Month: November 2015

Bummed Out and Craving Carbs?!? Mmmmmm Mac n’ Cheese…

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As I chow down on my super yummy croissant this morning, that glorious little carby breakfast goodness got me thinking…

I wish I could be this

Wonder Woman



all powerful and saying’ )

Hey You Carbs! Stay out of my belly!

( she says with serious mean and threatening look of power…with Scottish accent )


but in reality, I am feeling all fuzzy and tired







and  really, carbs taste amazing! 

AND it is the breakfast of all wanna be hibernators 😉

Wouldn’t it be great

…to just give into this feeling and just avoid the world, live in PJ’s, shovel in various gourmet versions of Poutine and Mac n’ Cheese and binge watch…well…anything but work/school?!?

Well, I am not going to lie to you and say that I am not feeling this way right now…because I most certainly am! If only we lived in the days of nomadic existence where I could hibernate…ok…wait…no I don’t…I like my basic needs being met! Food, shelter, safety…good stuff to have and I am immensely grateful.

So, since I can’t hibernate, I need to find a way to keep my life on track. This natural evolutionary function is so inconvenient in modern society!!!

My advice, get moving and motivated even though you don’t feel like it.


Wait what?!?!

I know, I know…I am having a tantrum too…sigh…

If I don’t get my butt moving and get stuff done, I know that my self-esteem will start to sink to low levels.

Motivation_V1_01Let’s Work on Our Self-Esteem

(EQ Self-Regard)…

Self-Regard is respecting oneself while understanding and accepting one’s strengths and weaknesses. Self-Regard is often associated with feelings of inner strength and self-confidence.




When we know more about ourselves, both our strengths and weaknesses, we can overcome the most difficult things. Knowledge is power!

So many people think that they are “broken” when they start feeling the effects of living in a colder climate…SAD. You are NOT broken, your body is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. It’s just inconvenient timing.



PsychNERD Time!

Brain Nerd

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is recurrent depression with typical onset in the fall/winter; it is characterized by fatigue, increased appetite and sleeping, and carbohydrate craving (Rosenthal et al., 1984; Young, 1991). Some SAD symptoms occur in most people in northern latitudes during the winter (Dam, Jakobsen, & Mellerup, 1998), suggesting that SAD may be an extreme of normal wintertime behavioural changes (Keller & Nesse, 2006).


It’s not your fault, you are not broken, but we do need to function in our daily lives. So, knowing that the season can make it harder to feel motivated, it is helpful to accept this fact  and use strategies to kick your own butt and get moving despite how hard it “feels”.


Do Something.jpgSome Things You Can Do

  • Light Therapy: there are some pretty cool natural light lamps designed to trick your brain to think it is summer! Slap on that sunscreen, get some sand stuck in weird places and turn on that lamp. Talk to your family physician about lighting up your life.
  • Exercise: Research has shown that exercise is one of the best ways to combat depression, an many more human struggles.
  • Vitamin D: increase your intake of the “sunshine vitamin“.
  • Psychotherapy: TALK! please talk to one of us nice counsellor people for personalized strategies and personal insight that will help you get through this slump time successfully.
  • Medication: please consider anti-depressant medication as a last resort. You are so much more powerful than you think you are.

Source: Mayo Clinic


Video Snack of the Day

Take a moment today, learn more about the Psychology of Self- Motivation. The more your know about yourself, the more empowered you are. When you feel like you have control over your own life, you feel better about yourself.


Again, thank you so much to those who have emailed me comments! 

Seriously! You have been so wonderful and encouraging 🙂

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

Counsellor * eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


Dam, H., Jakobsen, K. and Mellerup, E. (1998). Prevalence of winter depression in Denmark. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 97, 1–4.

Keller, M.C. and Nesse, R. M. (2006). The evolutionary significance of depressive symptoms: different adverse situations lead to different depressive symptom patterns. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 91, No. 2, 316–330.

Rosenthal, N. E., Sack, D. A., Gillin, J. C., Lewy, A. J., Goodwin, J. C., Davenport, P. S., et al. (1984). Seasonal affective disorder: A description of the syndrome and preliminary findings with light therapy. Archives of General Psychiatry, 41, 72–80.

Young, M. A. (1991). The temporal onset of individual symptoms in winter depression: Differentiating underlying mechanisms. Journal of Affective Disorders, 22, 191–197.

How Dare You Ask Me to Tolerate Stress!

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Yup! That is what I am asking of you. Learn to tolerate stress better; grow from the adversity, develop skills and balance your life. You need to do both, tolerate it and manage it to reduce stress and benefit from what it has to offer.

To be honest, if there was not a wee bit of stress in your life, you probably would get nothing done.


Video Snack Time!

Before I go on and on a bore you to death, it is probably a good idea to take a quick media shift break and watch a great video that explains how stress actually effects your body. It is short and pretty cute 🙂

The point is to find the optimal balance of good and bad stress by learning to reduce, tolerate and manage it. The difference between a “good” stressor and a “bad” stressor is that you bounce back from the “good” one stronger than you were before. There is this pretty cool scientific observation in Biology, and really funky word to describe it, that explains the growth of tolerance process:


I know! When I first heard that word, this is what popped into my head…



Pretty darn cute huh?!?! I call him Hormesis 😉

Now for a PsychNerd Intermission…

Brain Nerd

Hormesis is growth through responding to a low or intermittent dose of a stressor that could be dangerous or deadly at a higher level, but at lower levels can yield a positive effect. Short bursts of stress can be good for the body and the mind. Like when you exercise, you are pushing your body beyond its resting activity level for a short period of time (you are stressing it), combined with rest and recovery, this stress is good.  If you do this often enough, you gain muscle mass and/or cardiovascular capacity.

Developing a tolerance for stress is the same process.

With stress, you want to put your body and mind under the type of stress that you will face in your life, but then remove the stress and allow your body and mind to recover. Balance of work and play. Too much studying, without time to relax, makes studying counter-productive, frustrating and ineffective.

stressed brainTry not to run from stress, “lean into it“. What I mean by that is use skills and strategies to manage and not avoid it. If you avoid it, you never really learn how to cope with it. Also, it can help to learn what your brain is actually doing when you are stressed….and then you can help it to be better with stress.

Brain Function! Yuck!

I know you are thinking, UGH! I have no interest in my brain function…that is BORING! Well trust me here, Dr. Seigel has an amazing way of explaining how our brain works when we are overwhelmed.

*Learning: If you can understand it you can tame it.

Building Stress Tolerance: Tips to Start Today

  • Practice in Place: if you struggle with test anxiety, do practice tests in a similar test setting. Study in an environment that you need to write a test in or will be doing a class presentation.This helps your five senses become familiar with the environment and lower the chance that your emotions will “warn” you that you are under threat, all because the environment is unfamiliar.
  • Mindset: looking at new situations as a challenge; a learning opportunity, not as impossible or that you are not capable. The “Power of Yet“…”I have not learned how to do this yet”.
  • Wellness Balance: Practice maintaining wellness and a balanced life
  • Learn to Manage your Stress: Apply Stress Management Strategies to your life.
  • How does Your Brain Work? Understand how your brain works. Watch Dr. Seigel’s video above. If you can “name it you can tame it”. Knowledge is power!
  • Perspective Shift: Find opportunity in the challenge. Stress makes us single-minded, so negatives loom large and positives fly under the radar. Stress is designed to focus our attention or energy so we can overcome the threat. Find the silver lining, take on a different direction, try something new and shift your thinking to the opportunity not the failure.


Since you are probably procrastinating anyway!…

…use your avoidant time wisely and watch this amazing TEDTalk.

Be Inspired!



Be You!

The most important advice I can give you is take the time to learn how to manage the brain you were given. We are all different and need different strategies. Lean in, try, don’t run from adversity…learn from it.

I always say, “adversity can change you for the better…if you let it“.

Learn how to let it change you by trying some of the suggestions in today’s blog 🙂



Keep ’em coming! I love love love your comments!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

Counsellor * eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

Eek! Friday the 13th! How Developing Your Optimism Can Help You Through Your Worst Days

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Friday the 13thWell it’s Friday the 13th! Eek!!

You may have woke up today with dread,
expecting your day to be horrible. There is a real name for this fear and my inner psych-nerd just must share it with you…mainly because it is really cool to try to pronounce 🙂

This is such a great day to focus on one of the areas of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that fosters your Stress Management capabilities, Optimism. Don’t forget to take my EQ Questionnaire (see Menu above) and find out how you are doing in the Stress Management areas of EQ (Flexibility, Stress Tolerance and Optimism).

Let’s start with a definition of Optimism…

Optimism is often defined as a disposition to expect the best and view events and situations in a positive light. In the context of resiliency, optimism refers to a sense of a positive future, to a tendency to find positive meaning in experiences, and a belief in one’s ability to impact positively on one’s environment and situation. Optimism has many benefits for mental health, including protecting against depression and anxiety. It also increases the likelihood of effective problem solving.

Does this mean you need to have only positive thoughts all the time!?!?!


No! This does not mean that every thought that goes through your mind is a positive one, actually is quite the opposite. Optimism really is the ability to balance both the positive and negative aspects of life, problem solve your way through and lead your self in a direction that is helpful in reaching your goals, and feeling happier. There is some research out there that says that tempering a “sunny disposition” with a dose of realism, even pessimism, may be the best way to build resilience in some circumstances. Sometimes being a “defensive pessimist” and preparing yourself for all the possible outcomes, can be very helpful.

It depends what you do with the negative information…

does it freeze you?

does it stop you from moving forward in your life?

does it kill your confidence?

Use this information to make a plan, to develop a new strategy, create a new perspective. No matter what you do, make sure it helps you and not hurts you. Keep trying!

“We know why optimists do better than pessimists, optimists are not simply being Pollyannas; they’re problem solvers who try to improve the situation.”

Psychologist Michael F. Scheier

Source: How the Power of Positive Thinking Won Scientific Credibility.

Benefits of Optimism

  • Better Health: Optimists tend to have better physical and mental health. More Information
  • Greater Achievement in Life: Optimists have a personal style of viewing and dealing with adversity called “Explanatory” which really helps you stay on track and get back up when youFill Your Mind Positive are knocked down. More Information
  • Persistence: Optimists don’t give up as easily as pessimists, and they are more likely to achieve success because of it.
  • Stronger Emotional Health: many research studies have found that people who tend to be more optimistic tend to feel hopeful about their future, which is a key ingredient in coping with depression. Check this out for strategies: click here
  • Less Stress: Optimists also tend to experience less stress than pessimists or realists. Because they believe in themselves and their abilities, they expect good things to happen. They see negative events as minor setbacks to be easily overcome, and view positive events as evidence of further good things to come.

It is a matter of mindset

Infusing Optimism: What You Can Start Doing Today…

  • Recognize When You are Stuck: try not to let one thing ruin your whole day, try to notice both the positive and negative aspects in your life (what is going well), resolve conflicts as soon as possible and  try to develop GRIT.
  • Remember that there’s always a silver lining. If you’re having a bad week, it’s not a reason to let negativity cloud your thinking. Seek the silver lining in every challenging situation. Remember that setbacks often occur right before you reach success.
  • Get over the past. Remember that the past is the past; it doesn’t need to keep repeating itself. In fact, if you keep recalling the past, you are the one taking it with you into your future.
  • Be Grateful. Make a list of all the things you’re grateful for in your life. Include all smallest things to the biggest things, for example, not having to wait in line, not getting a parking ticket or appreciating the people in your life who support you. Keep this list close by for the tough times when your mind slides to the negative side.
  • Use positive affirmations. Nothing brings out optimism like the use of affirmations. These positive statements bring optimistic energy into your present. Yes, there are positive things about you! Gather quotes that offer support and guidance to keep you in the best state-of-mind.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Humans are social beings that can feel the energy of others. Have fun with positive and supportive friends and family members. Just being around positive people can lift you up when you’re feeling down. You can also learn to be more like optimistic people in the way you think and what you choose to do. Let them teach you!
  • Watch your language. Do you speak positively to yourself and others, or are you judgmental and negative? Try to shift over to only positive speech. Oh yes, it can be hard at first, but try it! Practice using upbeat words while you focus on the positive in every situation. Build the habit.
  • Remember that even a positive life has ups and downs. Life won’t always be perfect, but there are many ways you can still make the best of it. Accept the fact that bad things will happen from time to time, but avoid dwelling on these things. You’ll bounce back if you remain open to optimism.
Source: adapted from 8 Strategies for Boosting Optimism 

Check Out This Video! 

I challenge you to take a moment and watch this and not feel a perspective shift in your day.

#Mindfulness #LifePerspective #Gratitude

Gratitude is associated with optimism and has been determined that grateful people are happier, receive more social support, are less stressed, and are less depressed. Recent research indicates that optimists and pessimists approach problems differently, and their ability to cope successfully with adversity differs as a result.


