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.

 Watch my short video for more health & wellness tips.🎄💚

First impressions.

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I met a delightful group of people at a dinner party this past Saturday night. Which of course (like all social occasions) got my psychologist mind percolating.

Particularly when one of the guests leaned in halfway through dinner and stated “Andrea, you seem like the kind of person who never worries”. At which point my husband (laughed) chimed in and said “Oh she worries. Plenty”.

The surface of the iceberg is a glimpse of what lies below.

This conversation brings up three important points. One, how truly multifaceted we are. Two, how those closest to us know us best. And finally, how we (write) teach what we ultimately need to learn.

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I am a worrier. I’m also brave. I dream. I overwork. I ruminate. I relax. I overachieve. I doubt. I believe.

I am not one thing. And neither are you. We are all multifaceted. Equally.

Related Post: Who are you?

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

The stories we tell ourselves.

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Flooded with helplessness.

A friend of mine recently returned home from vacation to find his newly constructed house flooded.

The feelings of helplessness that followed were magnified by the story he was telling himself on repeat. That he was an idiot. Naive. A loser. Stupid for not knowing better.

 Loss of control.

This was something completely beyond his control. Yet there he was battling Mother Nature head on.

Making himself entirely responsible for the deluge of rain. All powerful. Yet completely powerless. Imprisoned by his thoughts alone.

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He and his wife had only lived in their new home for 18 months. A dream house built for retirement.

Every aspect of the design painstakingly conceived. Which only amplified his despair.

Infinite Rumination.

But in that moment, the story in his mind was filled with self-accusation and punishment. Second guessing on repeat.

The loop in his head based on the assumption that he was all-mighty. At the epicentre of the universe. Fully in charge of Mother Nature and her actions.

This is what happens when we lose control of external circumstances. We attempt to control it internally.

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Overcome by emotion.

Logically, he knew that it was not the end of the world. That there were far worse things that could have happened and have happened in his life.

But in times of panic, our emotional brain (the amygdala) hijacks our thinking brain and we can no longer think rationally.

And that’s ok. Because in order to heal, we must first bear witness to our pain. Only then can we move on and beyond.

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Breathing space.

It has been four days since the flood and thank goodness the overwhelming feelings of helplessness have subsided for my friend.

Time heals. And so does a wife’s love. The support of neighbours. And a mom’s embrace.

It happened. He is strengthened. He will thrive.

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Change the story.

Now when he passes the construction zone in his house, instead of chastising himself, he thinks of how lucky he is to have a basement renovation just 18 months after moving in. Same basement. Different narrative.

This story makes him smile. 

Breathe and Receive.

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When I’m struggling to get through a difficult day, I look to the trees for inspiration and refuge.

All they do is give.

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And all we need to do is receive.

Again and again.

With every single breath.

And every single step.

 Peace lives here.

Your happiness depends on it.

Most people fight against what brings them despair instead of openly receiving what brings them joy.

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Shift your focus. Change your life.

Consciously accept the good that already exists in your life.

Your health. Your freedom. Your vision. Your voice.

Accepting what is does not lower the bar.

Quite the opposite.

Acceptance opens your eyes to all the favour that exists in your life.

Your hope. Your creativity. Your community. This moment.

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.

Begin by accepting what is.

Moment by precious moment.

Your happiness depends on it.

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 Applying this Post in Everyday Life

  1. The 3 to 1 positivity to negativity ratio is one way of applying this post in your everyday life.
  2. Specifically, each time you criticize something about yourself (or any area of your life); you must acknowledge (accept) three positive aspects about the very thing you condemned. Hence, the 3 to 1 positivity ratio.
  3. For example, each time you put yourself down for not having enough friends, you need to accept three wonderful aspects of spending time alone. (Freedom; Spontaneity; Peace of mind.)
  4. This daily practice helps dampen the adverse impact negativity bias (a type of cognitive distortion) has on your life.

Rest in Truth.

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Truth is truth.

Let them gossip. Let them chatter. Let them say what they choose to say.

Because at the end of the day truth is truth.

And nothing can stand in it’s way.

Rest. Relax. Sit back. Breathe in deep.

Stop trying to convince anybody and everybody of anything and everything.

At the end of the day time will tell.

Rest. Relax. Sit back. Breathe in deep.

When the dust settles and the sun sets truth is truth. 

And it shall set you free.💫

Trust the music.

Stop expecting others to validate what you hear (see and feel).

The music is not “out there”.

The music is in you.

A beautiful melody that only you can hear.

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Listen. Be still. Take a long deep breath.

Fear not who you are. Fear not what you hear.

You are the symphony.

Trust the music that is in you.

And dance a little freedom dance. 

For all the world to see.

Related Post: I believe in you.

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 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.