To all the teachers out there, congratulations on finishing another year!
The end of the school year is exciting, but the flip side of the coin is that it’s also very busy and stressful. Summer should be a time for you to decompress, revitalize, and prepare for an even better year ahead.
To get off on the right foot this summer, check out Greater Good in Action (GGIA), our newly-launched online collection of research-based activities, or “practices,” designed to help you become a happier, healthier, and more compassionate person.
Don’t know where to start? Here are five of our favorite ideas for teachers. (Click on each one to see more details about it on the GGIA website, including exactly how to do it and the evidence that it works.)
- 8 Essentials for Forgiving: Raise your hand if you have any residual “grrr” feelings from this past school year. We’ve all experienced times when a student, parent, or colleague treated us unfairly or said something hurtful, and sometimes it can be hard to let go of the bad feelings. But holding onto grudges, even small ones, only makes things worse for you. By helping you forgive, these steps can reduce your stress and make you feel better.
- Gratitude Letter: Now, raise your other hand if there’s someone who really made a positive difference in your life this past year. It could be someone at school, someone who supported you from the sidelines, or anyone else who you never got to thank properly. Taking the time to write a note of gratitude to them—and even better, delivering it in person—won’t just make them feel great. It’ll make you happier, too!
- Awe Narrative: From making intense decisions to dealing with little details, it’s easy to get consumed by the day-to-day challenges of teaching. To break out of that tunnel-vision head space and expand your perspective (and maybe even remember why you became a teacher in the first place!), try thinking and writing about a time you felt awe. Believe it or not, doing this can make you feel like you have more free time and increase your life satisfaction.
- Meaningful Photos: Want another way to boost your happiness and sense of meaning in life? It’s (almost) as easy as taking a selfie—but so much more fulfilling. Just take a picture or two each day of things that you feel make your life meaningful and then, at the end of a week, reflect on why those things mean so much to you. Now that you’re no longer stuck in a classroom for eight hours a day, get out there, get creative, and remind yourself of all the wonderful things that make your life worthwhile.
- Self-Compassionate Letter: Teachers, on the whole, are a pretty self-critical bunch. We dedicate our lives to caring for others, but we often don’t extend the same kindness to ourselves, instead beating ourselves up over every little thing. Thus, the idea of writing a letter to yourself expressing compassion for one of your own flaws or mistakes may seem strange, but it really works—it not only makes people feel better, but also makes them more motivated to improve. This would be a great way to set the stage for being kinder to yourself next year.
Of course, these are only five of the dozens of practices on the GGIA website, so you should definitely take a look and see what else you find. If you try any of the practices, please feel free to leave ratings and comments—we would love your feedback, and other users will appreciate it as well.
Best wishes for a happy, relaxing, and meaningful summer!