Brighten Youth Education Centre




Teaching is a stressful job. It doesn't matter what kind of school you work at or how experienced and well qualified you become. Deadlines are constant, there's pressure from parents and the newest school or government guidelines, and when things go well you are often the last person to get any praise.

It can create a very dispiriting environment.

Don't worry, we at Smart Lessons are looking after you. This week we're discussing research-based strategies for maintaining good mental health for teachers, and for everybody else.

A 2011 study ( found that the more people try to be happy, the less happy they actually are. The trick is to find pleasure in an activity, rather than worrying about how happy it should make you feel and then succumbing to disappointment. In the classroom it's a good idea to take a moment, perhaps when a lesson has gone well or a student has surprised you with an interesting comment, and remember why you became a teacher in the first place.

It's also vital to stay connected as spending time with others and forming meaningful relationships makes people happier. A 2003 study ( found that young people were happiest when interacting with friends and least happy when isolated. Such information is intuitive, as we all know how nurturing it can be to rant with friends over dinner after a challenging day.

Another approach is to simply be kind. A 2005 study from the University of California, San Diego ( instructed participants to perform five acts of kindness a week for six weeks. They then reported increased happiness due to the novelty of the acts, the encouraging feedback they elicited, the relationships the acts fostered and the reminder that participants were able to impact the world in a positive way.

There are several online communities that embrace this approach ( so you'll never be stuck for ideas and one author, Danny Wallace, made it the focus of his 2003 book Join Me.

Many people choose to shop when stressed and we all know how packed malls are on a Sunday. Yet research suggests that happy people invest in experiences, not possessions, creating memories they will always have. This can include holidays, interesting activities around Hong Kong, learning new skills and family gatherings.

Possessions rapidly become obsolete. New fashions soon look dowdy and technology moves so quickly that it's almost pointless to try and keep up. Instead, spend your money on you and your memories. We all need a boost in the chilly winter months, so let's remember self-care in the coming year and create a happier environment for ourselves and those around us.


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