Month: December 2017

Coping, it’s Not the F-Word!

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It is this time of year that really gets me thinking of what people do to get through tough times. It can be a difficult month for so many people. What I have noticed is that people seem to use the word “coping” like the f-word, like a bad word, like a descriptor of a mental state of messiness (f^@%ed). But that is not true at all. Coping rocks! Adversity is an opportunity to put your skills to the test, to grow, to increase your adaptability, to learn that you, indeed, can do it. Read on, learn some new stuff, try some new stuff and surprise yourself with your ability to deal, even when you thought you couldn’t.


Life is messy.

Coping is happiness


 

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What changed my life, and the lives of so many of the students that I have learned from in my counselling practice, is that when you accept adversity, or barriers, as learning opportunities in your life you flourish. You start to rock this life because you learn to bounce back with all those wonderful skills you build.

Yes, there is always a moment when life knocks you on your ass, and you just lay there and whine, complain and use every word in the profanity realm (yes, I do that too). Then you go, “okay, that happened”, get sick of your pity party and then start doing something about it.


“Adversity can change you for the better, if you let it”

Me


SoS_Logo_1_Perspective Shift! YOLO!

So let’s start looking at coping differently…

“In psychology, coping means to invest conscious effort, to solve personal and interpersonal problems, in order to try to master, minimize or tolerate stress and conflict”  (Brougham, Zail, Mendoza, Celeste & Miller, 2009)

Take Away:

Coping is a good thing. Try to stop using that word to describe a bad mental state. Coping means you are rocking it. Coping happens at many levels. Sometimes it is small, sometimes it is big. It about doing something, not how big or small.

“Problems are not problems. Coping is the problem.”

Virginia Satir

Success and happiness depend on how well you can cope with the untidy, confusing, embarrassing, crappy or messy situations of the day. In the book, Peoplemaking, Virginia Satir, a legendary social worker, talked about problems not being the problem. Expecting life to not have problems is a big part of the problem.

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Put on the Work Clothes and Kick Butt!

Start with accepting that if you want things to be different, you have to do things differently. Also, accepting that we will always be out of our comfort zone when we are growing and becoming our best selves. So let’s take on these “problems” and build our ability to bounce back and take on this life you have.

Here are some ideas that I uses daily, and highly recommend: 

Work first Play Later

Feelings Are Not Facts!

Get Some Sleep!

  • Thoughts racing? Here is a great resource to help you with adding some z’s to your thought bubble 🙂 Check this out! 
  • Check out this TEDTalk to learn strategies to calm your busy mind.

 


 

What you do


Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

References

  • Brougham, Ruby R.; Zail, Christy M.; Mendoza, Celeste M.; Miller, Janine R. (2009). “Stress, Sex Differences, and Coping Strategies Among College Students”. Current Psychology. 28 (2): 85–97. doi:10.1007/s12144-009-9047-0.

Stuck? Overwhelmed? Make the 4A’s Your BFF #Resilience

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Acceptance

Awareness – Acceptance – Adjustment -Action


Spoiler!

What you are about to read is not a slag to millennials, but rather a compliment!


 

Dear Millenials,

I know that you take a bunch of criticism from Boomers and GenXers, some if of it deserved 😉 some misinformed and wrong. So to balance out this perception,  I am going to share a good news story with you…

I have just come back to work after a province wide (24 colleges) faculty strike where I had the privilege of waking in circles, for little to no pay, taking a strong stand for quality education (which is super important). No, I didn’t want to be doing this but the cause was irresistible since education changed my life profoundly. Integrity means supporting your beliefs even when it is hard. I want you to have the incredible educational experience that I had so that you too can create your wildest dreams life.

So, we faculty were all very nervous coming back, wondering what we would be met with as the student-faculty paths started to intersect again. What I found was pretty incredible behaviour from you millennials 🙂

So many of you were stressed and overwhelmed, which is absolutely normal since you had no idea what the plan was for you to complete your semester. Within a week, after the plans were clear, the whole campus feeling transitioned from freaked out to functioning beautifully. Students listened, asked questions and started getting back to work and professors listened, asked questions and supported their students. So many of you decided that you would “lean in”, listen and figure out your next steps. You got all gritty and motivated and made the next step toward your success. Nicely done!

My advice to you is look around you at the students who are leaning into their studies, not complaining about what happened (staying stuck) but rather doing what it takes to get their semester completed successfully, one small step by one small step. There are some pretty great examples out there in your classes, sitting right beside you.  I am so impressed with your behaviour and resilient abilities 🙂 


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Well, this got me thinking about resilience building and a model that really helps bring the process to life.


