Preschool centres are typically full of fun and laughter, but the responsibility of ensuring a safe and nurturing environment for all is no laughing matter.


As the principal of an international preschool, Vinodhini took it upon herself to stay positive at all times and be a good role model to the children and her staff, even in the face of challenges and conflicts.


“Being the school leader, I have to ensure that everything is sorted and keep the daily operations running smoothly,” she explained. “So, I felt the need to put up a brave front at work as I have to be a peacemaker and problem-solver for teachers and parents, and also answer to my upper management.”


Falling into toxic positivity

As a result, Vinodhini unknowingly fell into the mindset of toxic positivity, where she felt compelled to put a positive spin on all experiences — to the point of neglecting and brushing away emotions like sadness and anger — in a bid to stay “positive and happy” all the time.


Related: Be mindful to avoid toxic positivity


“Because I bottled my negative emotions away, they built up like a debt inside me until I unwittingly vented them on my loved ones after work,” Vinodhini recalled. “Being a reflective person by nature, I did some research and found online resources that helped me to better understand what I was going through.”


To feel is to be human

Vinodhini learned that instead of suppressing her emotions, a healthier way to cope was to validate them — whether it’s fear, anger, sadness, surprise, happiness, or disgust. “To me, it was very enlightening and comforting to know that it’s normal to feel all kinds of emotions, and that feeling a certain way doesn’t make me a bad person. The most important thing is that no matter how difficult it might be, I have to acknowledge my emotions and accept that sometimes, it is okay to be not okay.”

Related: How do we manage our emotions?


Another key thing she learned was to reach out to someone she trusts for support whenever things start to feel overwhelming. “I felt much better after sharing my thoughts and feelings with my boyfriend,” she said. “Sometimes, all it takes is having a listening ear, and knowing that I am not alone in facing my struggles.”


Why emotion regulation matters

With 19 years of experience in the early childcare sector, Vinodhini understands all too well the importance of healthy social and emotional development — for both children and adults alike. She pointed out, "We play many roles in life, and our responsibilities often come with challenges and concerns. If we do not learn to manage and regulate our emotions, then we may find ourselves overwhelmed by anxiety and stress.”


To improve our mental well-being, Vinodhini recommends doing more of the things we enjoy. She cited an example, “Being an active and adventurous person, I enjoy running and hiking. The endorphin-release through these exercises makes me feel less stressed and also improves my mood.”


Understand, acknowledge, manage

Vidhoni’s journey to better mental health started from understanding and acknowledging her emotions, and actively finding ways to better manage them. You, too, can take action and learn useful self-care tips by checking out our page on how to care for the mental well-being of yourself and your loved ones.


Know someone who might be silently suffering? Learn how you can make a difference by supporting others.