Month: February 2016

Stress Management: The Artful Balance in Emotion Regulation

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What?!?! There is a blessing inside the storm that is stress?

Yes, I hate to be the messenger of bad news…actually I don’t ūüėČ but , yes, adversity can change us for the better if we let it (I always say to my teenage kid, Jack…and he has listened!).

So, since that is my stance, there is a “silver lining”, let’s focus on building our emotion regulation skills which will have a beautiful side effect of lowering our stress levels.

Now, wouldn’t that be awesome?!?

Last Week, I talked about the benefits of emotion regulation in my post, Emotion Regulation: Why it Contributes to Academic Success. This week I want to expand on that notion and start sharing strategies that can help.


Here is an infographic that gives some great advice:


I know what you are probably thinking, “yeah, great advice, but what if I can not even get myself to do any of those things?”. I know, most people don’t “feel” like doing anything; however, if you have a idea of “how” to get moving, and that there is a tangible benefit (light at the end of the tunnel), you can kick your own butt and at least get started. Really, between you and me, I rarely feel like doing anything; but I have definitely learned to like the positive outcomes from my effort. Think big picture, think “where will this get me?”, and get moving toward your goals. Today’s goal is to find ways to lower stress so that you can enjoy your life more.


Get Started PsychNerd Style

Brain Nerd


Did you know that you can do things BEFORE, DURING and AFTER an event to help regulate your emotional state? Yeah! According to Dr. Gross who developed the Process Model of Emotion Regulation (Gross, 1998) employing strategies before, during and after and event can significantly effect your emotional state.

Things You Can Do Before (Anticipation): 

  • You can decide to participate in events that are good for you.
  • You can choose the amount of time you will spend at an event ahead of time.
  • You can plan the best way for you to get yourself there.
  • You can learn more about what you are getting yourself into.

Things You Can Do During (Change the Experience):

  • You can choose to be fully present (Mindfulness) in that moment. Not focused on the past or the future, but focus on what is happening now.
  • You can choose to focus on the positive aspects of the situation.

Things You Can Do After (Reminisce about the Experience):

  • You can look at photos of the event and remember the fun that you had (delete the ones that are less happy).
  • When you describe your experience to others, choose to share the mostly the positive aspects¬†of your experience.
  • You can focus on gratitude, noticing how lucky you are to have the opportunity to experience great things in your life.

In the BEFORE, DURING and AFTER experience you also have the opporunity to use the following skills in all 3 categories (mentioned in last weeks blog post):

  1. You can SELECT the situation that you are participating in.
  2. You can MODIFY the situation once you are in it.
  3. You can focus your ATTENTION on the positive or negative (I recommend a lean to the positive).
  4. You can choose/change your THOUGHTS about the situation.
  5. You can choose how you RESPOND to the situation.

Check out this great example!


Emotion Regulation Example

(Quoidbach et al. , 2015)

Ok, now that you know that you have options, let’s get working!


Try This Today: Build Your Character Strength

One way of bolstering your emotion regulation capacity is to start with identifying your top strengths and find a new way to use one of these strengths in a different manner every day (Seligman et al., 2005).

Curious about your strengths? Take this Brief Strengths Test Today! 

Click Here

(you will find the Brief Strengths Test under the Questionnaires dropdown menu)

More Stress Management Strategies?

Check out some of my previous blog posts:


Stress Management Tips


It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. Start working on your reaction to stressful situations by practicing emotion regulation strategies.

Each week I will be blogging about a new Emotion Regulation Strategy.

Join me!

Happy Friday!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


Gross, J. J. (1998). The emerging field of emotion regulation: An integrative review. Review of General Psychology, 2, 271-299. 2680.2.3.271

Quoidbach, J. Mikolajczak, M,  and Gross, J. (2015). Positive interventions: An emotion regulation perspective. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 141(3), May 2015, 655-693.

Emotion Regulation: Why it Contributes to Academic Success

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Ok, I will warn you in advance, today’s post is pretty PsychNerdy, but so important to your success as a college student; and really, it is important to your success as a human being.

Emotion Regulation is the platform from which you launch all of your academic skills. It’s true! Even researchers are finding this.

  • “Students who can act on their emotions, trying to control them, tend to present better academic performance” (Pekrun, 2006; Pekrun et al., 2011).
  • “How people regulate emotions affects their relationships, well-being, and stress” (Gross, 2002; Hochschild, 1983).
  • “Individuals differ in their ability to regulate emotions, some choosing more successful strategies than others” (Mayer & Salovey, 1997; Salovey & Mayer, 1990).

Emotion Regulation

Now are you Curious?!?!

Well, let’s get started with describing it. Emotion regulation is the ability to regulate emotions by¬†modulating emotional experience to attain desired affective states and adaptive outcomes. Translation: learn the language of your emotions, what they are telling you, listen to the message, learn how to apply strategies that help you calm down and focus with the goal of successfully completing the task at hand.

SPOILER: It’s PsychNerd Time!

My favourite time ūüôā

Brain Nerd

In one study, college students who scored higher on an assessment of their ability to  regulate emotion reported having more positive relationships with others; less conflict and frustration in their relationship with a close friend; and stronger connections, affection, and support in their relationship with a parent (Lopes, Salovey, & Straus, 2003). So, emotion regulation helps in building stronger relationships, which is very important in navigating the college environment.

Here are some of the benefits of college relationships:

  • Knowing people in your class can help you gain access to notes, create supportive study groups, ask questions when you don’t understand and help you to feel a sense of belonging in your classroom and your programs.
  • Having positive relationships with your professors/instructors can help you to feel confident enough to approach them with questions and clarifications when you are having difficulty with the coursework. You can even ask for extensions if needed!

So, I assume you are wondering…
“well, great, how do I learn to manage my emotions!??!”

I am so glad you asked!


Process Model of Emotion Regulation (Gross, 1998)

EmotionsSuper nerdy, but please give me a chance to explain ūüėČ

People can learn to regulate their emotions by:

  1. Situation Selection: choosing situations to enter (or not) based on their expected emotional outcomes,
  2. Situation Modification: modifying those situations once they are in them,
  3. Attentional Deployment: directing their attention to specific features of the situation,
  4. Cognitive Change: changing their appraisals, how they view a situation,
  5. Response Modulation: altering their physiological, experiential, and behavioural responses.


Process Model of Emotion Regulation


Feeling PsychNerdy?!!?

If you are feeling really nerdy and inspired, check out this interview with the amazing Dr. James Gross. He explains the Process Model of Emotion regulation very well…because it is his model ūüôā


In the Coming Weeks…

I will be blogging about all the cool ways you can learn to regulate your emotions. I will be sharing different strategies that come from highly supported therapeutic techniques. Here are some highlights:

  • Acts of Kindness¬†(Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, et al., 2005)
  • Aerobic Laughter Intervention (Beckman et al., 2007)
  • Behavioural Activation¬†(Mazzucchelli et al., 2010)
  • Best Possible Self¬†(King, 2001)
  • Character Strength¬†(Seligman et al., 2005)Feelings are Not Facts.png
  • Gratitude Visit¬†(Seligman et al., 2005)
  • Guided Imagery¬†(Watanabe et al., 2006)
  • Hope Therapy¬†(Cheavens et al., 2006)
  • Intensely Positive Experience¬†(Burton & King, 2004)
  • Mindfulness- based Therapies (Kabat-Zinn, 1990; Segal et al., 2002)
  • Quality of Life Therapy (Frisch, 2006)
  • Reminiscence Intervention (e.g., Pinquart & Forstmeier, 2012)
  • Solution-Focused Coaching (e.g., Spence & Grant, 2007)


If I haven’t sold you yet on the value of Emotion Regulation…Please take a moment to watch this amazing TedTalk.

“We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don‚Äôt we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we don‚Äôt have to”



Some Advice to Get You Thinking

Ride the Wave

Please know that there are counsellors in your community that are available at low or no cost. Also, your post-secondary institutions have counsellors, for free, waiting for you to connect ūüôā

At Mohawk, we have a great counselling team that is very passionate about helping students, so contact us! or call 905-575-2211 to book an appointment.


Emotions are just little communication tools trying to tell you something

…learn to listen, communicate back and create a plan of action ūüôā

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success



Bortoletto, D.  and  Boruchovitch, E. (2013). Learning Strategies and Emotional Regulation of Pedagogy Students. Paidéia (Ribeirão Preto) [online]., vol.23, n.55, pp. 235-242. ISSN 0103-863X.  Http://

Gross, J. J. (2002). Emotion regulation: Affective, cognitive, and social consequences. Psychophysiology, 39, 281‚Äď291.

Gross, J. J., & John, O. P. (2002). Wise emotion regulation. In L. Feldman Barrett & P. Salovey (Eds.), The wisdom in feeling: Psychological processes in emotional intelligence (pp. 297‚Äď319). New York: Guilford Press.

Hochschild, A. R. (1983). The managed heart. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Lopes, P. N., Salovey, P., & Straus, R. (2003). Emotional intelligence,¬†personality, and the perceived quality of social relationships. Personality¬†and Individual Differences, 35, 641‚Äď658.

Pekrun, R., Goetz, T., Frenzel, A. C., Barchfeld, P., & Perry, R. P. (2011). Measuring emotions in students’ learning and performance: The Achievement Emotions Questionnaire (AEQ). Contemporary Educational Psychology,36 (1), 36-48. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2010.10.002 [ Links ]

Pekrun, R., Goetz, T., Titz, W., & Perry, R. P. (2002). Academic emotions in students’ self-regulated learning and achievement: A program of qualitative and quantitative research. Educational Psychologist, 37 (2), 91-105. doi:10.1207/S15326985EP3702_4 [ Links ]

Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination,Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185‚Äď211.

Salovey, P., Mayer, J. D., & Caruso, D. (2002). The positive psychology of¬†emotional intelligence. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 159‚Äď171). New York: Oxford University Press.


Want Some?!?! Academic Self-Efficacy = College Success

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Academic Self-Efficacy (ASE)

So what is this Academic Self-Efficacy stuff you say?!?! Well, it refers to an individual’s belief, or conviction, that they can successfully achieve, at a set level, on an academic task or attain a specific academic goal that they have set for themselves (Bandura, 1997; Eccles & Wigfield, 2002; Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2002a).

Research suggests that having high self-efficacy when attempting difficult tasks creates feelings of calmness or serenity while low self-efficacy may result in a student perceiving a task as more difficult than reality, which, in turn, may create anxiety, stress and a narrower idea on how best to approach the solving of a problem or activity (Downey, Eccles, & Chatman, 2005).

High ASE may = Feelings of Calmness

Low ASE may = Anxiety and Stress


Self Concept

Are you wondering…Do I have low ASE?!?!

Well check out the following chart:

High Self-Efficacy High Self-Esteem Low Self-Efficacy Low Self-Esteem
Self-Confidence Responsibility Fear of Risks Unhappiness
Accurate Self-evaluation Goal Commitment Fear of Uncertainty Anxiety
Willingness to take risks Genuineness Feelings of Failure Inferiority or Superiority
Sense of accomplishment Forgiving Impression Management Impatience or Irritability
Internal Values Externally oriented goals
Positivity Negativity

When your self-esteem and self-efficacy are low, you may have lower aspirations and a weaker commitment to the goals you have chosen to pursue. You may find that do not concentrate on how to perform well. Instead, you may spend more of your energy focusing on your limitations and failures.

Let’s work on that ūüôā

Brain Nerd

Psych-Nerd Light

just a light and nerdy snack!


Measuring Self-Efficacy

Dr. Chemers, University of California SC, and his research team found that academic self-Self-efficacy-measureefficacy is strongly related to academic performance and adjustment to college. Part of their questionnaire included a section on self-efficacy and the following questions were used to measure Academic Self Efficacy.

Take a moment to rate yourself in these 7 areas on a scale from

1 (Does Not Describe Me at all) to 7 (Describes me Very Well).

Academic Self-Efficacy (ASE)

  1. I know how to schedule my time to accomplish my tasks.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7
  2. I know how to take notes.   1  2  3  4  5  6  7
  3. I know how to study to perform well on tests.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7
  4. I am good at research and writing papers.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7
  5. I am a very good student.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7
  6. I usually do very well in school and at academic tasks.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7
  7. I find my college academic work interesting and absorbing.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7
  8. I am very capable of succeeding at the college.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7

The closer you get to a rating of 7 for a question, the more skills you believe you have in that area. Take a look at how you rated yourself on each question and then decide which areas you would like to improve on.

ASE Growth Strategies

Take a moment to watch a few of these videos to help you to grow in the areas that you are still building.

I know how to schedule my time to accomplish my tasks.

I know how to take notes.

I know how to study to perform well on tests.

I am good at research and writing papers.

Being an Engaged Student: Question Group

  • I am a very good student.
  • I usually do very well in school and at academic tasks.
  • I find my college¬†academic work interesting and absorbing.
  • I am very capable of succeeding at the college.

The following TedTalks can help you to become a better student, do well on academic tasks, help you to dive into your work (engagement) and build the belief that you are capable of succeeding in your college program.

The Psychology of Self Motivation (TedTalk)

Getting Stuck in the Negatives (TedTalk)

Programming Your Mind for Success (TedTalk)

How to Know Your Life Purpose in 5 Minutes (TedTalk)

Food for Thought

  • Goal setting and self-efficacy are powerful influences on academic achievement ¬†(Zimmerman, Bandura, & Martinez-Pons, 1992).
  • Learning goals that are specific, short-term,¬†and viewed as challenging but attainable enhance students‚Äô self-efficacy better than do goals that are general, long-term, or not viewed as attainable¬†(Zimmerman, Bandura, & Martinez-Pons, 1992).
  • Students believe that they can attain their goals when they have clear standards against which to gauge their progress. As students work on tasks, they compare their progress against their goals. The perception of progress strengthens self-efficacy and motivates students to continue to improve (Schunk, 1995).

So, as you begin to work on tasks, apply these new strategies, take note of your progress as you go, you will strengthen your Academic Self-Efficacy!

Believe in Yourself

Start Building your Academic Self-Efficacy!

You will feel better ūüôā

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success



Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York:W. H. Freeman.

Chemers, M.M., Hu, L.T., and Garcia, B., Academic Self-Efficacy and First Year College Student Performance and Adjustment. Journal of Educ. Psychology 2001, Vol. 93, No. 1, 55-64.

Downey, Geraldine, Jacquelynne S. Eccles, and Celina Chatman. (2005). Navigating the future: social identity, coping, and life tasks.New York: Russell Sage. 2005.

Eccles, Jacquelynne S and Wigfield, Allan Wigfield. (2002).  Motivational beliefs, values, and goals. Annual Review of Psychology, 53 (1), DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135153

Linnenbrink, E. A., & Pintrich, P. R. (2002a). Motivation as an enabler for academic success. School Psychology Review, 31(3), 313-327.

Schunk, D. H. (1995). Self-efficacy and education and instruction. In J. E. Maddux (Ed.),Self-efficacy, adaptation, and adjustment: Theory, research, and application (pp. 281-303). New York: Plenum Press.

Zimmerman, B. J., Bandura, A., & Martinez-Pons, M. (1992). Self-motivation for academic attainment: The role of self-efficacy beliefs and personal goal-setting. American Educational Research Journal, 29, 663-676.

Self-Concept: Yes, How You Feel About Yourself and Your Ability Does Effect Your Success

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Well, since we need to accept that there is a link between how we see ourselves and our ability to realize our goals, we really should pay a little attention to us and be nice ūüôā

Good Self-Concept = Success

If you are confident in your ability to tackle what comes into your life and you have compassion for yourself (realistic view of yourself), why wouldn’t you take on the risks associated with goal achievement?

Now, I must admit, there are days where I feel pretty good about my abilities and then there are days where I have almost zero confidence and want to avoid everything. My advice is to continually work on building a positive self-concept by collecting experiences (noticing) when you do well. We are all pretty awesome at collecting all the negative experiences, why not collect the good? Also, acknowledge that you will “feel” great somedays, and maybe not so great other days. ENJOY the good days, lean in and get things done when confidence is high! Use your positive experience collections to help you through the bad days by creating a realistic and compassionate view of yourself.

Collect, take notice,

of the great things that you do.

Oh You Know it! 

It’s PsychNerd Time Again!

Brain Nerd






A Social Psychology research team, led by Dr. Juliana Breines, at the University of California, Berkeley found some pretty awesome things about self-concept and motivation. Over four different experiments, they¬†explored self-criticism vs. self-compassion and the effect on motivation.¬†All four experiments asked participants to think about something that would typically elicit self-criticism. Some participants were put in the experimental group (the ones who were taught self-compassion strategies) and the control group (no self-compassion training…so sad).

Here is what they did: 

  • Experiment 1 and 2: participants were asked to identify what they considered to be their biggest weakness or shortcoming. Super fun! ūüėČ
  • Experiment 3:¬†participants recalled a recent time when they did something they felt was wrong and experienced guilt, remorse, and regret. Ugh…
  • Experiment 4: participants took a very difficult test,¬†designed to create a sense of struggle and frustration. no fun at all…sigh…

*In each experiment, researchers then gave some participants a self-compassion¬†training. For the first three studies, participants wrote for 3 minutes in response to the instructions: “Imagine that you are talking to yourself about this [weakness/action] from a compassionate and understanding¬†perspective. What would you say?”

*For the 4th experiment, the researchers¬†shared a self-compassion message after participants struggled with the test: “If you had difficulty with the test you just took, you‚Äôre not alone. It‚Äôs common for students to have difficulty with tests like this. If you feel bad about how you did, try not to be too hard on yourself.”

Here is what they found:

  • Participants who practised a self-compassionate mindset showed greater willingness to learn from, and improve on, their self-perceived weakness, mistake or failure.
  • Participants, trained in self-compassion, were more interested in studying to improve performance on the difficult test, and they were more likely to want to take action to reduce the harm of their previous mistakes. They also had greater optimism¬†that their personal weakness could be changed.

Good News!

Self-compassion Supports Self-improvement

Whether you think you can

You have a choice…

Work on shifting from a self-critical mindset to a self-compassionate mindset.


Write for 3 minutes each day. Take a self-criticism and re-write it. Imagine that you are talking to someone else. What advice would you give them?

All of us can take 3 minutes per day to improve our motivation with a little encouragement ūüôā

Take 20 Minutes and Learn More About Self-Compassion!


We can choose a self-compassionate point of view, and this will help to recover from setbacks and pursue positive change.


Happy Self-Compassionate Friday!!!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


References & Resources:

Breines J.G., Chen S.  (2012)  Self-Compassion Increases Self-Improvement Motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,  38  (9) , pp. 1133-1143. 

The Centre for Mindful Self-Compassion: 

Test How Self-Compassionate You Are: