101 Ways To Kick Start Your Day In A Positive Way: A Guide For Educators Parents and Students

This is a collaborative blogpost by Erin Luong and I along with a few ideas from friends.  As mental health educators we believe that a focus on our mental health and well being is foundational to all education. It is impossible to focus on academics if students are not feeling secure. We believe it’s important to intentionally embed a focus on well being into every lesson with young people. All of us need to use positive self talk and coping strategies to feel better . We can all do one thing a day that will help us cope during this unprecedented time.

Hoping some of these tips help you start the day as an educator. You can post a tip for the day using Canva or just text your student the tip to start their day. As an educator I am sure you can find many creative ways to use this as you move online. 

  1. Just for today I will start and end my day in a positive way.
  2. Just for today I will remember that I am ok and all will be well with the world.
  3. Just for today I will be proud that I stayed home and did my part to help.
  4. Just for today I will be grateful for all the front line workers that are helping us.
  5. Just for today I will celebrate our shared humanity.
  6. Just for today I will head outside and let the sun hit my face. I will take some fresh air breaths and listen, it may sound quieter and more peaceful than usual. I will think about what I hear, how the sun feels on my face and how those deep breaths make my body feel. Susan Fueller
  7. Just for today I will send some positive intentions out into the universe. 
  8. Just for today I will think of ways to make the world a better place.
  9. Just for today I will learn to say I love you in as many languages as I can think of. 
  10.  Just for today I will post a positive message in my window and or use sidewalk chalk to write a message for others in my neighbourhood to see.
  11.  Just for today I will connect with two people that lift my spirits.
  12.  Just for today I will write or talk about one thing I am grateful for no matter how small. Helen MacKinnon
  13.  Just for today I will remain hopeful.
  14.  Just for today I will look back at old photo albums and tell stories from the past which made me who I am today. 
  15.  Just for today I will look in the mirror and recognize that I have a purpose for being here.
  16.  Just for today I will make sure I am moving my body for at least 30 minutes.
  17.  Just for today I will be kind to my mind.
  18.  Just for today I will have an eye staring contest. Juliana Miller – MacPherson
  19.  Just for today I will tell the people that I care about that they matter to me.
  20.  Just for today I will not worry about what is in it for me, I will think only about what I can do to help out in every situation. Gail White
  21.  Just for today I will dress in my favourite colour and eat my favourite food. Laurel Hunt
  22.  Just for today I will listen to one of my favourite songs and sing along. Leena Booth
  23.  Just for today I will say I am courageous, strong and can make a difference.
  24.  Just for today every time I wash my hands I will tell two silly jokes and laugh. Karen Hudson
  25.  Just for today I will talk about helpful and unhelpful worries with an adult.
  26.  Just for today I know that I am safe and I can control my thoughts.
  27.  Just for today I will wish upon a star.
  28.  Just for today I will remember that challenges can be opportunities.
  29.  Just for today I will go for a walk and notice all the beauty around me.
  30.  Just for today I will remember that all my feelings are ok. It’s ok to be scared etc.
  31.  Just for today I will remind myself that just because I made a mistake doesn’t mean I am one.
  32.  Just for today I will stay strong and well.
  33.  Just for today I will share my favorite song/poem and we can sing or say them together or to each other.  Sheri Edwards
  34.  Just for today I will not give up.
  35.  Just for today I will ask God to get me through today.
  36.  Just for today I will look at one way I can see the opportunities because of the challenges of today. 
  37.  Just for today I will reevaluate my priorities and tell someone what I think.
  38.  Just for today I will let go of any thoughts that don’t help my peace of mind.
  39.  Just for today I will remember not everyone reacts to events in the same way. I will be positive today.
  40.  Just for today I will remember that I am loveable and capable.
  41.  Just for today I will take a break from watching or listening to any alarming news.
  42.  Just for today wear my clothes inside out and walk backwards. ( Laura Cormier) 
  43.  Just for today I will take care of my mind by listening to some soothing music.
  44.  Just for today I will do one activity that I love and enjoy.
  45.   Just for today I will check in with my parents and/ or grandparents to bring a smile to their day.
  46.  Just for today I will find a calm space just for me. 
  47.  Just for today I will write about my feelings in a journal.
  48.  Just for today I know that I can deal with life’s difficulties.
  49.  Just for today I will smile often.
  50.  Just for today I will say to myself I can cope with this uncertainty.
  51.  Just for today I will draw out my worries.
  52.  Just for today I will talk to an adult about what is concerning me.
  53.  Just for today I will visualize my safe place ( a beach, being with my favourite friend , playing and singing in the rain).
  54.  Just for today I will do more of what makes me happy.
  55.  Just for today I will find two ways to distract myself if I start to catastrophize.
  56.  Just for today I will let go of anything that upsets me.
  57.  Just for today I will reassure myself that all will be well with the world.
  58.  Just for today I will calm my wandering mind by doing something that is fun.
  59.  Just for today I will unwind by taking time out of my day to draw, paint, sing, dance or play a game I love.
  60.  Just for today I will read a book for 15 minutes for pleasure.
  61.  Just for today I will be easy on myself.
  62.  Just for today I will look for solutions.
  63.  Just for today I will talk kindly and gently to myself just like I would my best friend.
  64.  Just for today I will watch a funny movie or talk to a funny friend. I know laughter will help.
  65.  Just for today I will remind myself that I matter.
  66.  Just for today I can  journal for 10 minutes.
  67.  Just for today I will open my heart to new ways of thinking and doing.
  68.  Just for today I will spend some extra time with people I love.
  69.  Just for today I will use my imagination to imagine the best that can happen.
  70.  Just for today I will remind myself of one good thing I can do for the world.
  71.  Just for today I will  love with all my heart.
  72.  Just for today I will tell myself that life can be tough sometimes , but so am I. 
  73.  Just for today I will say I am strong, I am kind and I can do anything I make up my mind to do.
  74.  Just for today I will recognize that I cannot change the circumstances, but I can change my reaction to it. 
  75.  Just for today I will practice breathing deeply.
  76.  Just for today I will write 3 things I am grateful for.
  77.  Just for today I will look at some old pictures and think of the positive memories of that time.
  78.  Just for today I will make something new.
  79.  Just for today I will create a song, a piece of art , a new recipe, or something I have always wanted to create.
  80.  Just for today I will take a picture of something that brings me joy.
  81.  Just for today I will lift someone else’s spirits.
  82.  Just for today I will spread some kindness and love in the world.
  83.  Just for today I will make hot chocolate and eat my favourite cookie.
  84.  Just for today I will write a love letter.
  85.  Just for today whenever I find myself thinking negative I will challenge those thoughts.
  86.  Just for today I will reach out to someone who needs it.
  87.  Just for today I will jump for joy.
  88.  Just for today I will start a blog, a vlog or share something that makes the world a better place.
  89.  Just for today I will share at least 2 jokes with others.
  90.  Just for today I will connect with someone from a different generation than I am, to learn more about how they see the world.
  91.  Just for today I will try a new recipe from a different culture.
  92.  Just for today I will learn to make a friendship bracelet.
  93.  Just for today I will collaborate with a friend on a project to make the world a better place.
  94.  Just for today I will make a playlist of songs which inspire me.
  95.  Just for today I will play a board game with my family.
  96.  Just for today I will make a short video. 
  97.  Just for today I will try a zoom chat with friends.
  98.  Just for today I will focus on what I need.
  99.  Just for today I will share something I am passionate about.
  100.  Just for today I will tell my colleagues and friends how much I appreciate all they do. 
  101. Just for today I will reach out to see if I can help someone else in the world.

