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

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

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

Situational Anxiety Interview

Mental Health Matters Interview

Situational Anxiety

Dr. Katherin Garland

Host of Mental Health Matters

This week, I speak with one of my dearest blogging friends, Dr. D!

We discuss all things anxiety. She explains the difference between anxiety disorder and situational anxiety.

Dr. Dinardo provides 3 strategies to help us cope with situational anxiety, especially because it may be heightened during the pandemic and times of racial unrest.

1. Video Format of Interview

Watch on YouTube.

2. Podcast Format of Interview

Available on SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts.

Reflection Questions

  1. What did you learn about situational versus clinical anxiety from our interview?
  2. Can you relate to the personal example of heightened situational anxiety shared by Dr. Garland? How so?
  3. Have you experienced increased situational anxiety since COVID-19? In what areas of your life?
  4. What techniques help you cope with unexpected stressors and challenges?
  5. Do you see failure as a positive or a negative? Why?
  6. How does fear, trepidation, and worry manifest physically in your body?
  7. What would you tell your younger self about stress and anxiety?
Watch Anxiety Video: Click Here 

IS THIS NORMAL? Temporary Emotions vs Mental Illness

The most common question people ask when they discover I’m a retired psychologist is – “Is This Normal?

This question is a significant motivator for creating this psychology blog in the first place.

Because too often people suffer because of lack of understanding versus a diagnosable medical condition.

differential diagnosis  ·  the process of differentiating between two or more conditions which share similar signs or symptoms.

Case Study

Two people present with similar symptoms (e.g., rapid heart beat, excessive worrying, difficulty concentrating) with vastly different causes.

On closer inspection

One person’s symptoms is caused by lack of sleep, excessive caffeine consumption, and a recent breakup.

While the other person’s symptoms is caused by a mental illness, as diagnosed by a registered psychologist, using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

One improves with time and lifestyle changes, while the other requires more intensive psychological intervention.

Education Empowers Everyone

This is why it’s my life mission to share psychology everywhere, all the time.

In the classroom. During podcasts. On YouTubeRadioTelevision. Psychology articles, textbooks and blog posts. On the TEDx stage.  Instagram . In between sets at F45 workouts.. and at the local coffee shop.

Psychology is my favourite subject after all.

Psychology Goals

To make DAILY mental health education accessible, sustainable, and easily APPLICABLE.

To eradicate misconceptions about normal versus abnormal functioning.

To help students develop positive coping techniques in fun, interactive, and uplifting ways.

To reduce stigma about mental illness.

Therapy versus Talking to Friends: What's the difference?

Especially when it comes to transitory states, emotions, and situations.

Sadness versus clinical depression.

Neatness versus obsessive compulsive disorder.

The topic of this week’s psychology video:

Is This Normal? Temporary Emotions versus Mental Illness

For example, distressing emotions often improve with rest, perspective, and time.

While mental illness requires more ongoing medical support and therapy to see improved functioning.

My hope is that mental health education becomes paramount in both the classroom and the doctor’s office.

An ongoing conversation about what’s healthy versus what’s not.

So that people don’t automatically assume they’re mentally ill simply because they’re having a bad day.

More Resources Coming Soon!

Mental Health Matters

Host Dr. Kathy Garland

SITUATIONAL ANXIETY with Dr. Dinardo

Live Interview

Airing July 31, 2020!

Stay Tuned for Dr. Garland’s Video & Podcast!

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?

empowering changeEmpowering

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

Windsor Updates Spotlight

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Community Spotlight 

Today I would like to shine a light on a local entrepreneur named Alex Binaei, the creative mind behind Windsor Updates and the video highlighted in this post.

Adversity → Creativity

Alex’s video for Windsor Updates is one of the best examples of how crisis and adversity create innovation and ingenuity. In both our community and in ourselves.

♥  Pass It On ♥

Windsor Updates

This video is a compilation of news, announcements, and local community members discussing the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic taking place in Windsor-Essex Ontario and around the world. Including offers of support, advice, and information.

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.”

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Research on Social Support & Psychological Health

Being surrounded by people who are supportive helps individuals see themselves as capable of handling stress and adversity. Research has also shown that having strong social support in times of crisis can help reduce the consequences of trauma-induced disorders including PTSD.

Original Source: Click Here

Thank you Windsor Updates for including me in this vital project. Your ingenuity and generosity gives me strength and hope! ♥

Ambitious Mama Podcast: Thriving Under Pressure & Posttraumatic Growth

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Ambitious Mama Podcast

Podcast Details & Show Notes

I was recently interviewed by wellness entrepreneur Christa Realba for her Ambitious Mama Podcast Series.

During the podcast, Christa and I discussed how posttraumatic growth and thriving under pressure are possible for all of us.

In different gradients, and at different times for sure. Depending on where you are on your journey.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo PTG Resources
Click Here for Helpful Workbook & Resources

We also discussed how we all have pain and adversity. It’s universal to all of us.

The key is to not get stuck in the challenge and let pain become your identity.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Resilience

Instead, with support, encouragement, and the right set of resilience skills (this is what I teach), we all have the capacity to grow from difficulty.

To learn from it. To rise up and begin again when the time is right.

In addition to the podcast, resilience is discussed in more detail in my TEDx Talk and on my Psychology Blog, both called “Thriving Under Pressure”: https://DrAndreaDinardo.com

Listen to Podcast

  1.  Apple iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/thriving-under-pressure-with-dr-andrea-dinardo/id1482282864?i=1000464930886
  2. Anchor FM: https://anchor.fm/ambitiousmama/episodes/Thriving-Under-Pressure-with-Dr–Andrea-Dinardo-ealagi
  3. Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ambitious-mama/e/67169349

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Your Turn

Do you believe thriving under pressure + posttraumatic growth are possible for all of us? Why or why not? Tune into my latest podcast interview and let me know what you think!

Related Post: Teaching Resilience at School

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!

Improve Mental Health with Positive Psychology

The goal isn’t to get rid of negative thoughts and feelings. The goal is to change your response to them.

Prevention-Header

Instead of thinking of mental health as a burden you must shoulder, imagine it as an opportunity to experience peace and joy.

In the same way that we make time for our physical needs, we must devote equal attention to our psychological needs.

Where do we begin?

P E R M A Model of Well-Being

PERMA..

PERMA is a framework for happiness and well-being developed by UPenn professor Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology.

The model contains five key indicators of human flourishing: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement.

Original Source:

This blog post first appeared in The Drive Magazine.

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/cultivating-mental-health-daily

mental health

Positive Emotion

Feeling good is an essential part of well-being.

That said, it’s easy to get lost in a spiral of negativity — What’s wrong? Who’s to blame? Why did this happen to me? Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and fun.

Which is why it’s essential to schedule good vibe moments into each day.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Begin the day with inspiring quotes on your bathroom mirror.
  2. Create a spa atmosphere for morning coffee with music and candles.
  3. Listen to upbeat music and podcasts on your way to work.
  4. Start conversations with your dreams, not your stressors.
  5. Put a 20-minute daily time limit on blaming and complaining.
  6. Go to bed visualizing three new things you’re grateful for that day.

Joy needs room to breathe.

And so do you.

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Engagement

Remember when you were a kid playing with friends, and before you knew it the street lights came on? If it wasn’t for your mom yelling your name, you would be outside playing all night long. In that moment, you were in a state of flow.

flow

You were completely engaged in what you were doing, independent of everything around you.

Your mom could have called your name for hours, and you wouldn’t have heard a word.

One hundred percent of your attentional capacity was taken up by the activity right in front of you.

Most likely you still experience a state of flow and engagement, but not as often as you like.

Activities that create a flow state include:

  1. Writing
  2. Dancing
  3. Music
  4. Art
  5. Sports
kickbox

Engagement and flow are important for mental health. When you’re completely absorbed by a task, your mind has no capacity left over for distressing thoughts and emotions.

Relationships

Social support is an important buffer for life’s challenges.

That said, not all associations are created equal. Some relationships, unfortunately, lead to a deterioration in mental health.

Which is why CHOICE is an especially powerful tool when it comes to relationships, well-being, and happiness.

Consider the following when you spend time with people:

  1. Do you feel uplifted or drained?
  2. Do you feel listened to or ignored?
  3. Do you feel encouraged or criticized?
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Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.

Meaning

Meaning comes from serving something bigger than ourselves.

Whether it be family, charity, occupation, or community, meaning unites us in a common vision and gives us the will to get through adversity.

Students Are My North Star
why motivation.jpg

That said, meaning can appear elusive to some, so why not consider one purpose each day.

Begin with a typical workday. Choose one purpose, and do something to give meaning to that purpose.

I’ve listed a few options, as well as an example for each:

  1. Pick one person — thank a custodian for their hard work.
  2. Pick one place — post uplifting notes and quotes on a section of the wall.
  3. Pick one time — declare 3 pm gratitude hour.

 Achievement

Achievement is the final component of the PERMA model, and, in many ways, its foundation. Goals give us a sense of achievement and satisfaction, helping us to know if we are headed in the right direction.

The key is to balance our drive and determination with the right level of difficulty. If we set a goal that’s too easy, we get bored. If it’s too hard, we experience learned helplessness.

too hard

The solution?

Set daily goals that are achievable and tied into your highest dreams.

In Conclusion

Cultivating mental health daily prepares us for the big things in our life. Every little bit counts, everything adds up. Small things on repeat change the world.

Video 1 of Blog Post  Click Here
Video 2 of Blog Post  Click Here

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.

monkey mind 4

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.

Hope

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

Lemon Soul Podcast: Thriving Under Pressure

The Psychology of Wellness

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed on the Lemon Soul Podcast by an engaging and bright young woman named Sierra Parr.

It was one of the most rewarding projects I have worked on and I hope you find the same value in listening to the podcast as I had co-creating it with Ms. Parr.

What is a Lemon Soul? 🍋

A lemon soul is someone who has been sweetened by the sour parts of life. Resulting in the most beautiful soul of all – “The Lemon Soul”.

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The Lemon Soul Experience 🍋

Sierra’s podcast questions are timely, thought-provoking, and well-organized.

With equal parts practicality, spirituality, and science. Wrapped up in a captivating and compassionate interview style.

So much so, that I revealed parts of my life that I have never shared publicly before.

Take a listen and let me know what resonates with you!

Lemon Soul Podcast: Episode 15

 Tap on Image Below and Press Play

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Thriving Under Pressure: Psychology of Mental Wellness

Listen on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/lemon-soul/id1386504193?mt=2&i=1000432857445

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SHOW NOTES FROM LEMON SOUL PODCAST 🍋 

Very honoured to sit down with Dr. Andrea Dinardo this week and divulge all my lemon soul questions with her. A true testament to her work as a psychologist and now psychology professor, this episode is FULL of good advice! With a deeper insight into many of our mental health struggles and the science behind how our brain is working. Furthermore diving into Dr. Dinardo’s personal life as she uncovers her fundamental inspiration for everything she does in life, her sister.

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Lemon Soul Podcast on iTunes

Topics covered on the podcast:       

From psychologist to psychology professor!
How to motivate students!
Why connection is important.
Compassion fatigue
The givers & the takers
Setting boundaries for others and ourselves.
Thriving Under Pressure!
Failure as Feedback!
Are we socialized to care?
How to train your brain
Challenge, Control, & Commitment
Honour your pain!
B r e a t h i n g s p a c e !
The universe box

Claiming your prize
GET MOVING!

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I hope this podcast interview inspires you to take the road less traveled this week.

The one you have been waiting to take for days, months, perhaps years.

If not now, when?

Listen Here: Lemon Soul Podcast

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?
Shadow.1

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.

The power of beliefs.

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Belief plays a pivotal role in success.

Believing that you have what it takes.

Believing that you can try again.

Believing in something greater than yourself.

Believing you are never alone.

Believing your power is greater than your pain.

Believing that things are going to get easier.

In this 5 minute training video, I demonstrate how “Locus of Control” contributes to a sense of self-efficacy and belief in oneself. Ultimately resulting in improved well-being and performance. In this video, I also share how easily we can cultivate confidence and positivity in each other. Starting with a smile and a few uplifting words.🥊💥

Link to full training video 

I believe.

One Minute Meditation | Stress to Growth Reframing

To make the growth choice instead of the fear choice a dozen times a day is to move a dozen times a day towards self-actualization.”

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Re-imagine stressful moments as growth moments.

Opportunities moving you one step, one breath, one moment closer to your dreams.

One thought debilitates.

The other levitates. 🍃 

I hope you enjoy my one minute meditation retreat.

Visit my YouTube Channel for more psychology videos.

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

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

Just what the doctor ordered.

What if…

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


This doctor’s prescription for today:

Dancing!

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Which is why I love the commercial below.

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

It can be so much fun!

Families who dance together stay healthy together.”

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

What about you?

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What inspires you to follow a healthy lifestyle? 

Related: Laughter saves the day.

Health and Happiness.

Reflection Questions

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

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

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

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I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Related: Is Happiness a Choice?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Steps to Thriving

Thriving Steps based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Step 1

 Physiological Needs

– Energy of Thriving

  • A good night’s sleep.
  • Healthy food.
  • Clean air to breathe.

Step 2

 Safety Needs 

– Foundation of Thriving

  • Freedom.
  • Survival Skills.
  • Safe place to live.

Step 3

Love and Belonging Needs

– Nourishment of Thriving 

  • Supportive relationships.
  • Loving family and friends.
  • Encouraging coworkers.

Step 4

Self Esteem Needs

– Enrichment of Thriving

  • Education and learning.
  • Goals and ambition.
  • Stretching outside comfort zone.

Step 5

Self Actualization Needs

– Ultimate Thriving 

  • Purpose and Vision.
  • Achievement of Life Mission.
  • Self Actualization of Dreams.
Click Here to Maslow's Hierarchy Video

The unexpected benefits of stress.

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

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

What you believe matters.

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

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

Stress perception ↔ Health benefits

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

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

Mindset is everything.

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

Change your thoughts. Change your stress response.

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

But don’t take my word for it.

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

How to make stress your friend.

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

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

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

Helpful resources for adopting a resilience mindset:

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

Back to school!

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

 

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

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

Their first class is my first class.

Their struggle is my struggle.

Their victory is my victory.

Students are my reason why.

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And so today marks the beginning of something great.

Another fresh start.

Another set of dreams.

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

Related Post: Shifting Positive on a Stressful Day.

Thriving Under Pressure

How can two people experience the same stressful event and react in incredibly different ways?  What explains the difference between stress thrivers and non-thrivers?

Research shows that some individuals possess a set of resilience skills and traits that allows them to flourish in response to stress.

“Resilience is what gives people the psychological strength to cope with stress. They understand that setbacks happen and sometimes life is hard and painful. They still experience the emotional pain, grief, and sense of loss that comes after a tragedy, but their mental outlook allows them to work through such feelings and recover.” Source: Living Well

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Building Stress Resilience

Stress hardiness is a pathway to resilience – the ability to remain healthy and strong during stressful and challenging times.

Hardy individuals transform stressful circumstances into growth opportunities by reframing adversity and taking direct action in response to stress.

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Bouncing Back from Adversity

In the video below, I describe the 3 key components of stress hardiness:

1. Control

– Focusing on the things you can change and letting go of the things you can’t.

E.g., “You hold the key.”

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2. Challenge

– Reframing stressful challenges as opportunities for growth.

E.g., “Strength Training.

3. Commitment

– Envisioning a higher purpose above and beyond the immediate stressor.

E.g., “Ask yourself why you started.

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Each component a critical factor in cultivating the ability to bounce back and thrive under pressure.

Can Stress Hardiness be Learned?

Yes! Research demonstrates that not only can stress hardiness be learned, it has wide-ranging applications in health and wellness, including:

1. Lowering test anxiety in high school students.

2. Reducing perceived stress in college students.

3. Protecting against war-related stress in Army Reserve forces.

4. Improving resilience and coping skills in stressed out professionals.

Watch this live event where I teach “teachers” how to help students become more resilient in stressful times.

Video of Post: https://youtu.be/NUh9qqA0x3Y

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.

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.

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?

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

What’s your stress threshold?

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Recently, a fellow blogger asked an excellent question regarding tipping points and stress response.

They were curious to know if each of us has a tipping point when it comes to stress management.

And if so, how does it differ from person to person.

I love questions like this because they encourage me to dig deep, reflect, and imagine new ways of perceiving stress.

Stress Thresholds

Tipping points and thresholds are often used synonymously in the literature. Especially when discussing economic, historical, and ecological phenomenon.

That said, there is a clear distinction between thresholds and tipping points in psychological applications.

Thresholds are more individual (unique to each person), while tipping points are more universal (shared by the majority).

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Which is why I see each person’s stress response as more of a stress threshold than a tipping point.

  • Thresholds vary from person to person (e.g., Type A vs. Type B), situation to situation (e.g., Work vs. Personal), and are based on individual strengths, challenges, and personal history.

See diagram above to help understand how thresholds affect your individual stress response. This graphic also depicts why a certain level of stress (below threshold) can be good for you.

  • Assess when you cross the threshold from your optimal stress zone (eustress) into your overload stress zone (distress).

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Situational Stress, Anxiety, and Thresholds

We may be good at some things, but we are not great at everything.

For example, the more challenging academic work is for me (high stress threshold) the more I flourish. Mostly because this is my area of expertise.

While this is not the case with other areas of my life (low stress threshold) and thus I tend to react (too quickly) when under pressure in certain personal situations.

In addition to overall stress response patterns, thresholds differ from one situation to the next.

Situational fluctuations in thresholds reflect our strengths, challenges, and personal preferences.

I discuss the topic of situational stress and anxiety in more detail during my Mental Health Matters Interview with Dr. Garland.

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From Negative to Positive Stress

Finally, I believe that our ability to cope and thrive under pressure is a lifelong practice. Something that is never mastered – only strengthened.

And the more we learn about life and ourselves, the higher our thresholds will become. As the majority of our stress is beating ourselves up – long after the stressor is gone.

3 C’s of Thriving Under Pressure

Reflection Questions About Stress

  1. How does your stress threshold differ from others?
    • Compare your personal stress threshold to family members, friends, coworkers.
      • Are you the most high strung of your siblings?
      • Are you the most carefree teacher in the school?
  2. In what situations is your stress threshold higher vs. lower?
    • Compare your situational stress threshold across multiple settings.
      • When do you stress out at work?
        • Is it only during public presentations?
      • In contrast, when are you more relaxed relaxed and easy going?
        • Are you more relaxed during independent work?
  3. What are the benefits of stress and pressure in your life?
    • When has stress been good for you?
      • e.g., motivating and energizing
    • How has pressure helped you achieve your goals?

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?

Just 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 so often 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. Breathe.

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