It’s June…and School is Out

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June, the sixth month of the year is tied with December as the third favorite month.  Personally, I love June because it’s my birth month!  And there is so much to look forward to in June;  beautiful bouquets, ripe delicious fruits and vegetables, and the overwhelming urge to get out there and enjoy the sunshine.  It’s also a favorite for teachers and students, maybe not so much for parents as it means the end of the school year.

Teaching is not easy, and from the time it begins, it’s full speed ahead in warp speed till the time it ends.  Things rarely slow down!   As a retired teacher, I know firsthand the anxiety that builds around this time of year.  Everyone from the students, teachers, administrators, and even school custodians are more than ready for the end of school and the beginning of summer break. 

Teachers are known for counting down the days to the end of school,  and many begin immediately after Spring Break.  For most, the ‘official’ countdown starts after Memorial Day, when boxes and storage containers begin to flood classrooms.   Posters and student’s classwork mysteriously disappears from classroom bulletin boards, and classroom management skills become paramount as students have pretty much tapped out at this point.

It always seemed that things were even more hectic at the end of the year,  In addition to continuing to teach and manage students, there is required paperwork to close out the year, equipment return, submission of final grades, special activities, and trips for students, in addition to attending meetings to prepare for the coming year.  As the school year draws to an end, the stress level can go “sky high.”

Admittedly, I must confess that while I missed my co-workers, I did not miss the school year, and especially the closeout process.  This Friday is the last day of school for my former colleagues, and I wish them along with all other educators an enjoyable remainder of June and a great summer!

 

Adults Just Wanna Have Fun

Why is it that as we age, many of us forget how to have fun? As we mature, many people forget to make time to play. Some see it as frivolous, foolishness, a waste of time, or some even think that they are too old to have fun. Contrary to those naysayers, studies on the impact of playing indicates that a heavy dose of fun is necessary and can provide immeasurable benefits.

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The National Institute for Play (NIFP) (yes, such a place does exist) reports that “play helps us connect and stay sharp, maintain memory and thinking skills.” In addition, it can increase creativity, productivity, and feelings of well-being. This is true, especially for older adults. Lack of play, according to NIFP research, can have serious consequences – and, it makes life dull and boring.

Play is time spent without purpose and is something you do purely for the experience. A good dose of fun not only provides laughter; it can also promote empathy, sympathy, and help to develop trust and intimacy with others. The bottom line is that age is just a number, and old is a mindset. It is true that as we “grow up” play will grow and change, and our fun factor will expand. So as we age, we must remember to discover and cultivate what makes us happy and find a way it make it happen.

Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. It may not be easy, but you may just have some fun!

Ideas to help you embrace play:
1. Set the Goal of Playing More.
2. Decide What Fun Means For You.
3. Put fun on your schedule
4. Create a Play Drawer. (puzzles, games, adult coloring books
5. Combine Fun With Other Activities. (dance, exercise)
6. Hang out with a fun Person
7. Hang out with a kid

Make it a habit to have fun whenever, however you can!

 

 

Mindful Reflections!

We don't have to do everything perfectly,
but we need to be at 
                     peace with our choices.  
                                          unknown                                                                                                                         peace_comes_from_within

Rainy Day’s and Sunday’s Don’t Get Me Down…cause it’s the little things!

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Rainy day view from my chaise lounge

For some people a few raindrops can change their mood, According to one study, nearly 9 percent of people fall into the “rain haters” category. This group feels angrier and less happy on days with more precipitation.

Sure, the Carpenters sang, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” But can rain really ruin your mood? Personally, I must admit that the change of season does slow me down, and I do LOVE the sunshine, but I’ve never thought about how the rain affected my mood.    A second study suggests that “When it gets dark and dreary out,  It’s pretty common to see a change in the mood — such as feeling sadness or low energy — when it’s rainy outside.”

What can be done to boost a rainy day mood you may wonder? Instead of shuttering the windows and turning off the lights, the best thing is to turn them on instead. Research has been conducted that suggests that light can boost serotonin, which elevates the mood.”  A psychiatrist at the NYC’s Manhattan Neuropsychiatric encourages people to really try to make sure they walk outside, even when it’s cold and rainy.” Getting exposure to UV rays can help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and boost your mood.”

If it’s raining cats and dogs outside, try to engage in activities that make you feel good: bing on a TV series, watch a cheerful movie, play a game, or create a work of art.  For me, it’s the little things like reading, catching up with telephone calls to friends, writing or merely listening to smooth jazz.  Or better yet I use the pitter-patter as a soothing melody for a cat nap.

Give Your Ideas Some Legs!

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Walking is beneficial, as it increases physical activity, burns calories, improves mood, and helps to maintain good bone health.   But, a little known secret is that walking can also boost creativity levels and enhance mental capacities.

While not exactly clear why walking is helpful to so many thinkers, it is believed that the brain is focusing on doing a task that comes easily for must people. Not much effort goes into walking, it’s one foot in front of the other; something that must of us are quite good at. Walking for me is therapeutic, as it allows me to free my mind, relax and smell the roses.

Multiple studies have found that walking helps to maintain an open, flexible personality and aids in the reduction of cognitive decline in old age.  It is suggested that the physiological changes associated with walking are “very complicated”. According to the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, “walking opens up the free flow of ideas.” It helps people solve problems and creative sparks may act as a protective quality as we age.

Do you need to walk outdoors? The answer is no! Research suggests that whether walking outdoors or on a treadmill, walking itself was the main factor, not so much the environment…creative inspiration was boosted more for walkers, as opposed to a more sedentary people.

So, there’s no need to bust a sweat with speed walking, walking at a normal pace is good to get the creative juices flowing…time to get your walk on!

 

Catch up with your Mind!

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Spring is an excellent time to catch up with your mind. How does one catch up with their mind you may ask? Doing less, and making a conscious effort to unplug for a few minutes a day can help to accomplish this. Studies show that unplugging can help you get more done—and do it better.  Some ways to unplug are to:

Change your thoughts – A shift in your thinking can make a dramatic difference in life. Most of us tend to experience more negative thoughts and criticisms than positive thoughts.  Often times things pop into our minds that we don’t have to listen to or believe.

Dismiss what you don’t want to think about by being more attentive to your thoughts. Make your mind a kind and uplifting place to hang out by thinking more positive things about you, about others, about your life. Practice — it works!

Connect with a friend – Catch up, laugh, express, share and ultimately interacting with others can do wonders to reduce stress and improve our outlook.  Good social connections raise our happiness levels.

Write it down – Journaling can help clear the clutter in your mind. Grab a journal and vent. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Make a daily gratitude list. Notice the awesome stuff about your life — from the minors to the majors.
  • Make an irritation list.  Realizing what ticks you off can help eliminate some of the things that irritate you.                                                                                                                                   images-1.png