As the year draws to its end, the Christmas tree begins to look limp and lifeless and the mere mention of a turkey sandwich sends even the most ardent carnivore to the pages of a vegetarian cookbook. The New Year will inevitably bring resolutions: cutting down, cutting out, and changing of ways. With equal inevitability these may last a few days before the cold, dark and damp sends even the most zealous promises back from whence they came. Resolutions are all well and good but here at Healthy Toolkit HQ we believe that if a change is going to be made it need not be hostage to the calendar but made when the need to do so is recognised.
Incidentally until 1752 we marked New Year on 25th March, Lady Day, to mark the Annunciation. Spring would be a more appropriate time for a change given the lengthening days, warmer temperatures and signs of new life in the gardens and fields. However we digress.
January can be a challenging month. Though ‘Blue Monday’ is largely dismissed as pseudoscience, the third Monday into a long month can feel dark with a long break between paydays with the December salary often paid in well before Christmas and probably largely spent by this point. Add in dark mornings and evenings, often bitterly cold, seasonal sniffles and bugs and the feeling that everything is bare after the decorations are removed.
For those of us who have worked elsewhere before teaching, the scenario of the directors attending long business lunches and most evenings at other Christmas social events may be familiar. Heavy drinking does little for a good mood and dictating that the office will have a dry January makes it little better. One person is able to kill a mood in a meeting; a grumpy recovery from a month long hangover can make this uncomfortable for everyone else.
The ability to stifle a mood doesn’t always result from a sore head, but often from a particular mindset. This can be witnessed across a range of workplaces including our staffrooms. The most effective staffrooms are ones where a positive mindset builds an ethos of teamwork and consistency, and it is from this basis that we are proud to launch our next campaign #JoyfulJanuaryHT.
Joyful January, like Nurture November, is all about positivity, but this time rather than simply looking out for our colleagues; spread a little happiness through your actions, words and communication.
We will be tweeting regular content throughout the month, but here are a few things that you can be doing to promote the health and wellbeing of your teachers, teaching assistants and other colleagues, and hopefully your students too.
- Words are our most potent weapon. Make them count. Don’t begin a conversation with ‘Can you…’, ‘Will you…’ or ‘I want…’ How about ‘Good Morning’ or ‘How are you?’ Choose your words carefully.
- Try setting up a ‘Joy Jar’ in your staffroom to which you add one positive and happy thing that has happened that day. Open them up and read them at the end of the month, or the end of the year, to reveal just how much positivity there is in our schools. This is a great idea for classrooms too, to share the positivity with our young learners.
- Keep a Joy Journal. This is more personal but again is a way of reflecting and evaluating more positively on our experiences. Ignore the negatives and record five to ten things which have gone well, however insignificant you may consider them to be.
- Set up a Gratitude Tree. Again a really simple device which can be used with children and adults. A homemade one with a few fallen twigs is just as good as a commercially produced one. Alternatively using a display board with a two dimensional tree works just as well. The actions are the same whichever method is used; the ‘leaves’ are thanks to individuals and groups for particular actions or general attitudes that enable us to share and grow positively.
- Find the joy in everyday things. It is amazing what we ignore in a digital, instant and throwaway society. Appreciate some art, read a book, find a favourite tree, plant some bulbs, bake a favourite cake. The simple things are often those that offer most comfort in challenging times.
- Have a digital detox day, and make it regular. Ignore Twitter and the incessant negativity from some quarters. Turn off the email, Facebook and digital interaction. If you are serious about this, try ignoring the television for a whole day too. And if you can’t avoid the smartphone for a day, try using it positively by capturing positive images from your experiences.
- Don’t complain! It wears others down!
- Create positive routines- morning and evening. Organising your clothes and tomorrow’s lunch, spending time with your children, reading the next chapter of your book and cutting off work thoughts at a given time all bread positivity and add to a settled and happy mindset.
Like we said there is much more content to come this month and as in our previous themed months we are looking for you to share how you have been promoting positive attitudes into the New Year.
Don’t forget the hashtag #JoyfulJanuaryHT
Happy New Year from all of us at Healthy Toolkit HQ!