Psychology Exercise for Stress and Rapid Change

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 helps you adapt to change?

What helps you adapt to rapid, unpredictable, unexpected change?

I asked this question of student leaders at a province wide conference pre 2020. See their answers on the chalkboard below —

My Answer

GO SMALLER

One day at a time.

One hour at a time.

One class at a time.

Microseconds sometimes..

Your Turn

How do you keep moving forward?

What helps you adapt to change?

Interview: 5 Ways to Embrace Change

Does Your Self-Talk Energize You or Drain You?

How we talk to ourselves matters.

Especially at the start of a brand new day.

Our thoughts are the lyrics to our daily soundtrack after all.

A topic I talk about with love and laughter in this video workshop:

Psychology Homework:

The One Day at a Time Approach

Step One: Awareness

Begin by WAKING UP to your inner dialogue tomorrow morning.

Notice the first thing you think of when you look in the mirror.

Is it loving? Is it kind?

Step Two: Mirror Affirmations

Write an encouraging quote for yourself on your bathroom mirror.

At a loss for words?

Pick any one of the quotes you’ve shared with the world on social media this past year and post it for yourself on your bathroom mirror.

It only takes one thought, one word, one smile, one song, to change a life.

Begin with your own.

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.

Watch Video: Click Here

Freedom is realizing you have a choice.

Freedom doesn’t come from holding on.

Freedom comes from letting go.

Again and again and again.

Too often we are hard on ourselves for having to release the same thought, emotion, person, or situation over and over again. 

When in fact this is how life goes.

Letting go and surrendering are an ongoing process. And as necessary for our mental health as eating is for our physical health.

We must eat three times a day. And sometimes we have to surrender (thirty) three times a day.

And that’s ok. That’s how life flows..

F R E E D O M

Reflection Question

If you only had ONE YEAR to live:

What would you STOP doing?

THE CHOICE IS YOURS

Video of Blog 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

The Space Between No Longer and Not Yet

Honour the Space

The time in between is a difficult time for all of us.

Myself included.

A super organized (type A) person like me becomes a little unhinged in the space in between.

But don’t we all?

In Between

Wondering if we still have what it takes.

Hoping we can still make a difference in the world when the pandemic ends.

Which is why I wrote this post today.

Highlighting the shared challenge we all face between the old and the new.

Change is a lifelong process.

Let yourself feel what you need to feel.

Take a breath. Enjoy some rest.

Give your monkey mind a break.

In Between Quotes

It’s ok to not be ok.

What comes also goes.

Honour the space in between.

Related Post: Divine Timing

Peer Pressure: What happened when I quit drinking?

Getting ready for my online summer courses which requires a lot of new psychology videos.

Including video discussions on health, wellness, and personal empowerment.

Similar to in person college classes, the goal is to stimulate active discussions and open communication.

For example:

Discussion Topic

What happened when I quit drinking?

Watch this short video on my own experience with peer pressure, alcohol, and behaviour change and answer the questions below.

Reflection Questions

  1. How has peer pressure influenced your life decisions?
  2. Have you experienced unexpected push back from friends and relatives when you made a significant health change? If so, how did you handle it?
  3. In what ways have your peers and community sabotaged your health and wellness choices?
  4.  In what ways have your peers and community supported your health and wellness choices?
  5. What strategies help you stay committed to positive lifestyle decisions?

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Conversations ⇔ Change 

I also encourage use of this video and reflection questions as an opportunity to talk openly with friends and family about the powerful impact of social influence on substance use. Open conversations empower youth to think for themselves and in turn, reduces their susceptibility to coercion.

Watch Psychology Video 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

ABC Technique: Transforming Painful Experiences

 Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing: your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves 

In this blog post and classroom video, I share strategies for transforming painful experiences. Especially those beyond your control.

Strategies include: Cognitive reframing (identifying and then disputing irrational or maladaptive thoughts) and the ABC technique (Antecedent, Belief, Consequence).

Dr. Andrea Dinardo ABC Technique

I also discuss my latest article in The Drive Magazine (link to article below) where I help a good friend transform the painful story in his life (house flood) into a more meaningful and empowering experience.

Read Here: https://www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/the-stories-we-tell-ourselves

Dr. Andrea Dinardo The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Tips for Transforming the Painful Story in Your Life

1. Talk to others who have overcome similar circumstances. Be open to their lessons.

 2. Ask five people to identify five strengths. Refer to them during the low points in your day.

3. Reflect on times in your life when you have successfully overcome adversity.

4. Be proud of what you’ve been through and have faith in where you’re going.

Excerpt From The Stories We Tell Ourselves, The Drive Magazine

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

To Watch Video Click Here

DrAndreaDinardo.com

Peer Pressure and Alcohol: Stand Your Sacred Ground

The Social Side Effects of Change

Motivation to make a change is as much about you, as the people all around you. And unfortunately, not everyone agrees with our decision to grow, change, and evolve. In whatever form it may take.

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Being different isn’t a bad thing. It means you’re brave enough to be yourself“

For when we change, we unknowingly push friends and family outside their comfort zone too. And that’s ok. The important thing to understand is that not everyone is going to support our choice to change. Something I learned personally.

My story

This post was inspired by my own journey of quitting drinking in 2005, motivated by three reasons:

1. Starting a family with my husband.

2. Improving my health.

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3. Being a role model for my students

Unexpected Side Effects

What I did not expect was the pressure to keep drinking that came along with my decision to give up alcohol over a decade ago.

The pressure to remain the same.

The pressure to behave like everyone else.

A resistance to change from others that I did not foresee.

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My students’ stories

— Peer Pressure and Alcohol Use in College

Students over the age of 19 have a choice when it comes to drinking alcohol.

A decision to drink or not drink that is often overshadowed by peer pressure and the widespread culture of risky drinking on and off Canadian campuses.

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Too often students drink to “fit in, reduce stress, numb anxiety” (their words) because they know of no other way.

Excerpt from today’s class:

Class Discussion and Solutions

Which is why it’s more important than ever to open up the conversation of what it’s like to be a young person amongst the culture of alcohol use and abuse today.

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A hot topic that stimulates honest and open debate in my classroom each year. Including remedies to the pressures of college that extend far beyond alcohol.

To listen to our discussion click here.

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Your story

1. What motivates you to make a health change?

2. What de-motivates you?

3. Have you experienced pressure from others to continue unhealthy habits? To not change?

4. How do you stay true to your personal choices?

Coping with Peer Pressure 

Rather than debate or argue your case.

Be still and hold your space.

Take a deep breath, and trust your choices.

Trust that being yourself is enough. 

You get one life. Make it yours. 

Stand Your Sacred Ground.

Video of Blog Post — Click Here

Save Your Energy For What Matters Most

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Time & Energy Audit

1. What area of your life do you need to slow down in?

2. What area of your life do you need to REV IT UP in?

ABCD Priority List

Make a list of all the things that you have to do today.

Order them in terms of A to D with A being what matters most.

For example:

A Priorities =

Eating healthy.

Studying for final exams.

Getting a good night’s sleep.

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D Priorities =

Watching Netflix until 2am.

Repeatedly checking Facebook posts.

Complaining about past relationships.

In this video I walk students through the ABCD process.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n69viXICuEo

Our life changes when our priorities change.

What’s on your A list today?

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

Choice and transformation go hand in hand.

“Empowerment is realizing you have a choice.”

My mission in life is to encourage people to own their choices – no matter how big or how small. In doing so, individuals will uncover the magnificent power that lives within them.

Embracing the power to choose one’s emotions, thoughts, and reactions to life’s circumstances is the key which unlocks personal freedom and empowerment.

Video ⇒ The Psychology of Change

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POWER OF CHOICE

Becoming aware of choice points, big and small, is the beginning of the path to transformation.

Choosing a path uniquely suited to you – is your way out of disenchantment and your way into a life of purpose, passion, and peace.

CHOOSE THE CHANGE

  1. Are you ready to claim your life as it is right now?
  2. Are you ready to let go of the past and live in the present?
  3. Are you ready to take back your power and the reins of your life?
  4. Are you ready to fully witness your life as it unfolds directly before you?
  5. Are you ready to choose the change in your life, instead of it choosing you?

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The choice is yours.

Coaching & Speaking Services
⇒ Click Here

The Shadow Effect

Psychology Class

The Shadow Effect

One of the things I love to do is share what’s happening on campus in my psychology class.

Today’s topic: The Shadow Effect

Watch this short video and consider the following questions:

  1. What is your shadow?
  2. How does your shadow serve you?
  3. Where does your shadow come from?
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How do I bring shadow side of myself into the light?


Helpful resources and activities

  1. One Minute Meditation: https://youtu.be/3ucdU7URx5g
  2. Give Pain Room to Breathe: https://youtu.be/Mp_QjmmCzeU
  3. Lean Into Loneliness: https://www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/lean-into-loneliness
  4. Failure as Feedback: https://www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/failure-as-feedback
  5. The Positive Power of Negative Emotions: amazon.ca/books

There is transformative power in our negative emotions. The key is to create a safe, welcoming space to lean in and hear their lessons.

Mind over matter.

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When the going gets tough do you focus on the dream or the sacrifice?

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor Frankl

Boost your motivation and raise your energy by laser focusing on what is within your control during challenge and adversity — Your Mindset


Related Post: The stories we tell ourselves.

WHY change NOW?

The first question I ask clients wanting to make a change is “Why Now?”

For there is no doubt that they (and you and I) have been wanting to transform an aspect of our lives for a very long time.

But the intrinsic motivation just isn’t quite there. The kind of motivation that is essential for lasting change.

Unfortunately too many people wait for something bad to happen in their lives before making positive changes.

This is a universal truth.

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How do we “change” how we change?

We take two steps back before moving one step forward.

We pause. We slow down. We notice.

We open our eyes to all the possibilities.

We write our dreams down.

We take photos of what inspires us to bloom.

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We ask for honest feedback from people we trust.

We acknowledge what gets in the way of our potential. Big and small.

We compile all the reasons why our best lives shouldn’t wait another day.

And we have fun doing it! Positivity has power too. 🦋

Why change now?

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Watch My CBC-TV Interview:
5 Ways to Embrace Change

Stop Complaining. Start Changing.

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“Go 24 hours without complaining and watch your life start changing.”

The next time you’re tempted to complain about the same thing over and over again, direct that same frustrated energy into your highest, loftiest goals. Consciously swap one complaint for one baby step towards your dreamsSame energy required. Magically different results. 

 

To view the full version of my TEDx Talk — click here. 🎥


What habit do you want to break free of? What changes are you willing to make?

From Stress to Strength.

Challenge can be difficult. Adversity overwhelming. Growth painful. I agree!

Instead of seeing obstacles and stressors as taking you down.

Try perceiving challenges as taking you UP ↑

Again and again and again.

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For it’s in this uncomfortable space in between failure and success; breakups and makeups; exams and graduation — that strength is ultimately born. 💥

Better to bend than break

Flexibility is essential for resilience

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When life changes direction, are you able to change with it?

Are you flexible and open to new experiences?

Are you able to break free from old patterns and habits?

Or do you struggle to adapt to anything new and different?

Flexibility and Resilience

At the beginning of my TEDx: Dr. Andrea Dinardo: Thriving Under Pressure | TED Talk I describe how the flexibility of palm trees helps them adapt and ultimately be strengthened by hurricanes.

Applying this Post in Everyday Life

“Do the opposite of what you normally do.”

  1. Wake up one hour earlier to enjoy some unexpected quiet time.
  2. Exercise at night instead of in the morning.
  3. Try gluten-free or vegan to support a dear friend.
  4. Swap your favourite hobby for something brand new.
  5. Sit in a different spot in the classroom than you’re used to.
  6. Drive a different, more scenic way home tonight.
  7. Meet three new people in your community this week.
  8. Trade television for library books for one month straight.
  9. Go to sleep on the opposite side of the bed.
  10. Spend the weekend silent and completely word free.

Change one routine today and open up to unforeseen freedom and opportunity.

CBC-TV Interview: https://youtu.be/rUWGr_GwzhM

Are you left brain or right brain dominant?

Left and Right Brain

Understanding

Individual Differences

Have you ever wondered how your best friend lives so freely “moment-to-moment” while your mind is imprisoned by thoughts of past events and/or planning of future events (so neatly) written in your (overly structured) daytimer?

Brain Hemispheric Specialization provides insight into why some of us are more present focused and able to “go with the flow” (Right Brain dominant); while others are busy planning their days with the step-by-step precision of a NASA engineer (Left Brain dominant).

Left and Right Brain

Your Brain and Behaviour

Despite being identical in structure, the two halves of the brain specialize in how they process information (e.g., Past vs. Present), and how they function (e.g., Verbal vs. Nonverbal).

Time ProcessingPast vs. Present

  • Left hemisphere – processes information sequentially, one bit at a time
  • Right hemisphere – processes information globally, considering it as a whole

Brain FunctionsLinguistic vs. Spatial

  • Left hemisphere – includes verbal tasks, such as speaking, reading, thinking, and reasoning.
  • Right hemisphere – includes nonverbal areas such as the understanding of spatial relationships, recognition of patterns and drawings, music, and emotional expression,

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Neuroscience in Your Life

  1.  Complete the Left/Right Brain Dominance Test to find out which brain hemisphere currently dominates your life.
    • Personally, I obtained a score of 10 on this test – indicating that I am equally Left and Right Brained.
      • Which didn’t surprise me as I often “lay the table” with outlines, organizers, etc. (Left Brain) and the moment I feel safe, grounded, and prepared, I sit back and watch the ideas fly! (Right Brain)
    • What about you? How did you score on the Left/Right Brain Dominance Test? Was it what you expected? Were the results consistent with how you live your life? Did you learn something new about yourself?

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2. Watch the following 20 minute video to: a) learn firsthand about L-R brain specialization and b) discover how Neuroscientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor turned her real-life tragedy into an awe inspiring “Stroke of Insight“.  I am still moved to tears by her story! I hope you are too. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is resilience personified.

The more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemisphere, the more peaceful our planet will be.

TEDx Speaker Jill Bolte Taylor

Psychology Class

This post is a summary of this week’s psychology lecture and Chapter 2 of my psychology textbook.

Free Psychology Chapter

If you want to learn more, you can download a free PDF of my neuroscience and behaviour chapter by clicking on this link.

My TEDx Resilience Talk

Thriving Under Pressure

Change your life. Five minutes at a time.

 Are you tired of doing the same old, same old?

Are you ready to end the repetitive cycles in your life?

Is it time for a change?

But …..  you…..  don’t…..  have…  time…

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Surrender your fears, your resistance, your excuses.

Change need not be overwhelming.

Start small. End Big.

Little changes make a big difference.

They add up over time.

And ultimately have more staying power.

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Where to start?

Begin the transformation process with a daily habit.

Something that you do automatically – without thinking.

Start with what’s right in front of you.

Literally in the palm of your hand.

Put your phone down. Look up. Breathe in deeply. For five minutes at a time.

Use a random interval timer on your phone to cue change.

Every time you hear it beep – take a full on tech break.

A spa session for the mind.

A hello to the world moment.

A reminder to seek joy.

Out of the fog of technology into the luminescence of reality.

Time to breathe deeply.

To stretch fully.

To grab life by the horns.

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What five minute change will you make today?

Lay down your burdens.

No more futile tests.

No more unrelenting trials.

No more self inflicted tribulations.

Lay down your burdens.

Let. Them. Go.

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Take a breath. Take a rest.

You have strengthened from your burdens.

You have overcome great obstacles.

You have developed. You have grown.

You have earned your freedom ten times over.

Trust your wisdom. Trust your wings.

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 This is your time to fly.

Expanding time.

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I was thinking about time tonight. It’s like a never ending circle that starts and stops at the same place. A perpetual loop heightened on a Sunday night.

And the only way to slow it down is to breathe in each moment. To notice each ephemeral hour. To rest gently in the arms of time.

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Related Post: The Sweet Spot

PODCAST Respecting the Process

Do you trust the process / evolution of your life?

Do you stir the pot before it boils? Do you open the oven before it bakes?

Or do you relax on the sofa trusting the recipe and the time it takes?

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Not long ago, I was interviewed by Adam Rochon on the topic of transformational change.

During the podcast interview, Adam and I explored a different way of thinking about change.

A more uplifting and empowering take on transformation.

Adam and I discussed how the key to lasting change isn’t to push yourself harder.

The key to lasting change is to understand yourself better.

To accept yourself more. And to judge yourself less.

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Trust the timing of your life.

Your good and bad habits did not develop overnight.

And neither does transformational change. 

Ultimately to grow, we must trust, let go, and learn to respect the process.

Excerpt from my interview with Adam Rochon: “For me respecting the process in my own life and in all the people I’m blessed enough to meet, is to realize the process is so much bigger than I am. It is our destiny. It is the 100 years – if we are ever that lucky to live on this earth. Whatever we experience, good or bad, is just a day in the life and that we need to pay attention to where we are. When we get stressed out, overwhelmed and are going through a lot of changes, take a step back and realize that there are so many forces at work that are greater than we are – which is the process. When we Respect the Process everything just falls into place. It sounds simple, but you need to just let go of what you don’t have control over and be inspired by the process.” Episode #15: Transformational Change.

Click here for access to full podcast interview. 🦋

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.

Live your dream NOW.

The stress of waiting.

The list is long when it comes to student stress. But by far, one of the greatest sources of stress is waiting!

Students are always forecasting into the future. Every single moment of student life is about waiting. Waiting for grades. Waiting for summer. Waiting for graduation.

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Forever in a day.

Students become frustrated waiting for what feels like a lifetime to practice the profession they’re in school for.

Textbook readings, class lectures, and endless exams seem miles away from actually doing their dream job.

Days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years. Time moves at a snail’s pace.

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Infinity in their minds.

For students, there are too many years before they can finally live their lifelong dream of becoming a nurse, a lawyer, a carpenter, a designer, a psychologist.

“Don’t worry, it will all be worth it in the end”. Easy for a professor to say. Challenging for a student to live. A day is infinity in a student’s mind.

(Little do they know that one day they will look back and fondly recall their college years as the best years of their lives.)

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 Bridging the (time) gap.

Listening to students lament year after year about the waiting game got me thinking (and dreaming) of a better way! Asking myself how I could bridge the (time) gap between education and profession.

My goal is to help students claim ownership of their present time. To help them live their dream job every single day. To remind them that life purpose does not require a job to be realized.

No more waiting.

Students do not have to wait a lifetime to experience their dream job. Instead, they could live the core elements of their chosen profession every single day – in so many wonderful ways. Simply by living on purpose, in present time.

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  1. Accounting students could help their friends get a better understanding of their finances. Show their neighbours how to do their taxes.
  2. Carpentry students could assist their family in the renovation of a kitchen.
  3. Child and Youth care workers could volunteer at an after school program.
  4. Nursing students could help out an elderly couple at the grocery store.
  5. Social work students could give a seminar at a college residence about mental health.
  6. Senior students could show freshman the best spots to study on campus.

Living your dreams. Every single day.

Using “bite size” mission statements,  I help students identify the key attributes of their dream profession.

During this exercise, students realize that “Life Purpose” is 99% about LIFE. Something they live every single day.

And that no one needs to wait one more year, one more day, or even one more moment to live life to the fullest.

Ultimately, students (and their professor) discover that Life Purpose is about following their heart, sharing their gifts, and shining their light.

One bite size dream at a time.

Related Post: Shine Your Light

Harnessing positive energy.

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The next time you’re tempted to complain about the same thing (over and over again), direct that same (frustrated) energy into your highest, loftiest goals. Consciously swap one complaint for one baby step towards your dreams. Same energy required. Magically different results. 🎈

Related Post: Set a time limit on negativity.

5 Positive Ways to Embrace Change

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Need help embracing change but don’t know where to start? In my interview on CBC-TV I share 5 positive ways to embrace change using the principles of positive psychology.

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.

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?

Happiness is a conscious process.

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When you notice the blessings in your life (big or small), happiness happens. One conscious thought. One mindful emotion. One insightful gesture. One moment of wonder.. at a time.☀️

Inspiration: 21 positive thoughts for your morning. 

To change your life, change your habits.

 What’s the one habit you have been vowing to change for good?

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What are you waiting for?

The right time?

The right place?

The right person?

Today I challenge you to wait no more.

For now is the right time.

For here is the right place.

And YOU are the right person. 

Helpful Video: How to Embrace Change

Blaming keeps us stuck.

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When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

Externalize the problem and blame someone else for it.

OR

Take responsibility for the problem and search for a solution.

It is only when we acknowledge our contribution to life circumstances that we have the power to change for the better.

Click here to learn more about Locus of Control.

Hold the vision. Trust the process.

Create a vision for your life that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.

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This “Why Vision Board” was created by my psychology students this past September.

Why Vision Boards in the classroom.

At the beginning of the semester, I ask my nursing students to share their reasons “why” they wanted to become a nurse. Why this program?

This simple question gives students insight into what motivates them. Something I consciously tap into throughout the school year.

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Students are enthusiastic about learning at the start of  the semester. New textbooks. Colourful notebooks. Dreams still fresh in their minds.

Illuminating lifelong dreams has the most impact midway through the school term.

This is when students truly need a boost in motivation (right about now). This is the time where I insert their original “Why” vision board into my PowerPoint lecture slides.

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 “Why Vision Board” created by a different group of students.

Halfway through the semester, students are surprised to see a photo of their own words, projected onto the big screen.

They are instantly drawn back into their reason “Why”.

An animated discussion ensues where students compare their initial motivations with their current state of mind and affairs.

Rekindling their dreams. Giving them a much needed reminder as to why they picked their program in the first place

What’s changed? What’s stayed the same. And why?

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Why Vision Board” in action!

Ultimately, their “why vision board” transports them to a higher place, well above the stresses of their exams, to a place where all their dreams began.

Boosting their motivation. Lifting them up. Multiplying their energy.

A simple why? question that works. Every single time.

Reminding them why their dreams matter.

Why school matters. Why they matter.

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Reignite instrinsic motivation in one simple step: Ask yourself “Why?” you do what you do. Every chance you get!

Related Post: What's your why?

Summer school.

Bittersweet Ending

The end of a college semester is always bittersweet.

Summer school is no different.

The final psychology exam was just this week.

And I miss my summer students already.

Full disclosure: Psychology is my passion.

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A glimpse of my summer lecture on mindfulness, health psychology, and patient care. 

Pre-Nursing Psychology

I am grateful to have met so many wonderful St. Clair College students in the pre-nursing program this summer.

They worked hard. Followed their heart. And never gave up.

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Each student hoping to gain admission into the highly competitive four year BScN program starting in September.

(Summer school is a pre-nursing qualification program.)

New Beginning

Every ending is a new beginning.

Because of the program I teach in, I will have the opportunity to teach many of my pre-nursing students again this fall in the BScN nursing program.

Fingers crossed that they (all) get in to nursing! 🏥💉

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Just because the semester ends doesn’t mean the learning ends.  I am, and will always be, my students’ “Professor for Life“. 📚❤️

Related Post: What's your why?