Month: October 2016

Boo! Scared? #LeanIn

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what-would-you-do

Yes, we are entering the Halloween season and being scared is part of the fun, but being scared or overwhelmed the remainder of the 364 days in the year can really interfere with your life.

Are You Tired of Being Scared?

Do you feel that lack of confidence has hindered you in your life?

I recently read a fantastic book by a person who is really inspirational, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and bestselling author of the book “Lean In”.  In this book she encourages women to focus on what they can do in the workplace rather than what they can’t. After reading this book, I starting thinking that her incredible message reaches further than just workplace leadership. The concept of “leaning in” is a wonderful metaphor for responding to most things in life that scare or overwhelm us. If you have an important wish or goal in your life, but you are finding that fear, or a lack of confidence, may be stopping you, this is the time to decide your next steps. If your goal or wish is important to you, then you have the following two choices: Approach or Avoid. I would suggest that if this is an important life goal then choose to “Approach” it and make a plan, break down the steps and Lean In.do one thing that scares you.jpg


Aanxiety-girl.jpgnxiety

Yes, let’s go there…

Anxiety is a thing. Anxiety is actually your body doing exactly what it is supposed to do to keep you safe. If you about to be hit by a car or find a grizzly bear on your hiking path, you are supposed to be sent into a “fight or flight” state to keep you safe. The problem arises when that bear is in your head (your thoughts) and you can’t seem to escape it. Anxiety then becomes a problem because the bear follows you around takes over your life and stops you from living your life fully.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach designed to help people train their brain to respond differently to that bear, to get to know the bear (thought patterns), challenge the bear (new ways of thinking) and understanding where that bear comes from (core beliefs). So since this is an approach that focuses on LEARNING and retraining your brain, and humans are learning beings…you CAN do this!
oneYou first need to calm your Amygdala, this is a tiny part of your brain that is responsible for the huge and important response, the “fight or flight” response. You want to learn to calm Amy, tell her that everything it is okay and to “shut up!” because you need to think.

Try this to calm Amy…

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or listen to this…

Scientists have discovered the most relaxing tune ever!

The most relaxing tune, Weightless by founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy , was crafted by using specific rhythms, tones, frequencies and intervals to relax the listener. A continuous rhythm of 60 BPM causes the brainwaves and heart rate to synchronise with the rhythm: a process known as ‘entrainment’. Low underlying bass tones relax the listener and a low whooshing sound with a trance-like quality takes the listener into an even deeper state of calm. Read more!

If you liked that tune, check out the full top 10 most relaxing songs!

1. Marconi Union and Lyz Cooper – Weightless

2. Airstream – Electra

3. DJ Shah – Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)

4. Enya – Watermark

5. Coldplay – Strawberry Swing

6. Barcelona – Please Don’t Go

7. All Saints – Pure Shores

8. Adele – Someone Like You

9. Mozart – Canzonetta Sull’aria

10. Cafe Del Mar – We Can Fly

two Once your brain is calm, you can now think (using your Prefrontal Cortex…I know TMI! but this PsychNerdy gurl couldn’t help it!). Helpful thinking means many things in this process such as, understanding your thought patterns, challenging problematic patterns or widening the lens you use when viewing your your life, just to mention a few ways. Get started on changing your thinking with the following resources:

  1. CBT Resource Sheet
  2. Widening Your Lens “The Wolf That You Feed” – Read by me! Listen below.

wolf

Choose to focus on what is going well in your life. Look at your life as a learning process and take on challenges as learning opportunities. You are not broken or defective, you just haven’t learned something…YET!


Want to be Inspired?

Watch Sheryl Sandberg share her experience in two wonderful TedTalks 🙂


 

fearIf you are ever overwhelmed, fearful or anxious, please know that you are definitely not crazy. You brain and body are doing EXACTLY what they are designed to do. Sometimes we just learn too much in a direction that is not helpful, we develop a habit, and all we need to do is start learning in a different direction. It is just LEARNING and if fear is getting in the way of your life, then you just haven’t learned how to tune up  the brain that you got…YET. I wish our brains came with a personal manual 😉 Keep on learning; keep on figuring out how your brain works.


I leave you with the thought…

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

Stress Management: Reading Between the Lines of the Suggested Steps #TheHow

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stress-free-zone

There are loads of great resources on the internet telling you what you need to do to reduce and manage the stress in your life. A quick Google search with the search term “Stress Management” produced a wealth sites, suggestions and ideas such as the following:

  1. Identify the sources of stress in your life
  2. Learn healthier ways to cope with stress
  3. Get moving
  4. Connect to others
  5. Practice the 4 A’s
  6. Make time for fun and relaxation
  7. Maintain balance with a healthy lifestyle

Source: Stress Management: Tips for Getting your Stress Under Control for Good

This source is fantastic, which is why I am using it as an example. Great ideas, it hits the stress management highlights very well and if you know the “how” part of the suggestions then you are off and running! Please take a moment to check it out.

But…


If you are still wondering,

“What are the healthier ways of coping?!?”

