Month: November 2016

Breaking Up With Stress: A Stress Management Series to Help You Dump that $#%? From Your Life!

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Stress Stress Stress

If you are anything like me, and the thousands of other people, you are probably very familiar with stress. You have been dating for a while now. It is a familiar and weirdly comfortable relationship, but it can get a wee bit abusive sometimes. Shall we start with some relationship counselling to get stress to smarten up?

To be completely honest with you…don’t shoot the messenger!!!…stress will always be a part of your life, even if you divorce it 😉 We just need to decide if we are BFF’s, acquaintances or, at least, healthy mature partners. Since stress is a stalker and a creeper, we may as well get friendly with that little devil if it is going to be in our lives.

I started thinking this week about what interventions I do in counselling sessions to help people understand, manage and reduce stress. So, I put this nifty little graphic together  (below) to help conceptualize the facets of stress. The way I see stress management/reduction is in a step-by-step process starting with Stress Knowledge (or at least a process of practice in all 5 areas). It is so important to understand what stress is neurologically and physiologically. Knowing what this horrible feeling is shows you that you are actually very normal and just an over-achiever 😉 The reaction is very functional and helpful in our survival but when we over use it, it becomes a pain in the &$$ in our life. Over the next few weeks I will slowly hand feed you (so I don’t stress you!) with some stress relationship advice and strategies to help you repair your relationship with stress. Each post will have a little bit of Stress Knowledge, some Self-Awareness strategies to help make this process personal to you, some strategies to kick your brain’s butt and develop a stress busting Attitude and a side of some Coping Skills to help you communicate better in your relationship with stress.

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Stress 101: Some Knowledge to Empower You

How Stress Effects Your Brain

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Signs of Stress

Everyone reacts to stress differently. However, some common signs and symptoms of the fight or flight response include:

  • Frequent headaches.
  • Cold or sweaty hands and feet.
  • Frequent heartburn, stomach pain or nausea.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Excessive sleeping, or insomnia.
  • Persistent difficulty concentrating.
  • Obsessive or compulsive behaviors.
  • Social withdrawal or isolation.
  • Constant fatigue.
  • Irritability and angry episodes.
  • Significant weight gain or loss.
  • Consistent feelings of being overwhelmed or overloaded.

Self-Awareness: Personality and StressENFP.jpg

Take This Quiz: CLICK HERE

Check This Out: Stress Tips for Your Personality Temperament


Positive Mental State

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Try a Guided Meditation – 20 Minutes 


Attitude

5 Steps on How to Build Resilience


Coping Skills: Breaking Up with Stress

…or at least repairing the relationship…


Your relationship with stress can change.

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Be patient, lean in, try new strategies and shape the life you want.

#MakeGoodThingsHappen


 

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

Psychological Flexibility: Brain Yoga for Enhancing Motivation

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Psychological and emotional flexibility are consistently mentioned in resilience, emotion regulation and stress management research findings. The ability to implement plans B-Z beautifully illustrates the benefits of psychological and emotional flexibility. It is crucial to your physical and mental health. Seriously, this is an important yoga move! Start bending!

Wondering Where Your Motivation Went?!?

Motivation can be completely derailed when you feel/think that you have run out of options. You have tried EVERYTHING and NOTHING works. Well, from my experience there is ALWAYS another way of seeing something, doing something or experiencing something. Curious how to start learning how to be more psychologically and emotionally flexible?!?

Sure your are!

…or you can choose to stay stuck in a painful yoga position that makes your butt numb 😉


Psychological Flexibility is defined as “the ability to contact the present moment more fully as a conscious human being and to change, or persist in, behavior when doing so serves valued ends” (Biglan, Hayes, & Pistorello, 2008). What these researchers mean by ‘contacting the present more fully’ is being aware of, and in, the curegoalsnt moment; what you feel, what is happening, not the past or future, but now. Once you are there, using this awareness, to creatively brainstorm alternate solutions, methods, strategies and shift the plan. You can even persist in the face of adversity along the original planned path if that is working for you.

Emotional flexibility is super important because so many people get stuck in the Emotional Reasoning loop, thinking that “I feel like such a failure, so I must be”. Applying a bit of flexibility here enables people to experience and notice the full range of emotion, like happiness, sadness, shame or anger, but have the ability act on the emotion in a helpful way (challenge the feeling and ask if it is really true) and then leave that emotional experience balanced when it is time to move on.

When you become more flexible, you can start to choose your responses rather than automatically responding to a situation.

Psychological Flexibility + Emotional Flexibility = Flexible Methods


 

Getting Started:

Be the scientist observing your mind. Be curious.

  • Develop a Curious Mindset: A curious mindset allows you to observe your negative reactions without judgment and see what you can learn from them. Curiosity engages your sense of logic and inhibits emotional “gut” reScientist.jpgactions, allowing you to learn from these situations and identify intelligent next steps that lead you towards your goals.

 


Feelin’ Crafty?!?

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Motivation Activity for the Day

Grab some sticky notes and start gathering moments in your life where you had to push through, dust yourself off and then try again or made it through something really hard. Write Mindset Moments in the middle and start collecting these personal strength events on sticky notes. This create a great visual reminder your power and strength in the face of adversity.

The following are some writing prompts to get you started:

When I learned…

When I did…

When I overcame


When I developed the skill to…

When I pushed through and….


 

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Happy Flexible Friday!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

 

Make Good Things Happen

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Ok, today is the day that I am going to ask you to do some thing RADICAL!

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Fun Right?!?!

Well, yes and no, but a super important topic for anyone who wants to grow, heal and move forward in their life.

RADICAL ACCEPTANCE

Wait what?!?! yes, let’s focus on one of the most fundamental parts of emotion regulation, personal empowerment, self compassion and overall life balance.

“acceptance of life as it is, not as it is supposed to be; and the need to change, despite that reality and because of it” – Dr. Marsha Linehan

There are three parts to radical acceptance.

  1. The first part is accepting that reality is what it is.
  2. The second part is accepting that the event or situation causing you pain has a cause.
  3. The third part is accepting life can be worth living even with painful events in it.

Radical Acceptance is a part of a therapeutic approach called Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) designed by the amazing psychologist, Dr. Marsha Linehan. This therapeutic approach was invented to help people, who were suffering terribly, learn to regulate their emotions and live a life worth living. Even though you may not be suffering, most people find themselves, at some point, in a state of wanting a life that is different that they are currently experiencing. Sometimes it is this wanting or wishing that lowers our self esteem and increases sadness or life dissatisfaction. The first step on the path to living a life that you want, is accepting the life that you currently have and then deciding what you are willing to work hard on to change.


I am not saying that this is easy. It is actually a very difficult practice, but from experience I can tell you that the result of your effort is astounding emotional freedom and personal empowerment.


Want to Get Started Radically Accepting?

Start with asking yourself the following questions about a recent difficult situation in your life:

Radical Acceptance: “So that happened…”

  1. What events led up to the distressing situation?Acceptance.jpg
  2. What role did you play in creating this situation?
  3. What role did other people / another person play in creating this situation?
  4. What did you have control of in this situation?
  5. What didn’t you have control of in this situation?
  6. What was your response to this situation?
  7. How did your response affect your own thoughts and feelings?
  8. How did your response affect the thoughts and feelings of other people?
  9. How could you have changed your response to this situation to lead to less suffering for yourself and others?
  10. How could this situation have occurred differently if you had decided to radically accept the situation?

Source: For more information about how to explore these questions: CLICK HEREill-be-fineSo when your not so fine, start working on some mindfulness and self compassion…

 


To live the best version of a life we first have to accept our life as it is and get out of the rut of wishing it was different, especially with things that are out of our control. Once you accept and acknowledge, we can then decide what WE want to do about it.

