Mindfulness

Hardwiring Happiness: Take the Leap, Really, It’s Worth the Risk

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Today I want to talk about your brain, your wonderful beautiful changeable brain. I am hoping that you will take in what I say today, not with defensiveness or with the notion that I am in anyway blaming you, or people who are suffering, but with the intention of helping you become empowered in your own healing.

I have been working in the mental health field since 1996, in various capacities, with all ages and backgrounds of wonderful humans. What I do know is that people can become incredibly resilient if we get out of the way and let the process take flight. Please do not misunderstand my message in today’s post and think that I am against medication, because I am definitely not. I am just opposed to the notion that medication is all that is needed in the mental wellbeing and healing process. If we want to change/grow, we need to do the work. Period. Full stop. Some of the most inspiring humans that I have met along my own journey are folks who have come from, and through, extreme adversity. Whether that be childhood trauma at the hands of a trusted adult or being born into a country that is in unimaginable crisis, these people found the strength to move through and flourish. I have learned so much from their stories of perseverance, letting go, letting be and growth after the trauma. It seems that if we have to endure adverse circumstances, we can, if we let ourselves face it and grow from it.

Ok, there it is, my point of view (which is shared by many incredible research psychologists and counsellors/therapists/mental health interveners). So, if you are in for the most amazing ride of your life, and feeling close to taking on the challenge of change, let’s start with a framing mindset for today.

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MINDSET for Today:

I am jumping in with everything have,

whether I sink or swim,

at least I took that leap of faith.

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*This statement inspires me and calms my soul.

I would love to have a very wise woman, like Dr. Maya Angelou say this to me when I am going through hell or a crisis of confidence in my life. It is her voice I hear.

 


PsychNerd Time!

Brain NerdI am calling in the big guns so that you believe little ol’ me when I say that you CAN actually change your brain. I want to share with you some tidbits from a book I recently read, by the oneHardwiring-Happiness and only, incredible neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hansen, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence (2013). I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that this is, yet another self-help book telling you that the answer to all your troubles is to just “think positive!”…and how do I do that again, you ask?!?! Well, this book presents the latest neuroscience research behind happiness and explains how you can reprogram your brain to focus on the good, rather than obsessing over the bad.


Quick Video Snack

….to Help You Get to Know this Amazing Researcher, Psychologist and Human…


Highlights from the Book….

I want to give you one quick tip from this book to get you started. If you are ready to change, and in the mindset for taking on the hard work of leaping toward what your life could be like, then I highly suggest you buy this book (I am not receiving any kickbacks from this, just think this is a great resource). The most important reason to spend your money on this life guide is that Rick Hansen talks about the importance of “taking in the good”, how this practice can change your brain and how to do this.

  • Take in the Good: This is a deliberate practice of making positive experiences stick around a little longer and linger in our implicit memory (part of our long term memory). He has created four steps to help you take in the good, which are easy to remember with the helpful acronym, HEAL.

Have a positive experience.
Enrich it.
Absorb it.
Link positive and negative material.

*Check out chapter 3, page 60, to learn how to do this.


My Advice for Today

Stop focusing on what could go wrong, and start focusing on what could go right.

Negative is not “more true” than than positive.

ALSO…

According to this Happiness Study: 52% of your life destiny is up to you and what you do to enhance it, despite your genetic background.

ASK YOURSELF…

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Believe me from my professional experience and my personal journey

…the risk is definitely worth it!

Read Hardwiring Happiness…and live your best life.


Leave a comment, question or feedback…share your experience 🙂

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

RESOURCES

Boo! Scared? #LeanIn

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

Are You Tired of Being Scared?

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

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


Aanxiety-girl.jpgnxiety

Yes, let’s go there…

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

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

Try this to calm Amy…

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or listen to this…

Scientists have discovered the most relaxing tune ever!

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

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

1. Marconi Union and Lyz Cooper – Weightless

2. Airstream – Electra

3. DJ Shah – Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)

4. Enya – Watermark

5. Coldplay – Strawberry Swing

6. Barcelona – Please Don’t Go

7. All Saints – Pure Shores

8. Adele – Someone Like You

9. Mozart – Canzonetta Sull’aria

10. Cafe Del Mar – We Can Fly

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

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

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


Want to be Inspired?

Watch Sheryl Sandberg share her experience in two wonderful TedTalks 🙂


 

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


I leave you with the thought…

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

Stressed? Try This to Get Your Mind Back on Track!

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Guest Blogger

I want to take this moment to introduce a wonderful colleague of mine, Basilia Iatomasi! She will be sharing some very simple but powerful Mindfulness strategies that are amazing at rebooting your brain which can help you to manage your stress.

Seriously! Try it out!


“Will I ever get my school work done?”  

“I think I failed that test”

“There is no way I am going to be ready for my mid-terms”

“I want to sleep”“I WANT TO SLEEP”…Why can’t I get to sleep?

Does this sound like you right now? Lots of mind chatter that’s leaving you feeling scattered, unfocused and stressed. Well it’s not surprising that your mind chatter is in overdrive and more noticeable as the semester gets busier and busier. So much of our mind chatter is worry about future things that haven’t happened yet or chewing over the past events that are over and done with.  When we do this we miss out on and don’t notice what’s actually happening.   So what can you do about this?  One option is to just pay attention to what’s actually happening in the moment without any judgment about what’s happening.  This is called mindfulness.  But I can hear you saying “I don’t have time for this!”.  The good news is that being mindful can be as simple as taking one mindful breath.   We know that even short periods of mindfulness give us mental spaciousness and a present focus that’s good for our well- being.

Here’s some 2 minute mindfulness exercises to try:

  • For a couple of minutes listen and follow one sound that you hear.  It can be the sound of someone’s voice, your steps as you are walking or a piece of music.
  • Take a few mindful bites of food.  Rather than gulping down your food, notice its taste, texture, smell, and what it looks like.  Drink in the experience with all of your senses.
  • Mindfully brush your teeth in the morning.  Notice how you hold your toothbrush and how it feels to brush your teeth and rinse out your mouth.
  • Mindfully notice your breath.  Just notice your breathing as it comes into your body and leaves your body.  You don’t need to adjust your breath, just notice it.

So the choice to be mindful is always with us even for brief periods of time.  

Try it out…it just might help with the mind chatter!

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 This is a great weekend, in Canada, to really slow your mind, be in the moment, take it all in and be grateful for what is going well in your life.

Happy “Mindful” Thanksgiving!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

Counsellor * eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca