Health Psychology Class

What remains the same in times of change?

Psychology Exercise from this Week’s Class

Grounding and Anchoring for Anxiety

Make a list of what remains consistent in times of rapid change and use it as a grounding technique at the start and end of each day.

  • The Sun Still Rises
  • Your Coffee Tastes Delicious
  • The Trees Greet You on Your Walk
  • Your Favourite Movie Still Delights
  • Your Bed is Comfie at the End of the Day
  • The Street You Live on Hasn’t Changed

In doing so, you anchor yourself in a sense of knowing and trust in your built-in strengths, comforts, and joy. ⚓️

Your Turn

  • What Are Your Anchors in Times of Change?
  • What Has Remained the Same Since Covid Began?
Video from Psychology Class: 
Click Here

What’s my purpose?

What’s your perspective on purpose?


Is it something you do or something you are?


Is it ignited at birth?


Or at work?


Does it expire at death?


Or when you retire?

The way I see it.


Purpose is for a lifetime.


It’s what lights you up, and sets your soul on fire!

Video of Post: Click Here

5 Mindfulness Techniques

Our point of power is always in the present moment.

1. Be Here Now

Stop

Take a breath

Observe

Proceed

2. Create Space

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our freedom.” Viktor Frankl

3. Find Your Flow

In psychology, flow, also known as being in the zone, is the mental state where a person is fully immersed in the moment. Flow often occurs during sports and creative activities such as writing, painting, and teaching. In this state, people often report enhanced well-being, focus, and joy.

4. Commune with Nature

Nature has the capacity of making us become one with the universe. Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. How still they are, how deeply rooted in just being. When you look at a tree and perceive its stillness, you become still yourself.” Eckhart Tolle

5. Practice Loving Kindness

“Be kind to yourself. And let your kindness flood the world.” Pema Chödrön

Enjoy Daily

Let Your North Star Guide You

The sky connects us to something bigger than ourselves.

Challenges appear small in comparison to the vastness of the sky.

Solutions seem plausible. Answers come more easily.

In the presence of stars, we embrace the profound and surrender it all.

Look, up at the sky. There is a light, a beauty up there, that no shadow can touch.

J. R. R. Tolkien

Related Post: Always Looking Up

2020 Life Lessons: Be Strong Enough To Be Gentle

Lockdowns have us spending a lot of extra time with the ones we love.

Especially during the holidays.

And if you’re anything like our household, it requires a whole new level of relationship skills.

A deeper level of empathy and compassion for the pressures of the people we are living with.

Helpful Tips: Psychology Today

What worked before, doesn’t necessarily work now.

And if it does, it takes more patience, more compassion, more love.

For ourselves and others.

Emotionally Intelligent COVID Conversations

How does this show up in our home?

Emotional Intelligence: Resources

One approach that has helped tremendously is how I ask to have my needs met.

Not what I say but how I say it.

Same message.

Different Approach.

A new level of gentleness.

Power versus Force

Kindness versus Conviction

The beauty of this 2020 life lesson is that when I am strong enough to be gentle: I am heard.

What life lessons has 2020 taught you?

Watch 2 min Video of Post: Click Here

Catch Pause Repair (CPR): Sustainable Resilience Model

Healthy Workplace Awards

I recently did a virtual keynote at the Healthy Workplace Awards 2020 Ceremony.

Watch Video: Click Here

Given all we are collectively going through, I thought the notes and video from the virtual keynote presentation would be helpful to everyone.

News Release: CTV News

Especially as we wrap up 2020. A year where we collectively experienced one of the most monumental global events in history.

A time of rapid change, adaptation, and transformation.

SUSTAINABLE RESILIENCE

During the 14 minute virtual keynote, I shared a Framework for Sustainable Resilience and Mental Health called Catch Pause Repair (CPR):

CPR includes 3 steps:

1. Catch

Catch yourself before a stress response escalates by becoming more aware of what triggers you.

What Are Your Stress Triggers? 
Self Test Here

2. Pause

Pause and take a 60 second time out when you feel the physical sensations of stress begin to escalate.

One Minute Meditation
Relax Here

3. Repair

Repair the root source of the heightened stress response which is often physiological in nature. Possible unmet needs include: sleep, food, fresh air, exercise.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 
Overview Here

CPR in Your Life

  1. How do you catch triggers before they escalate?
  2. How often do you pause throughout the day?
  3. Which of Maslow’s five needs require repair?
Watch CPR Presentation: Click Here

Shine your light

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I used to think of life purpose as some great big grand scheme for life, something we spend our whole life chasing after. Daunting for sure. At times overwhelming.

