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Teaching Strategies: How to Boost Your Happiness

Janelle Cox

As you begin your journey into the new school year, many of you may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed. The first month of school you may feel like you’re a chicken running around with your head cut off. From getting your students (and yourself) settled in, to paperwork, and getting ready for open house, you may feel like things will never end.

Brace yourself, it will get better. What you have to remember is that you may feel overwhelmed and busy today, but things will settle down soon. If you still are feeling like you need a mood makeover, then there are ways that you can boost your happiness.  Here are some teaching strategies to do just that.

5 Teaching Strategies to Boost Your Happiness

According to research, if you pick the right approach, you can go from feeling blue to feeling happy in a matter of seconds. Research also says that happy teachers make for more effective teachers, so it’s extremely important that you find an approach that works for you. Here are five effective teaching strategies to fast-track happiness.

1. Dress to Impress

Your school administration sets a dress code not only because they want you to represent their school district in a nice and professional manner, but because they know that when you dress nice, you feel good. While casual professional clothes may seem like the best idea for teaching elementary students, scientists say causal wear is the dress code of the depressed. Even though you may think comfort is a better choice over fashion, it will not make you happier. According to one study, women that feel happy when they wake up and get dressed, were more likely to choose their favorite dress on that day, rather than anything else in their closet. So if you want an instant pick-me-up on those days that you are feeling blue, reach for your favorite dressy outfit.

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2. “Fake It ‘Til You Make it”

I’m sure you have heard the expression “Fake it ‘til you make it.” In this case, this expression means that you fake feeling happy, until you actually are happy. According to research at DePauw University, if you fake a smile, you can trick your brain into being happy. Your brain is wired to associate happiness when you turn up the corners of your mouth. So the next time your students are driving you crazy and you are feeling annoyed, fake a smile and know that in a matter of minutes you will feel better.

3. Listen to Uplifting Music

Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” is the perfect song to turn your mood around. Studies find that when you listen to upbeat music or even just read lyrics that are positive and happy, your mood will get better. But you will have to focus on becoming happy -- the music just won’t magically change your mood in an instant. Classical music is also said to have a mood-boosting effect. Next time you’re sitting in your classroom and are in need of a pick-me-up, turn on some music. Not only will it help to boost your mood, but it will help your students as well.

4. Socialize with Your Colleagues

Instead of taking your lunch break to finish grading papers, go to the faculty room and socialize. Studies found that the more time people that were feeling down spent socializing with other people, the better that they felt. If you’re spending a lot of time by yourself, then get out and socialize with your colleagues. Plan to grab a drink after work, or go to a yoga class together. As long as you are with other people, you will feel better.

5. Do a Good Deed

There is an abundance of research that shows that the more you do for others, the better you will feel. Any kind of selfless act (big or small) will have a positive effect on how you feel. When you feel your mood starting to tumble, do something nice for someone else. This can be as small as opening the door for one of your students, getting a cup of coffee for your colleague, or even just offering to watch your neighbor’s classroom while she uses the restroom.

You have the ability to control how you feel. With practice, you can form lifelong habits that will help your mood stay even-keeled. Find an approach that works for you, and you will be able to boost your mood and feel better.

How will you achieve sustainable happiness as a teacher this year? Which strategy do you think will work best for you? Please share with us in the comment section below! We would love to hear your thoughts.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.