Positive Psychology Speech: Cultivating Mental Health

Positive Psychology in Education

This month I had the opportunity to give a speech on positive mental health practices to 700 people at the Greater Essex County District School Board in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Audience Members

The audience was comprised of education support staff and front line workers, including Education Assistants, Child and Youth Care Workers, Developmental Services Workers, Teachers, Social Workers, Psychologists, and Principals.

Sample PPT Slides

Cultivating Mental Health

Community Collaboration

Dr. Marc Crundwell, the chief psychologist with the school board, and I began working on this event on March 23. Which is why I am excited to share a video of the presentation with you today.

It’s been a long time in the making!

Click Here to Watch

Surprised and Delighted

The best part is that I found out moments before the speech that several students that I taught years earlier at St. Clair College would be in the audience.

Ripple Effect

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.

Ryunosuke Satoro

Links to books, articles and research shared during speech

  1. PERMA Theory, Research, and Origin Story
  2. Strengths Finder Books and Assessments
  3. Steering by Starlight by Author Martha Beck
  4. Embracing Change – Interview, Blog Post, and Article
  5. If Questions for the Soul by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell
  6. Dr. Andrea Dinardo: Thriving Under Pressure | TED Talk
  7. Thriving Under Pressure: Speaking and Training Services
  8. Flow Theory of Happiness and Positive Psychology
  9. Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions
  10. Drive Magazine Article: Cultivating Mental Health Daily

BEHIND THE SCENES

Cultivating Mental Health: Speech

Embracing Change

Change is both personal and universal.

Everyone goes through changes and transformations.

We are born. We grow old.

What sets us apart is how we experience change.

1. Personality of Change

How we perceive the world has a significant impact on how we experience change.

Type A vs. Type B

Individuals with a Type A personality experience change differently from individuals with Type B personality.

Type A individuals often experience more difficulty with change because of time urgency and a heightened need to control the situation.

Type A’s don’t have time for change.”

While individuals with a Type B personality are more laid back and relaxed and thus find it easier to go with the flow.  

Optimists vs. Pessimists

Pessimists and optimists also view change through a different lens.

Pessimists perceive change as permanent and a traumatic end to everything.

While optimists are more likely to see change as temporary and an opportunity for new beginnings and growth.

Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Can Optimism Be Learned?

2. Circumstances of Change

Another determinant in how we experience change is whether the change was by chance or by choice.

For example, for some people divorce is liberating, while for others it is the end of their world.

The same can be said for the workplace.

The reaction to change will be different for someone who chooses to retire five years early to spend more time with family, in contrast to someone who is laid off abruptly without notice.

It’s not change, it’s the circumstances that surround it.

Anchor Yourself During Rapid Change

3. Fear of Change

We resist change because we fear the unknown.

We never know what’s around the corner and this is made worse when it is a painful change.

As a result, we erect roadblocks and create chaos to slow change down.

This is the illusion of control that is often associated with resistance to change.

Resistance to change comes in many forms including psychological defense mechanisms proposed by Sigmund Freud:

  1. Repression
  2. Denial
  3. Regression
  4. Projection
  5. Displacement

The problem with resistance to change is that we wear ourselves out and use up all the energy necessary to transform and evolve.

What You Resist Persists

CBC-TV Interview — Embracing Change

4. Psychology Takeaways

Embracing Change and Moving Forward

  1. Be on the alert for fight-or-flight tendencies during unexpected change. Take it as a sign to slow down.
  2. Create a safe space for open dialogue about change. Use it as an opportunity for ingenuity, creativity, and innovation at work and at home.
  3. 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.
  4. Instead of thinking of all the things that could go wrong on the other side of change, imagine all the things that could go right. Including the opportunity to level up and start again.
Original Source —
Spring Issue 142
The Drive Magazine 

What is within your control?

Locus of Control is a key ingredient in both stress hardiness and mental resilience.

Knowing the difference between what is within your control and sphere of influence and what to let go of and surrender is a daily process and wellness habit.

What is within your control?

This was a question I actively explored over 2 days with 600 high school students in Windsor, Ontario during my thriving under pressure presentation.

PSYCHOLOGY HOMEWORK

Make a list of things that are beyond your control. Areas of your life that drain your energy, motivation, and passion for life.

Next, make a list of moments and situations that lift you up. Areas where you create impact. Focus on those areas of your life today. Surrender the rest.

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

Video: What is within your control?

What’s Your Endurance Mantra?

Transforming our mindset from pain to power and stress to strength is key during uncertain times.

And particularly important for students across Ontario as they complete final college and university exams this semester!

What mantra or affirmation shifts your mindset from stress to strength? From pain to power? I would love to know.

Watch the video below to hear mine during a particularly difficult spinning class at a local gym.

An endurance mantra I use during workouts, in the classroom, and in life!

Simple Words on Repeat

In the video, I share two simple words that kept me going when I hit a wall weeks ago.

And also the words I use to encourage students when they feel like giving up.

These words change daily.

Today mine was “mustard seed”.

Because I often feel like giving up. Like everyone else does.

And then I remember my why.

My “mustard seed” gives me faith to not give up on what’s yet to come.

Do you have a mantra that has kept you going during the pandemic or any other uncertain times in your life?

What endurance phrase is on repeat for you?

Related Post: The Space Between No Longer and Not Yet

Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.

Back on Campus

In this psychology video I share one way I engage students at the start of a semester, including this past week when we were back on campus for the first time, in a very long time!

Transcript of Psychology Video 
Read Here

Show Them You Care

Connecting with students from a higher place is especially important during a pandemic, as it reminds them of their vision and mission post-graduation.

“Why” Vision Exercise, Leadership Conference 2016

What’s Your Dream?

Asking students about their dreams is a fun, high-energy exercise that engages the entire class.

Takeaway

The next time you feel stuck in a rut, either in conversation or in thought, ask — ”What Dream Pulls You Forward”?

Our mind is a powerful tool. It has the ability to block our potential or to allow us to soar to possibilities beyond our wildest dreams.

Bruce Lipton
Photo from Summer School 2018
Video of Blog Post
Watch Here

Teacher Enthusiasm Video 
Watch Here

Lighten Up in 2022 — Positive Emotions & Problem Solving

“Your heart is the light of this world. Don’t cover it with your mind.”

Lighten Up in 2022

The solution to a problem is rarely found in the source of the problem. 

This is why it’s important to lighten up before tackling difficulty.

Problem Solving from a Higher Place

Positive emotions heighten our awareness and open our minds to creative, innovative solutions.

An approach I share during optimism bootcamp, a community psychology event based on a magazine article of the same name.

Optimism Bootcamp Workshop

Broaden and Build Psychology

This broaden and build approach to problem-solving is based on the research of Dr. Barbara Fredrickson. Discussed in detail in her book Positivity.

According to Dr. Fredrickson, thriving happens with a ”positivity ratio” of 3 positive emotions for every 1 negative emotion.

List of Positive Emotions Click Here

A compelling concept in positive psychology applied to work performance and advancement in a recent article by Dr. Barry Robinson in Forbes magazine.

Applying the 3-to-1 Positivity Ratio

In the video below, I share simple ways to create positive emotions (joy, awe, serenity) during pandemic adversity and opportunity.

Lighten up in 2022 with

Long Term Benefits of Positivity

“The benefits of positive emotions do not stop when the initial good feelings subside. In fact, the biggest benefits are an enhanced ability to solve problems and develop resources for life.” Dr. Barbara Fredrickson

Twelve Days of Self-Care — The Drive Magazine

Original Source
The Drive Magazine

Twelve Days of Self Care

You, as much as anyone else, are worthy of your love and attention.

I am a strong believer in keeping things simple.

The less complicated things are, the more likely we are to repeat the behaviour.

Especially when it comes to health and happiness habits.

Try for yourself, starting with Day 1 of self-care:

Day 1: Mindful Mornings

Add five to ten minutes of relaxation to each of your morning routines. Time expands when you savour your smoothie mindfully.

Day 2: Soothing Stretches

Wherever you are right now – stand up. Put your arms to the ceiling and take a long breath. Bring your arms to your toes and hold them there. Repeat five times throughout the day. Show your limbs some love today.

Day 3: Lingering Lunches

When was the last time you took a break during lunch? No phone. No computer. Just you and your turkey sandwich. Today is that day. Cherish your lunch. Enjoy every bite. Give yourself the gift of a lunch break.

