Study after study shows that students and adults are experiencing high — sometimes toxic — levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. As the pandemic drags on, these trends are unfortunately likely to persist. We must continue to find ways to help our students (and ourselves) cope with the negative impacts of the pandemic. One method that has proven effective is creating positive learning environments that promote Optimistic Thinking.
What is Optimistic Thinking?
Referring to a person’s attitude of confidence, hopefulness, and positive thinking toward themselves and their life situations, Optimistic Thinking is a key protective factor for students and adults.
This skill is especially important during the age of COVID, when we are all faced with risk, adversity, and change. Optimistic Thinking can help inspire hope in spite of challenges, setbacks, and negative outcomes we are facing. It can also help us reflect and grow, and it can encourage us to keep going when things are difficult.
Optimistic Thinking Promotes Overall Social and Emotional Growth
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, Optimistic Thinking improves other social and emotional competencies. Here are three examples:
Stress Management: The loss of loved ones, ever-changing health mandates, isolation from remote learning, and financial worries are just a few of the stressors caused by the pandemic. Many are dealing with additional stress, and some are experiencing chronic levels of stress. While there is no magic solution for dealing with stress, research shows that Optimistic Thinking can be an effective strategy for managing stress and anxiety.
Mental Health: In addition to high stress levels, many are experiencing increased fear, depression, and feelings of helplessness these days. As the pandemic drags on, these feelings can take a toll on our mental health. Research shows that coping strategies that involve Optimistic Thinking can reduce anxiety, depression, anger and aggression, and stress-related health problems.
Goal-Setting: Understandably, students and educators alike have struggled to focus throughout the pandemic. Many schools remain in remote and distance learning, and educators are faced with the task of recovering learning loss. Optimistic Thinking helps increase motivation and energize our behaviors and attitudes toward pursuing and achieving long-term goals.
How to Teach Optimistic Thinking to Educators and Students
To help educators increase social and emotional competence in themselves and their students, we are offering a free, special edition of our Optimistic Thinking Guide. This includes 10 key Optimistic Thinking practices and actionable strategies that you can use and integrate into your teaching. Included are extension activities and strategies to help your students develop Optimistic Thinking.
We all can benefit from an extra dose of hope and positivity as the pandemic continues. Developing a sense of Optimistic Thinking will help us navigate the challenges we are facing and persevere through these hard times. We hope you find our Optimistic Thinking Guide helpful for increasing your and your students’ positive thinking.