Dear Academic Approach Families:

As we head into the weekend—2 weeks into social distancing—the value of resilience is on my mind. Resilience has always been a critical non-cognitive factor in the success of our students: those who can persevere through challenging content and the most rigorous problem solving continue to grow academically—and emotionally.

The Power of Gratitude

Over the past several years, we’ve partnered with the University of Chicago to develop a strategy toolkit for students to reduce anxiety and increase resilience. One of our favorite tools is showing gratitude. While this may sound trite, neuroscience research proves that feeling gratitude directly leads to decreasing stress and increasing positive thinking. Moreover, those with increased positive thinking have increased ability for creative and flexible thought and are more able to learn and cope with anxiety.

The Joy Collector

I’ll be encouraging my family and other families to start a concrete practice of writing down the joys—no matter how small—that we are grateful for each day in a Joy Collector journal. I’m also expressing my gratitude for those joys directly to those who bring joy. These practices are especially important right now in helping us to keep anxiety as low as possible and engage us in the process of building resilience through unexpected challenges.

Further reading

I particularly enjoyed this article that contextualizes the research showing the importance of demonstrating gratitude for our own mental health. I’d love to hear the strategies you are implementing with your own families to support them; please reach out and share those suggestions.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO