Well-Being

New Year? Build Some Badass Positive Habits!

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This is Your Year!

You want to make some changes, take on some new challenges and keep developing into your best self. Whatever your goals are, the most important thing to remember is that this is a messy process, a beautifully messy process.

Don’t expect smooth sailing, or perfection, or the easy way out, if you want to grow. Personal development and change is all about geting out of your comfort zone. If you want your life to be different you need to do things differently.

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Doing things differently does not have to be painful! Sustainable change happens at a pace that is manageable for you. Focus on small shifts everyday that lead toward your goal. Accepting setbacks as learning, and not letting them derail you, is an important perspective to foster. It is all about the direction not perfection.


Perspectives, Strategies, Approaches and Ideas to Get You Started

  • Sustainable Progress: Just take it one day at a time. Your goal is to move in the right direction with patience and the acceptance of setbacks as part of the learning. Don’t try to change everything all at once, pick a few areas to work on. Small daily habits lead to long term growth.
  • Write Down Your Goals: Use a goal setting method such as S.M.A.R.T.
  • Make Your Goals Visible: Post them on your wall, create a card that you carry with you or create a vision board to remind you of where you are heading and why. Use this to visualize yourself accomplishing your goals.
  • Personal Wellness Approach: Surround yourself with positive influences. Reward yourself often when you are on the right track. Believe in yourself, and your ability to work through adversity, by consciously remembering the times when you have overcome difficulty in your life (write these down for future reference!). Acknowledge your positive attributes by also making a list of what you do well. Be kind to yourself by avoiding comparison with others (you have no idea what the real situation is for them).
  • Recognize Your Progress: “Feeling” like you are not succeeding is not fact. Feelings are fleeting. Take a moment and capture where you started and where you are now. Look at the facts.

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Feeling Stuck?

Not Sure How to Even Start Building New Habits?

Not Sure How to Get “Doing”?

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and read this!

How to Cultivate the Habits that Matter to You


Need Some Productivity Hacks?

10 Ways to Be More Productive in 2018


 

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One of the most important things that I have learned is that your goals need to be your own, not for someone else, if you want to achieve them. It is going to get tough at times and you need to be clear why you are working toward this goal. At times, you are going to want to quit, but if you can really see yourself achieving this goal and what it will do for you, it makes the hard times easier to work through 🙂


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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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”.

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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.

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

“Garbage in-Garbage Out”

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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!

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Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca


Resources:

Anxiety, I Just Don’t Have Time For You!

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Feeling Anxious?!?!?

You probably are. Everyone feels anxiety at varying levels, at different times and in different situations; however, sometimes anxiety can get way out of control and take over your life. So scary…

Sound like you right now?

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Well, you have come to the right place today. I want to make this post today very simple because having easy recall of strategies, in the moment, can help you ride the anxiety wave and bring you back to a state of balance. You are not broken, you are still learning about your brain and how to manage it.

Facts You Need to Know:

  • Anxiety Has a Purpose: Anxiety has a function in our lives (motivation), we just need to learn how to get it to a manageable level so that helps us.
  • Your Brain Can Change: You can learn how to tame it! Your brain does grow when you learn! (London Taxi Driver Research). With brain understanding, skills and strategies, anxiety can be managed to the point you hardly notice it’s there.
  • Learning How to Change it: Psychotherapy, CBT combined with Motivational Interviewing, have proven repeatedly as the best approaches to learning to manage anxiety (research has found that psychotherapy, skill building, is the most effective way to alleviate out-of-control anxiety; and, even more effective than medication).
  • Understanding Your Cool Brain: There are two parts of your brain involved in experiencing and managing anxiety; the Emotional Brain (Limbic System) and the Logical Brain (Neocortex).

 

Your Brain

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There is this wee part of your brain, in the Limbic System, called the Amygdala that is the trouble maker when anxiety becomes overwhelming. To be fair, it is not always a trouble maker, it’s main function is to alert you to dangerous situations such as a bear, in front of you, licking it’s lips and imagining you as a wonderful snack, or toy to play with. The Amygdala then kicks you into a “Fight or Flight” state to help keep you safe. This is a good thing, except when it is not. Sometimes the bear is in your head, your thoughts, your memories and your Amygdala is doing it’s job by warning you of danger.

So, then what?

Brain.pngWell, the first step is understanding what is happening in your brain and then work with it. You have to calm your Emotional Brain, tell your Amygdala, “thanks so much for your warning, but I am actually ok and I got this”, so that you can move to building the skills you need to manage the situation (in your Logical Brain area). The goal is to override your Emotional Brain.

 


Step #1: Override Your Emotional Brain

How to calm your Amygdala:

*Click on the links for more information about the Amygdala calming strategies.


 

Step #2: Build Your Logical Brain 

The logical brain is able to override the emotional brain….with practice.

CBTCognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to tackling mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression. CBT has been subject to countless clinical trials, and has even been shown to be more effective than medication in some long-term studies. CBT Changes Your Brain, by helping you to understand how your thoughts effect your feelings and then how your feelings effect your behaviour and so on through the cycle (see graphic).

Some CBT to Get You Started:

  1. Motivation Level: Are you motivated to change? Check out the stages_of_change_en-us. This is really important to acknowledge because learning new skills is a very hard process, especially when anxiety takes over. You need to be ready to change.
  2. Unhelpful Thought Patterns: Most of us have thought patterns that freak out our Amygdala. We can learn to recognize them, challenge them and then balance them into an accurate thought with perspective. Check this Thinking Patterns to see if you have unhelpful patterns.
  3. Track Those Thoughts: It is important to see what patterns you have, when you think them (themes/triggers) in order to be able to say, “Hey! That’s not completely true!” Here is simple thought record to get you started. If you like this tracking process, here is an expanded thought record to try.
  4. Challenge, Balance & Replace Thoughts: this can be hard to do on your own and a counsellor in your community/school can really be valuable in this process. Also, a trusted friend can help you with seeing your world in a positive and accurate way.

 

Technology Tip: Anxiety Management with Tech 

Here is a really cool APP that is available for iPhones and Android based smart phones:

SAM

Check it out: iTunes and Google Play

I highly recommend this app for helping you to manage your anxiety.


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Always remember that you can book an appointment with a counsellor at your school, or in your community. It is such a valuable process to have help challenging those problematic thoughts that are freaking out your Amygdala. Anxiety can become your friend and your motivator.

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

Resources

 

Wellness Balance: Assessing Your Current State

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Life Goes OnWell, exams are done and grades are posted. You now have a choice. Do you take this information, good or bad, and move forward in a new direction or do you stay stuck in old habits that no longer work? At this transition point, you have a choice. You can start with making changes that add balance to your life. If you were not as successful as you would have liked, what do you need to do differently? Brush up your study strategies? Manage your stress better? Make more time to be with family and friends? It is okay not to know what you need. I will help you out!

I was very fortunate to attend a wellness workshop facilitated by The Working on Wellbeing Group at the American Psychological Association Convention 2014. They offer a free online WELLBEING ASSESSMENT designed to give you insight into what is going well in your life while highlighting some areas to consider focusing on to increase your overall wellbeing.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need” Tao Te Ching

Take a moment to complete this free Wellbeing Assessment to gain some insight about yourself and what you need to move in a positive direction in your life. You do have a choice, but I must say although it can sometimes be frightening to move in an unknown direction, and the old ways seem so much easier, it is the unfamiliar path that often leads us to the best version of ourselves. Life approached with the best version of ourselves is empowering.  Personal empowerment leads to happiness and higher life satisfaction. Take the risk, it is so worth it!

*At the end of the Wellbeing Assessment there are links to web resources, apps and books. 


Please feel free to email me, comment on this blog, I love hearing from you!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD Counselling Psychology

Counsellor * Coach * Professor * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca


Transition: Optimal Time to Focus on Personal Wellness

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Exams are coming to an end this week. It is no secret that the end of semester grind is a tough one. At this time, we tend to neglect our overall wellbeing in the pursuit of pure survival…junk food (awesome), sleep deprivation (not awesome), procrastination (stress inducing) and high anxiety (exhausting and definitely not awesome).

You now have a chance to do all of the things you did when procrastinating, but GUILT FREE now! Sound easy? Nope…it is not easy for people  move smoothly into a less anxiety provoking phase. Often our mind/body is still primed for this academic battle. Take a moment to focus on your own wellness and make a plan to transition in a way that is best for you.

“The part can never be well unless the whole is well.” Plato.

Resources to Get You Started…

I have uploaded a presentation from a workshop that I frequently facilitate for students in various programs. The content focuses around “The Wheel of Wellness” which is a great way to conceptualize all the areas of your life that you need to consider when creating a balanced life.

Presentation: Wellness & Life Balance – Creating a Stress-Resistant Student Experience

Also…

Check out this Video!

TedTalk: “The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance”


Next Week…

Next week I will include a Wellness Assessment for the folks who just love taking tests 😉 Check back if you are interested!


I would love to hear your feedback, so please don’t be shy 🙂

Dr. Heather Drummond, Ed.D. (Counselling Psychology)

Counsellor, Professor & Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca 

12 Things that Happy People Do Differently

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12 Things that Happy People Do Differently

  1. Happy People Express Gratitude
  2. Happy People Cultivate Optimism
  3. Happy People Avoid Unhealthy Social Comparison
  4. Happy People Develop Strategies for Coping
  5. Happy People Take Care of Their Health
  6. Happy People Practice Acts of Kindness
  7. Happy People Look for Opportunities to Increase Flow Experiences
  8. Happy People Nurture Their Social Relationships
  9. Happy People Commit to Their Goals
  10. Happy People Savour Life’s Joys
  11. Happy People Practice Spirituality
  12. Happy People Learn to Forgive

12 Things Source: Lyubomirsky, S. (2002). Why are some people happier than others? The role of cognitive and motivational processes in well-being. American Psychologist, 56, 239-249.

Learning From Your Past – Creating Your Future

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What will you do to learn from your past and build an incredible future for yourself?