Say Buh-Bye to Being Stuck: Add Some “Strangeness” in Your Life



“Life is an experiment. More experiments make you better”

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

We are officially counting down to the new academic year. Next week you get a second chance to create a great academic year for yourself. No matter what your experience has been in the past, let it go, see it as learning and necessary for making you who you are, but make a powerful decision to take charge of your life. Take some calculated risks that enhance your life and, possibly, bring a welcome surprise to your life.

“Getting out of your psychological comfort zone”

Want to create awesome unexpected surprises in your life? Well, start by getting out of your psychological comfort zone. The whole purpose is to experiment, a little, by trying things that scare you a bit and move you out of the behavioural habits that keep you in an anxiety-neutral position. I am not saying move out completely! That would be awful! Comfort zones have a bunch of benefits. I am suggesting that you just hokey pokey your way out, once-in-a-while, make yourself a wee bit uncomfortable and see what happens.

Getting Started:
Watch this TedTalk about the value of talking to strangers.



Why You Should Talk to Stranger

“When you talk to strangers, you’re making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life — and theirs,” says Kio Stark. In this delightful talk, Stark explores the overlooked benefits of pushing past our default discomfort when it comes to strangers and embracing those fleeting but profoundly beautiful moments of genuine connection.

Moral of the Story…

Talking to strangers creates “beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life. You are making unexpected connections”. Make some connections on campus. This makes you more involved, connected and engaged as a student. Research supports that campus engaged students are successful students.

Strangers on Campus

Start talking to “strangers” when at school if you want to feel more connected to your campus community. When standing in lines or in waiting areas, take a moment to say “hi” to someone and ask what program they are in. Say random “hellos or good mornings” to people as you walk by. Go out of your way to meet the staff and faculty who work at the various services such as your Learning Centre, Counselling Department and student association. Attend campus events…even if you are nervous about it. You may meet someone new which makes campus life less lonely and scary.




Of course you are!  Moving out of your comfort zone and into your “Learning Zone” is a new path with no map; but it is so important to do if you want to start ticking off your Life To-Do List. Here is some advice to get you started:

  • Be clear what your goal is. For example, “I want to meet other students”, “I want to feel like I belong on campus” and “I want to feel more comfortable at campus events”.
  • Know that learning is a gradual and cumulative process. It is not helpful to push too much and land head first into your “Panic Zone”. Start with small, slightly uncomfortable, risks.

  •  Learn from others. Help to fill in the learning gaps with steps that others have taken. People in your life are great sources of learning.

Just for Fun!

Watch the movie, “Yes Man” for a funny and outrageous take on the value of saying “yes” and leaning into your life. Taking risks that can change your life and disrupt the narrative that is only creating the “same old” life. There is some great advice in this hilarious movie, but know that the purpose is to be in your “Learning Zone” not in a high risk situation 🙂

I would love to hear about the what unexpected wonderful surprises come from talking to strangers. Please share your experience!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Successtryingnewthingsquotes


YOLO! Adopt the Attitude for Success

Stay Focused

Since You Only Live Once….make it good!

School is starting soon and it’s time to get mentally prepared. I am sure that you are feeling mixed emotions for sure! Dread, excitement, worry and hopefulness are probably weighing heavy on your mind. Here is a secret to getting those pesky emotions in balance and setting yourself up for the best academic year of your life.

Happy-New-Year-Images-2016-advance.jpgAcademic New Years!

This is the time of the year to reboot, start fresh, use some new strategies and really make your goals come alive.

This year take a different approach. Think about who you want to become in life rather than what you want to be. Yes yes yes, I know, you are in school to become a skilled worker in your chosen field, and you will, but that focus often is not strong enough to sustain you though the difficult challenges that the school year brings. Challenges are often those little teaching tools that help us to become the best version of ourselves.

WHO-DO-YOU-WANT-TO-BE-FOR-YOUR-TURN-ON2.pngDo you want to be the kind of person who can see things from many different perspectives? Be able to turn negative experiences in to learning experiences? Do you want to be the kind of person who takes charge of their own life and does not wait for others to solve their problems? Do you want to be the kind of person who faces challenges and loves the personal growth and self-confidence that develops out of those experiences?

Well, start with adopting this attitude: #MakeGoodThingsHappen

Yes, you are in charge of your life, make it great, take responsibility and go!

Ok, I can feel you wondering just where do I get started??! Well, with knowing and applying your strengths of course!!


Lead with Your StrengthsFocus on Your Strengths

Every individual possesses 24 character strengths in different degrees, giving each person a unique character profile. You can discover your personal character strengths profile by taking the scientifically validated VIA Survey.

My top 3 are Social Intelligence, Zest and Gratitude. These are very accurate for me. I try very hard to infuse and use these character strengths in every thing that I do. When I teach, when I counsel and even in my personal life; the good times and the challenging times. It is in the tough times I try to face the issue, find solutions all with “Zest” (approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated).


What character strengths do you have?

Check out the FREE Character Strengths Survey


Tips to Get You in the Right Mindset to Start the Year off Well:

  1. Goals! Be very clear about your goals. For some ideas around goal setting, check out this video: SMART GoalsKnowing why you are working hard through the tough times, makes is so much easier to persevere (short term pain for long term gain). Use your strengths to guide you.
  2. Just Do it! Adopt a “Work First-Play Later” attitude. Get your work done and then play is so much better (you are more relaxed) and play becomes a great motivator.
  3. Procrastinating? Just get started and at least do something, even a small amount. You may surprise yourself and get “stuck in” the work. Start with saying, “I will work for at least 30 minutes”, see what happens.
  4. Music! Use classical music to help you concentrate and stay focused. Once you regularly start using music to study, you will find simply putting on the headphones and playing this music, prepares your brain for a study state. Try it!
  5. Adopt a success Mindset! Yes, it will be hard at times but wallowing in negative thoughts and emotions just keeps you stuck. If you say to yourself something like “college is a place where I face daily anxieties and get mentally tortured by all my professors”, then school will just feel painful. If you say something like, “yes, school is very stressful, but I love seeing what I am capable of in this life”, your mindset changes to something more motivational.


This is the year to…


…in your life.

Join me this year on the #MakeGoodThingsHappen journey!

For Mohawk Students, I will be presenting on GRIT: Secret to Success at the first annual Be Well-Do Well workshop day on August 31st. Check it out!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

So What is it That I am Interested in Again?!!?

Choose a Job You Love.jpg

Do you ever find yourself wondering “why am I doing this?” or “where is my life going?”. Well, it is a pretty common dilemma amongst us humans, especially young adult humans. Being 17-25yrs old can be so hard at times. Adults think, you are so lucky because you have your whole life ahead of you; and, you think, “yea! I do!” and the pressure to do something with that “whole life” begins to settle in.

Here is some advice from one of those adults in your life: Confucius got it right. If you find your passion in life, find a way to get paid to do just that, your job will never feel like “work”.

So, finding that passion, where to begin, where to begin….


“When I think about it, the happiest and most successful people I know don’t just love what they do, they’re obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them. They remind me of a dog chasing a tennis ball: their eyes go a little crazy, the leash snaps and they go bounding off, plowing through whatever gets in the way”

Drew Houston ’05

The CEO of Dropbox, for MIT’s 147th Commencement held June 7, 2013

Dog with Tennis Balls.gif

Sometimes finding your passion can feel like this.

To Help You Find Your Passion…

Guiding Questions

  1. What do I find myself doing? What you spend time doing can also tell you what you should do. Often the things we do without thinking really are things we naturally enjoy or are good at.
  2. What are your superpowers? Ask yourself, “who have you been, when you’ve been at your best?” The idea behind this question is to unpack the combination of personality traits and aptitudes you bring effortlessly to any situation. The filmmaker Tiffany Shlain of The Moxie Institute also explores strengths and natural “superpowers” in her new web film “The Science of Character,” which suggests that if we can identify our inherent character strengths and build on them, we can lead happier, more successful lives.
  3. So what did you enjoy doing at age 10?  Eric Maisel, a psychotherapist and author, says that the things we loved as a child are probably still the things we love. He suggests drawing up a list of favorite activities and interests from childhood
  4. What is your sentence? This is a question designed to help you distill purpose and passion to its essence by formulating a single sentence that sums up who you are and what, above all, you aim to achieve. If your sentence is a goal not yet achieved, then you also must ask: How might I begin to live up to my own sentence?

Source: Find Your Passion With These 8 Thought-Provoking Questions.

surveyHaving Trouble Listing Your Super Powers and Strengths?

Check out the the FREE Via Character Survey  to get you started understanding your personal character strengths.

Learn a little more about finding your passion through these fantastic TEDTalks

Why you will fail to have a great career | Larry Smith | TEDxUW

Throughout his three-decade career here at the University of Waterloo, Larry Smith has inspired legions of students to take up the mantle of economics with his passionate and homespun tales of economic wizardry. A renowned story-teller, teacher and youth leadership champion, Larry has also coached and mentored countless numbers of students on start-up business management and career development strategies.


How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes | Adam Leipzig | TEDxMalibu

Adam Leipzig has overseen more than 25 movies as a producer, executive and distributor. and has produced more than 300 stage plays and live events, and he was one of the founders of the Los Angeles Theatre Centre.




What is your tennis ball?

“We learn who we are in practice, not in theory, by testing reality” Ibarra

Get Out There and Try!


Life becomes so much easier when you have a goal to move towards.

Passion -> Motivation -> Success | Personal Empowerment | Life Satisfaction 

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

Leaning In: Learning to Show Up in Your Own Life

Getting Through Hard Stuff.jpg

Be the Main Character of Your Life

This can be a difficult mindset to develop, but it is definitely easier to live as the person Gotta Make Things Happenwho “leans into their life”, solves their own problems, makes stuff happen and navigates their life from the helm. There is so much truth to the advice “it gets hard before it gets easier”. This involves learning to bounce back from failures, developing flexibility in your thinking, finding solutions to your problems and building your assertiveness skills.

Wait, what? Aren’t assertive people BORN assertive?!?! you ask..


Well, no actually! Assertiveness is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive; and; in the field of psychology and psychotherapy, it considered a highly  learnable skill and mode of communication. So ha! yes, yet again I am pushing you to build the skills that you need to be the most successful version of yourself. Yup, what a meanie I am 😉

Want to be more assertive so that you can have better control over your life?

Check this out



Showing Up in Your Own Life

Here are some guiding questions to get you thinking about what it really means to fully show up in your life.

Where are you showing up in your life?

Start with understanding where you feel the most at ease being your full self and then ask “why don’t I feel this in all aspects of my life?”

How do you show up in your life?

Do you tend to be cautious and hesitant in your life, perhaps waiting for others to do things for you? Showing up in your life with 100% effort is the only way to go. Whatever you do, wherever you go, be fully present and ready to show up BIG. Solve your problems, learn new ways of coping or thriving and design your life.

What keeps you from showing up?

Maybe you feel insecure or uncertain about how others perceive you. It’s almost always our own negative self-perceptions that block us from being our true selves, and showing up in the world. Acknowledge these fears and work with them. Experiment with new ways of doing things.

What does it mean for you to show up?

The idea of truly showing up in your life can be scary and invoke a sense of panic. Fears around not being accepted or acknowledged run deep in our bones. Showing up in your life now means trusting that you are enough, and that you offer value on many levels. Yes, you are interesting!

Where can’t you show up?

We all have limitations so be realistic about the places that are impossible for you to show up. Sometimes avoidance, being quiet or simply observing can be all that you need to be present and assertive in that moment.


Hard Roads

Still Feel That You Just Can’t Move Your Life Forward?

Please check out this amazing and inspirational TedTalk, “Living Beyond Limits” presented by Amy Purdy. I challenge you to use 9 minutes of your time to change your mindset. You will be inspired.

When she was 19, Amy Purdy lost both her legs below the knee. And now … she’s a pro snowboarder (and a killer competitor on “Dancing with the Stars”!). In this powerful talk, she shows us how to draw inspiration from life’s obstacles.


How will you answer Amy’s question?

If life were a book, and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?




Assertiveness and Self-Confidence…

…are really great friends…

Here are some statements to help you get into the right frame of mind for writing your own story; making your life happen as you create it.


Assertiveness Bill of Rights

The “Assertiveness Bill of Rights” can really help you to develop a thinking framework that can shift you to a more self-respectful approach to your life, in balance with respect for others. This mindset shift can also help you to “lean into your life” and make your life happen and your story come alive.

  • I have the right to be treated with respect.
  • I have the right to have and express my own feelings, beliefs and opinions.
  • I have the right to be listened to and be taken seriously.
  • I have the right to set my own priorities.
  • I have the right to say no without feeling guilty.
  • I have the right to ask for what I want.
  • I have the right to get what I pay for.
  • I have
the right to make mistakes.
  • I have the right to assert myself even though I may inconvenience others.
  • I have the right to choose not to assert myself.
  • I have the right to be human.


To start building assertiveness, start with asking yourself the following questions: 

  • Am I comfortable meeting new people in social situations?
  • Am I able to say “no” without feeling guilty or too anxious?
  • Am I able to express strong emotions such as anger, frustration or disappointment if I need to?
  • Can I easily request help and information from others?
  • Do I feel capable of learning new things?
  • Am I able to acknowledge and take responsibility for my own actions?
  • Can I tell others when their behaviour is not acceptable to me?
  • Can I speak confidently in group situations?
  • Do I believe that my needs are as important as those of others and should be considered?
  • Can I assert or maintain my beliefs even when the majority disagrees with me?
  • Can I express anger and disappointment without blaming others?
  • Do I value my own experience and wisdom?

If you said “no” to any of the above questions, ask yourself “is this something I want to change in my life?” and if so, “what small steps am I willing to take?”

Life Description.jpg

What do you want yours to look like?

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


Perspective: The Relationship Between Failure and Success


Inspiration Friday!

Last week, I was sent an email from a reader, Bella Campbell, a content coordinator for Online MBA Today. I was so honoured that she reads my blog! She created an inspirational infographic that illustrates the important role failure plays in our success. So many people think that if they are not successful when they attempt something that somehow that defines them as a “failure”.


Failure is just part of the process; and when you adopt that perspective you lower the risk of labelling yourself inaccurately. Just because you feel like a failure, does not make it true. Check out one of my previous posts addressing unhelpful thinking patterns; particularly Emotional Reasoning, to learn strategies for creating helpful thinking patterns that assist you on your road to success.

See the infographic below for some perspective, inspiration and an introduction to the power of paradoxical thinking. Ah, the paradox, seeing failure as a good thing helps you to gain perspective, focus on the task at hand with a brain state that is more receptive to retaining information.

Check this out!



Click Here for the original post by Bella Campbell.

Highlights from the Infographic.
  • 90% of business startups will fail. 42% of those startups fail due to a lack of market for their product. Construction companies have the lowest 5-year survival rate at a mere 36.4%.
  • J.K. Rowling herself claims to have “failed on an epic scale” and was “as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless”. Of course, once she introduced the world to Harry Potter, now a $15 million brand of her creation, things changed for her. Her estimated worth is now $910 million.
  • Steve Jobs was fired from Apple and later realized it “was the best thing that could have ever happened to me”. He went on to build an empire that led him back to his own tech start-up and became a billionaire. 4,000 people now work for Apple.
  • Bill Gates knows that, “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” Gates dropped out of Harvard and his first start-up, Traf-O-Data went under, making him no stranger to failure. However, he went on to become the billionaire owner of Microsoft and is well known for being an extremely charitable philanthropist. He was 31 years old when he started Microsoft, and became the world’s youngest self made billionaire at the time.
  • Michael Jordan is a man who knows that failures are necessary for success. In his younger years he did not meet the minimum height standard and was passed over by coaches. Now, he has a championship record and an apparel line with Nike. He is currently estimated to be worth $1 billion.
  • “Success is failure in progress.” This is a famous quote from none other than Albert Einstein. He was once expelled from school, then refused entrance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. However in 1921, Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in theoretical physics.
  • Abraham Lincoln went on to become one of the most influential Presidents of the United States, but only after failing in business and suffering a nervous breakdown. He also lost 5 elections before he was elected to office. One of his best quotes on the matter of failure, “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”


5 Key Steps for Turning Failure into Success

…from the infographic

  1. Investigate what went wrong.
  2. Learn from your failure.
  3. Realize that you have nothing left to fear after failing, because you’ve got nowhere to go but up.
  4. Recognize that accountability is a very important part of turning things around. If you are the reason you failed, own it and move on.
  5. Innovation:Trying new things can often lead to failure, but at least now you are more apt to take risks.


There have been many epic fails in my life and career. Those were painful lessons; but memorable and powerful, and without those moments I would not have achieved so many of my personal and professional goals. 

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

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


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?


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


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:


Check it out: iTunes and Google Play

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




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



Hangry? #Emotional Expression

Today, I want to focus on a sweet little tool that can help you with your emotional self-awareness, emotion regulation and emotion expression. I see so many people that get caught up in the Emotional Reasoning (CBT) cycle and make decisions based upon how they feel. They decide to say something, do something or act in a particular way that is not “them”.

Example from Pop Culture

Have you seen the hilarious Snickers “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” commercials?

Check this one out!

Even though this humour is meant to sell a chocolate bar, it is also very true and a great example of how our emotional state can be effected by something as simple as hunger.


The psychotherapeutic approach Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a wonderful collection of skill building strategies that all human beings need to navigate successfully in this world. DBT focuses on building Interpersonal Effectiveness, Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation and Distress Tolerance. For this post, the concept of the “wise mind” is the DBT concept that I will focus on.

We need utilize both the emotional mind and the reasonable mind processes in order to manage our life in a way that supports our goals, our dreams, builds healthy relationships, helps in our pursuit of happiness and anything that supports you to flourish.



Achieving the Wise Mind State

One quick and awesome strategy that can help you to utilize both your emotional process and your logical process is H.A.L.T!


Have you ever experienced an emotional reaction, or a behaviour, in a situation that is uncharacteristic of you or not how you would normally behave? Well then, stop, be curious and ask your self the following:

  • When was the last time I ate something?Surf the emotion
  • Am I angry about something else? Is something unsolved?
  • Have I been feeling isolated physically or emotionally?
  • Am I tired from a long week, a difficult time in my life or from a health issue?

If you can answer yes to being any one of these, hungry/ angry/lonely/tired, just stop, solve the problem, give some space before you decide to act. You are then asking your Logical Mind to participate.


Just because you feel something; doesn’t make it true!

Check in with your logical mind. Sometimes emotions are just telling you that you are not taking care of yourself, that you are in a similar situation from your past when you did not have the skills to deal with it or they are a result of being hungry/angry/lonely/tired.

My suggestion today is work on shifting your mindset from being a victim to your emotional state to being an empowered human that is curious about what your emotions are telling you. Listen. Overcome the obstacles.

Here is an inspirational TedEd video to get you started on the right track, with the best mindset and optimal state of mind (mood) to become an amazing translator of your emotional language.

Overcoming Obstacles

with Steven Claunch


PsychNerd Time!Brain Nerd

You know I couldn’t leave you without a bit of PsychNerd babble 😉

The research team of Yip and Côté (2013) found that people with high emotional intelligence make smarter decisions because they aren’t swayed by their current emotional state.

From their results, they found that great decision-making is not about eliminating all emotions: they are a vital source of information. It is important to acknowledge the emotional information and decide if it helps or hurts your current task. Those with high levels of emotional intelligence are more likely to ignore those emotions that have nothing to do with their decision.

Good news! Emotional Intelligence can be bolstered and enhanced! Start with H.A.L.T today and stop, reflect and decide before you act on emotion alone.






Being hangry is not an excuse for bad behaviour…

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student

Tech Addiction: Oh Those Sweet Dopamine Eliciting Toys!

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Oh, please do not get me wrong at all! I LOVE, #heart, technology. Clearly! The whole  point to my blog post today is the possibility that too much of a good thing may be at detrimental. Society is changing with the advancement of technology; and, so are the expectations placed upon us to be hyper-connected, relentlessly, all of the time.

Do you ever wonder if you are you addicted to technology? 

dopamine-heart-1024x873.jpgWell, it is easy to to find ourselves feeling that we could NEVER unplug, experiencing pure panic if we were expected to give up our little Dopamine tech boost. Wait what?!?! Give up tech? or Dopamine?

Yes, Dopamine that famous neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in your brain), that holds a prized position in the annals of popular science as the “reward” drug. Much of what we do online releases dopamine into the brain’s pleasure centers, resulting in obsessive pleasure-seeking behaviour. Just one more text, one more email, one more level in the game, one more internet search, and so on…


Yes, I’m going to get all PsychNerdy on y’all!Brain Nerd

There are consequences to this tech obsession… 

Here is what some smart people are saying about the downside of technology overuse:

“For a lot of people it’s the lack of offline time which causes hyper-arousal of the brain. People walk about in a state of distractibility.” Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan.

Author and psychologist Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair also thinks multi-tasking, or multi-screening, is a dangerous game. “We see a decrease in memory, a decline in student grades, they’re not developing the part of their brain that needs to be developed for maintaining a singular focus,” she told the BBC.


Still not sold? well…

There was some pretty cool research conducted by the International Center for Media at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., which led “The World Unplugged” project.

What they found was a clear majority of almost 1,000 university students in 10 countries, including China, Chile, the U.K. and Uganda, were unable to voluntarily stay away from computers, televisions, cellphones and MP3 players for 24 hours. Many students also reported mental and physical symptoms of distress and “employed the rhetoric of addiction, dependency and depression,” when reporting their experiences of trying to go unplugged for a full day.

YES! Just one Day!

Please take a moment to click here to open up a full pdf poster of what students around the world had to say about how they felt during their 24 hours without media. As a counsellor working with post-secondary students, I was shocked and saddened for the level of distress felt by these students.

Fortunately, students left this study with some insight. Many students said that they learned that relying on devices such as cellphones “actually inhibited their ability to manage their lives as fully as they hoped,” the authors reported.

How social media makes us unsocial | Allison Graham | TEDxSMU 12:46min


I am going to be very transparent about my approach to mental health distress. I take a developmental approach rather than a “disease model” approach to mental health and wellness. I don’t believe that people are broken, but rather we develop very strong habits that may have helped us at one time in our lives but become a problem (maladaptive) for us later or in different settings. There is a great CBC podcast, “The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is Not a Disease“, that explains this positive, hope instilled, approach to mental distress.

“We learn what we live”

live and learn.jpg

There is a very famous poem written by Dr. Dorothy Law Nolte, Children Learn What They Live. I highly encourage you to check it out. It really illustrates the impact of learning on our habits and behaviours. Perhaps another line can be added to this insightful and true poem…

If children learn that we communicate only through technology, they learn to avoid face-to-face interactions in favour of a text or to engage with people not in the room with them now.

We are so quick to call something a disorder, to describe people as broken and incapable in the realm of learning to be different. Habits are learned and unlearned and often, good or bad, they have a developmental function and purpose in our lives.

Let’s Unlearn Some Unhelpful Tech Habits!!

Some simple strategies to reduce the electronic overload and regain a healthy balance of life, work, school and technology.Media_Overload_by_itsyouforme

  1. Make Tech Inaccessible: Experiment with short periods of inaccessibility. No, your life won’t implode, as with any addiction/well ingrained habit, there is a period of feeling like you are in a state of “withdrawal” and anxiety. Ride it out for the benefits.
    • Have “electronic sundowns” – pull back from technology in the hour before you go to bed.  Institute a “tech curfew:” no recreational use of tech after 9:00pm.
    • Unplug: Spend one hour per day, one day per week, and four days per month completely “unplugged” from all forms of technology.
    • Structure your “tech” day: set specific times for emailing, Facebook, chat rooms, eBay, research, etc. Set a “not-to-do list. For example, don’t check email/texts/FB before 8 a.m.
    • Be in the Room: Do not have conversations or meals with any tech devise in hand (eyes “up” and focused on your conversation partner).
  2. Remove the Unhelpful Distractors: If you find yourself unable to resist some tools such as RSS feeds, Twitter, etc. eliminate that service, at least from easy access on your smart phone.
  3. Buddy up. Don’t go it alone on the road to recovery, because you’re likely to revert to your old habits. Ask a friend or family member to join you.
  4. Replace Tech-Time with Healthy Options:  take low-tech “field trips” at least once per week (parks, museum, movies, reading paper books, cafes, etc.). Exercise with friends: biking, hiking, swimming, treadmill, intramural sports, bowling, etc.)
  5. Empowerment Through Rephrasing: take a moment to listen to yourself, how do you describe your experience? Does it sound anything like the following?
    • “My smartphone runs my life”. rephrase: “I am letting my smartphone run my life”
    • “It is harder for me, than others, to disconnect”. rephrase: “I am not ready to deal with feeling disconnected from FB, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.”


If you take responsibility, you can develop a strong strategy because it is coming from you (intrinsic); rather than relying on an outside source of motivation (extrinsic).

Technology should improve your life,

not become your life. 


Believe me, I can see how ironic it is that I am writing today about the perils of technology using WordPress, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube…I know, I know 😉


What I really do know is that there is so much to be said for the value of MODERATION. Technology is awesome, until it is not awesome; so, lets moderate this goodness.

It is not simply going without; it is about filling your time in a different way. It is about using technology as intended; as a tool to improve your life not a replacement or a way to avoid difficult/unpleasant things (i.e. real time social interaction).

What electronic toy can you just not live without? Try separating yourself, in small increments …just to see if you can do it 🙂

The whole process of psychotherapy is helping people develop strategies for emotional distress. Learning to experience emotional discomfort and know that it will pass. Build your skills, sit with emotion, sit with temptation and replace with healthier habits.

“Hi Tech, we’re breaking up, just for a moment, to see if I can live without you…for a moment”

FYI, I went tech-free this past Friday; hence, no eSuccess-Coaching Blog 🙂

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success




Procrastinating? Since You are Already Down That Rabbit Hole

Check This Out Now!

Before something else grabs your attention 😉

I am going to get straight to the point today, because I really want you to watch this amazing TedTalk about distraction. The less words I use, the better the chance that you won’t fall into a YouTube binge or a Wikipedia rabbit hole.

Check out Tim Urban as he shares his personal understanding of procrastination. It is seriously funny!



Check out his blog: Wait but Why?


He writes posts every Tuesday every Wednesday about his psychological shortcomings. Super funny and very helpful in making you feel human 🙂



Now go get something done so that you can have some guilt free fun!

Dr. Heather Drummond
, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


Emotions: The Mystery Explained Well by Pixar



Oh yes, that confusing built in language that we have, where sometimes trying to understand the message can even seem overwhelming!

Flying from Toronto to Calgary this week, I was able to watch a film as I was held captive gloriously without access to the constant expectations that connected technology can bring. Yes, even I need a break from social media to allow creativity and inspiration to manifest 😉 I was able to have the time to sit and enjoy a inflight film; a film that I am really impressed with. So today I wanted to write about the Pixar film, Inside Out, because it is a wonderful depiction of the emotional experience of human beings.

What I prescribe to you, today, is the following:

…carve out some time, put on something comfy, grab a bevy of your choosing and hunker down and watch this film. It is an experience wrapped up in an education distilled down to a level that removes part of the mystery of emotions.


So, I haven’t sold you yet??!

Check out the trailer…

Aside from the awesome dialogue, this film is filled with fantastic explanations as to why new learning, counselling, human connection and understanding the language of emotions is so empowering.

“All right! We did not die today, I call that an unqualified success!” — Fear

Here are some of my highlights:

  • Feeling better may involve allowing “Joy” to drag you around your long term memory (positive experience recall).
  • “When Riley doesn’t care about a memory it fades”. The importance of fostering and taking care of our positive experience and not succumbing to the negative filter (CBT Blog Post).
  • “Sadness” having a purpose and function; bringing friends and family closer for support in a difficult time.
  • “Anger” has a function: opening the glass to the control centre to let joy back in. Sometimes we need to be angry as a protection until we are ready to deal with more difficult emotional experiences or face change/challenge.
  • You have to see the puberty clips at the end of this film! Hilarious! “what are we mad about?”, “Do you think they can see through us?”, “I feel like a fraud”.
  • “Islands” as facets of identity: Honesty Island, Family Island, Boyband Island, Imagination Land (Imaginary Boyfriend is from Canada!), etc.


Seriously, watch it! At least it is 90 minutes of entertainment, self-care and stress management 🙂


Brain Nerd

I wasn’t going to get all PsychNerdy on you today, but I have a serious addiction to sharing all the cool psychology stuff that can help enhance your life 😉

This will be quick. Did you know that depressive symptoms have an evolutionary function, intended to help you? Sounds weird, I know, but researchers, Keller and Nesse (2006), wrote a pretty great article about this topic.


The Evolutionary Significance of Depressive Symptoms: Different Adverse Situations Lead to Different Depressive Symptom Patterns (Click Here for full article you wonderful PsychNerds!)


  • Rumination, or the obsessive replaying of negative events, feelings, and implications of those feelings, is a common experience with depression. The researchers, hypothesize that rumination aids in understanding the causes and consequences of the adverse situations to avoid such situations in the future and to reconsider strategies and goals themselves.
  • Anxiety is a painful state of uneasiness or nervousness about possible future losses. Anxiety promotes wariness and hyper-vigilance, particularly toward potential threats, and so should be adaptive in threatening situations.
  • Crying, like many emotional signals, is expressed via configurations of facial musculature and vocal behaviors, and it elicits specific reactions in others, in this case, empathy and comforting behaviors. It seems likely therefore that crying requests and secures aid. Crying appears to strengthen social bonds.

Inside Out


Your emotions are communicating to you, learn the language, figure out their functions and you just may find that you are able to manage your own stress levels much better. It is okay to be sad, the work is in not letting it derail your whole life. Joy

Dr. Heather Drummond
, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success





M3: Mental Strength, Mindset & Motivation

New Mindset

Mindset, Emotion Regulation and Living Your Best Life

Another instalment in the Emotion Regulation = Academic Success Series.

Ok, I am going to be a bit of a butt kicker today. Probably because I have spent my entire week repetitively kicking my own but; trying to keep the motivation alive and moving. Sometimes we just need to clear out the mental clutter and create a mindset that works for us. Really, who doesn’t feel awesome when they are effective and taking control of their lives? We have to seize the moment that passion meets motivation and get going. Today, I would like to talk a little more about a strategy that can give your mindset a little nudge in the right direction.

Here are the ground rules, for today, to get you in the best state of mind:

Shift to Warm Fuzzies


I know! Totally not what counsellors generally say, but today we are honing in on our ideal mindset for getting stuff done. Have you ever noticed when you choose to describe a situation in only positive terms that it makes you feel better about the event or, even sometimes, the person that you are talking about? Let’s do it, let’s learn how to create a beneficial mindset today 🙂

Let’s start with a Video Snack to set the stage.

This one’s for you Kelsey C! …because you said you love the TedTalks 🙂

The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong | Amy Morin

Amy’s article, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” introduced the world to the bad habits that can keep us from being mentally strong. Her article was reprinted and shared millions of times as it became a viral sensation. Within a few days, her list was republished on, where it became one of their most read articles of all time with 10 million views. Check out her TEDx Talk…simply fantastic!

Nerdy, Nerdy PsychNerdy Time!

Brain Nerd

Sometimes it is hard to get out of thinking traps and focus on the things that make us mentally stronger. Yes, building a new habit is hard, but really, are you not tired of feeling crappy about yourself and your life at times? I know that I have to work hard to get out of those traps sometimes, so I challenge you to find a new approach, develop a new mindset and create a life that even you are envious of 🙂

Here is a place to start…

Researchers, Burton & King (2004), ran an experiment that was looking at enhancing positive mood and health. Check out their journal article, The health benefits of writing about positive experiences: the role of broadened cognition, for more information. The theory that informed this experiment’s design was The Broaden and Build Theory of Positive emotions (for the really PsychNerdy ones, see below for a link).

What they did:

  • They took 90 post-secondary students and split them into 2 groups: experimental (intervention) and control (no intervention)
  • For 3 days, both groups were asked to come to the lab and write for 20 minutes. They took a survey about their mood before and after writing.
  • The control group was asked to write, in detail, about their plans for the day, their shoes and a description of their bedroom.
  • The experimental group was asked to write about Intensely Positive Experiences (IPEs). See the directions below.

What they found:

Three months later…

  • Writing about IPEs was associated with enhanced positive mood.
  • Writing about IPEs was also associated with significantly fewer health center visits for illness, compared to those in the control group.
  • Writing about your day, your shoes or your bedroom has no significant effect on enhancing your health and positive outlook (you probably guessed that!).



Do you want to write about your shoes or would you like to change your Mindset?

I thought you might say that 🙂


Start Today!

Writing About Intensely Positive Experiences

Here are the directions from the researchers, Burton & King (2009), to get you started:

“Think of the most wonderful experience or experiences in your life, happiest moments, ecstatic Positivemoments, moments of rapture, perhaps from being in love, or from listening to music, or suddenly ‘‘being hit’’ by a book or painting or from some great creative moment. Choose one such experience or moment. Try to imagine yourself at that moment, including all the feelings and emotions associated with the experience. Now write about the experience in as much detail as possible trying to include the feelings, thoughts, and emotions that were present at the time. Please try your best to re-experience the emotions involved”.



Feelin’Super PscyhNerdy?

Check this out:

Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions by Barbara L. Fredrickson or even check out Wikipedia for a better idea of this theory.  Pretty cool stuff!



Everyday is a conscious effort

I am thrilled and  grateful for all the wonderful comments that I have been receiving from readers. Thank you so much for your feedback and support!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


Book: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin: Click Here

Be the attitude.jpg

Stress Management: The Artful Balance in Emotion Regulation


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 😉 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.