By Kirsty Hails, Director, The Yellow Cottage Preschool
Last year I was forced into a self isolation period while I was treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer. I learned some important lessons and used my knowledge of positivity psychology and strengths everyday to get through this time. Now that we as a society have entered a time of isolation, some of the things I learned you might find useful as you navigate this path with your family.
Before my treatment I knew it was going to be physically and mentally hard for me, so I prepared some strategies to make sure that while my positivity tank was being drained due to circumstances, where I could, I had the tap flowing into the top of the tank with positive emotions.
An easy way to do this is to know and understand what lights you up, what are your signature character strengths, these are the things that will fill your positivity tank.
For me, those strengths were teamwork, gratitude, kindness, honesty and judgment. I set up things in my day to day life in isolation to enable me, when I was well enough to access these and fill up my positivity tank. For example the TYC Team remained in constant communication with me and included me in projects like our Quality Improvement Plan, that gave me meaning, purpose and also filled my tank with teamwork. I was able to remain connected with preschool families via Storypark and this was so important to me on a day to day basis. So as we look at our current situation connections and using virtual connections to maintain relationships will be essential.
I found something to be grateful for every day, even on the worst days, I looked for the silver lining. This was a great activity for me because it allowed me to operate in one of my signature strengths gratitude. This strategy would also be good for families as they navigate this new season. Acknowledging that this is going to be hard and everyone will miss out on things, let’s still look for silver linings and something to be grateful for.
There was an incredible kindness and outreach shown to me by both family and our community and this humbled me in a way that I will never forget. I was so touched by this kindness and everyday it injected a little positivity into my tank in so many different ways. Throughout this period take time to show kindness to others, not only will it make them feel good but it will also give you a great sense of wellbeing.
It also really helped to remind myself that this would only be for a season of my life and like Summer it would come to an end. Rev Nate was very good at reminding me of this. This is an important message for our families at this time. It is only a season and we will come out the other end of this. We need to share this with our children. Look at our children and focus on what lights them up, get creative and work out ways to incorporate these strengths or passions while they are in isolation. You will then be helping them to fill up their positivity tank and they will need it because their life is significantly different for this period of time. Take this time to pause a little and value the people you live with, be grateful for the simple things and look after one another.