Often people can feel very isolated when they are stressed out and find themselves a wee bit sick of the advice. They may think “I have no idea how to even start managing my stress” or they may feel that they are the only one who has not figured it out.

stress-student

In the academic year, this is when stress ramps up wildly for students. Ah October, the month of papers, assignments, presentations and tests. What I would like to focus on today is the HOW part of finding healthier ways of coping.

Brain NerdThe HOW part can help us to create the much needed “Stress Free Zones” in our life. It is important to create moments in our lives where we actively work toward giving our brain a break so that it works better. If you are not convinced, please check the following article in Scientific American, “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime“. See! Science says so!

ready-to-try

The psychotherapeutic intervention called Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) designed by the wonderful psychologist, Dr. Marsha Lineman, teaches us how to regulate our emotions. This is the underlying premise to any stress management strategy, managing the emotions that lead to stress. Today, I want to share some pretty great resources for two areas of DBT that will help you with the HOW of managing stress: Distress Tolerance and Emotion Regulation. Armed with these two skill set areas, you can start to build stress free zones in your life.

Distress Tolerance: learning how to expand our ability to “cope with”, “live with” and not be sidelined by emotional experiences. Distress tolerance skills address the tendency of some individuals to experience negative emotions as overwhelming and unbearable. People with a low tolerance for distress can become overwhelmed at relatively mild levels of stress, and may react with negative behaviors.

*Check out this resource to get started! Distress Tolerance Skills

Emotion Regulation: learning how to manage negative and overwhelming emotions while increasing positive experiences. This involves the following three goals: learning to understand one’s emotions, learning to reduce emotional vulnerability and decreasing emotional suffering.

*Check out this resource to get started! Emotion Regulation Skills


absolutely-nothing

…except create a stress free zone in my life…

Creating a stress free zone can be a moment, a day or a week. No matter how long it is, know that it is the only way to give your brain a break so that you will think better, learn better and feel better. Yes, it is hard, but again, so worth it!

happybraintop_revise_1x

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

 

 

 

Gratitude: Shift Your Brain and Shake off Some of that Turkey Haze!

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power-of-gratitude-.jpg

In Canada, we are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend. Instead of just filling your belly with yummy comfort food and napping, this is a great opportunity to take a moment and also feed your brain. Fill it with alternative ways of thinking that promote wellbeing and can reduce symptoms of depression while you are at it. Build, develop and foster some gratitude neural pathways in your brain!happiness-via-gratitude-quote_daily-inspiration


Not Convinced?!?

Here is the science…

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.

Check out this video where Dr. Emmons reveals the power that gratitude has to transform our lives and offers tips for cultivating it.


Ok, I can feel you slipping into a deep turkey coma because you are not completely convinced as to the value of thinking in a grateful way. Well…


Brain Nerd

Ok, you asked for it!

I will now have to get all PsychNerdy on y’all!

Dr. Norman Doidge, a Toronto Psychiatrist, has done some pretty extensive research on brain function, particularly in the area of Neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. All you need to do is exercise your brain in the right direction. He says that neutrons that “fire together, wire together”.

neurons-2.jpg

So if you are participating in Thanksgiving family activities and all you can think about is what is crappy about the situation, the neutrons firing for “Thanksgiving” are wiring with”crappy”. Wouldn’t it be better to change your perspective to “what is going well?”, “what am I grateful for?” or “I am so lucky to have [fill in your blank]”?. This way the next time you see a turkey you will associate it with good things 🙂


Gratitude Fostering Strategies

  1. Perspective Shaping: Start with reading this amazing list of questions”50 Questions That Will Help You Feel Grateful and Good About Life” that will get that sluggish brain ticking along a gratitude path.
  2. Reframing: Consciously reframe something that you initially perceived as negative into an opportunity to be grateful. Come on, try it! Find that silver lining. Notice how you feel when you think the negative thought and notice how you feel when you shift over to the positive.
  3. Curb the Urge: Try catching yourself every time you are about to complain about something and then W.A.I.T! Stop and ask yourself “Why Am I Talking”? Ask yourself “Can I say nothing?” or  “Can I say something positive instead?”
  4. Gratitude Letter: This is not the same as a “thank you note,” a Gratitude Letter gives you an opportunity to examine the happiness and meaning that you get from a relationship in your life, write it down, and share it with that significant person. The cool thing here is that it’s not only a gift to the recipient, it’s a gift to yourself. The process of pondering and realizing the good things in that relationship and the positive impact in your life is so beneficial for your wellbeing. Check this out and get started -> Gratitude Letter Ideas.

thankful-quote.jpg


All you programmers and coders out there are well aware of the following phrase:

“Garbage in-Garbage Out”

Gratitude Symbol.jpg

This works the same for your brain. Feed it well…


Come on, shake yourself out of that turkey stupor and try feeding your brain some gratitude and start feeling better in your life. Show up, lean in and create the life that you want. Be grateful that you can change your brain! #NeuralPlasticity It is up to you!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING from CANADA!

Turkey Hockey.jpg

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca


Resources: