Acting Head of House – Aston

Welcome to Term 3

Congratulations to Rachel Osborne on her calm and gentle leadership as our 2017-2018 Aston House Captain. When I spoke to Rachel earlier this week, she shared:

I will miss being surrounded by such a wonderful group of girls. I was given the opportunity to get to know all of the girls in the House better and I will really miss the super caring and supportive environment that they have allowed me to experience”.

We also congratulate our incoming 2018-2019 Aston House Captain, Sophie Dwyer. It has been my pleasure to catch up with Sophie this week as she prepares for her leadership position. Sophie says:

“I am looking forward to further strengthening Aston House’s close community by spreading positivity and team spirit. I am also excited to build strong relationships with each girl in Aston, and am hoping to promote more interaction between the year groups”.

I thank all Year 11 students who showed courage and dedication to Aston House by nominating for the position of House Captain.

In Aston House, we started to discuss the ’10 keys to happier living’ during Term 2. Positive psychology expert, Vanessa King has researched evidence-based actions to increase happiness and wellbeing. Happiness is not about denying negative feelings or being joyful all the time. It’s about making the most of good times and learning to cope effectively in challenging times. The fundamental principles are:

  • Giving: do things for others
  • Relating: connect with people
  • Exercising: take care of your body
  • Awareness: live life mindfully
  • Trying out: keep learning new things
  • Direction: have goals to look forward to
  • Resilience: find ways to bounce back
  • Emotions: look for what’s good
  • Acceptance: be comfortable with who you are
  • Meaning: be part of something bigger

Research shows that embracing and implementing these key principles will have many positive impacts for students (and for adults). People who are happy not only enjoy life more, they are more resilient, physically healthier and more engaged and productive at school or work. How we think, and our behaviour and daily actions account for a significant portion of how happy we feel.

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from our own actions

The Dalai Lama

During House Time, Year 7 have started to look at ‘giving’ and the importance of gratitude. Students have reflected upon what they have done recently to make someone happy or to help others. They also brainstormed how they can express their gratitude, share their ideas and give their time. Students had the opportunity to make thank-you cards for their teachers at the end of Semester 1 to express their gratitude. Writing a gratitude letter is an insightful process which involves a combination of reflecting on what another person has meant to you, thoughtfully considering how to express it in writing and then sharing it with them. Our focus on gratitude aligns with the Loreto Normanhurst Student Growth Model, allowing students to build stronger relationships with their peers and teachers.

Year 9 and 10 have started studying the importance of spending time outdoors in nature (‘green exercise’) to boost their physical and psychological wellbeing. Scientific research shows that exercise induces structural and functional changes in our brain, resulting in benefits for both cognitive functioning and wellbeing (Mandolesi et al. 2018). Students reflected on their preferred exercise methods and new ways to maintain their physical and mental health. Year 10 also considered the importance of unplugging from technology at least half an hour before bed to enable effective rest. Research has shown a clear link between technology use before bed and compromised sleep, impacting our health and daytime functions (Johansson et al. 2015).

It’s important to take time to reflect on where happiness comes from (for you), why it matters and what you can do to increase it (for yourself and for others). The ‘question’, ‘inspiration’ and ‘action ideas’ are particularly useful from the ‘10 keys to happier living’ guidebook. We will continue to focus on these key principles with students throughout Semester Two. Students will discuss practical ways they can engage with the ‘10 keys to happier living’ in their upcoming Conversations with their Advisors/Tutors.

We pray for our Year 10 Aston student Madeleine Ryan as she recovers from her surgery. We hope that she is strengthened by the love and prayers from our Loreto community.

 

Further reading:

Johansson, A., Petrisko, M.A., Chasens, E.R. (2015), Adolescent Sleep and the Impact of Technology Use Before Sleep on Daytime Function, Journal of Pediatric Nursing, Vol 31, 498-504.

King, V. (2016), 10 Keys to Happier Living, Headline Publishing Group, London, UK.

Mandolesi, L., Polverino, A., Montuori, S., Foti, F., Ferraioli, G., Sorrentino, P and Sorrentino, G. (2018), Effects of Physical Exercise on Cognitive Functioning and Wellbeing: Biological and Psychological Benefits, Frontiers in Psychology.

Olson, N. (2017), Five reasons to write thank-you notes, FORBES.

 

Mrs Divya Stanger

Acting Head of Aston House