Then one day I realized that life purpose was a series of small, fleeting events, rather than one great big span of life. Bite size in fact.

It’s the one thing we love doing, time and time again. Over and over. Day by day. It’s the one thing we love sharing. Moment to moment. Breath by breath.

RELATED POST:
Don't confuse purpose with occupation

What makes your heart sing?

For me it’s making the person right in front of me (no matter who they are) feel like the most important person in the world.

Engaging fully, completely, in every conversation I have.

No matter how long. No matter how short.

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REFLECTION QUESTION:
What makes you come alive?

I love making someone’s day brighter.

  • Whether it be lifting the spirits of my psychology students.
  • Encouraging a barista at Starbucks.
  • Smiling at runners on the trail.
  • Leaving my sister an uplifting voicemail.
  • Opening the door for someone at the grocery store.
  • Listening intently to my husband at the end of a long day.

Mission for this Moment

My hope for today is to make you feel like the centre of my universe. One smile at a time. One conversation at time. If only for a moment. Sometimes for a lifetime.

Because you matter.

More than you’ll ever know.

Simple Soulful Practice

How I Light Up My Day

Sometimes we need a quick, fun, and easy way to elevate our mood. Suggestion: Angel Cards A simple, soulful practice that takes a (bite sized) moment. Now my friends ask me to bring angel cards to all our coffee talks. Even if we’re sitting 8 feet apart! These light-hearted cards guarantee a shift UP in conversation. From the mundane to the magical.

What lights your way today?

Enjoy Every Moment

Never let the things you want make you forget the things you already have.

Nothing Lasts Forever.

Good or Bad.

Enjoy Every Moment.

Embrace it.

Be it.

See it.

Everything you appreciate is you reflecting back.

Homework for Today

Look Around You.

Notice Things Like You Are Seeing Them for the Very First Time.
Watch Video Of Post: Click Here

Anger is a sign that something needs to change

Anger Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com

Individuals are often looking for healthier ways to express their emotions.

For Example: Anger

That said, it’s not as simple as becoming “more calm” or “less explosive”.

The first step in transformation and lasting change is looking below the surface.

The Kübler-Ross Model provides insight:

5 Stages of Grief and Change

The goal is to discover if angry thoughts, actions, or emotions are serving a purpose.

Is anger helping or hurting?

How is anger serving you

Why Anger?

Perhaps anger allows someone to speak up, say no, set a boundary, or bond with friends.

And if this is the case, the goal of coaching is to help clients replace confrontations (for example) with more effective communication patterns.

PSYCHOLOGY HOMEWORK

Anger → Awareness

First: Set aside time to journal thoughts and emotions about “hot topics”. This allows for a cooling off period and a chance for self reflection and integration.

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Second: Plan a mutually beneficial time to discuss anger triggers and solutions with friends and family.

This 2-step communication technique results in safe, open, and engaging conversations that move both relationships and actions forward. Win Win!

Reflection Questions

  1. What Purpose Does Anger Serve in Your Life? Gains versus Losses?
  2. Does It Strengthen or Deplete You?
  3. Does Anger Move You Further Away from Your Dreams or Closer to Your Dreams?
  4. What In Your Life Needs To Change?
  5. Do You Need More Effective Ways of Coping with Frustration and/or Loss?

Once you understand the underlying purpose anger serves in your life, you’re ready for the next stage in the change process:

Transition and Transformation

Change Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com.

Psychology Resources

  1. New Conceptualizations of Anger: https://www.apa.org/monitor/mar03/advances
  2. How Anger Affects the Body: https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/the-mind-body-connection/202007/what-causes-anger-and-how-it-affects-the-body
  3. Healthy Anger Release Techniques: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-release-anger
  4. Assessing Motivation To Change: https://drandreadinardo.com/2018/08/18/why-change-now

Compassionate Listening

Even as a psychologist, I often don’t know what to say.

Especially now with so many people experiencing pain and trauma in escalating ways.

So rather than assume what someone needs, I have learned over the years to ask one simple question:

How Can I Support You?

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Empathic Listen

In doing so, I create a safe space for healing and acceptance.

Something we all need right now, more than ever before.

Unconditional love and support.

To be witnessed. To be heard.

All good conversation begins with listening.

Only then can we transformed by what we learn. 🌎💞

Video of Post ⇒ Click Here

Psychology Insights: Self Criticism to Self Compassion

Why are we so hard on ourselves DrAndreaDinardo.com

WHY ARE WE SO HARD ON OURSELVES?

Great question!

One that I’m asked often. And one that I often ask myself.

PSYCHOLOGY INSIGHTS

What causes this behaviour?

The answer is multifaceted and includes several factors including how we were parented (when internalized superego and conscience first develops) and eventually how we parent ourselves.

For example:

When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

1. Self Criticism versus Self Compassion

2. Self Control versus Self Love and Understanding 

PSYCHOLOGY SOLUTIONS

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How do I make the shift from self criticism to self compassion?

1. Pay attention to where your self judgements originated.

Is this your personal measure of worthiness or society’s expectation of success?

2. Investigate how truly arbitrary the standards you set for yourself are.

For example, who said you had to weigh 125 lbs, have a million dollars in the bank, and be married by 30?

3. Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

  • Watch this short video for additional insights into the developmental origins of toxic self criticism, unrealistic standards, and the SUPERego.

“Be kinder to yourself. And let your kindness flood the world.”

Rethink Time in COVID-19

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I find the perception of time fascinating.

Everyone experiences time differently.

Because time truly is relative.

Changing from situation to situation.

For example:

Time perception also varies from person to person.

For example:

Type A versus Type B

Time Defines Us

Taken one step further, time defines who we are, and ultimately who we become.

How we live our days is how we live our lives.

Moments → Hours → Days → Months → Lifetimes

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Mindful Time Management

Which is why the more conscious and aware we become about how we spend and prioritize our time, the more meaningful and satisfying our lives will become.

Time is Money Video

Concrete Examples of Time Usage

Rethink Time

Identify 5 ways you spend 100 units (dollars) of time each day. (As illustrated in the video)

  • For example: gardening (20 units), reading (20 units), writing (20 units), cooking (20 units), complaining (20 units)

Compare and contrast your “money time sheet” with family and friends.

When does time slow down for you? When does time speed up for you?

  • Do you lose “track” of time easily?
  • Is time something you consciously pay attention to?

Are you more influenced by external measures of time?

  • Or an internal “sense” of time?

internal clock.

Has your use of time changed since COVID?

Has your perception of time changed with age?

  • If so how?

The trouble is, you think you have time.

Jack Kornfield

Watch Video of Blog Post → Click Here

Acceptance: Your Peace Depends on It

Shift your focus.

Change your life.

Acceptance and peace go hand in hand.

peace

Consciously accept the good and the bad that exists in your life.

The rain and the sunlight.

The shadow and the light.

acceptance

Accepting what is does not lower the bar.

Quite the opposite.

Acceptance shines a spotlight on your inner strengths and endurance – independent of outer circumstances.

Strengths that were fostered in the eye of the storm. ☔️

Courage. Creativity. Wisdom. Perseverance. Faith.

This very moment in time.

And it’s that good feeling that motivates you to strive for more of what’s right for you. Instead of fighting against what’s wrong for you.

HOW DO I MAKE THE SHIFT?

Begin by accepting what is.

Moment by precious moment.

Your happiness depends on it.

acceptance


Applying this Post in Everyday Life

The 3 to 1 positivity to negativity ratio is one way of applying this post in your everyday life.

Specifically, each time you criticize an area of your life (or something about yourself personally), write down three positive aspects about the very thing you condemned. Hence, the 3 to 1 positivity ratio.

Journal Reflections DrAndreaDinardo.com

For example, each time you get down on yourself for not working during the COVID-19 pandemic, write down three benefits of sheltering in place. (E.g., more time for fitness, the space to try out new hobbies, meaningful conversations with family members). This daily practice helps to dampen the adverse impact of negativity bias, a type of cognitive distortion, common to all of us.

FOMO JOMO DrAndreaDinardo.com

Likewise, stop comparing your lowlights to other people’s highlights. You never know what’s happening behind the scenes in another person’s life. Good or bad. FOMO is “a story” fabricated in the mind based on snippets of observable behaviour (video below).

Reflection Questions

  1. How has COVID-19 eased (or increased) the pressure you put on yourself and the people around you?
  2. What does acceptance “feel” like physically in your body versus fighting “what is”?
  3. What have you surrendered lately? Let go?

You Can’t Add More to Your Life Without First Letting Go

Let Your North Star Guide You

My Wish For You Today

May you find peace in your home.

And calm in your heart.

No matter the storm.

PEACE is an inside job. DrAndreaDinardo.com

Psychology Thought for the Day

The goal isn’t to get rid of all our negative thoughts and emotions.

The goal is to change our response to them.

To accept them without judgement.

To transcend them when the time is right.

e·qua·nim·i·ty

Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. “She accepted both the good and the bad with equanimity”.

This video may help:

Let Your North Star Guide You 

How do you rise above? 💫

Watch Video of Post → Click Here

The Power of Breathing Space: You are Safe

Every time we take a long deep breath, we are telling our bodies that we are safe.

Each breath connecting
our mind, body, and heart.

Bringing us back to present time.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Breathing Space

Breathing Techniques To Try

Follow Your Breath Become aware of each inhalation and exhalation. Focus on the sensations you feel as air passes through your nose and throat. When you feel your thoughts drift, gently redirect your attention back to your breath.

sky

Stand Up Straight Posture is especially important for breathing. Being upright enhances the rhythmic movement between the diaphragm and ribs. Hold yourself straight. Shoulders back. Feel the power of your breath.

forest

Think Reassuring Thoughts While Breathing With each breath, think soothing thoughts (“I am inhaling calm”). With each exhalation, imagine that you are expelling your fears and worries (“I am exhaling worry”).

earth

Abdominal Breathing Breathe through your stomach. Start by inflating your belly by inhaling, as if to fill it with air, then swell your chest; as you exhale, first “empty” your stomach, then your chest.

Breathing Quotes - Dr. Andrea Dinardo

Balanced Breathing At the end of each inhalation, pause briefly while slowly counting “1, 2, 3”. Hold the air in. Then slowly exhale counting “1, 2, 3”.

Source: Scientific American

Reflection Questions

What brings you peace during uncertainty?

What gives you strength?

Breathing Video → Click Here

Celebrate how far you’ve come.

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Today let’s celebrate all the dreams that came true.

Merely an idea 5 years ago.

It’s so easy to get lost in our hopes and motivations for the future.

Without realizing how many of our aspirations we’ve already achieved.
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Together let’s honour how far we’ve come.

Only then will we have the fuel + the faith to keep reaching for our North Stars.

Again and again and again.. 🙏💛 🚀💫

Don’t Give Up!

You are closer than you know. ✨

Video of Blog Post ⇒ Click Here

Mindful Moments in California

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We’re on a trip to California for our December birthdays and wedding anniversary and I couldn’t imagine a more mindful place to be.

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Nature everywhere we look.

Luminous moonlight.

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Dancing campfire.

Fresh ocean air.

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Water as far as the eye can see.

Sunshine in every nook.

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100 year old fig trees.

Just outside our hotel room door.

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Mountains in the distance.

Waiting to be climbed.

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Above all, I am most grateful to wake up each day and share my life with John, my students, and everyone reading this post.

December birthday blessings of the highest kind.🎄💚

Video of Blog Post ⇒ Click Here

CPR: Sustainable Resilience & Mental Health Habits

Dr. Andrea Dinardo MENTAL HEALTH HABITS
sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty
/səˌstānəˈbilədē/

The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

Catch Pause Repair (CPR) is a Framework for Sustainable Mental Health & Resilience Habits.

CPR includes three simple steps as outlined in the video below:

1. Catch

Catch yourself before a stress response escalates by becoming more aware of what triggers you.

2. Pause

Pause and take a 60 second time out when you feel the physical sensations of stress begin to escalate.

3. Repair

Repair the root source of the heightened stress response which is often physiological in nature.

DrAndreaDinardo.com QUOTE

Supporting Student Health

Requested by

The CPR Presentation  was developed for the St. Clair College Student Sustainability Group as part of their initiative for supporting the health and wellbeing of college staff, faculty, and students.

New Opportunity

This was the first time I’ve been approached to make a video for a third party. And it was so much fun!

Peace lives here.

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Peace happens in moments.

Not days.

Not weeks.

Not years.

Hot coffee.

Cozy blankets.

Birds singing.

The sun rising.

Peace happens in moments.

Not days.

Not weeks.

Not years.

Savour the sunshine.

Taste every morsel.

Dance with abandon.

Stroll by the moonlight.

Peace happens in moments.

Not days.

Not weeks.

Not years.

Breathe deeply into this moment.

Peace lives here.

5 Ways to Focus Better

Why Can’t I Remember Anything?

One of the most frequent questions I was asked as a practicing psychologist and more recently as a psychology professor is why can’t I remember anything.

The problem is most likely a focusing issue — not a memory issue.

An important distinction between memory and attention that I share in the focus video below.

In the video in particular, I describe how the Atkinson–Shiffrin memory model (see model below) differentiates between sensory, short-term, and long-term memory.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo - Focus Article.6

And the important implications this model has for one’s ability to focus and remember information long term.

You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things.


Link to Fall Focus Article

5 Ways to Focus Better

Issue 124. The Drive Magazine.
Psychology Article: thedrivemagazine.com/posts/5-ways-to-focus-better
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Video of Post: Click Here

FOMO ANXIETY Simple Tips for Feeling Better

This post is for anyone experiencing FOMO. Particularly on a long weekend holiday!

Psychology Insight:

Holidays heighten social anxiety of every kind.

FOMO especially.

Consider these questions as you explore what’s going on below the surface.

1. Do you remember the first time you experienced FOMO?

2. How did you cope with the anxiety of missing out?

3. What if anything would you be willing to give up in your life in exchange for the fantasy of someone else’s life or experience?

4. What about your life do you cherish above all else?

Please share in the comments below, including your own strategies for handling FOMO. I’d love to know!

Savour this moment.

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Free Yourself 🦋

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EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE

1. What would you stop doing if you only had one year to live?

2. What would you start doing if you only had one year to live?

3. What do you need to let go of to feel a sense of happiness, well-being, and peace? 

4. What and who do you no longer want to be obligated to?

5. What joy do you wish you had more time for?

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CONTEMPLATION TIME

Take a long deep breath and meditate on your answers. You’ll be surprised at what your soul has to say.

YOU GET ONE LIFE.

Make it yours. 

Finding the light.

How do you start the day?

Do your morning routines lighten you up?

Or bring you down?

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Early morning rituals spark the divine in me.

No matter the day. No matter the moment.

Angel cards, hot coffee, and mindfulness take me there.

Fueling my creativity. Illuminating my path. Shifting me higher.

Today’s Angel Reading — Click Here

Early morning rituals call forth the peace in me.

No matter the day. No matter the moment.

Angel cards, hot coffee, and mindfulness take me there.

In this sacred space I breathe in deep, let go, and freely release…

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Early morning rituals affirm the courage in me.

For I have finally found the light in me.

Ready to share ☀️ with all that I meet.

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Reflection Questions

How do you rediscover the light inside? What morning rituals shift you to a higher place?

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Happiness: What deters it? What contributes to it?

The Happiness Class

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One of my favourite things to do as a professor is to stay after class and talk to students. They look at the world in a very unique way. Motivating me to think about psychology at a whole different level.

  • Especially when it comes to FOMO and happiness:

FOMO is an acronym for fear of missing out, which is a feeling of anxiety that manifests itself in various ways, from a brief pang of envy to more intense feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy. Source: Macmillan Dictionary

Student Insights

In the video below I share the insightful questions my psychology students asked about social comparison and happiness today. Each question underscoring the famous quote:  

Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Happiness, FOMO, and Social Comparison

FOMO and “measuring happiness” against each other’s’s lowlight reel (difficult times) and highlight reel (celebratory times) was also an active discussion on social media

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I would love your insights too!

How would you answer the questions posed by my students:

  1. What are 2 deterrents to happiness?
  2. What are 2 contributors to happiness?
  3. How is your happiness influenced by other people’s highlights and lowlights?
    • Social comparison and happiness was the crux of today’s class discussion and accompanying video.
  4. What simple changes can you make today to enhance your happiness?

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Optimism Bootcamp - Click Here

Your emotions have a message for you.

Create space for feelings to flow.

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Emotions are neither good or bad.

Only labeling makes it so.

Don’t run from challenging emotions.

Instead, lean in and ask:

“What are you trying to tell me?”

Witness. Observe. Learn.

The best part is how small fear appears close up!

We must go in — to get through.

Helpful Article with Strategies

Click Here:  Lean into lonelinessDriveLoneliness

What brings you joy?

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What brings you joy on a Saturday morning, Friday night, or Tuesday afternoon?

From my experience, it’s never the time, the day, or the month that brings good vibes. It’s how we feel on the inside. So why wait another minute for happy hour. Create the life you want wherever you are. 😊😊

Related Post: Happiness in Present Time

My husband and I met 17 years ago today on June 1, 2002. And I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate our happy hours together than with this little blog post. May your month of June overflow with love and joy too!

Laughter is an instant vacation.

What’s your favourite stress reliever?

Laughter is mine.

We live in a world weighed down by disaster, debt, and divorce. So it’s no surprise that we’ve been conditioned to believe that tragedies require tragic mindsets.

That serious issues demand serious attitudes. That hardships necessitate hardened spirits.

What consumes your mind consumes your life.

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Change your view.

Thankfully we also live in a world overflowing with abundance, joy, and love. Same world. But we can’t see the good when we’re overwhelmed by the bad.

From overwhelmed to OVERFLOWING.

Making the shift from stress to strength can happen in a number of ways.

Laughter = instant stress relief. Taking a long deep breath runs a close second.

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Be kind to your mind.

Laughter breaks the panic spell. The not enough mindset. The woe is me attitude. The negativity downturn.

Laughter connects people in present time. Friends and strangers!  Think of the last time you laughed out loud with a cashier in the grocery line. (For me, it was last night ;.)

Laughter is an instant vacation to a better place – without the travel bills!

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Today’s challenge / opportunity:

Today’s challenge is to lighten up. To breathe deeply into what stresses you.

 To leave room for grace. To respond with a light heart and an open mind. To dance a little dance. To laugh with friends. To nourish your soul.

Ultimately to remember who you were – before life weighed you down. 

For it’s in our joy that we find our voice. It’s in our abundance that we embrace our authenticity.

It’s in our laughter that we save the day.

You hold the key.

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Even though we often have little control over the “outside forces” in our lives, we can always make a positive difference – from the inside out.

Start here. Right here. Right now. Be still. Breathe in gratitude. Be thankful for this very moment. Start small. Notice your passing thoughts. Let go.

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Awareness empowers.

Notice the exact time it is right now. Say today’s date out loud. Look up at the sky. Wink at the clouds. Stomp your feet on the floor. Smile with gusto.

Slowly bring yourself back to this moment.

Grab onto the coffee mug you are holding. Inhale the rich scent of the sumatra you are drinking. Feel the warmth of each passing breath.

Feel the texture of the clothes you’re wearing. Wake up to the sound of your voice. Whisper. Sing. Shout it out!

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Dance a little dance. Stand up tall. Anything and everything that shifts you from outer space to inner spirit. From not enough to overflowing.

Positive change begins within.

Come back to yourself. Back to the grace of your magnificent spirit. Into the beauty of your incredible form. Feel the rhythm of your beating heart. Sense the pulse of life itself. 

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Everything you need to transform yourself and the world already exists within you. You matter. You truly matter. But you have to believe it to see it. Feel it to know it. One gentle, uplifting thought at a time.

You hold the key.

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Originally published on March 1 2017

Taming Your Monkey Mind

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Nature is a beautiful way to stop the monkey mind in its’ tracks.

What is the monkey mind? 🐒 🧠

“Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. Fear is an especially loud monkey –  screaming out all the things that could go wrong.” Source: HuffPost 

When we’re caught in a loop of anxious thoughts, our amygdala goes into overdrive. Causing us to get stuck in the basement of our brains (the limbic system) where our stressful thoughts go around and around. With no end to the downward spiral in sight.

B R E A T H I N G    S P A C E

Time in nature gives us a chance to catch our breath, to see the light, to realize there’s a way out of this never-ending rumination loop.

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The Healing Power of Nature

The impact of nature on the human spirit is so profound that a hallmark study in 1984 showed that patients who had a room with a view healed faster than patients without a view. A mere glimpse of nature was enough to enhance their resilience.

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Nature shifts our thoughts. Expands our awareness. Gives us hope. Lifts us up from the basement of our brains (amygdala) to the penthouse (cerebral cortex) where all solutions are possible.

And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.” 

Related Video: Five Grounding Techniques

Enhancing well-being during the holidays

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Santa feels the pressure too.

Do you find Christmas holidays stressful?

If you’re anything like me (and Santa Claus), you answered yes.

Something I wrote about in the December issue of The DRIVE magazine.

Including the benefits of leaning into difficult emotions.

Because the more we try to fight discomfort, the longer it lasts.

“The root of all suffering is attachment.” Buddha

source.gifStop fighting. Start flowing.

Let your stress drift gently through you.

Without judgment or condemnation.

Breathe and release.

Embrace what is.

Moment by moment.

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Let go of what is outside your control.

Let go of expectations.

In doing so..

The pressure becomes lighter.

The joy becomes brighter.

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Create your own traditions.

Fall in love with the night sky.

Savour a walk in the moonlight.

Moment by moment.

We can handle just about anything.

Happiness in present time.

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Our left brain lives in the past and the future.

Our right brain lives in the here and now.

One scrambles for solutions to problem after problem.

The other sinks into the present moment, trusting all is well.

Which side of the brain will you live on today?

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I choose my right brain.

Right here. Right now.

Fully present.

Breathing it all in.

All is well.

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”

The inspiration for today’s post.

A walk around Blue Heron Lake.🍃


Related Post: Is Happiness a Choice?

What you seek is seeking you.

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As we head into the weekend, may we all be reminded of the importance of rest in striving for success.

If only for a moment.

An hour or a day.

Be still and let your dreams find you.

“What you seek is seeking you”.

Breathe. Believe. Receive.

You hold the key. 🔑

Remember to breathe.

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that have the greatest impact on our happiness.

Something so close, so within reach, we often forget it was there in the first place. The good night’s sleep we’re yearning for; waiting patiently at the end of each day. The connection to nature we’re searching for; available 24/7 just beyond our front door. That extra deep breath; we frequently forget to take.

You possess a power so magnificent, so liberating, right under your nose.

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Breathing is one of the few physiological functions that can be controlled both consciously and unconsciously. 

When everything feels out of control, breathing is the one thing that will always be within our control. The times we’re under the most amount of stress is the exact time we need to expand our breathing – not restrict it.

We must become conscious of breath.

The next time you’re under any kind of pressure. Stuck in traffic. Rushing from class to class. Dealing with a difficult customer at work. Desperately trying to recall answers on a final exam. Wake up to the formidable power that exists within you. Right here. Right now. Right under your nose.

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The deeper the breath. The deeper the peace.

Video of Post: https://youtu.be/zRSQw-LjU8k

Set a time limit on negativity.

Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.

When I was a kid my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did; whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.

It helped us to understand that nothing lasts forever – good or bad.

This was especially important when we felt helpless over things we did not have control over, including chores we  did not want to do.

Setting time limits also taught us to respect how our words and actions impact ourselves and others.

Full disclosure: My mom is a psychologist too.

In this interview I share why I set a time limit on negativity.

Your time. Your life.

To this day I set a timer on the stove.

A simple, yet effective way to motivate myself through tedious tasks and become more mindful of time itself.

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The timer principle can also be applied to how often we are negative vs. positive throughout the course of a day.

Negativity is the easy (automatic) route. So we need to be conscious of where our mind flows.

Venting feels good in the moment, but when it goes on too long, the costs outweigh the benefits.

Joy needs room to breathe.

Too often we complain about stressors for hours beyond the momentary challenge has passed. Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and gratitude.

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Then one day we wake up and realize that life is too short to be all negative, all the time. Even (especially) when life gets tough.

Balance is key.

Negativity is to be expected. It’s part of the human experience.

The question is – how long will you stay there.

Share your challenges. Share your obstacles. Share your difficulties.

But also leave room for what’s good in your life.

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Joy needs room to breathe. And so do you. ♥

Interview: Energy vs. Time Management

Reading People: Lesson #1 Self Awareness

“The simple act of paying attention can take you a long, long way.”

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Intrapersonal Intelligence ⇔ Interpersonal Intelligence

The first lesson in reading people, using the principles of emotional intelligence, is to understand yourself more deeply.

What motivates you. What excites you. What angers you. What lifts you up!

As self-awareness is essential for both personal and relationship success.

If you can’t comprehend your own emotions and motivations, how will you ever understand the behaviour of others?

Understanding Yourself  ⇔ Understanding Others

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Self-awareness as a daily practice.

Notice how your emotions ebb and flow throughout the day.

One way of doing this is to schedule time at the end or beginning of your day for quiet contemplation and self-reflection.

Find your favourite place to relax and unwind. Perhaps in the garden or in a cozy chair by the window. Or on a walk by the trees. 

Alternatively, enjoy a 2 minute “Self Check In” at the top of each hour.

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Pause. Reflect. Breathe Deeply.

Journal. Meditate. Create. 

What you will find is the more consistently you pay attention to your own drives and desires, the better you will understand the emotions and motivations of others.

Simple self-awareness exercise.

In the video below, I share the simple exercise I use to enhance self-awareness in myself and others. Can you guess the EQ questions I ask students?

Your Turn:

How would you describe yourself in one word?

To hear my “one word” — check out the 1 min video above.  📌🎥


Learn More

Reading People: Lesson #2 

Social Awareness

Here I am.

The aftermath.

No matter how many times I give a speech or participate in a big event, I am often left with the same feeling for a day or so.

Sadness. A kind of longing. A sense of emptiness.

For weeks, sometimes months, I practice, prepare, and edit my work. Immersed, focused, lost in the creative flow.

At night. On weekends. During all my free time. Hoping to do my best. Not wanting to let down.

Researching. Anticipating. Building  up to the main event.

Afterward, what was once was filled with busyness is an open space. A hollowness that cannot be filled by looking back or planning ahead.

An ache. A void. For no good logical reason.

A place inside that can only be filled in present time.

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So I go for a bike ride knowing how Mother Nature always soothes my heart and replenishes my soul.

There is no more looking back or ahead when I am outside.

At that moment I hear three words deep in my heart.

Here I am.

Here I am.

For solace cannot be found in travelling through time.

It can only be found in where you are right now.

Here I am.

in the blooming trees

in the birds soaring

in the sun setting

in the water flowing

in this moment wherever you are.

Here I am. 💚

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Ordinary Joys

Simple pleasures are my favourite.

Hot coffee. Cozy blankets. Birds singing. The sun rising. Fast runs. Slow walks. Long days. Warm hugs. Peaceful silences. BLT sandwiches. Tomato soup. Matinee movies. Buttery popcorn. Ice cold pop. Walking on campus. Smiling in the hallways. Laughing with students. Learning from students. Driving home. Soulful conversations. Dreaming of the future. Reminiscing about the past. Living fully in the moment. Riding bikes. Dancing down the street. Barbeque dinners. Chocolate almonds. Stephen King novels. Hot Tea. Cozy Blankets. Birds Singing… 

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Nothing is more extraordinary than our ordinary joys. For how we live our days is how we live the whole of our lives.


What brings you joy on an ordinary day?

Less fight. More serenity.

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The next time you’re gearing up for another big fight with reality.

Morning Traffic

Office Politics

Loud Neighbours

Unpredictable Weather

Try rolling with it.

Giving up the fight.

Waving the white flag.

Surrendering to what is.

And always has been.

The upside.

You conserve energy for the joyful in your life.

The meaningful in your life.

The soulful in your life.

Including this very moment.

This is where your life SHINES.

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The key to happiness.

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Let go of what is outside your control.

The next time you are gearing up for another fight with reality. Winter; Traffic; Parking; Deadlines. Try rolling with it. Surrendering to what is. Letting go. No matter the circumstances.

Hold on to what brings you joy.

In surrendering, you save precious energy for the joyful in your life. The meaningful in your life. The soulful in your life. Including this very moment. This is where happiness lives.

Related Post: Letting Life Flow.

Work hard. Rest. Repeat.

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To All Nursing Students, including my own:

If I were to assign any homework this week it would be to take a break.

10 minutes at a time.

5 times a day.

Because you have all worked exceptionally hard the past five weeks.

And a good rest is half the work.

Although things may not have gone your way.

Not exactly as you had planned.

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You are still here.

This is something to celebrate.

Because showing up and being fully present is the essence of being a spectacular nurse.

And training to be a nurse is as much about the journey as the knowledge itself.

Take a breath.

Take a rest.

Give yourself credit.

For ALL that brought you here.

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Focus on the ENTIRE process.

Not just one paper. Or one test.

Because the only way to finish a marathon is to take the water from the sidelines, eat the food along the way, and most importantly celebrate every step in the journey.

No matter how small.

No matter how challenging.

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I am sending you all good vibes.

All day long.

Every step of the way.

YOU GOT THIS !!

Dr. D 😊

And if you need an extra boost in the first semester of the second year of your BScN collab nursing program:

https://drandreadinardo.com/2018/01/12/reigniting-motivation

Study Tip: Stay Focused

This post was inspired by the one question students ask year after year:

Why Can’t I Remember Anything?

More often than not, it’s a focusing and attention issue, not a memory problem.

An important distinction between attention and memory described in the video below:

Stay Focused

You Can’t Do Big Things If You’re Distracted By Small Things

Purpose for one day

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I have the pleasure of starting each day with my husband John.

Each morning begins at 6am with an hour of coffee talk weekends included.

No alarm clock necessary. 

Having something as wonderful as hot coffee and good conversation to look forward to each day is its own wake up call.

This morning I asked John to share why he thought he was born.

Deep talk, I know.

But that’s just how life rolls when you’re married to a psychologist.

John’s answer: “To make one person’s life better that day.”

To which I replied: “Purpose achieved.” (He makes the best coffee!)

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This conversation got me thinking about how important it is to live our purpose in short 24 hour segments. Too long a timeline and we feel lost and overwhelmed.

Name the purpose. Claim the day. Leave the details up to the universe.

Who. What. Where. When. How. Are spontaneous.

Simply be on the lookout for one opportunity to be on purpose for one day.

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1 person. 1 purpose. 1 day.