Day 4: Movement is Medicine

My favourite way to improve the day is through movement. Whether it be a stroll around the block, hugging a tree in the park, or a one-hour cardio session at the club. Do what works for you, independent of everyone else. Commit to moving one extra step today.

Day 5: Fresh Air

Immerse yourself in fresh air today. Especially when you hit a roadblock in creativity. Go outside. Look up at the sky. Watch the clouds float by.

Day 6: Silence

When was the last time you sat in silence? Today is that day. Set an alarm on your phone for three hours from now. Start with seven minutes of absolute silence. Write down what you find out about yourself.

Day 7: Reading Time

Devote one hour to reading today. Including this magazine!

Day 8: Blissful Boundaries

When you are available to everybody all the time, you are unavailable to yourself. Start by setting a boundary between you and technology. Turn off your phone and computer for 12 hours straight.

Day 9: Soothing Scents

Out of all five senses, smell has the strongest link to emotion and memory. Which is why a scent like peppermint can transport you instantly to another time and dimension.

Day 10: Ground Yourself

Cover the floor with all your favourite blankets. Take a long deep breath and take in the view of your house from a different perspective.

Day 11: Matinee Movie

Take yourself to a matinee movie today! Spoil yourself with popcorn and ice-cold pop.

Day 12: Mirror Affirmations

Write a love letter to yourself and post it on your bathroom mirror. Read it out loud, every chance you get.

Merry Christmas Everyone! May peace be with you. All 2022 long.♥️

Peace Video Watch Here

Honour Your Limits

Today’s Reminder That You Are Human

Honour Your Limits.

In every area of your life.

It’s not a race.

It’s a lifetime.

Pace Yourself

The world needs what you have to give — long-term.

In every area of your life.

It’s not a race.

It’s a lifetime.

Helpful Resource:
Energy Awareness and Management

Anchor Yourself With Light

Take a moment and anchor yourself with something that lights you up.

That reminds you that you are not alone in this storm.

You have been here before.

It may have been a personal pandemic, not a global one.

But somehow, deep inside, you made it through.

And you will again.

You have the courage, the mindset, the heart, the soul.

You Are Not Alone in This Storm

Together We Will Make It Through

Video of Blog Post Click Here

Broaden-and-Build: Click Here

Staying Motivated During Challenging Times — The Drive Magazine

Today’s story begins in the middle of a spin class. The point in time where you feel like giving up the most.

Because the middle is always the hardest. Whether it be the middle of a semester, the middle of a week, or the middle of a pandemic.

It was thirty minutes into class, and we had finished a tough uphill climb. I wanted to celebrate how far we had come, so I began clapping and cheering.

Despite my excitement, my instructor gave me a curious look and said: “Why are you clapping Andrea? We are far from being done.”

She was right. We still had a significant amount of time left in our workout. But I wasn’t clapping because we were finished. I was clapping because we had hit the wall and survived. I was clapping to energize.

Cheering in the Middle

A cheering strategy that I often use in my own classroom. Students are geared up at the start of the semester and pumped up at the end. It’s in the middle that their commitment starts to falter.

This is when I clap wholeheartedly simply because students show up to class. Both in person and online. A fun gesture underscoring how much I value their commitment to education. And they love it!

Small Gestures Energize

This year I am reminded how small gestures energize big time. Be it a high five. A wide smile. A kind word. Or calling a student by name.

Because beginnings have their own ticker parades. And endings take care of themselves.

It’s in the middle of a challenge where we need positive energy the most.

Applying these principles in your life

  1. Celebrate small wins throughout the day. Keep track with post it notes.
  2. Create a playlist of songs that remind you of pivotal wins and achievements.
  3. Take frequent dance breaks in unexpected places.
  4. Clap and cheer when family members arrive home from work.
  5. Don’t be afraid to stand out. You may be the pick me up a stranger needs to keep going and not give up.
Original Source 
The Drive Magazine

Your Turn

  • How do you stay motivated during challenging times?
  • What keeps you going when you hit “the wall”?

Endurance multiplies when shared

Helpful Resource
We Need Stress to Grow

Empowering Conversations About Change

The Psychology of Change

During this week’s health psychology lecture, we talked about the psychology of change, including the parts of our lives that remain ‘unchanged’ during rapid and unexpected change.

What Remains During Change?

  1. The Sun Still Rises
  2. Coffee Tastes Delicious
  3. Trees Greet You on Your Walk
  4. Favourite Movie Still Delights
  5. Bed is Comfie at the End of the Day
  6. Street You Live on Hasn’t Changed
  7. Love for Family and Friends Endures
CHANGE > ANCHOR > ADAPT > TRANSFORM 

Your Turn

Consistency

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.

Grounding

In doing so, you anchor and ground yourself in a sense of knowing and trust in your built-in strengths and happiness.

Motivation

Flying starts from the ground up. The more grounded you are, the higher you fly.”

Psychology Videos on Change

5 Mindfulness Techniques

Our point of power is always in the present moment.

1. Be Here Now

Stop

Take a breath

Observe

Proceed

2. Create Space

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

3. Find Your Flow

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

4. Commune with Nature

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

5. Practice Loving Kindness

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

Enjoy Daily

Psychology Talks on Resilience and Growth

Dr. Andrea Dinardo is a psychology professor and TEDx Speaker, who specializes in positive psychology.

Her work focuses on energy and time management, thriving under pressure, and cultivating psychological resilience.

A framework for mental health and motivation used throughout her workshops, presentations, and keynote talks.

Additional Speeches:
Click Here

Resilience Articles: 
https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/optimism-bootcamp

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/three-ways-to-bounce-forward

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/failure-as-feedback

Additional Articles:
Click Here 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Live Zoom Conference

At a recent leadership conference, student leaders from St. Clair College’s Student Representative Council SRC had the opportunity to ask questions live during the final portion of the virtual training event.

Ask Dr. D

The student leaders raised the reflection bar high during this discussion period.

One Question Stood Out The Most

Specifically:

What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

In the video below, I share my answer.

It All Works Out

Even during COVID-19.

For the pandemic has not changed my optimistic perspective on life and learning.

If anything, COVID-19 has underscored my belief in posttraumatic growth and resilience.

For everybody.

Growth is the only evidence of life.

John Henry Newman
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 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

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

What Trauma Taught Me About Happiness

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Trauma

Is it possible to feel joy in the face of adversity?

Strength during the lowest of lows?

Creativity in the midst of destruction?

Peace in difficulty?

Vibrancy during cancer?

Happiness during COVID-19?

In the video below, I share some personal examples from my own upbringing on how my parents found strength and contentment during even the darkest of times.

Your Thoughts:

Can trauma and happiness coexist?

I’d love to hear your ideas, theories, and personal stories.

Video of Post → Click Here

Let Your North Star Guide You

My Wish For You Today

May you find peace in your home.

And calm in your heart.

No matter the storm.

PEACE is an inside job. DrAndreaDinardo.com

Psychology Thought for the Day

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

The goal is to change our response to them.

To accept them without judgement.

To transcend them when the time is right.

e·qua·nim·i·ty

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

This video may help:

Let Your North Star Guide You 

How do you rise above? 💫

Watch Video of Post → Click Here

The Power of Breathing Space: You are Safe

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

Each breath connecting
our mind, body, and heart.

Bringing us back to present time.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Breathing Space

Breathing Techniques To Try

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

sky

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

forest

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

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

Breathing Quotes - Dr. Andrea Dinardo

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

Source: Scientific American

Reflection Questions

What brings you peace during uncertainty?

What gives you strength?

Breathing Video → Click Here

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

Celebrate how far you’ve come.

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

Merely an idea 5 years ago.

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

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

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

Again and again and again.. 🙏💛 🚀💫

Don’t Give Up!

You are closer than you know. ✨

Video of Blog Post ⇒ Click Here

3 C’s of Thriving Under Pressure

A map for transforming stress into strength

Dr. Andrea Dinardo THRIVING UNDER PRESSURE

In my TEDx Talk and in the leadership videos below, I discuss how to THRIVE under pressure using 3 stress resilience tools:

1. Commitment

Envisioning a higher purpose above and beyond the immediate stressor.

2. Control

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

3. Challenge

Reframing stressful challenges as opportunities for growth.

Thriving Under Pressure

My TEDx Talk includes all 3 C’s of Thriving Under Pressure: challenge, control, commitment.

Inspiration for TEDx Talk + Psychology Blog

I created my psychology blog and TEDx Talk (both called “Thriving Under Pressure”) in response to rising levels of student stress and anxiety.

The goal is to help students (and you) develop positive coping techniques in fun, interactive, and uplifting ways.

Dr. Andrea DINARDO
By first focusing on what is right, before examining what is wrong, people are motivated to move beyond, and in some cases, be transformed by their challenges and adversities.

Coping With Loneliness During the Holidays

NEW Interview December 22, 2020
Loneliness during COVID-19 Holidays
AM800 CKLW Morning Show: Click Here

When we feel a painful emotion, our first instinct is to pull away. To numb the pain. To hide from the intensity.

This was the case for Sarah and Jack, two unique individuals with vastly different circumstances. But they each experienced the same emotion: loneliness. An emotion that is heightened during the holidays.

Original Source: The Drive Magazine

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/lean-into-loneliness

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SARAH

Sarah was a 42-year-old recently divorced woman who was about to face her first holiday season alone. Living in a new town, miles away from friends and family, she was waiting to begin a new job in January. Hours felt like days.

Days felt like months. Sarah had tried everything to fill the void inside. The mistake she made was running away from the one thing that would help get her to the other side: loneliness itself.

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Knowledge is power

1. Understand the emotion

We need to first understand an emotion before we jump to the conclusion that it’s either good or bad, because in reality, emotions are almost entirely physiological in nature.

There’s not a negative or positive to them. It’s in our mind that we make it one or the other. This concept is supported by Schachter-Singer’s theory of emotion:

schacter singer

This theory of emotion explains why two people can experience the exact same event and have completely different emotional reactions to it.

What matters most is the person’s interpretation of an event, not the event itself. After all, as they say, one person’s glass-half-full is another one’s glass-half-empty.

In Sarah’s situation, she interpreted her physiological response to idle time as loneliness, while another person might label it as much-needed relaxation. Ultimately, Sarah has a choice. One interpretation debilitates; the other empowers.

2. Witness the emotion

Now that Sarah understands the interpretative power she holds over her environmental triggers, the next step is to witness loneliness in a neutral, curious state rather than fighting it at every turn.

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In doing so, Sarah neutralizes the intensity of her emotions, allowing them to flow through her, rather than getting stuck in a repetitive loop of pain.

Here are four simple ways to create space between triggers and responses:

  1. Count to 10
  2. Take a long deep breath
  3. Make three wishes
  4. Look up at the sky
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Taken one step further, each time that Sarah experiences a challenging emotion during the holidays, rather than running from it she needs to lean in and ask that emotion, “What are you trying to teach me?”

3. Reframe the emotion

The final step for Sarah is to learn how to reframe the situations that trigger her loneliness, and understand why sometimes she overreacts, while other times she lets go without a second thought.

Solitude is perceived as isolation by one person and freedom by another.

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Reframing exercise:

  1. Identify a situation that triggers loneliness.
  2. Imagine the best-case scenario: “This situation is temporary.”
  3. Look for evidence of the best-case scenario: “The longest I’ve been single is two years.”
  4. Describe the worst-case scenario: “I will be alone forever.”
  5. Name the benefits of the worst-case scenario: “I am free to do what I want.”
  6. Finally, ask for help in reframing triggers, especially when feeling overwhelmed.

Once Sarah learns how to change the story “behind” the story, her instinctive loneliness lessens. And her ability to choose a higher thought improves.

Watch Video of Post: Click Here

JACK

At 55 years of age, Jack was also feeling the pangs of loneliness. His wife of 25 years died suddenly of a heart attack two years ago.

Unexpected was an understatement. They had run in three marathons together and had spent their weekends sampling new vegan restaurants in their local community. Ever since his wife had died, Jack struggled to face the holidays alone.

Jack’s story is as much about him as it is about the family around him. His family and friends’ automatic response was to feel sorry for him, a response that compounded his feelings of disconnectedness and misunderstanding.

Jack did not want people to feel sorry for him. He was a proud man who was ready to move on.

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Get out of your own head

1. Meet with “experienced” widowers

As much as Jack missed his wife, he also missed his ability to connect authentically with friends and family. Having been treated with kid gloves since his wife died, Jack longed to be seen as a victor rather than a victim

As such, I encourage Jack to connect with like-minded individuals who had been through a similar situation: widows and widowers. Specifically, ones who had been on their own for several years.

The benefits are twofold. One, Jack would learn new ways of relating to friends and family. And two, he’d be given the green light to grow and acclimate to his new circumstances.

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2. Connect with others in unexpected, low-pressure ways

The other component missing in Jack’s life was fun. Simple, cheerful, good-time fun. Everything had become so serious since his wife died, with almost every conversation beginning or ending with his wife’s death.

There was no doubt that he missed her with all his heart. But equally, he longed for moments where he could be free of the loneliness and pain.

I recommend that Jack reintroduce sports into his life. Something non-competitive that would get him out of the house on a Wednesday night. Better yet, if it involved people that he had never met, it would allow him to continue his journey of reinvention and rediscovery.

Equally therapeutic for Jack would be joining a cinema group or regular euchre meetup—both would offer him a chance to be in the moment and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

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3. Honour the old, create the new

Finally, I advise Jack to examine the memories and traditions that he wanted to keep alive during the holidays—and, equally, the ones of which he was ready to let go.

Jack took the practice one step further. Declaring December a month of renewal and reinvention, he revived a strength and peace inside that radiated out to his entire family.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Conclusion 

Jack and Sarah have a lot to teach us about loneliness and how important it is to honour the unique ways in which we process adversity.

One size does not fit all. Fellowship and fun were vital for Jack’s growth and recovery, while Sarah needed a more analytical approach to processing difficulty.

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  • Lean into loneliness
  • Approach it with openness and curiosity
  • Make space for the lessons beneath the suffering

Video of Post

Your Turn

  1. How do you cope with difficult emotions during the holidays?
  2. What strategies do you use to make peace with the heightened pressures of the Christmas season?
  3. What are your unique traditions and one-of-a-kind celebrations?

Disclaimer: This post and article are for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. To protect the privacy of individuals, names and identifying details have been changed.

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!

Posttraumatic Growth: Can Adversity Be Good for You?

Psychology Keynote

In this video you will hear the remarkable stories of teachers, social workers, and principals who suffered greatly through illness, injuries, and difficult pregnancies.

Eventually rising up with time and support to greater heights in their current lives.

Personal Experience

In this video I share examples of how my parents coped with dark times when I was a child.

And how these early experiences became the blueprint for my work in adversity, positive psychology, and growth.

What is Posttraumatic Growth?

Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is defined as positive personal changes that result from a survivor’s ability to cope with trauma and its psychological consequences.

The process of post traumatic growth can lead to

1. improved relationships

2. more compassion

3. openness

4. appreciation for life

5. spiritual growth

6. personal strength

7. renewed sense of possibilities in the world

Source: http://www.ptsdassociation.com/post-traumatic-growth

Key Factors and Outcomes

Source: APA Monitor

Assessment and Resources

  1. PTG Assessment: Post-Traumatic-Growth-Inventory
  2. PTG Research Articles: https://ptgi.uncc.edu/
  3. American Psychological Association (APA): Growth After Trauma
  4. PTG Interview: https://anchor.fm/ambitiousmama/episodes/Thriving-Under-Pressure-with-Dr–Andrea-Dinardo-ealagi
  5. PTG Workbook: The Posttraumatic Growth Workbook: Coming Through Trauma Wiser, Stronger, and More Resilient
Source: PTG Workbook

Psychology Reflection Questions

1. Do you believe the benefits of adversity outweigh the negatives?

2.  Which factors hinder an individual’s ability to recover and bounce back?

3. Which factors enhance an individual’s capacity for resilience and posttraumatic growth (PTG)?

4. Is the recovery and resilience for physical health trauma the same or different as mental health adversity? Why or why not?

5. Is posttraumatic growth possible for everybody?

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Speech Video → Watch Here 
Personal Video → Watch Here

Hope changes everything.

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H
old

O n

P ain

E nds

During difficult times, I often tell myself “What a difference a day makes.”

This one simple sentence helps me to remember that tomorrow is a brand new day.

Illuminating the possibility that what looks like the end in that dark moment, could in fact be preparing me for a whole new destiny.

This video and blog post were inspired by a very dear friend of mine experiencing unexpected health problems.

And how during treatment she often says that it’s my positivity and upbeat nature that brings her to a higher place.

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My friend knows what’s wrong.
I remind her of all that is right.

”Together we rise.” 🙏☀️

Share with me:

What gives you hope during difficult times?

Video of Blog Post: 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?

feeler

❤️ 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.

left right

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

Uplifting Mantras for Uncertain Times.

Life lived backwards makes perfect sense. 

You finally understand WHY the job, the partner, the degree, the house, the friendship, the ______ didn’t work out. 

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BUT what about in the “here and now”?

How do we make the leap of faith during the darkest of days?

MANTRAS mantras mantras. 

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Find a phrase that moves you …

t h r o u g h ..

UP AND OVER…

into a place of trust and belief.

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Respect

The

Process

Breathe and RECEIVE

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Your journey is unfolding in the most magical and mysterious of ways.

Spread Your Wings 🦋

What if I fall … oh my darling … what if you F L Y..”

Related: Optimism Bootcamp Workshop

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

Words of Encouragement.

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The first thing that goes when we are faced with a stressor of any kind is the memory of all we have overcome in years gone by.

Let this be your daily, weekly, hourly reminder of how wildly capable you are.

Truly. Incredibly. Capable.

We might not be a genius at everything. But we are most definitely a genius at something.

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And if you ever need more than this note to remind you of your strengths, let me know in the comments below.

And I will shine a light on the luminescence that surrounds you.


Fun Activity  

What words resonate with you?

What jumps off the page?

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These are your strengths.✨

Your emotions have a message for you.

Create space for feelings to flow.

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Emotions are neither good or bad.

Only labeling makes it so.

Don’t run from challenging emotions.

Instead, lean in and ask:

“What are you trying to tell me?”

Witness. Observe. Learn.

The best part is how small fear appears close up!

We must go in — to get through.

Helpful Article with Strategies

Click Here:  Lean into lonelinessDriveLoneliness

How to stay motivated as you prepare for your TEDX Talk.

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Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to the new roster of TEDX Windsor speakers at Beachgrove Golf and Country Club in Windsor Ontario.

“A goal should scare you a little bit and excite you a lot.”

In the 4 min video below I advise the 2019 @TEDxWindsor Speakers how to stay motivated during the extensive and lengthy TEDX preparation process.

These tips apply to life too!

Reminding speakers HOW THEY DREAMED of becoming a TEDX SPEAKER long before they had the INCREDIBLE FORTUNE to became one.

What’s your why?

YOUR TURN

Do you want to be a TEDX Speaker one day?

What would the name of your TEDX Talk be? 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

1. Purchase Tickets for the June 8 TEDX Windsor Event

https://tedxwindsor.com/events/tedxwindsor-2019

2. Watch TEDX Talk THRIVING UNDER PRESSURE

 ✨Today’s Psychology Opportunity✨

Choose to believe in something bigger than yourself. And let your North Star light your way.

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Dare to Dream!

How brightly you shine.

Remembering Who You Are

The first thing that goes when we are faced with a stressor of any kind is the memory of all we have overcome in years gone by.

Wake Up Call

Let this be your daily, weekly, hourly signpost of how wildly capable you are.

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Truly. Incredibly. Strong.

And if you ever need more than this note, let me know. I will remind you how brightly you shine. 💎

You hold the key.

give-light-and-darkness-will-fade

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.

universe inside.png

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

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 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.

Failure as Feedback | The Drive Magazine

There are two ways of looking at failure.

Failure as FEEDBACK.

Failure as PUNISHMENT.

⊕⊕⊕⊕⊕

One energizes.

The other paralyzes.

failure-is-success-in-progress

WHY FAILURE IS NECESSARY

I believe that failure is essential for success, at work and in our personal lives.

Failure lights our way to what we’re ultimately meant to do. Especially when we embrace it and consciously invite it into our lives. Pushing us past our comfort zones. Having the courage to take risks beyond our current circumstances.

Failure shows us what we’re good at, and equally what we are not skilled at. And how if we perceive failure as information (versus punishment) we will move on much more quickly to what we were born to do.

THE DRIVE MAGAZINE

I believe so strongly in the benefits of failure that I “pitched” failure as feedback to the editors of The Drive Magazine. And they said yes!

A video overview of the February issue and links to online edition of the magazine.

MAGAZINE edition
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of The DRIVE Magazine.

ONLINE edition
My psychology article “Failure as FEEDBACK” is also available online: https://www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/failure-as-feedback

Related: Lean into loneliness | The Drive Magazine

Catch your breath.

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

Pause.

Be still.

Catch your breath.

Take a rest.

Practice self-care.

As often as you can.

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

Do you practice daily self-care?

Please share in the comments below.

Rest in Truth

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Truth is truth.

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

Because at the end of the day truth is truth.

And nothing can stand in its way\

Rest. Relax. Sit back. Breathe in deep.

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

At the end of the day time will tell

Rest. Relax. Sit back. Breathe in deep.

When the dust settles and the sun sets ..

TRUTH IS TRUTH

And it shall set you free. 🌟

TEDx Talk: Thriving Under Pressure

tedx-talk-dr-dinardo

During my TEDx Talk I discuss how to thrive under pressure using three stress resilience tools: 1) challenge, 2) commitment, and 3) control.

The purpose of this talk and my psychology blog (both called thriving under pressure) is to help students develop coping techniques in fun, educational, and uplifting ways.

By first focusing on what is right, before examining what is wrong, students can be transformed by their challenges and adversities.

Lean into Loneliness | The Drive Magazine

Good news to share!

This month I published my first psychology advice column for a Canadian magazine. The same magazine that profiled my work in positive psychology.

My intention for the psychology article is to inspire and comfort individuals experiencing loneliness during the holidays.

 VIDEO OVERVIEW

 Writing dreams & goals.

I have been writing psychology textbooks for McGraw-Hill Ryerson since 2009 and blogging since 2015.

But truth be told, I have always longed for something more. To write a psychology advice column for a magazine and eventually a book about psychology in everyday life.

Psychology for the people.

My intention is to make psychology accessible, engaging, and easy to apply. Integrate all of the stories, life lessons, and adversities I have witnessed over the years as a former school psychologist and now professor.

Empower the readers to find the strength inside.

Which is why I am thrilled to share an excerpt from the December PSYCH DRIVE column for The DRIVE Magazine.

 Lean into Loneliness —  Introduction

When we feel a painful emotion, our first instinct is to pull away. To numb the pain. To hide from the intensity.

This was the case for Sarah and Jack, two unique individuals with vastly different circumstances. But they each experienced the same emotion: loneliness.

An emotion that is heightened during the holidays.

Knowledge is power

1. Understand the emotion

We need to first understand an emotion before we jump to the conclusion that it’s either good or bad, because in reality, emotions are almost entirely physiological in nature. There’s not a negative or positive to them. It’s in our mind that we make it one or the other. This concept is supported by Schachter-Singer’s theory of emotion..

To continue reading article… click here

Lean into loneliness by Dr. Andrea Dinardo

Stay tuned for the next PSYCH DRIVE in 2019!

What are you ready to let go of?

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

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

What would you say good-bye to?

Once and for all.

It could be an emotion. Or a thought.

A relationship. Or a job.

A place or a thing.

Stress management is a shedding process ℘ Not an acquisition project

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

Let go of what holds you back.

Let go of what keeps you down.

It could be a mindset. Or a memory.

A situation. Or an attitude.

Write it down. Shout it out.

Stress management is a shedding process  Not a holding pattern

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

Release it to the universe.

Declare your freedom.

Vow to move on and beyond.

Once and for all.

Stress management is a shedding process ℘ Not an endurance test

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Shed the stress. Let. It. Fall. 🍂

The Biology of Stress.

The Amygdala Hijack

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⊕ From Stress to Success ⊕

In this video clip of my keynote speech at the “You Can Do College Event” I share the biological origins of stress and anxiety with 300 high school students from Ontario, Canada.

In this segment, I also demonstrate simple strategies for dealing with high stress situations. Including deep breathing exercises, mindful awareness, and personal responsibility.

To learn more about the role of positive psychology in stress management & resilience, check out my TEDx Talk “Thriving Under Pressure” on the TED TALKS site.

You are a diamond in the making.


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It’s in the middle of a challenge where we need positive energy the most.

So let this be a gentle, encouraging voice reminding you that “You didn’t come this far, to only come this far”.

And that one day it will all make sense.

All the pressure will be worth it.

You are resilient. 

You are strong.

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You are a diamond in the making.

You sparkle.

You shine.

I see it.

And one day you will too. 💎

TEDx Playlist: Diamonds from Pressure