Positive Psychology- Celebrate!

Feeling overworked, unappreciated?

I remember when I was a teen, people were promised a three-day work week. Well, that didn’t happen.

An employee in the mining and logging industry worked about 44.6 hours a week in February 2015, while employees in education and health services only worked for an average of 32.8 hours per week. An additional burden for many employees is overtime. In manufacturing, every employee worked 3.5 hours of overtime per week in January 2015.*

I would question the above just on the basis of my experience as a teacher. If you ask the average high school teacher, they would tell they spend many more than 32.8. If you research hours of registered nurses, according to NurseTheory.com 40 hours in 5 days is the average. I apologize to all other career people for not mentioning you.

But, in teaching at least, it is not the hours that are spending involved with teaching, the involvement with the students, or the preparation. Notice the concerns below:

  • Only 1 in 5 educators feel respected by government officials or the media.
  • Fourteen percent strongly agree with the statement that they trust their administrator or supervisor.
  • More than 75 percent say they do not have enough staff to get the work done.
  • Seventy-eight percent say they are often physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day. Eighty-seven percent say the demands of their job are at least sometimes interfering with their family life.
  • Among the greatest workplace stressors were the adoption of new initiatives without proper training or professional development, mandated curriculum and standardized tests.#

I am sure other careers have similar concerns plus more. The question of real concern is how do you survive them? Seven percent of our workers have experienced PTSD, the same as soldiers who have been in battle areas of the world.#

I know that many of my colleagues lose sleep over kids, parents, or even an evaluation. I have seen individuals in tears and frustrated over being bullied by parents. I am sure some educators are on antidepressants or seeing counselors. There are so many more duties that many of us in our positions have been asked to do. Some are beyond our expertise. The question is how so we do it all without losing our positive mental health?

Positive Psychology

There is a study now in the field of mental health called Positive Psychology.  It’s not self-help or mumbo jumbo; how people remain content and peaceful is being researched as well as, of course, the mental challenges that exist. From all I have read, the results are also scientific.

In 2008, Dr. Christopher Peterson listed the following:

Happiness is a cause of good things in life and not simply along for the happy ride. People who are satisfied with life eventually have even more reason to be satisfied, because happiness leads to desirable outcomes at school and work, to fulfilling social relationships, and even to good health and long life.
• Most people are resilient.
• Happiness, strengths of character, and good social relationships are buffers against the damaging effects of disappointments and setbacks.
• Crisis reveals character.
• Religion matters.
• And work matters as well if it engages the worker and provides meaning and purpose.
• Money makes an ever-diminishing contribution to well-being, but money can buy happiness if it is spent on other people.
• The “heart” matters more than the “head.”
• Good days have common features: feeling autonomous, competent, and connected to others.
• The good life can be taught.**

In Practice

Without expecting managers or administrators to add Positive Psychology sessions to their budgets, here are some suggestions.

  1. Mindfulness – live in the moment. If you are playing with your kids, play with your kids. If you are washing your car, wash your car. If you are grocery shopping, do it with a list. (kidding.)
  2. Recite affirmations.  How many times are you bombarded with things that are wrong? Come on. Let yourself feel what it is you need to feel loved, accomplished, appreciated, and safe.
  3. Gratitude Journal. I received a scrapbook from my daughter one birthday that she had put together. One area she included was from former students who said some really nice things.  Ever since then, I have added notes from parents and students. Boy, do I revisit that scrapbook when things are not going well or I’m in a stressful situation.  You can do this same thing or write in a journal.  Half-Priced books have some that are really inexpensive. Train yourself to go to a positive place not the negative.  Remember from another blog what the negative can do to your brain.
  4. Here is my major weakness.  Stop judging or yardsticking (my word) yourself. I have spent so much wasted time, comparing myself to other people. And I always fell short. You know when you have done well and when you can do better.

*  Average U.S. working week: April 2017 | Statistic. Retrieved June 30, 2017, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/215643/average-weekly-working-hours-of-all-employees-in-the-us-by-month/

#Survey shows need for national focus on workplace stress. (2015, June & July). Retrieved June 30, 2017, from https://www.aft.org/news/survey-shows-need-national-focus-workplace-stress

**Peterson, C. (2008, May 16). What Is Positive Psychology, and What Is It Not? Retrieved June 30, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-good-life/200805/what-is-positive-psychology-and-what-is-it-not