What is your Just for Today ? Please share with us so we can share with educators from around the world.

13 Reasons I Personally Choose NOT to Watch 13 Reasons

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  1. Picking up the pieces. I work with so many vulnerable youth and one in particular convinced me to not watch.  This young person was incredibly triggered by watching the show and made me realize that I did not need to watch it in order to know the harm it could cause to those who are at risk.
  2. Was I curious?  Like most of you yes, and I do understand that it is compelling for both adults and youth to want to watch the series, but I also chose to not read the book years ago for some of the reasons I am about to discuss. For those who did watch … this is not a criticism, just a choice I want to make for my own reasons.
  3.  I think young people need to know that there are adults who while they may be very curious about the series will still choose to NOT watch . I know this show was NOT created to really help young people , otherwise they would have based the series on solid research around suicide,  how it is portrayed in media and the impact on youth.  I do realize the creators say they consulted with medical experts and had good intentions however, I do think they missed out on some valuable helpful information when it comes to suicide. Stan Kutcher , a Psychiatrist and mental health expert from Dalhousie University whom I respect believes the show could be dangerous to young people who choose to watch it.
  4. I do not need to see the show to be informed and personally I have NO desire to see a child die by suicide (even if it is television). Some things on TV are even too graphic for me.
  5. I choose not to be triggered by watching the show. I have worked with too many vulnerable youth. I know that I need to practice self-care . Watching this series is not going to make me a better parent , School Counsellor or Psychologist . Being able to discuss sensitive topics is essential and I believe I can do so without actually watching this series.
  6. I plan on reading as many articles as I can that give informed information that is helpful regarding the series .   The National Association of School Psychologists gives important information on how to do so responsibly.  Dialoguing and engaging youth in thoughtful conversations around sensitive topics is essential.  Yes, I certainly know a lot and I mean a lot have already chosen to watch and will watch this series , some will do so with their parents most I am guessing will watch on their own. Parents who watch can and will open a conversation that is useful and helpful with their child. I am just saying for me , I want students to know it is OK to not watch if they have not already done so.
  7. I want all people to know that suicide is complex. We are learning more and more about the brain . I am sure new research in the future will give us a better understanding of some of the complexities.
  8. I want students to know the protective factors, risk factors and warning signs of suicide. We have Canada Mental Health come in every year to speak to all our grade 10 High School Students.
  9. I want all students and adults to become more literate when it comes to mental health. All staff at our school are trained in the go to educator series. You might want to consider this for your school.
  10. I want students to know how to have better coping skills.
  11. This show is NOT hopeful . Students need HOPE in as many ways as possible.
  12. Suicide is never a solution. It is an irreversible choice regarding a temporary problem. THERE IS HELP!  If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, talk to a trusted adult, like your School Counsellor or call Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868.
  13. School Counsellors across the world (#scchat) work very hard to let others know that they work diligently daily to help and serve students . They do save lives . They may possibly be the unsung hero in a child’s life , but that is not often the way they are depicted on tv or in movies and from what I have read definitely not in this series.   There are also lots of other people who do like parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, and friends. I want youth to reach out and keep asking for help until someone they trust makes that difference. WE DO CARE!!!!!

The opinions expressed in this article are mine alone. This is my choice and although I listed 13 reasons I could have listed many more. I do not regret my decision. I know it is best for me.

RESOURCES:

Canada Mental Health responding to Netflix series .

Personal Wellness livebinders : Several topics and resources can be found here .

For Educators Teen Mental Health teenmentalhealth.org

Connect Teen: 24 hour support 403.264 TEEN Link to website.

Kids Help Phone: A space for you. Link to  website

Police / Emergency : 911

Teen mental health Reasons To Live

I love this short video that our wellness team put together for our  Jack Summit .

Important Videos : For Counsellors, Educators, and Psychologists

As a School Counsellor and or Psychologist there are people who have informed  and influenced your practice. Who are the people that have impacted you in a positive way and why have they influenced the way you serve others?

Below you will find people’s work I admire and have utilized in my own practice. While not a comprehensive list, it is an important list to me . The list is not any any particular order of influence.

The people below have had a great impact on me and the students I serve. Many of the people in theses videos I have had the great honour  and privilege to meet in person and dialogue about the amazing work they have done. Some have become friends for which I am truly grateful. I would have loved to have met Victor Frankl and Leo Buscaglia, but am fortunate to have cherished their books and videos. I have and will continue always to pass on the wisdom from their works. I am grateful to all!

DR. ED JACOBS

DR. DAVID BURNS

DR. CARL ROGERS

DR. VIKTOR FRANKL

DR. LEO BUSCAGLIA

 

DR. KEITH DOBSON

DR. ALEC COUROS

DR. VIANNE TIMMONS

DR. ERIN MASON

DR. DONALD MEICHENBAUM

DR. JANE NELSON

STEPHEN GLENN

Teen Mental Health and Wellness Matters

It is always time to talk about mental health and wellness when it comes to students. This year we held our second Mental Health Symposium with Dr. Alec Couros, but throughout the year we hold small events that inform students about the importance of their own wellness.

Last year our theme was Living Aware, Living Informed , Living Empowered. We want our students at Bishop Carroll High School to feel fully empowered and we want them to be good digital citizens by posting to the hashtag #empowerBCHS

Take a look at some of the great things our students have to say:

Click here to find out more information about our symposium last year.

Our theme this year was Living Fully Alive. We really wanted students to think about all the reasons they could and should want to live. Click here to learn more.

We wanted students to leave with resources which you can find by clicking here.

We also want to continue the dialogue and have students learn more about mental health literacy. Thanks to Dr. Stan Kutcher we can .

When it comes to mental health we need to :

1) Know how to obtain and maintain good mental health

2) Understanding mental disorders and their treatments based on the best scientific evidence

3) Decrease Stigma

4) Know when and where to get help , know what to expect when you get help and having the tools to empower us to get the best care possible

Take a look at his fabulous website to find out more Teenmentalhealth.org. We hope you will join us in our work . You can collaborate anytime with us on the topic of mental health and wellness by contacting @sspellmancann . Go ahead make a difference for teens , because mental health and wellness matters.

Mental Health Symposium with Dr. Alec Couros @courosa

Living Fully Alive

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who are alive.” – Howard Thurman

At Bishop Carroll High School we take mental health and wellness seriously. Our district and province have made a committment to focus on the well being of our students . Take a look at the video below to see what Alberta teachers are saying.

Our mental health wellness committee put together our second symposium featuring Dr. Alec Couros.

Need a background start here and really think about the words you use when it comes to mental health .

Take a peek at our 2005 Mental Health Living Fully Alive Symposium:

Mental health is important and if you need to find out why take a look at these facts about mental illness. It is one of the reasons we decided to put together a symposium. It will be a great day when mental health is understood and de- stigmatized.

If you want to see what we did last year you can can take a look at the pins below:

Below we hope you could make use of some of our resources. Feel free to use any and or all ideas. We need to work together to make this a better world for our youth.

  • Our Living Fully Alive advertisement can be found here.
  • Our challenge for ten reasons to live is posted here: 10 Reasons To Live
  • One of the most important things we wanted our students to gain from this symposium was coping skills.
  • Haiku Deck Reasons To Live
  • Haiku decks for  School Counsellors and students click below:

We need to teach students how to find their flow state and use it to keep themselves healthy. How do you get yourself into this state? For me one way is painting.

Our mental health wellness is a collaborative project that we began last year . The following document has a wealth of resources that we hope high schools, educators and school counsellors will use. It is an ongoing work in progress, so if you’d like to collaborate with us please feel free to tweet me @sspellmancann and join us on our journey as we pay attention to our own mental health as well as the mental health and wellness of others.

101 ways to  Live Your Life to the Fullest

101 things to do Before You Die

Thanks Dr.Couros for your passion and assisting students to think about their identities on and off line. As our students would say . YOU rock!

Now go have yourself a great day and remember you have a purpose … YOU MATTER

Thanks to @haikudeck for this video! Love you guys!

Coping Skills

When it comes to coping it really does matter what you have to cope with: Check out my haiku deck on coping skills here: How You Cope Depends On What You Have to Cope With. Understanding how stress impacts you can help you cope. Below you will find some strategies that may help you cope . Use the strategies that work best for you.

ABC’s  Coping Skills:

A: Attitude: Your attitude matters.

Allow yourself extra time to get up in the morning andget to places. Being 15 to 20 minutes early can reduce your strss level.

Allow 10-15 minutes a day for YOU time. Time to wind down, time to reflect, time to let go of your worries,

B: Books : A book on the topic you are trying to cope with can help. Beliefs Challenge your thoughts about the topic: Be positive! Books can be healing!

Be a person who can say NO and not feel guilty. It is OK to say no to things that are not healthy and things you really don’t want to do. It’s also ok to give yourself a break and say no to something.

Be a person who knows how to wait, read a book online or have a book with you that you can devour while you have to wait somewhere. It not only makes the time go faster but it is a wonderful way to pass the time.

C: Caring and compassion make a difference:  helping others helps you to focus on others not on your problems. Care about yourself. Write a positive message to yourself on a mirror with an erasable marker. Write a positive note to yourself on a card and carry it around in your wallet.

D: Decide if you are a School Counsellor that you need to take care of yourself. Watch out for compassion fatigue:

D: Decide if you are a student to reach out and ask for help if you need it. Reaching out is a strength not a weekness.

E: Express your feelings . Feelings are neither write or wrong. It’s what you do with them that matters. If you hurt yourself or someone else then that needs to be changed. So write down your feelings.Tell someone how you feel. Draw your feelings in an art journal. Find some great ideas for art Journalling on pinterest.

Exercise is always helpful. You might only need to exercise 7 mins. each day. You can do it!

F: Find great strategies.

G: Give yourself a break . Try these brain breaks:

H: Hope . It is so important to maintain a hopeful perspective.

I : Invite others to help you : Kids Help Phone.

J: Just be yourself.

K: Kindness is always a good thing . Do a Random Acts of Kindness for someone else today.

L: Listen to music . It soothes the soul.

M: Mindfulness matters. Focus on your breath.  Here are some tips for teens.

N: Naming game : 54321 Exercise.

O: Open your mind to new strategies.

P: Positive self talk matters.

Q: Quite your mind. Be still!

R: Relax:

S: Strategies : the more you have the better.  Here are 99.

T: Trust: that your feelings will not last forever. Feelings are neither right nor wrong they are just feelings. It is what you do with them that matters.

U: Understanding your coping skills matters.

V: Visualize what you want.

W: Watch a funny show to get your mind off all the serious stuff.

X:  A to Z  list.

Y: YOU MATTER . Remember who matters.

Z: A-Z another list. Thanks to Jordan Andrews @jta102 for making me think about this post today.  

Please share your coping skills and strategies Thanks for adding your links below. Remember:

The Smallest Good Deed is Better Than The Grandest Good Intention

#ReachHigher … You Can Too … Go Make A Difference

Susan University  (1)

Created using smilebox

I am so inspired by the First Ladies commitment to help students #reachhigher as well as her dedication and support for School Counsellors.

When I reflect back to my high school years , I am not sure if I would have attended University if it were not for my School Counsellor, Mrs. Brown from Dartmouth High School. I certainly could not afford to go to post-secondary , even though I had worked part-time for a very long time. In fact I am certain I would not have attended, if it were not for that meeting.

It was only after a meeting with my School Counsellor who led me in the direction of a Bachelor of Child Study at MSVU Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, that I even considered the possibility. She also contributed $100.00 to my University Education which was a lot of money back then. I am so grateful to Mrs. Brown  ( who has since passed away ) . I never got to thank her , but I have attempted to pay it forward many times.

Becoming a School Counsellor was never on my radar back then , but again as I reflect back I am sure that one gesture had a HUGE  impact on me. I would be the first child in my family to graduate from University.

My community also stepped up to help me. I was very fortunate to receive a university scholarship for playing lacrosse from Canada Fitness and Amateur Sport( A member of my community Shannon Park – Wallis Heights – a forces base,  pointed me in this direction to get this scholarship ) . I also received a bursary from Officers’ Wives.

They say it takes a village to raise a child , and for me that was true. My community came together to help and support me and as a result I now have a University education and a lifelong love of learning.  I am forever grateful.  I feel passionate about students believing they can go on to post-secondary, no matter what their situation.

So School Counsellors, let’s gather together and let students know they can #reachhigher , no matter where they live whether it be in Canada , the US or wherever they live in the world.

Make a poster like the one I did above and share it . Maybe one student will be inspired to reach for their dreams. A special thanks Mrs. Obama for your fabulous leadership and support for School Counsellors . We feel it everywhere.

Thanks to all those who helped me reach my dreams along the way including so many teachers who I adored and one special School Counsellor who really made it all possible. Mrs. Brown, you made a difference. If ever any one of your relatives reads this,  know the impact one person can have to change the trajectory of a child’s life. I strive to be that kind of person each and every day for the students in my care.