with increases in emotional stability.

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.
Unknown

Fox said that “It is the law that any difficulties that can come to you at any time, must be exactly what you need most at the moment to enable you to take the next step forward by overcoming them. The only real misfortune, the only real tragedy, comes when we suffer without learning the lesson.”

Never fear shadows. They simply mean that there is a light somewhere nearby.
Ruth E. Renkei

The good life is motivated by kindness and compassion, it is characterized by goodness and marked by a responsiveness to others’ needs. When the person is really kind, really good, he will never be alone or unhappy. Our emotions are contagious. According to Daniel Goleman emotions spread from one person to another much like a cold. Dr Goleman says that the more connected we are with someone emotionally, the greater the influence they have on us especially over time.

How wonderful it is that nobody needs wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
Anna Frank

To really change your life, change your thinking! Think positively. Replace negative thought patterns with positive ones. Of the 60.000-80.000 thoughts running through your mind every day, hundreds are probably negative or insignificant. But if you control your thoughts, you can change your life.
Enrich your everyday with the people you love, family and friends.

Love is the beauty of soul.

A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all. If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world…”.Emmet Fox

Forgiveness is a great thing, too. It allows space in our hearts for peace and serenity and the more serene we are in our hearts the less likely we are to feel miserable. Every human being has the right to live without the pain of the past. It is an act of self-empowerment.

Make a rule and pray to God to help you keep it: Never, if possible, lie down at night without being able to say “I have made one human being a little wiser or a little happier or at least a little better this day.”
Charles Kings

Give life your best and you will never regret it!

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

Teacher Character Strengths: Which are the nine characteristics of a great teacher?

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Hello my friends!

Positive psychology is said to be an umbrella term for the study of positive emotions, positive character traits, and enabling institutions (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005). It can be described as the study of what people do right, and how they do it, and involves aiming towards helping people to develop those qualities that will help them lead more fulfilling lives. Within the field of positive psychology the terms subjective well-being and life satisfaction is often used interchangeably with happiness, which are more scientifically solid terms for what people usually associate with happiness (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). A premise of positive psychology is that it is possible to improve mental health, and make development and growth feasible, by focusing on and elaborate on strengths of character and positive personality traits. To be able to put a name to what one does well, to gain knowledge about and cultivate ones strengths is thought to promote well-being. Happiness is in theory and research often substituted with the term wellbeing, in particular referring to individual, or subjective, well-being (SWB). It can be defined in terms of the individual’s cognitive and affective evaluations of his or her life as a whole (Diener, Oishi, & Lucas, 2009). As such, these judgements will consist of both cognitive evaluations of life satisfaction, as well as emotional responses to events.
Thus, subjective well-being is an individual experience that implies high levels of pleasant moods and emotions (not just the absence of negative ones) and high life satisfaction, resulting from a global judgement of all aspects of a person’s life.

This blog post provides the basics for what has become known as the six core virtues of psychological strength; courage meaning emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to reach goals in the face of difficulties, justice, denoting civic strengths that underlie healthy community life, humanity, which implies interpersonal strengths that enhance meaningful social relationships, temperance, implying strengths which protect against excess, wisdom, denoting cognitive strengths that imply the gaining and using of knowledge, and finally, transcendence, which means strengths that are thought to lie at the basis for being able to connect to the larger universe and provide meaning (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

Character strengths are defined as the subset of personality traits, on which we place moral value and are psychological processes or mechanisms that constitute positive traits reflected in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004). For instance, introversion or extroversion might be seen as neutral concepts, but gratitude and fairness have a moral value, and can as such be called character strengths. Virtue and character are thus different from personality and temperament in that they have moral relevance. But like other personality traits, they presumably exist in degrees rather than either-or categories (Peterson, Park, & Seligman, 2005a).

Virtues and Character Strengths

1.Wisdom and knowledge
– creativity: thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things
– curiosity: taking an interest in all of ongoing experience for its own sake, exploring and discovering
– judgment: being open-minded and thinking things through and examining them from all sides
– love of learning: mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, to add systematically to what one knows
– perspective: being able to provide wise counsel to others

2. Courage
– honesty: speaking the truth and presenting oneself in a genuine way, being sincere and without pretense
– bravery: not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain, speaking up for what is right and act on conviction in the face of opposition
– persistence: finishing what one starts, persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles
– zest: approaching life with excitement and energy, feeling alive and activated.

3. Humanity
– kindness: doing favors and good deeds for others, helping and taking care of others
– love: valuing close relations with others, sharing, caring and being close to other people
– social intelligence: being aware of the motives and feelings of oneself and others, knowing how to fit into different social situations.

4. Justice
– fairness: treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice, giving everyone a fair chance
– leadership: organizing group activities and seeing that they happen and at the same time maintain good relations within the group
– teamwork: working well as a member of a group or team, being loyal to the group and doing one’s share.

5. Temperance
– forgiveness: forgiving those that have done wrong, giving people a second chance and accept their shortcomings
– modesty: letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves, avoiding the spotlight
– prudence: being careful about one’s choices; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted
– self-regulation: regulating what one feels and does, appetites and emotions, being disciplined.

6. Transcendence
– appreciation of beauty and excellence: noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life
– gratitude: being aware of and thankful of the good things that happen, also expressing them
– hope: believing in a good future, expecting the best and working to achieve it
– humor: seeing the light side, liking to laugh and joke; bringing smiles to other people
– religiousness: having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of life, also beliefs that shape conduct and provide comfort.

Studies that examine happiness, life satisfaction, and related concepts of well-being are some of the more popular areas of inquiry in positive psychology. Since the onset of positive psychology, researchers have been interested in those character strengths that correlate highest with happiness. Zest, hope, gratitude, love, and curiosity frequently emerge with the highest correlations with life satisfaction.

Teacher character is referring to the teacher’s personal distinctive qualities, which are significant of his/her, complex mental and ethical traits. Orlando (2013) listed nine characteristics of a great teacher:

A. A great teacher respects students. In a great teacher’s classroom, each person’s ideas and opinions are valued. Students feel safe to express their feelings and learn to respect and listen to others. This teacher creates a welcoming learning environment for all students.
B. A great teacher creates a sense of community and belonging in the classroom. The mutual respect in this teacher’s classroom provides a supportive, collaborative environment. In this small community, there are rules to follow and jobs to be done and each student is aware that he or she is an important, integral part of the group. A great teacher lets students know that they can depend not only on her but also on the entire class.
C. A great teacher is warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring. This person is approachable, not only to students, but to everyone at school or on campus. This is the teacher to whom students know they can go with any problems or concerns or even to share a funny story. Great teachers possess good listening skills and take time out of their way-too-busy schedules for anyone who needs them. If this teacher is having a bad day, no one ever knows—the teacher leaves personal baggage outside the school doors.
D. A great teacher sets high expectations for all students. This teacher realizes that the expectations she has for her students greatly affect their achievement; she knows that students generally give to teachers as much or as little as is expected of them.
E. A great teacher has his own love of learning and inspires students with his passion for education and for the course material. He constantly renews himself as a professional on his quest to provide students with the highest quality of education possible. This teacher has no fear of learning new teaching strategies or incorporating new technologies into lessons, and always seems to be the one who is willing to share what he has learned with colleagues.
F. A great teacher is a skilled leader. Different from administrative leaders, effective teachers focus on shared decision-making and teamwork, as well as on community building. This great teacher conveys this sense of leadership to students by providing opportunities for each of them to assume leadership roles.
G. A great teacher can “shift-gears” and is flexible when a lesson is not working. This teacher assesses his teaching throughout the lessons and finds new ways to present material to make sure that every student understands the key concepts.
H. A great teacher collaborates with colleagues on an ongoing basis. Rather than thinking of herself as weak because she asks for suggestions or help, this teacher views collaboration as a way to learn from a fellow professional. A great teacher uses constructive criticism and advice as an opportunity to grow as an educator.
I. A great teacher maintains professionalism in all areas—from personal appearance to organizational skills and preparedness for each day. Her communication skills are exemplary, whether she is speaking with an administrator, one of her students or a colleague. The respect that the great teacher receives because of her professional manner is obvious to those around her.

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Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

Believe in yourself

Hello my friends!

Here is what happens when you believe in yourself and when others believe in you!!!!

 

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

The Theory of Wellbeing and Perma: Martin Seligman

 

pexels-photo-70069

Hello my friends!

The literature offers several reasons for adopting a positive education approach. Positive education provides an antidote to youth depression, serves as a pathway to increased life satisfaction, promotes learning and creativity, enhances social cohesion, and promotes civic citizenship (Seligman et al., 2009; Waters, 2011). Positive education introduces and normalizes self-inquiry and self-management of one’s mental health from a young age, which may lead to long-term benefits as youth move into adulthood with greater self-awareness and emotional intelligence (Waters, 2014). On the theoretical side, well-being is an abstract construct that includes both feeling good and functioning well (Huppert, 2014). “Teachers and researchers in positive psychology are natural allies. At its core, education is about nurturing strengths, about growth and learning. Furthermore, psychological and social well-being are key concerns for teachers and other educators and for people working in the field of positive psychology” (Shankland & Rosset, 2017). Seligman and other positive psychologists are also not alone in the belief that schools should aim for student well-being. Teachers themselves believe that teaching is “inevitably linked” with the emotional health and well-being of the students being taught (Kidger et al., 2010).

Being happy and finding life meaningful overlap, but there are important differences.  Satisfying one’s needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness. Happiness was largely present oriented, whereas meaningfulness involves integrating past, present, and future. For example, thinking about future and past was associated with high meaningfulness but low happiness. Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness (Baumeister, Vohs, Aaker & Garbinsky, 2013).

