The Biology of Stress.

The Amygdala Hijack

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⊕ From Stress to Success ⊕

In this video clip of my keynote speech at the “You Can Do College Event” I share the biological origins of stress and anxiety with 300 high school students from Ontario, Canada.

In this segment, I also demonstrate simple strategies for dealing with high stress situations. Including deep breathing exercises, mindful awareness, and personal responsibility.

To learn more about the role of positive psychology in stress management & resilience, check out my TEDx Talk “Thriving Under Pressure” on the TED TALKS site.

Shifting from anxiety to excitement.

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They say we only use 5-10% of our brain’s full potential.

A statement I tend to agree with.

Know thyself.

Understanding ourselves better, including our brains, is always the first step in tapping into what’s possible, within, and all around us.

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Hacking the brain.

Did you know that fear and excitement share the same set of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, glutamate, and acetylcholine.

  • Opposite emotions. Identical neurotransmitters.
  • Same neural activity. Different cognitive appraisal.

And the best way to shift from performance anxiety to excitement is to say one sentence on repeat.

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Journal of Experimental Psychology. 2014, Volume 143

Watch my latest YouTube video “Shifting from anxiety to excitement” to discover the simple phrase for shifting out of nervousness during high anxiety situations.

And learn why telling someone to “calm down” when they’re anxious rarely works.

Related Post: Are you left brain or right brained?

One small change.. 🧠

Changes everything.

Thriving Under Pressure — Leadership Training and Development

Fitness is more than physical.

Recently, I was invited to do a Leadership Training and Development Workshop at a local kickboxing club.

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The ultimate stress release.

This is where I go to cool my jets and find my joy. So, I was more than excited to take the leadership team’s mental fitness up to the next level!

From surviving to thriving.

During the mental fitness training session, I discussed how the 3 C’s of Thriving Under Pressure from my TEDx Talk could enhance the performance and well-being of the Kersey Kickbox Team.

Commitment – Challenge – Control

Using personality assessment, team mapping, and real-life examples, I harnessed the team’s many strengths to benefit both the club’s membership and the trainers themselves.

The best part of the training was how much we laughed. 💥🥊

But don’t take my word for it… Watch the video and see for yourself!

Come join my YouTube Channel by clicking here.

Good news to share.

The Drive Blog Promo

Hope everyone’s having a great day! I wanted take a moment and share some good news with you.

In June I was interviewed by THE DRIVE magazine for an article on mental health and thriving under pressure.

The creative director saw my TEDx Talk and reached out for input into their next issue. How cool is that!

Consequently, I will be their mental health expert for their “Pushing through the Boundaries” issue being published in August.

Which includes a professional photo shoot at my most favourite place, Blue Heron Lake. Pinch me please!

Nourishing mental health while reaching for the stars is something I hold dear to my heart. So please stay tuned for the rest of the story!

I’ll be sure to post a link to the interview soon!

Your Turn:

I’d love to hear your good news too!

Just what the doctor ordered.

What if…

What if your doctor prescribed dancing as a fitness activity instead of time on a treadmill or at the gymnasium. Would you be more likely to follow through if exercise was fun and uplifting?


This doctor’s prescription for today:

Dancing!

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Which is why I love the commercial below.

It’s a great reminder that getting healthy doesn’t have to be arduous.

It can be so much fun!

Families who dance together stay healthy together.”

Dance inspires me to stand up, shake it off, and bust a move. 🎉💃

What about you?

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What inspires you to follow a healthy lifestyle? 

Related: Laughter saves the day.

Health and Happiness.

Reflection Questions

When someone asks you “What makes you happy?” does your answer differ from “What makes you healthy?”

Do you consider your health requirements essential and your happiness needs selfish and superfluous?

Or perhaps you rate health and happiness as equal and interdependent.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Shifting Positive on a Stressful Day.

“Every day might not be good, but there is something good in every day.”

In psychology class this week, I teach one of my favourite subjects – Stress, Coping, and Health Psychology Chapter 11 in my psychology textbook.

I purposely teach this topic during the height of midterms. Raising awareness about the healthy (and not so healthy) ways students manage stress is critical for building resilience.

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Shifting Negative ⇒ Positive

One of my top 10 techniques for shifting students from stress to strength is to share what’s going right even (especially) when things are going wrong. Small uplifts in the course of the day change everything. Fleeting. Unexpected. Goodness.

Based on my experience as a school psychologist, I will never deny the stress students are under. Witnessing adversity is an essential part of moving through itHowever, I choose not to remain in the territory of “what’s wrong” for too long.

What We Focus on Expands

Once we acknowledge what’s wrong. We open our eyes to the grace that takes place throughout the day.

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“Good things are always happening. The key is to notice them.”

Students make the shift from powerless to empowered by sharing ordinary joys happening in their lives.

A radiant smile from a fellow commuter. Free coffee at McDonald’s. An unexpected A on a paper. A sweet parking spot. Spending time with an old friend. A surprise compliment from a stranger. Laughing out loud with fellow classmates. A really good night’s sleep.

And I’m the fortunate professor who gets to hear all these uplifts at the end of a long, rainy day. One more reason why I love working with students.

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How do you shift positive on a stressful day?

Related Post: Put a time limit on negativity.

The unexpected benefits of stress.

Most people wince every time they hear the word “stress”.

It’s as if the whole world has been conditioned to respond to stress the same way, by word alone. A habitual thought response that is often more dangerous than the stressor itself.

What you believe matters.

The latest research in psychology examines stress in an entirely new way.

Rather than viewing stress as unequivocally bad for one’s health, health psychologists pinpoint belief systems as the moderating variable between stress and biology.

Stress perception ↔ Health benefits

Embracing meaning is more important than reducing discomfort according to Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal. Stress can make us stronger, smarter and happier — if we learn how to open our minds to it.” Source: Stanford News

Which is one of many reasons why I love Dr. McGonigal’s TED Talk. She encourages us to think about stress in a whole new empowering way. With an emphasis on growth, purpose, and meaning over needless suffering.

Mindset is everything.

Using health psychology research, Dr. McGonigal reveals how perceiving stress as either positive or negative can have a “live or die” impact on individual stress response.

Change your thoughts. Change your stress response.

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  1. Believe that stress is good for you (eg., stress heightens awareness) and you live longer.
  2. Alternatively, believe that stress is bad for you (eg., stress causes heart attacks) and you die sooner.

But don’t take my word for it.

You need to experience your own “Aha Moment” firsthand.

How to make stress your friend.

In the video below, Dr. McGonigal illustrates the many upsides of stress, including help seeking behaviour, increased energy, and robust health. She also backs up her stress positive claims with census records and comprehensive health research.

Hope you enjoy these fresh, new ideas about stress as much as I do!

“Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat.  But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive.” Source: TED Talks

Helpful resources for adopting a resilience mindset:

  1. How to Turn Stress into an Asset by Amy Gallow
  2. Cognitive Reframing and Stress Management by Liz Scott
  3. Six Ways to Do Cognitive Restructuring by Dr. Alice Boyes
  4. Reducing Stress by Changing Your Thinking by Mind Tools
  5. Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life by Dr. Wayne Dyer
  6. The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good by Kelly McGonigal

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Related Post: Stress resilience at school.

Back to school!

Today marks my 15th orientation with BScN nursing students at St. Clair College.

 

No matter how many years I attend Fall orientation, it feels like the first time.

No matter how many times I work with students, it never gets old.

Their first class is my first class.

Their struggle is my struggle.

Their victory is my victory.

Students are my reason why.

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And so today marks the beginning of something great.

Another fresh start.

Another set of dreams.

Another opportunity to change (student) lives for the better.

Related Post: Shifting Positive on a Stressful Day.