Awareness  –  Acceptance  –  Adjustment  –  Action


icon2  Awareness

The first step in building your resilience is awareness.

  • Be aware of what is going on in your body and your brain. Where do you feel tension? Is your body telling you that something is wrong?
  • What are you feeling? Emotions contain information. Notice what they are telling you about the situation and yourself. If you are saying that you can’t do this, well that is exactly what your body is reacting to.
  • Try this! Mindfulness Practice is a great way to get started: Check this Out!

*Overall, awareness is reading your personal signs and knowing that there may be something that needs to change.

icon1  Acceptance

This is the part where you say, “okay, that happened”.

  • Feelings: Accept the way you feel is the way you feel. Feelings are are part of our natural response to experience. It is absolutely okay to feel disappointment, shock, sadness, overwhelmed or incompetent. But…
    • Remember that just because you feel a certain way, does not make it true. You may feel like you can’t handle something or that you are a failure, these are just feelings. Feelings are not facts!
    • Also, you don’t have to stay living in those feelings. Be careful how you interpret the message.

hafiz

  • Behaviour: Accept the situation for what it is, what you can and can not control. Do something to change the situation or change how you are reacting to it. I had an amazing professor who called staying stuck in things you can’t change as ‘baby wishes’. You can wish and wish and wish, but that will never change what is. This was a very helpful way of conceptualizing my stuck inner tantrum-prone 4 year old 🙂

 

icon4  Adjustment

This is where the “bouncing back” part of resilience begins.

This is where you start to make adjustments in your approach so that you can improve the situation. Asking yourself, How can I shift my attention and energy to something helpful?

Here are some tools to get you started:

  • Attitude Adjustment:
    • Adopt the attitude of making change happen in your life, not waiting for others to do it for you. You are your own advocate, show up in your own life. #MakeSomethingGoodHappen
  • Radical Acceptance: Check out this funky little therapy trick!
  • Cultivate Clarity: You need to have an idea of who you want to be, what qualities you want to possess and what you would like to accomplish in your life. If you know where you are going, the tough times are easier to navigate.
  • Take on the Challenge: Be a person who deals with anxiety and overwhelming emotions by approaching them, not avoiding them. The very thing that scares you is the thing you need to run toward, not away from. *You can also walk or even crawl because it is the direction matters 🙂

icon5  Action.

Take action and do something.

Do it consciously and intelligently. Use your emotional awareness, even if your choice is not to act immediately. Consider the last time you were in a state of indecisiveness.

How did you feel the moment you made a decision and took action?

What positive changes happened as a result?

jung

Adapted from: 4 Steps for Building Your Resilience


 

Still don’t believe me that this helps?!?!

Here are some facts to convince you tough ones out there…


PsychNerd TIME!

Brain Nerd

It has been a while!

I just can’t stop myself from dropping some nerd on you today 🙂

Here is some evidence that emphasizes the importance of cultivating the skill of acceptance. I highly recommend adding this to your self-development  life “to-do” list, especially if you want your life to be less overwhelm and drama and more “I got this” and “I can’t believe how this has changed my life”.

Blame my past

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Acceptance

Buddhist teachings on happiness have long held that accepting that which cannot be changed or controlled is key to reducing suffering.

So some pretty smart researchers, Broadbent, de Quadros-Wander & McGillivray (2013),  found that “perceived control” is a very important learned ability that fosters life satisfaction, happiness and wellbeing.

Perceived Control has Two Parts: 

Primary Control (External): the ability to make desired changes in your environment. Yes, you need to assesses the situation and see if there is anything you can do to make it better….and then do it.

Secondary Control (Internal): making changes within yourself to adapt to your environment; the acceptance of what can’t be controlled externally. You change your thinking about it, or work hard at stop thinking about it (stop dwelling on it), and start regrouping and designing your next steps.

*Both types of control are EQUALLY important in determining overall life satisfaction. Secondary Control, internal control, helped the research participants to cope with the losses in primary control that they had experienced.

 


I will end with the words of advice from a very wise woman….

“Bring your best self to whatever the challenge is”

Jennifer (Reid-Bicknell) Trapman 

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Be strong enough to let go and wise enough to wait/work for what you deserve. 

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca


References

Broadbent J, de Quadros-Wander S, & McGillivray J (2013). Perceived Control’s Influence on Well-being in Residential Care vs. Community Dwelling Older Adults. Journal of Happiness Studies; DOI 10.1007/s10902-013-9452-9