Authentic Happiness Theory
Seligman’s beginning theory discussed authentic happiness. He described that people can feel happiness from different types of experiences.
The pleasant life: This refers to feeling positive emotions in the most intuitive way, of feeling pleasant sensations. Gaining happiness at this level necessitates relatively little effort.
The engaged life: Engagement is characterized by flow. Flow refers to the experience of completely loosing oneself in an activity. Individuals become totally absorbed in what they are doing and lose track of time. They are not thinking, but in essence unified with what they are doing.
In order for flow to occur, the person has to be using their signature character strengths, and usually there has to be some sort of challenge, but not too big of a challenge. Usually, activities with clear goals and feedback will cause more flow. Flow causes an inner motivation and intrinsic reward. As opposed to the pleasant life, this form of happiness necessitates more effort. Being in flow invigorates the person, filling one with positive energy.
The meaningful life: However engaging flow activities may be, they can be utterly meaningless and fill a person with a void after some time. In order to feel meaning, people have to be engaged in something that serves a goal beyond themselves, such as in religion, politics, or family.

Seligman contends that the five PERMA domains fall on the positive side of the mental health spectrum; well-being is not simply the lack of negative psychological states, but is something more (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Seligman (2011) hypothesized that PERMA (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment) are the elements of well-being.

Here is a brief definition of each of the five building blocks:

1. Positive Emotion (P)
For us to experience well-being, we need positive emotion in our lives. Any positive emotion such as peace, gratitude, satisfaction, pleasure, inspiration, hope, curiosity, or love falls into this category – and the message is that it’s really important to enjoy yourself in the here and now, just as long as the other elements of PERMA are in place.
2. Engagement (E)
When we’re truly engaged in a situation, task, or project, we experience a state of flow : time seems to stop, we lose our sense of self, and we concentrate intensely on the present.
This feels really good! The more we experience this type of engagement, the more likely we are to experience well-being.
3. Positive Relationships (R)
As humans, we are “social beings,” and good relationships are core to our well-being. Time and again, we see that people who have meaningful, positive relationships with others are happier than those who do not. Relationships really do matter.

4. Meaning (M)
Meaning comes from serving a cause bigger than ourselves. Whether this is a specific deity or religion, or a cause that helps humanity in some way, we all need meaning in our lives to have a sense of well-being.
5. Accomplishment/Achievement (A)
Many of us strive to better ourselves in some way, whether we’re seeking to master a skill, achieve a valuable goal, or win in some competitive event. As such, accomplishment is another important thing that contributes to our ability to flourish.

I wish all of you a very happy life ahead in which you do not need to worry about anything.

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Thanks for reading!

Best wishes,

Love always,

Vassiliki

 

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It’s never too late!

Hello my friends!

I wanted to share this truly inspirational video with all of you!

Always remember that, it’s never too late to make your dreams come true!Never give up!!!!

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

WHAT MAKES GREAT TEACHING?

Hello my friends!

Teacher quality is what teachers know and bring to the classroom. Teaching quality is what teachers do with what they know once they get inside the classroom. It includes the strategies and techniques teachers use to get students to learn. These strategies include understanding and applying the evidence on how students learn, using instructional best practices, enhancing strategies for instructional observation and evaluation, providing effective and ongoing professional development and establishing a common vision for philosophical beliefs about students and teaching (Kaplan & Owings, 2002).

There are many variables that affect instruction including the subject, grade level, learners’ needs and desired outcomes. Effective instruction promotes excellence and student learning outcomes through best-practices and teaching practices based on high standards of instruction and student engagement.  It includes elements such as effective questioning and use of assessment by teachers. Students’ perceptions of their learning environment influence their approaches to learning (Ramsden, 2003). For instance, they are more likely to demonstrate deep approaches to learning when they perceive that teaching is high quality, they have some voice in what is to be learned, and they are aware of the goals and standards required in the unit. Specific practices, like reviewing previous learning, providing model responses for students, giving adequate time for practice to embed skills securely and progressively introducing new learning (scaffolding) are also elements of high quality instruction.
Effective teaching practices need to occur in physically and psychologically safe climates. A safe learning environment is the keystone for learning. Effective teachers create physically and emotionally safe learning environments in which students can take academic risks, make mistakes, obtain feedback and revise their initial ideas and understandings (Kaplan & Owings, 2002).

The positive effects of high quality teaching are especially significant for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Evidence suggests that when taught by very effective teachers, students can gain an extra year’s worth of learning (Hanushek, 1992, Sutton trust, 2011). Research evidence from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development affirms that “teacher quality” is the most important school variable influencing student achievement (2005).

According to Christopher Day and Qing Gu in their book Resilient Teachers, Resilient Schools, Building and Sustaining Quality in Testing Times, the definition of quality in teachers should be understood in the broadest possible sense. It goes beyond the technocratic concerns for performativity and test results. The continuing aspiration for quality is driven by teachers’ sense of vocation and care about and for their pupils. It is about the extra mile that the best teachers willingly travel to motivate each one of their pupils to learn and to bring about the best possible achievement in them. It is related to their passion, commitment and continuing enthusiasm for their own learning and development which is importantly supported by their school and which results in an abiding sense of efficacy, hope and belief that they can and do continue to make a difference in the classroom.

Thank you very much for reading!

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx