The last few months have certainly been challenging for everyone, so it may seem strange to talk about gratitude.However, a gratitude practice has been shown to reduce anxiety and build resilience. That is why, every day for the month of April we posted something that we were grateful for. Here is our list!
1.) Laughter: April Fool’s Day was effectively cancelled this year but that didn’t stop us trying to find things to laugh about, e.g., something a student, child or colleague said; a joke, video or meme a friend sent or a new hilarious boxset you’ve discovered.We understand that anxiety is high for a lot of people right now, but humour helps us find a more balanced perspective on a difficult or trying situation. It helps us put some distance between ourselves and our fear without denying it.
2.) Neurodiversity: On World Autism Awareness Day, we were grateful for neurodiversity and we celebrated people with autism spectrum disorder throughout the world!Let your true colours shine!
3.) Flowers in Bloom: We showed a picture of wild wood anemones, under a linden tree, from Dr. Deirdre MacIntyre’s garden.For Deirdre they symbolise hope.
4.) Healthcare Workers: We were grateful for the frontline healthcare workers who are working around the clock and risking their lives to save ours.It is great to see them get the appreciation they deserve.
5.) Music: Music is helpful in regulating emotions, self-expression, creating belonging and a sense of community.We have seen a lot of this in the last few months with apartment-block singalongs, virtual choirs and live streaming of concerts. Great to life people’s spirits!
6.) Birdsong: Many people have been remarking on the fact that they are more aware of birds singing lately because they have slowed down, and also due to less noise pollution and traffic.This can boost your mood and have a calming effect.
7.) Sunshine: The clocks have gone forward; the evenings are brighter and there is more sunshine.There has also been some spectacular sunsets and sunrises recently! Who doesn’t feel better after some vitamin d?!
8.) Play: We are grateful for play, especially the old-fashioned type!You may have seen an increase in games like hopscotch, hide and seek, as well as children flying kites and rolling down grass hills over the last of month. Games like these can promote curiosity, creative reasoning and persistence. And the great thing is that adults can join in too!
9.) Movement: Whether it’s jumping jacks, dancing at home, burpees or spring cleaning, exercise activates good neurochemicals in the brain, which help with creativity, learning and managing stress.Move with others and you generate positive resonance and collective joy.
10.) Meditation: Even if you don’t practice meditation, anything you do to slow down the nervous system and bring you back to the present moment, can have a calming effect.It can be just taking a few deep breaths.
11.) Kindness: We have been following A Lust for Life and we’ve been amazed by the #coronakindness hashtag for lots of random acts of kindness around the globe!
12.) Traditions: Even though this Easter was different to normal this year, we were grateful for the small traditions that we were able to keep up such as Easter eggs, Easter bunny, Easter bonnets, egg hunts and more!
13.) Technology: From helping with eLearning to connecting with family and friends, technology has allowed us to stay in touch with students and loved ones over the last few months.
14.) The Sky Above: Look up at the Sky Day is a real thing!We are grateful for the blue skies, cloud skies or starry skies. Whatever the day, there is always something to see!
15.) Honey Bees: You might be seeing a lot of these lately but did you know that pollinators contribute directly or indirectly to much of the food we consume?!
16.) Teacher: Every day we are grateful for teachers.We appreciate all the adaptations and innovations that you’ve applied over the last month, under extremely challenging circumstances, to keep your students engaged from a distance. Thank you to all teachers, including our own tutors at ICEP Europe, for all that you do.
17.) The Sound of Water: Studies have shown that the sound of water has a calming effect, it reduces stress, it creates awe and make us more creative.Being close to the sea, a lake, river or stream or even listening to a mediation with sounds of waves, is great for both our mental and physical health.
18.) Food: The last few months have seen families having three meals together, a return to home cooking, lots of baking and more anticipation and excitement around mealtimes.
19.) Books: Whether it’s for education or enjoyment, there’s nothing better than getting lost in a great read!
20.) Work Colleagues: We have been really appreciating the friendship, support, cooperation and collaboration or our co-workers during these challenging times.
21.) Gardens: Green spaces, including gardens, give us an opportunity to get out into the fresh air, relax, feel grounded, do some gardening and play with our children.
22.) Our Planet: This year was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.We were grateful for our planet and those who are helping to protect our environment and mitigating the damaging effects of climate change.
23.) Jigsaws: puzzles, board games and jigsaws have been a great distraction and something to focus our attention on for a few hours over the last while.If you haven’t tried it, why not dust off those old games and get engrossed in them!
24.) Pets: Our furry friends have been a great help to many of us recently.The benefits of pet ownership for wellbeing are well-documented. They can provide companionship, consistency and even joy. They can also reduce loneliness and anxiety, lending daily structure, and lifting mood. And some even require us to go out for daily walks, get some fresh air and enjoy some sunshine.
25.) Imagination: with an open and curious mind, anything is possible!
26.) Time for Reflection: you may have had more time to reflect on your life, your choices and what you would like to change going forward over the last while.
27.) Diaries & journals: for children, they can be a way to document what's happening right now, with photos, pictures and everyday stories. For adults, they can be a way to detangle our thoughts as well as plan & prioritise!
28.) Supermarket staff: retailers have been working long hours to keep us in constant supply of all that we need at this time.
29.) Rain: "April showers bring May flowers." Rain encourages growth in nature & if we're lucky enough, we may see a rainbow!
30.) A Warm Home: and for those who live with family, we are thankful for the extra time to spend together, even though it may be challenging at times!
Gratitude is a key exercise that Martin Seligman cited to increase happiness and reduce depression.If you don’t already do this yourself, you can start by writing down “three good things” that went well at the end of every day. Feel free to share this with us on our social media channels!
We talk about this more in our Teaching Happiness CPD course, which is starting again on the 11th of May and also on the 6th of July for the Summer EPV term. Find out more here.