Psychology of Body Image: Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Perception versus Reality

I was motivated to write this post and film an accompanying video after witnessing so many students overwrought by thoughts of inadequacy about how they looked.

In reality, there was no doubt that they were healthy and whole, but in their minds, they believed the opposite.

A phenomenon heightened by imaginary audience and social anxiety, which reaches its peak in adolescence.

Imaginary Audience Video: Click Here 
Body Image Video: Click Here  

Psychology Research

What are the underlying mechanisms?

These articles provide insight into why body dissatisfaction continues to be an issue, despite countless campaigns to turn the tide.

Article 1

The Image in the Mirror and the Number on the Scale

Link https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3610322

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Article 2

The Effects of Social Media on Body Image and Mental Health

Link http://lifesciencesjournal.org/2020/02/the-effects-of-social-media-on-body-image-and-mental-health

Article 3

Body Weight and Self-Perception are Associated with Depression

Link Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

Psychology Homework

The First Step Towards Change is Awareness

1. Reality Testing

The 15 questions below challenge cognitive distortions and perceptions using reality itself.

This inquiry is not limited to body image and weight and thus can be applied to areas of life where you find yourself overthinking and ruminating.

Reality Testing Homework

Source: Challenging Cognitive Distortions

  1. What evidence do I have to support this thought or belief?
  2. Am I assuming the worst?
  3. Am I overgeneralizing?
  4. What would I say to a friend in this situation?
  5. How can I test my assumptions/beliefs to find out if they’re accurate?
  6. Do I have a trusted friend whom I can check out these thoughts with?
  7. Is this thought helpful?
  8. Am I making assumptions?
  9. How can I test the accuracy of this thought?
  10. Are there exceptions to these absolutes (always, never)?
  11. Is it really in my control?
  12. Can I look for “shades of gray”?
  13. Am I making this personal when it isn’t?
  14. Am I holding myself to an unreasonable standard?
  15. Are there other ways that I can think about this or myself?
Related: The Stories We Tell Ourselves

2. Community Discussion

In addition to spending time in self reflection and reality testing, it is important to open up the conversation to the community at large.

In doing so we move into collective problem-solving, empowering solutions, and public health education.

Podcast Interview

Be Yourself: Happy. Healthy. Hopeful.

Turning Self-Criticism into Self-Compassion 

In this episode, Stephani and Dr. Dinardo speak about what positive psychology is, turning your perceived flaws into strengths by moving from self-criticism to self-compassion, posttraumatic growth and how adversity can be beneficial to us, boundaries around social media use, the magic of prevention work and maintaining hope”. Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association (BANA)

Listen to Interview: Click Here
Watch 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

SAYING NO Are you a feeler or a thinker?

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Do you have a difficult time saying no?

While others in your life say no without a second thought.

Is this confusing and at times upsetting for you?

Are you hard on yourself because of this discrepancy between yourself and others?

You may be interested to discover that Saying No is not a one size fits all.

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Join me in my
virtual psychology classroom as I share one factor that explains why some people have more difficulty saying no and holding boundaries than others — Your Personality.

Feelers vs. Thinkers

Feelers

In this video I describe how individuals who are overly sensitive to the feelings of others (HSPs, Empaths, ENFJs) often focus on the needs of others to the exclusion of themselves.

Video: SAYING NO Are you a feeler or a thinker?

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❤️ Feelers take things more personally than thinkers.

Often causing feelers to say YES on the outside when on the inside their intuition is telling them to SAY NO.

Result = Mixed Messages + Unnecessary Stress

Thinkers

By contrast, individuals who are left brain dominant (thinkers on the Myers Briggs scale) are more straightforward and logical in their response to requests from friends and coworkers.

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Consequently, thinkers do not focus to the same extent on the emotions of “the requesters” in the same way that feelers (eg., ENFJ’s) on the on the Myers Briggs do.

💡 Saying no comes naturally to thinkers.

Thinkers know what they want and use analytics + logic not the emotions of the person in front of them as their guiding force.

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Learning from each other

On the plus side:

Feelers and thinkers make incredible teammates.

At work and in life.

Balance is everything. 🧠 + ❤️

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Additional Information

1. Right Brain versus Left Brain
2. Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
3. Learn About Myers Briggs Personality Profile
4. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

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Let me know in comments below how your personality impacts different areas of your life, including saying No.

Please share techniques you’ve developed for setting boundaries too!

I’d love to know!

Dr. D 📚

One Final Note:

In Addition to Personality and Individual Differences

Situation Also Impacts Our Ability to Say NO + Stand Firm

Video: Saying No is Easier When You Feel Safe

When you change the way you think about things, the things you think about change.

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How you perceive stress.

Changes everything.

Challenge or opportunity?

Ending or new beginning?

Stumbling block or stepping stone?

Coal or diamonds?

If you can’t change the stress.

Change the way you think about it.

Week 2 at College: Short Video

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.

Catch your breath.

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Self-care is giving the world the best of you, not what’s left of you.”

Pause.

Be still.

Catch your breath.

Take a rest.

Practice self-care.

As often as you can.

Pause at the end of my video ⬆️ for 30 fun self-care ideas.

Do you practice daily self-care?

Please share in the comments below.

What are you ready to let go of?

This post was inspired by a stressful situation that I couldn’t let go of, long beyond its solution. No matter how hard I tried. Day in day out. The worry would reappear. Then someone close to me suggested “I shed the stress”. And a lightbulb went off. Each time the repetitive thought appeared, I imagined a tree shedding its leaves. A golden leaf for every anxious thought. This visualization process made all the difference. And so did writing about it.  📝🍂

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If you had a magic wand, what would you ask to disappear in your life right now?

What would you say good-bye to?

Once and for all.

It could be an emotion. Or a thought.

A relationship. Or a job.

A place or a thing.

Stress management is a shedding process ℘ Not an acquisition project

It’s time to let go of what drains you.

Let go of what holds you back.

Let go of what keeps you down.

It could be a mindset. Or a memory.

A situation. Or an attitude.

Write it down. Shout it out.

Stress management is a shedding process  Not a holding pattern

It’s time to let go of what weighs you down.

Release it to the universe.

Declare your freedom.

Vow to move on and beyond.

Once and for all.

Stress management is a shedding process ℘ Not an endurance test

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Shed the stress. Let. It. Fall. 🍂

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

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.

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

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.

Fear is an illusion.

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Don’t be fooled by fear.

Look it directly in the eye.

Fear distorts reality.

Fear exaggerates the truth.

Step back. Take a pause.

 Remember who you are.

You have overcome great adversity.

You have faced this phantom before.

This wolf is a mirage.

Only your strength, your courage, and your untapped powers are real.

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Resources to help you break free from the illusion of fear:

Understanding Fear: Identifying Cognitive Distortions
Overcoming Fear: Fixing Cognitive Distortions

It’s ok not to be ok.

As a positive psychologist, I often write about the bright side of life. Including harnessing strengths, enhancing motivation, and flourishing in the wake of adversity.

Not the whole picture.

While strengths are vital to realizing one’s full potential – it’s not the whole picture when it comes to living a balanced life.

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Embrace the downside.

We must also create a safe place to welcome the parts of ourselves (and our life) that weigh us down and cause us despair.

In doing so, we soften the grip of its pain. Whether it be suffering from years gone by or a hardship in current time.

Give pain room to breathe.

its ok to not be ok.

Give disappointments, conflicts, and lost dreams room to breathe.

You are not inadequate because you have depression. You are not unworthy because you’re divorced. You are not unloveable because you have anxiety. You are not undesirable because you’re unemployed. You are not undeserving because you’re broke.

You’re perfect just the way you are.

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Life ebbs and flows, comes and goes. Like the waves on the ocean shore. You are forever. Your potential grows. It’s ok not to be ok. What comes – also goes.

Welcome it all.

Teaching Stress Resilience at School

How can educators help foster stress resilience in their students?

We all have stress. It’s a universal human experience. The key is to not let stress become our identity.

Instead, with and open mindset and the right set of resilience skills we have the opportunity to reach a whole new level of purpose and well-being.

Stress Resilience for Success

At the start of my stress presentation  at the guidance counsellors forum, I discuss how resilience begins with a strength mindset. And equally that openness to challenge is essential for success.

Too much time in our comfort zone stalls growth.

Feeling safe is important. But we shouldn’t consider it a resting place. More of a launching pad!

Reframe openness as a verb and challenge your students to try something new today.

Learn More:

TEDx Talk Thriving Under Pressure

Are you a highly sensitive person (HSP)?

Do you experience more stress than the average person? Are you overly sensitive to external stimuli. Chances are, there is nothing wrong with you or your coping strategies.

Instead, your brain may be more sensitive to stress than the average person. You may in fact, be what Dr. Elaine Aron has coined “A Highly Sensitive Person” (HSP).

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Neurological differences found in HSP’s.

Brain scans show that HSP’s have “heightened activity in empathy-related brain regions” including the anterior insula (insular cortex), highlighted in the brain scan below.

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The intensified response of highly sensitive people (HSP) to stress is not a choice – it’s biological. HSP brains are wired differently than the average person. This fact has been clearly supported by scientific research.

Self Test: Are You Highly Sensitive?

  1. Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  2. Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  3. Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  4. Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  5. Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  6. Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  7. Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  8. When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?        

Source: HSP Self-Test                                                                                            

Harnessing HSP’s Strengths.

The main challenge for most HSP’s is to acknowledge their heightened emotional sensitivity, understand their unique emotional needs, and finally to employ distinctive strategies for coping with stress.

Helpful websites and resources below –

  1. A Guide to the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) by Dr. Judith Orloff
  2. Coping Strategies for the Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Ted Zeff
  3. How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Dr. Elaine Aron
  4. Highly Sensitive People in the Workplace by Janine Ramsey
  5. With Care, You and Your Sensitivity Will Flourish by Deborah Ward

Cherish your sensitivity. It is your superpower.

You were born to thrive.

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Do not fear challenge or adversity.

Run towards it. Not away from it.

Use it consciously. As a stepping stone.

To ascend. To soar.

To propel yourself forward.

To begin again. 

For strength is ultimately built from challenge, from difficulty, from overcoming.

You were born to thrive!

Watch my video for helpful strategies on how to thrive.

Stressful Times: Empowering Life Lessons

 Question your stress. It has a lesson for you.

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1/ Identify a stressor / challenge in your life. Be specific.

For example: Not enough money. Too busy. Lack of sleep. Pushy relative.

Your Answer: ______________________________

2/ What is this stressor / challenge trying to teach you?

For Example: Slow down. Change jobs. End a relationship. Get help. Breathe.

Your Answer: ______________________________

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3/ How did you overcome challenges in the past? Be specific.

For Example: Trusted myself. Reached out. Held on. Said no. Moved on.

Your Answer: ______________________________

4/ Which strength will help you overcome current challenge?

For Example: Faith. Patience. Positivity. Reflection. Connection. Laughter.

Your Answer: _______________________________

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5/ List positive results of mastering this stressor / challenge.

For Example: Enhanced self-esteem. Less negativity. More authenticity.

Your Answer: _______________________________

What empowering lessons have your stressors & challenges taught you?

FEAR: Face Everything And Rise

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FEAR ->Forget Everything And Run.

Each time we feel threatened (threat is the fundamental definition of stress) our first instinct is to “fight or flight“. PUFF UP or Shrink.

This perpetual “fight or flight” response loop eventually creates a host of secondary problems, above and beyond, the original stressor (or oppressor).

It does not matter how we attempt to “control” a stressful situation – physically, verbally, or by running away from it.

Eventually, a repetitivefight or flight” response cycle will take a significant physical and psychological toll.

IS THERE A BETTER WAY ?

FEAR ->Face Everything And Rise.

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Strengths First. 

The acronym Face Everything And Rise reminds us that the many strengths within us will always be greater than the perceived threats (stress) outside of us.

The key is to first discover and then embrace, each and every one of our divine gifts. Within us. And all around us.

Stand Your Sacred Ground.

The mantra Stand Your Sacred Ground inspires us to stand still, take a deep breath, and trust that being yourself is enough.

Simply holding your own ground is enough.

No fight. No flight. No Fear. Only love.

The upside 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 the word alone. A habitual thought response that is often more dangerous than the stressor itself.

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Mindset is everything.

Which is one of many reasons why I love Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk. It encourages us to think about stress in a whole new way.

Change your thoughts. Change your response.

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

Stress can be good (or bad) for you.

Believe that stress is good for you and you live (longer). Alternatively, believe that stress is bad for you and you die (sooner).

Powerful words. Solid research to back her statements up.

Hope you enjoy the video!

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

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Rethinking Stress – Helpful Resources

  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
Related Post: What's your stress threshold?

Curing the disease to please. One no at a time.

“You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no.”

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The Beauty of NO.

When you learn to say no to something you no longer want to do, to people you no longer want to spend time with, to projects you no longer have time for, your world does not get smaller.

Your World Gets BIGGER.

Each time you have the strength to say no to takers who drain your time, your energy, your resources, your patience – you create more space for each authentic, heartfelt, luminescent, unconditional, absolute YES!

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More Room for YES.

Each time you have the courage to say no to people pleasing – you create more time (for the people, projects, and places that truly matter), more truth (about who you really are, and what you really want to do), more opportunities (to make a meaningful difference in this world), more freedom (to follow your dreams, your destiny, your calling), and ultimately, more genuine happiness to share with this great big, beautiful world.

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This is your world. This is your life. This is your time to shine!

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.

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

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

image

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.

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.💫

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