Remember, you are not alone on this journey. Take the opportunity to meet with a counsellor and develop the skills and strategies that will foster the best possible mindset in your life. Mohawk College students, take advantage of free counselling services! Also, there are many places around the world that offer counselling support for free or for low cost. Try it out…counsellors are not that scary…Friday the 13th may be, but we are not 😉

Thank you so much to those who have emailed me comments! 

Seriously! You are helping to build my optimism 🙂

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

Counsellor * eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


If you are inspired by this blog to learn more about optimism, gratitude and bringing the science of happiness into your life…check this out! Click Here

The Benefits of Looking on the Bright Side: 10 Reasons to Think Like an Optimist

Psychological Flexibility! Wait What? This Ability Can Help with Your Success

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Facing Fear

Since this is a very stressful time of year for students, I will be focusing on the Emotional Intelligence category of Stress Management, which includes the following three sub-categories: Flexibility, Stress Tolerance and Optimism.

Let’s chat about Flexibility, particularly Psychological Flexibility which means participating in the present moment fully (not past or future thoughts), and based on what the situation needs, making a choice to change direction or keep going on a path leading to your intended goal. In everyday language, this means holding our own thoughts and emotions a bit more lightly, and acting on longer term values rather than short term impulses, thoughts and feelings. Change your mind in the moment to reach your long terms goals. The ability to adapt and make small decisions along the way can make all the difference.

Ok, I’m going to get a wee bit Psych-Nerdy on you now…

Brain Nerd

You were warned 😉

Kashdan and Rotterburg (2010) did some pretty cool research in this area and define Psychological Flexibility as the measure of how a person:

…adapts to fluctuating situational demands

…reconfigures mental resources

…shifts perspective, and

balances competing desires, needs, and life domains. 

This means that you need to assess the current situation and make decisions that will better lead you in a direction that is beneficial to you in the long run.

You are probably thinking…


because I said so


No Really!

Low Psychological Flexibility, has been found to be linked to many difficulties such as…

  • higher anxiety & general worry
  • poor work performance
  • inability to learn effectively
  • substance abuse
  • lower quality of life
  • depression

Brain GuyWant to Learn to be More Psychologically Flexible?

Well, there are many ways, but I am going to focus on 3 ways you can get started learning techniques and strategies that can help you to become more adaptable and flexible. Helping you to take on challenges and grow into the best version of yourself.

1. Cognitive Restructuring or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 

Ideally, the best way to learn Cognitive Restructuring strategies (CBT) is to find a skilled CBT counsellor to work with. Mohawk College Counsellors are skilled in this area!. If you don’t have access to a counsellor, check out these two fantastic self-help sources!

There is this really awesome YouTube Channel called PeakYourMind created by the impressive and dynamic Martin Sosa. Please check him out! Here is one to get you started. Warning…you will become addicted to his charm, knowledge and real strategies that work. He is pretty awesome 🙂

2. Mindfulness

This is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, and using this information to manage stress, calm anxiety, make healthy decisions and increase overall wellbeing. My colleague wrote a great blog on Mindfulness a few weeks back: Check it Out! 

Also, here is a great TedTalk on the importance of 10 Mindful Minutes by internationally respected Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe.

If you are finding that you are developing an obsession for learning more about Mindfulness…go to the absolute source, the Mindfulness concept creator and Guru, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, for more strategies for developing and infusing Mindfulness in your life. He is also amazing!

3. Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a technique in behaviour therapy used to treat anxiety disorders. It involves the exposure of the person to the feared object or context without any danger, in order to overcome their anxiety. This is essentially “facing your fears” in safe, emotionally manageable steps that help you to be able to cope with distressing situations.

This is best done with the help of an experienced counsellor/psychotherapist/psychologist, but I know that this is not always possible so here is a great source to help you: Click Here. Check out the Systematic Desensitization topic. There is a great example of an Exposure Hierarchy, “Facing a Fear of Flying”.

Blessed are the Flexible

Again, thank you so much to those who have emailed me comments or “liked” my blog post! 

Each week, I really look forward to hearing from you.Keep the questions and comments coming!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

Counsellor * eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


Kashdan, T., & Rottenberg, J. (2010). Psychological flexibility as a fundamental aspect of health Clinical Psychology Review, 30 (7), 865-878 DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.001