#MakeGoodThingsHappen

Take the time to work hard and design the best possible life for yourself. Be the main character in your story.


 

I would love to hear the good things that you are making happen in your life. Tweet me @SuccessMohawk and use #MakeGoodThingsHappen. Let’s share and learn from each other 🙂

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

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SLEEP! Why Have You Abandoned Me?!?!

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Need More Sleep?

Does this Sound Like Your Bedtime Wind Down Routine?

  • I love to replay some of the events of the day in my head.
  • I use the time before bed to mull over all the “what ifs” in my life.
  • I practice all the things I want to say to people.
  • I use this time wisely and plan and plan and plan my next day.
  • I sometimes think of all the people I miss terribly and feel sad.
  • I love to run through all the people in my life that I hate and why I hate them.
  • It is fun to act like a detective and ask a LOT of questions in my head.

Do you then wonder…

“Why am I still awake??!?!”

Hmmm…me thinks that you may be revving up your brain and kicking it into high gear conveniently before you want it to calm down and chill out.


Why Sleep is Important to Your Brain Function

As you slip into the grip of lacking proper sleep, your brain starts to conserve energy and start limiting functions by focusing on the areas that help you not die, like breathing. While breathing is good and all, being a human in the world where you have responsibilities like work, school, family, etc. you need to do more than just survive.

A Wee Brain Lesson

….seriously it will be wee 😉

brain-and-sleepThese are areas of your brain that REALLY need you to sleep.  Seriously, they are begging you…pahleeese SLEEEEP!

Here they are:

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The Neocortex: Now this big fleshy new part of the human brain is the control center for memory and learning in general. Treat it well or you will learn nothing and forget everything 😉

The Frontal Lobe: When this lobe is lumbering your creativity, imagination and general ability to focus takes a nose dive. You can find yourself completely unable to come up with solutions to your problems or even see any alternatives. You don’t even know where to start on assignments and tasks.

The Temporal Lobe: When you stop sleeping your mouth literally stops working. It has no idea what to say. This lovely lobe helps you organize your language and gives you the ability to even say something like “Help! Please help me to learn how to manage my stress and learn strategies to help me sleeping better”.

Parietal Lobe: You need this logical lobe working so that you can solve problems and have higher functioning thought processes. When this lobe is well rested, life seems manageable because your Thinking/Reasonable Mind is blending well with your Emotional Mind and it allows your Wise Mind to shine through.

The Prefrontal Cortex: This is the last area in the human brain to develop, which explains a great deal about why the adolescent and adult understanding of world often seem to be at odds 😉 This is your “voice of reason”, your judgement center, your ability to visualize, select and create plans of action in your life that lead to beneficial outcomes. Treat this area very well if you want to stop making massive mistakes.


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I know this was super PsychNerdy, but I think that it is important to have a basic understanding of how your beautiful brain works. Seriously, all you need to do is just treat it well and you will feel better, function better and do better in everything.


So I feel like I have got your attention! Ready to treat your brain better?!?!


Sleep Strategy

I will distill it down to a simple plan for getting some shuteye. You need a ROUTINE that sends a signal to your brain that you are ready to slip away into dreamland.

Three steps to consider:

  1. Wind Down: Start preparing for sleep a 1/2 hour before you go to bed.
  2. Use Strategies: Try strategies that encourage sleep (see list below)
  3. Manage Your Thoughts: Shut down your thoughts.  Use strategies that help you to manage your anxiety/worry.

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*I have given your my favourite sleep music. It works for me EVERY time, even when my thoughts seem to be out of control. Try it out, but remember that it takes at least 14 days to build a habit, so keep trying 🙂

Liquid Mind VIII: Sleep

Want to buy this? iTunes: Liquid Mind VIII: Sleep


Sleep Hacks

Here are 20 strategies to try that are scientifically proven to get you sleeping and make your brain happy and function well. Please give them a try!

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Stop reading this and get to bed!!!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca