How Danish "hygge" is self-care

I write a lot about self-care which I firmly believe should be

  • easy to do
  • low/no cost and
  • not add time to one’s already busy day. 

When I discovered The Little Book of Hygge (on a shelf in the laundry room in my apartment building where people share books), I was curious to read how hygge (hoo-ga) could be applied to other cultures and whether it could inform our self-care practices.

Hygge is a Danish/Norwegian word that means wellbeing; a sense of comfort and togetherness; coziness and wellbeing.  It’s a feeling or mood that is created from making everyday experiences more meaningful and/or beautiful.  It sounds like the perfect recipe for self-care but would it work where I live in North America?

Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hygge is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.  He cites many ways to bring hygge into your life but why would the Danes be the experts?  First of all, Denmark typically...

Continue Reading...

"Teacher self-care is a thing?"

teacher self-care May 14, 2019
Yes, it's a thing.
An important thing.
I recently attended the TESOL Convention in Atlanta where I had a conversation with a teacher about the work I’m doing related to teacher self-care. I wasn’t surprised when she responded the way she did because a few years ago, I would have responded in a similar fashion.

In 2015, I left classroom teaching after a 20-year career due to professional burn-out. Sadly, self-care was not part of my vocabulary. I’m now on a mission as a teacher self-care crusader and advocate to talk about its importance. 

Teaching is a profession that requires giving of one’s self to make a difference for students. The chronic use of empathy and depletion of emotional resources are strongly associated with emotional exhaustion and/or professional burnout (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001).

There is a growing interest in the area of student well-being but everyone must flourish, including students, teachers,...

Continue Reading...

60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom is more than just fun and games!

60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom by Teresa X. Nguyen and Nathaniel Cayanan is a fun-filled resource with activities that can easily be used as fillers, enders or energizers. 

I wanted to review this book because I’m a huge fan and student of positive psychology.  Although the book does not explicitly mention the science of this fastest growing form of psychology, the activities are designed to engage students in meaningful experiences individually and with others and increase their positive emotions.

The Importance of Positive Emotions

Positive emotions, like awe, surprise, love, joy, and gratitude promote new and creative actions, ideas, and strengthen social bonds. When students experience positive emotions, their minds broaden and they open up to new possibilities and ideas. (Frederickson, 2009).  There is fascinating research on laughter too so the activities in the book that elicit laughter induce warm fuzzy feelings in our students as well as...

Continue Reading...

60 in 60 Challenge: April - Month 4 (Jamaica was the highlight!)

60 in 60 april Apr 29, 2019

April was a great month.  Ok - maybe it's because I got to spend a week in Jamaica! 

Here's what I did in April:

28. Visited the Royal Botanical Garden in Burlington

I finally met up with my long-time teacher friend Judy Smith. The aroma and colours of the spring flowers were mind-blowing.  A great trip at the end of the winter.  

29. Presented at the first Caribbean TESOL Expo in Jamaica

I was thrilled to speak at this inaugural event.  The conference was fantastic and I met the most interesting and friendly people.  A professional highlight! (but I actually had to buy a suit which was a challenge.  Very few stores have suits these days.)

30. Interviewed on TV - CVM At Sunrise - Jamaica

The conference organizer Venice and I were interviewed at 6:30 a.m. the day of the Caribbean TESOL Expo.  It was a lot of fun and I got to have my make-up professionally done before we went on tv.  

31. Ate at Gloria’s by the Sea


Continue Reading...

Rest: Teachers are you doing it right?

Imagine writing a whole book on the subject of rest.  That's exactly what Alex Soojung-Kim Pang did in 2016 (although I just learned about the book last week).  Pang is the founder of the Restful Company ( and a visiting scholar at Stanford.

In my teacher self-care presentations and workshops, one of the most frequent comments from teachers is that self-care takes time, and teachers are busy people.  Yes, I agree but according to Pang, rest:

- makes us more creative

- increases our productivity

- heightens our concentration

- reduces multi-tasking

- calms us down

- boost happiness and

- helps us to focus better


In the last two years, I have been making a conscious effort to be healthier and happier.  This includes downtime, less screen-time, being mindful and resting.  But I think I haven't been resting right. 

If you think rest means lying of the sofa and binge-watching t.v., this is just one form, says Pang...

Continue Reading...

Why Teachers Need to Care about Self-Care (Contact, April 2019)

teacher self-care Apr 08, 2019


“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel”. -Eleanor Brownn

Teaching is a profession that requires giving of one’s self to make a difference for students. The chronic use of empathy and depletion of emotional resources are strongly associated with emotional exhaustion and/or professional burnout (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001). Also, challenges such as student behaviour, precarious work, multiple workloads or administrative responsibilities can add to the pressures of this demanding profession.

There is a growing interest in the area of student well-being but everyone must flourish, including students, teachers, and administrative staff. Research studies suggest that learning happens best when teachers and their students are well but the added benefit is that as teachers flourish, relationships with students,...

Continue Reading...

Did attending a 3-day happiness summit make me happier?

From March 15 to 17, 2019, I had the great pleasure of attending WOHASU’s World Happiness Summit. The event was held at the beautiful University of Miami campus, and since I flew down from Canada, I appreciated the palm trees, sunshine and warmth. UM was also the perfect location because this institution is making “mattering, fairness and wellness” part of their mission statement which could be adopted by all educational institutions. 

In the last three years, I have read as much as possible related to the science of positive psychology or human flourishing and completed two certificates from a Canadian university. Learning about flourishing and happiness and finding ways to apply it to my life and work has been a joy. So, you probably are not surprised that I would be one of those people who would want to attend a 3-day happiness conference.

Am I a happier person because of the summit?  It’s hard to say because I'm already a...

Continue Reading...

60 in 60 Challenge: March - Month 3 (13 new activities!)

March was a great month.  Ok - maybe it's because I got to spend a week in Miami :)  

Here's what I did in the month of March:

15. Interviewed for a Podcast 

Thank you to James Rice for interviewing me for his podcast.

16. Attended an International Women's Day Lunch

I attended an event in my city and brought my surrogate daughter Jaimie with me (she is the coolest 20-year old I have ever met).  We were inspired by the speaker, Farah Khan.  

17. Organized and Moderated a Panel at the TESOL Convention

I was thrilled to be able to organize a stellar group of teaching professionals as panelists at the TESOL Convention in Atlanta.  They spoke about writing materials writing using a social responsibility lens.  Fascinating content!

18. Visited CNN

The TESOL Convention was just across the street from CNN.  I have become a bit of a CNN junkie in the last few...

Continue Reading...

60 in 60 Challenge: February - Month 2 (spoiler alert - winter blahs)

february winter blahs Mar 01, 2019

 February - Month 2 

Here's the latest update on my 60 in 60 Challenge.  A month to go until I hit the big 60!

Month 2 Update:

February was very, very cold and luckily a short month.  My son Andrew was home from university for 10 days for his mid-term break which threw me off my schedule somewhat (do you hear an excuse coming?).

Here is a list of the new things I tried in February - Month 2:

10. Travelled to Ottawa by Train

I was invited to give the plenary at the TESL Ottawa conference.  It's been more than 35 years since I have been to Ottawa (our nation's capital) and the first time by train.  It was an enjoyable 4 hours where I read, dozed and read a bit more.  I had a window seat but there wasn't much to see expect fields and snow.  

11. Volunteered to be part of TEDx Event

I have always wanted to attend a TEDTalk so I decided to join a group of people organizing a TEDx in Burlington (TEDxLakeshoreRd).  The event will be...

Continue Reading...

60 in 60 Challenge: January - Month 1


60 in 60:   My 2019 Well-being Challenge

January - Month 1 

Last month I blogged about my 2019 challenge which is to try 60 new things in my 60th year ( I’m still not thrilled about turning 60 in a few months but because of my 60 in 60 Challenge, I have been focused on planning new things to try instead of negatively fixated on the inevitable. 

Background Information

If you didn’t read my first blog, here is a synopsis:

  • I’m putting everything I’ve learned about positive psychology* or the science of flourishing and well-being into practice to be happier (happiness is a choice)
  • Happiness is contagious so why not spread it around?
  • Being active and learning new things is good for us especially as we age
  • I recently moved to Burlington, Ontario, Canada and want to explore my new city
  • Taking part in 60 new activities will be a way for me to use my character strengths** which is a sure way to increase happiness


Continue Reading...
1 2 3