Gut and Brain, Heart and Brain

There is so much more to our bodies than we know.

Keep Learning

I know about the Heart and Brain connection as I am a Certified HeartMath (TM) Trainer (though there is always more to learn). Check my blog about the Heart Brain Connection. I know a little about the Gut and Brain connection, but there is a lot more to learn. A friend and colleague sent me an interesting article about some research that was done at the University of Lethbridge. The information is easy to understand and makes sense. I hope everyone will read this article.

They All Work Together

Cartoon human organs set with liver heart stomach brain kidneys lungs intestines spleen female reproductive system isolated vector illustration

What Will You Do Next?

I continue to share what I learn and encourage everyone to investigate the universal connection among us all. Nothing exists in isolation. What happens to one is the result of something and is spread to someone or something. Keep that in mind as you make decisions. Keep that in mind about your behaviour. Keep that in mind with the words you choose. You have much more power than you know, and you can control more than you ever expected.

Whether you investigate the physiological connections among our body systems, or the spiritual connections among everything in the universe, I encourage your next steps to include learning and bettering yourself.

Journey to Joy and Calm

Join me Monday, 5-December-2022 evening 6:00pm to 7:00 pm MDT

This course will run for 6 Mondays: December 5, 12, 19 and January 9, 16, 23 – 2023.

Week 1: 5-December-2022: Introduction: Getting to Know Yourself

In this first week we will learn about ourselves. We will discuss and practice Meditation, Body Scan, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Heart-Focused Breathing so you can determine what will benefit you.

Week 2: 12-December-2022: Building Self-esteem and Confidence

Why do we have trouble with self-esteem and self-confidence? We will identify what gets in our way and how to overcome these obstacles.

Week 3: 19-December-2022: Resiliency

During this week we will discuss the definition of resiliency: Why resilience is important: And, how to build resiliency.

Week 4: 9-January-2023: Decrease Your Stress and Increase Your Energy

We can’t get rid of stress, but we can control many stressors and learn how to respond rather than react to our emotions. We will learn techniques to decrease stress and increase energy.

Week 5: 16-January-2023: Success

What is success? What do you need to be successful? We will address these questions and discuss the big picture of success.

Week 6: 23-January-2023: Being in the Zone/Flow and Wrap Up

What does it mean to be “In the Zone” or “In Flow”? We will discuss these terms and how to achieve them. Then we will wrap up the program discussing your next steps.

Order Out of Chaos: Bringing Care Back to the World

I first learned about order out of chaos, during my doctoral process.

The current state of the world and behaviour of the people demands action to restore or create new order.

blue yellow and red coated wires
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

My doctoral studies, in management and organizational leadership, revealed concepts I liked, Complexity Theory, Chaos Theory, and Complexity Leadership. What I have learned from these theories gives me hope for our world despite the current state of chaos.

I’m starting with some definitions/explanations to lay the foundation for my thoughts.

Chaos

1. a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.

2. any confused, disorderly mass

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/chaos

Complexity Theory

modern residential building facades in summer city
Photo by Athena on Pexels.com

Jason Collins explains complexity theory this way:

While chaos theory is not complexity theory, it is closely related. It was in chaos theory where some of the analytic tools used in complexity science were first explored. Chaos theory is concerned with the special case of complex systems, where the emergent state of the system has no order whatsoever—and is literally chaotic.

https://www.jasoncollins.blog/posts/complexity-versus-chaos

Keeping these theories in mind and believing humans are intrinsically good, I plan to share my hopes for the future. Complexity theory can be understood, in part, by considering the Butterfly Effect. Collins goes on to state:

[A] contribution of chaos theory is demonstrating … dynamical systems are highly sensitive to initial conditions. …sometimes referred to as the butterfly effect. This refers to the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil might precipitate a tornado in Texas. This evocative—if unrealistic—image conveys the notion that small differences in the initial conditions can lead to a wide range of outcomes.

https://www.jasoncollins.blog/posts/complexity-versus-chaos

The small behaviours and actions of each of us can lead to many bigger outcomes. Thus, we can hope our behaviours and actions can adapt in a way to ensure a beautiful world of love, peace, caring, and respect. Every choice you make is important and can make a significant difference. Change will happen. We need to decide what change we want and make the appropriate choices to ensure our wants and needs are met.

Maybe our leaders do not understand this concept, or maybe they understand, choosing to take actions that will not result in the beautiful world I believe we can have and deserve. Let’s ask ourselves what the driving force for the events that have us in this current state of war, crime, killing, and unrest.

scraping the earth
Photo by Julia Fuchs on Pexels.com

Greed!

I say it is greed. Everyone seems to want more. More of everything – money, power, stuff – without thought to costs. Health concerns are in the forefront because of the pandemic. This might be good. Why, you ask; because the pandemic has forced us to examine health and health care. The pandemic has also forced us to recognize the importance of social contact. However, like an iceberg, many of the problems lie beneath the surface.

Have you heard the phrase treat others as they would want you to treat them? This is a paraphrase of the Platinum Rule. This might be a new concept for many. This rule takes into consideration the different values, beliefs, expectations, and preferences of the individual. Though we are all the same, we have our differences, and those deserve to be recognized. Can you imagine what that world would look like?

Imagine!

Strawberry Fields, Central Park, New York

Imagine a world where we recognize and respect differences in beliefs, values, principles, and expectations though we don’t agree. There are benefits to differences. An example that comes readily to my mind, having just adopted a mixed-breed dog, is what has unfortunately happened to many purebred dogs. The flaws in a specific breed become predominant to the point of being a detriment of the dog: for example – bad hips, such a smushed in nose that the dog can’t breathe properly. This happens within organizations when there is a practice of only promoting from within. As nice as it is to know that if you put in the time, you will be rewarded, it is also a limiting factor for the organization and all members. Disagreements, different beliefs, different values, and different expectations, when discussed respectfully, can result in creativity, new ideas, and changes allowing growth and development in positive ways. ‘This is the way we have always done it’, is a phrase that needs to be retired. We want to always be open to examine and consider a better way. Sitting back and doing nothing is a choice, consider the action you will pursue.

Action

gray newton s cradle in close up photogaphy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We must act. We have a job to do, and it needs to be done now. Our world is in turmoil, chaos, a state of depravity. Our world is also beautiful, full of wonder, magnificence, caring, and miracles.

We need to choose the future.

From chaos we can achieve order.

Don Brown (2016) wrote:

As a leader of others, your job, too, is to create order out of chaos for others, every day. If you sell, serve or lead, you influence others for a living. You are responsible for helping others make sense of what swirls around them every day…to help them create order out of their chaos. And the best way to do that? Figure out your rules of engagement.

https://trainingindustry.com/blog/leadership/to-create-order-out-of-chaos/

Brown, (2016), goes further suggesting the establishment of a new set of rules of engagement to set your standards of excellence. Leading has changed, he says, but new rules will help us create order out of chaos. These are his suggested rules:

Discover what your people want you to know and do.

Master today’s #1 leadership competency: being present with others.

Learn to ask more and tell less.

Target your influence where you can make the most of every leadership moment.

Learn to follow an influence protocol to calibrate need and create positive movement in others. Discover what your people want you to know and do.

https://trainingindustry com/blog/leadership/to-create-order-out-of-chaos/

These rules might not suit everyone. However, they provide you with a starting point. Afterall, we don’t all have to agree. We can look for other rules or choose to add to or subtract from what is presented here. We do, however, need to act now to influence the future in ways that are positive and sustainable.

I don’t know if what I write, state, and share with others will have an enormous influence on anyone, I hope it will. But I can and will continue to share my thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and what I learn so that everyone can consider their own actions and behaviours. We can have a beautiful world and a beautiful life. What you choose to do is up to you, but I beg you to do something.

pondering female secretary picking folder in workplace
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Another Awakening

21-October-2022

I have experienced another awakening in the past while. There was no one thing that jumped out to tell me “Elaine, pay attention to what is happening and how you are responding?” But as I chatted with a colleague, I became aware of many things occurring in my life and became aware of how I was feeling.

Self-Development

I have been focusing on bettering myself in many ways the past few years to be the person I want to be which includes improved health and the ability to help others by sharing what I learn and experience with others.

My numerous life experiences from which I have learned give me something I can share with others as I coach them or as I write blogs and social media posts. Though not all my experiences have been ideal, the overall outcome has led to a beautiful life.

I love learning. If anything, I might get a bit too carried away with learning. I am forever signing up for a new course. There are so many free opportunities available online.

Recent Times

12 – October this year my husband and I said goodbye to our beautiful pup, Sadie. We didn’t have children together and Sadie was a bit like our child. There was no doubt Sadie was a member of our family. I have been heartbroken by her death and cannot explain how deeply hurt I am.

Late last year the father of my children died. My children, grown adults with children of their own, were heartbroken. I too was deeply saddened. He and I had gone to school together and had many friends in common. He and his wife, my husband and I all got along well. So, it was a big hurt. Then two days ago another close friend from high school died. We had dated a few times in high school, and we have remained friends. We lost touch for a few years in our early 20s, yet we were close even though we would sometime go years without being in touch. In the last 10 or more years we communicated more often. His loss is again incredibly sad.

These events and my less than perfect health have had my mind in a whirl. I’ve been having more questions than usual. The big question…

What’s Next?

More than one of my clients has recently shared they don’t know what comes next, what to do next, they are unsure of what they want. Their question has not been quite the same as mine, because they are not sure what they want next. I know what I want. I have been on a journey of self-discovery for several years now and will continue that journey. Despite being a senior, I am still learning about myself, about life, and refining the details of what I want; there is so much to learn.

Since my retirement in December – 2014 I have continued to learn. I have become a Certified Trainer for HeartMath, I became certified as an Everything DiSC Partner, completed my Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, and certified as a Life Coach. I’ve taken numerous courses as I moved to helping others by becoming a life and leadership coach. I had the recurring feeling I needed to know more. But guess what?

I Don’t Need to Know More

Guess what? I don’t need to know more. Knowing more is nice and I do believe it is important to remain up to date with what is happening in the world, with leadership, management, health, psychology, and numerous areas I find interesting. But I do this because I want to, I do not need to. Right now, I am taking an aromatherapy course. I’m sure I will be able to help others with what I learn, but the reason I am taking the course is because I want to. I have always been interested in aromatherapy and love the essence of flowers, herbs, oils, nature, and cooking and baking. They seem to go so nicely with the outdoors, water, comfort foods, and the comfort of home. I also find a connection between aromatherapy, health, and spirituality.

Spirituality

Yoga Relax Change Body Peaceful  - johnhain / Pixabay
johnhain / Pixabay

I started a journey exploring my spirituality several years ago. I have investigated a few options and have settled on a practice that I am enjoying. The word ‘settled’ might not be quite accurate as nothing is settled; I continue to learn and grow, and to explore. There is so much to learn.

My health started to challenge me prior to my retirement in 2014. Chronic sinus infections were not new to me. Exhaustion was. The cause of my exhaustion, an autoimmune disorder. Now I knew why. I learned there were going to be things I could not do, changes were afoot.

My Health Journey Woke Me Up

My health journey became quite extensive over the next several years with surgeries, complications from surgeries, cancers, and another autoimmune disorder. During these times, my spirituality and determination were a huge help. Though there were many “why me?” moments.

I’m on my way to 3 years of being cancer free and I feel my health improving almost daily. The journey continues, however that is my own choosing. I want to feel better than before I started to decline. It isn’t easy, but I have also learned that there is not a rush. I know when the time is right if I pay attention to my body, mind, emotions, and soul I will be the best me possible. I am growing into who I have known I want to be, who I am now ready to be. Who I want to be is difficult to put into words as it is more an overall sense of calm, peace, love, joy, and harmony, connecting me with the universe.

Think Quantum

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Photo by Fiona Art on Pexels.com

One of my important beliefs is we are all one. I am a part of you, you are a part of me. What I do has an influence on everyone. What I experience, and what is done to me influences all others. Everything we do involves a choice, even when we “don’t make a choice” we have chosen to maintain the status quo.

The more I learn the less I know. I choose to continue to learn, to listen, to read, to be curious, and to explore. There is nothing I must do, but there are many, many things I want to learn, share, and practice. I hope you will join me on my journey.

What Next

I am in the process of developing a series of online courses to include in my programs. I already offer in-person and virtual coaching. Courses offered now will remain available, but also be offered in a new and exciting format. Watch for me to request people to check out what I have by taking part in a variety of webinars and online events.

I don’t have to do it all at once. I don’t need to take another course. I don’t need to do anything I don’t want. The only thing I need to keep in mind is to ensure that my actions, words, and attitude align with my values.

Learn more about your values. I am not promoting this site or the associated quiz, I am merely giving you one source to explore. There is a great deal of literature available if you choose to learn more. Or give me a shout and we can discuss values together. I am always open to conversations, whether they be on my blog, postings, or via messages, virtually, or in person. What better way to meet more people and learn about others and our world?

The Quiet Leader

coniferous trees covered with snow in sunny winter day
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Is there such a thing as a quiet leader? I don’t mean someone who doesn’t make decisions, doesn’t have ideas, or just doesn’t lead. I’m talking about someone who doesn’t shout and push their own agenda, who must have things done their way. I’m talking about a true leader who leads from a quiet, respectful, strong position of listening and working with others to do what is best. A quiet leader will encourage others to take time to think, to share their thoughts, to listen respectfully to the thoughts of others, and to discuss different opinions and concepts in that same respectful manner.

Leaders All Around Us

The leaders whose names we know are often in politics, big business, entertainment, sports, or have made a name for themselves in some way that puts them out front in the media. Other leaders that we might know more personally are our bosses, teachers, religious leaders, or coaches. Then there are the people we listen to and trust, but who might not have a title that reflects leadership, are not famous, and might not think of themselves as leaders, but to whom we trust for direction and advice. When you need help with something at work to whom do you turn? Often you will turn to a work colleague who will help and guide you or to your boss. I don’t know about you but in many of my jobs turning to the boss just didn’t happen because the boss was in a meeting.

Formal or Informal Leaders

Many of our formal leaders, those with a title indicating leadership are quiet and unassuming, yet excellent leaders. Other formal leaders might be outspoken, demanding, and insist on their way or the highway. And, of course, there is a lot in between. Depending on circumstances there is often nothing wrong with any type of leadership. We might have leadership styles we prefer – as either the leader or follower – but that doesn’t mean any are wrong or right.

Some people don’t think a quiet introverted person can be a good leader. One of the best physicians I ever worked with was a very quiet, gentle man. He was not an introvert, but he was quiet. Everyone listened and learned from this doctor. He did not have to raise his voice to get attention in our busy ICU which was generally noisy. ICUs tend to be noisy at the best of times with machines, oodles of people requesting assistance, doctors giving orders, tests being carried out, and families with their loved ones and talking to the healthcare staff. Imagine trying to be heard in such an area. One of the best ways is to speak quietly, don’t talk when it is not necessary, and make sure that what you are saying has meaning. Most of all, think before you speak. Being aware, being present, understanding yourself, your emotions, and the emotions of others all help guide you before you speak, and guide you in your responses. One way to do this is to learn about and develop Emotional Intelligence, to build qualities that improve our leadership ability, whether a formal or informal leader.

The Quiet Leader

Gregory (2010) stated:

Quiet leaders have earned the respect of their team; they display the appropriate level of confidence, are understanding, compassionate, and open-minded. They think laterally rather than hierarchically, are likeable, relatable, and approachable.

Quiet leaders know and understand the importance of relationships.

Quiet, introverted people can be good leaders. The characteristics often displayed by these people include:


Reference: https://www.childlife.org/membership/aclp-bulletin/spring-2019-table-of-contents/q-is-for-quiet-leadership#:~:text=Quiet%20leaders%20have%20earned%20the,recognize%20the%20importance%20of%20relationship.
  1. They are good listeners.
  2. They think deeply about goals and challenges.
  3. They let others shine. (It isn’t look what I did, it is “look what the team did”).

Reference: https://www.biospace.com/article/3-skills-that-make-introverts-excellent-leaders/

Wow! Don’t these characteristics sound reasonable and something we would like to see in all leaders? I have said many times we are all leaders. We are not all good leaders, most people – regardless of position – can improve their leadership skills, we all have room to develop and grow. If we were to all do just those three things; listening, paying attention to goals and challenges, and boosting up others we would be well on our way to being good leaders.

A Few Questions to Consider

For the next while, a week to a month, I urge you to pay attention to the people around you and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What leadership qualities are they displaying?
  2. Are they formal or informal leaders?
  3. Do they consider themselves a leader?
  4. Are the formal political and business leaders in our world demonstrating the kind of leadership qualities we have mentioned here?
  5. Are those formal leaders the kind of leader you would want to be or to follow?
  6. What leadership skills could those around you benefit from learning?

Learning never stops. Life-long learning is especially important and needed by anyone who identifies as a leader. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please join in a discussion on leadership, quiet leadership, and characteristics of a good leader.

The Heart and Brain Communication

This short video, about 3 minutes, provides information about heart and brain communication. Learn a bit about this relationship that provides us with wonderful opportunity to learn how to live a beautiful life.

The Fascinating Relationship Between the Heart and Brain

The Heart and Brain Relationship

Now that you have watched this video give me a shout and let’s talk about how this can be of help to you.

email: drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach

Learn more about HeartMath from my experience.

From the Heart

“What Do I Want to Do with My Life?”

What Will the Next Leg of Your Life’s Journey Look Like?

Not sure what you want? Most of us have been in this situation at some point in our life. I’m sharing a few questions you can ask yourself to get started. These questions are just the beginning of learning about yourself.

When I completed my doctoral degree, I had also retired from work. Retirement was not my choice; health issues played a huge role. I could no longer work as a nurse, I finished school (again), and my health left a lot to be desired. So, what was I doing to do with my life? First, for me, was to find out how to cope with my diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder that had left me with almost no energy – no matter how much I slept I was exhausted physically and mentally after about 2 hours of minor activity. What did I want? I wanted my health. But that is not what most people want. Most people want to be happy and have a sense of purpose.

“What do I want to do with my life?” is a question we all ask ourselves at some point. We wonder: What career do we want? How do we want to spend our time? What really leads to a life worth living?

The answer to what we want to do with our lives depends on several things. Let’s examine a few questions you can ask yourself to get started toward finding your answer.

1. What makes you happy?

Child Bath Boy Little Boy Bathing  - trilemedia / Pixabay
trilemedia / Pixabay

We all want happiness. We have also been told that we will find happiness inside ourselves. Other people and things will not give us happiness. Have you asked yourself ‘What makes you happy?’ Asking yourself that question is a good place to start. We have a plethora of emotions some sad, some happy, some exciting, some ho-hum, and everything in between. No matter what emotion you experience, it is real and deserves to be acknowledged. However, we don’t want to dwell on the emotions that don’t lift us up. Instead, focus on those things you can identify that make you smile, make you feel good, and make you happy. We want to experience positive emotions and eudaimonia, which can be defined as meaning in life, well-being, or even happiness. So, start to pay attention to yourself and find out what makes you happy. Knowing what makes you happy will help you decide what to do next in your life. Afterall, why would you want to choose something that you don’t enjoy or that won’t lead you in the direction you choose?

For example, what do you like to do? When are you the happiest? Who are you with when you are the happiest? What goals bring a smile to our faces? Now, what kind of life would help you do these things and feel this way more often?

2. What are your needs?

unrecognizable man working on street near railway
Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

What do you need in life? Don’t confuse want with need. Most of us would love to have a million dollars, a perfect relationship, perfect children, and a beautiful home with the workers to look after the house, yard, and anything else connected with our home. There are basic needs: food, shelter, safety, clean water, access to healthcare, access to education, a job we like and that pays us enough to have financial stability. Not everyone has those things. For those who do not have those things deciding what you need becomes easier to decide, but not necessarily easy to obtain. If you are curious about this do a search for Social Determinants of Health. If you have not seen this before you might be surprised. Identify what you need, as in those things which are most important to you right now. This is where your values could come into play. A loving relationship, a family, education, food security, a home, or enough money to pay the bills. I still have a need for health. Though my health is much better than when I was forced to retire, I still must make some advances and be even better. Using health as an example of what I need I am obligated to identify what actions to take to improve my health i.e., eat a healthier diet, and eat and drink less, drink more water, increase my physical activity, get enough quality sleep, and do things I enjoy. What are your needs? What is important to you and why? My health is important to me because my family is important to me. When I was at my sickest my husband had a lot of work to do to care for me, the house, and the yard. He did all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. I don’t want him to have to be in that situation again.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, social/love needs, and self-esteem needs are of higher priority than self-actualization—or living up to our full potential. Other needs—like competence, autonomy, and relatedness—are also thought to be keys to well-being and living a good life (Reis et al., 2000). We all deserve safety, love, and appreciation therefore, we might need to take some steps to achieve those items.

3. What are your values?

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Photo by kokokara on Pexels.com

I am big on values, and you will know this if you have read many of my previous blogs, or LinkedIn and Facebook posts. Values guide us in our actions, behaviours, our treatment of ourselves and others. Our values are somewhat like a globe – many details aren’t apparent, but they give us the guiding direction we need to get started. Our values help us move forward in ways that matter and are important to us (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002). If you have not identified your values now is a suitable time to do so. If you have identified your values quite some time ago, this is a time to evaluate and reflect on them. Aligning day to day activities with your values will put you on a path of which you can be proud and keep you moving in the right direction. If you value social connection, then you understand that being around others is important in your life. Working full-time from home might not be a viable choice for you. If you value kindness, you might want to look for work or volunteer activities that provide an opportunity to help others. By reflecting on your core values, you can better understand what you want.

4. What activities make you lose track of time?

man riding white surfboard
Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

Have you ever been so absorbed in something that you have lost track of time? Chances are that activity was something you enjoyed such as a game, a hobby, an activity, or something fun. I recently painted ceramics with my daughter and granddaughter, we had no idea of the time. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. When you are absorbed in something you enjoy the time passes quickly as opposed to when you are trudging your way through an unenjoyable task. I cleaned my fridge yesterday, and I am happy with the end product, but it felt like it took forever – time dragged. That feeling of total absorption is referred to as flow—or the positive feeling of being totally connected to our performance (Jackson & Marsh, 1996). Flow occurs when we’re doing what we really enjoy and is just the right fit for our skill level.

Identify the activities in which you get super absorbed. These activities are clues to who you are and what you want in life.

5. What would you do if you could do anything in life?

astronaut astronomy cosmonaut galaxy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are no restrictions here – no time, money, health, or other people stand in your way to your choice. In reality, we know we can’t fulfill all our wildest dreams. I applied to be an astronaut, and I got a rejection letter. That wild dream did not come true, but I took the step to apply. I knew my qualifications were the bare minimum and that I was a bit old, but if you don’t try you will never know, I didn’t give up hope until I got the letter. Are you putting limits on yourself? Often these limits are needed or aren’t accurate? Are you merely making excuses because you are afraid to fail? There isn’t really failure, you just haven’t found the best way that works. Don’t put false limits on your potential. Take the time to acknowledge what you really want as this can help you identify the general direction for your journey to your next adventure.

6. What is the gestalt of your life?

Gestalt is German for “pattern,” “shape,” or “configuration.” The way I like to think about gestalt – the end result is larger than the sum of the parts. Consider your house. Is your house your home? For some people it is, for others home is where they are or where their family is. A house is only a home when the people they love are there, this is one way to consider gestalt. What is this for you? Rather than think of the small parts examine the larger picture. My job as a nurse wasn’t just a job, it was my profession and something I loved doing. Yes, it brought in the money to pay the bills and give me a good life, but it was much more than a job, it was my calling. I miss working as a nurse.

What will bring you satisfaction and allow you to lead the type of life you want? How will you describe the feeling you will have when you achieve the life you want to have? How will the pieces fit together? Imagine you are a fly on the wall looking at your dream life. From the perspective of someone or something else what do you see?

brown concrete building on cliff by the sea
Photo by Thomas Fournier on Pexels.com

These questions are a starting point to figuring out and deciding what to do with your life. You can delve more deeply into who you are and what you want, but these questions will get you rolling to move forward to life of joy and happiness. Do you have questions, need some clarity, or aren’t sure where to go next, contact me and we can chat. Sometimes that is all you need – a chat to say things aloud, to get those thoughts clearer in your mind.

References

  • Reis, H. T., Sheldon, K. M., Gable, S. L., Roscoe, J., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). Daily well-being: The role of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 26(4), 419-435.
  • ​Roccas, S., Sagiv, L., Schwartz, S. H., & Knafo, A. (2002). The big five personality factors and personal values. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 28(6), 789-801.
  • Jackson, S. A., & Marsh, H. W. (1996). Development and validation of a scale to measure optimal experience: The Flow State Scale. Journal of sport and exercise psychology, 18(1), 17-35.

I Want to Work for a Great Leader

julius caesar marble statue
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Why shouldn’t we all be able to work for a great leader? If you are working for a great leader, you are in a beautiful position. As an assistant manager in one of my nursing roles the manager was very clear – I did not work for her, I was not her assistant, I was an assistant manager and we worked together for the unit staff. Now that demonstrates a good leader’s sense of valuing others. I remember being thrilled when I got the job because I wanted to work for a great leader. Working with a great leader was even better, and I learned so much, as I had expected. What kinds of things make a leader great? Here are some traits I found.

5 Traits of Positive Leaders

I want to work for a great leader. To do this I need to know what a great leader looks like. Here are five (5) traits from the Roffey Park Institute

  1. Charisma
  2. Focus on Development
  3. Take on the Role of a Mentor
  4. Ability and Willingness to Listen and Learn
  5. Honesty

Fun

People also want to work for leaders who have a sense of humour. Employees, apparently feel funny leaders are more competent.

The stories of leaders and leadership reveal their explorations of life, the world, and their experiences. What have you explored? As a child you explored the dirt, mud-puddles, insects, animals, and the things your parents told you not to. That exploration taught you many things about life, safety, and enjoyment. Children are curious. As an adult are you still exploring? Are you still curious? Ask yourself what you have explored lately and if you can’t think of anything it is time you decided to explore. Later this week I am going to paint some pottery. I’ve never done this before. It isn’t a big challenge, but it is something new. Exploring can be as easy as reading something of a different genre or an author new to you who has a different viewpoint, or it can be as challenging as taking up a new sport or learning a new language.

Brain Training Presentation Skills  - geralt / Pixabay
geralt / Pixabay

Challenging yourself with new things helps your brain to function optimally. There is much we can do to ward off Alzheimer’s and dementia. Among the things to do are exercising your brain and your body. As a leader it behooves you to set a good example. Challenge yourself and challenge those you lead. Of course, I encourage you to make those challenges fun.

Many of the great leaders from history aren’t known for having fun experiences. The historical leaders were often involved in acquiring more land and riches, causes and wars.

a brown and white dog eating on a cooking pot
Photo by Elina Volkova on Pexels.com

“Not only do employees who laugh at work tend to be healthier and more productive, but they are also absent from work less often. This reduction in absenteeism helps reduce costs to your business and increase business profits.” https://risepeople.com/blog/why-workplace-humour-is-the-secret-to-great-leadership/

But what the past will not do is provide the magic formula for how to become an effective leader. Looking for clear lessons in history seems a futile quest: there are too many lessons, and they are often in dispute. History can be useful, however, in suggesting patterns and parallels, raising questions, and – equally important – giving warnings about why things go wrong.

Commonalities of Great Leaders

  • Workaholics
  • Ability to plan
  • Great memory
  • Luck
  • Understanding public sentiment
  • Well-timed unreasonableness
  • Steady nerves
  • Inspiring persistence
  • Empathy
  • Political awareness

Healthy Workplace Culture

We hear about toxic work environments, but there are also healthy work environments. A good leader is the foundation for a healthy work environment. A positive leader can create a healthy environment while retaining performance and meeting outcomes even when there are ongoing challenges. A healthy, positive work environment is built upon personal relationships (yes, these are also professional), where the leader encourages the employees and makes them want to work for them.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence came to the forefront several years ago. Workplaces had frequently focused on the IQ of the employees, and that is important. However, it was discovered that there was more to business and organizations led by smart people. Smart people aren’t necessarily great at social skills. Think Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, for a comedic example.

EQ vs IQ has led to debate and numerous studies comparing the two. One study, focused on manager performance, suggests that what separates the most outstanding leaders from the others is their high EQ. A study at UC Berkeley suggested that EQ is 4-times more powerful than IQ in predicting success in their given field.

What and where have you learned about Emotional Intelligence? Our educational systems have not embraced EQ, still focusing on IQ. Emotional Quotient tends to be the responsibility of the employer. Some information suggests that companies are focusing more on EQ competencies than IQ when reviewing resumes. Many companies have found that EQ is important in the working environment where people work together. Work is about relationships, especially when working in teams or on projects.

Do EQ Leaders have Specific Habits?

With the current unrest in the world, I urge you to consider our world leaders and their EQ. We see charisma, EQ, negotiating skills, power – my way or the highway. Regardless of nation, the leadership role is demanding and fast moving. Often solutions to problems are not black or white, there are numerous options, and the leaders, despite their power, need others. In many nations the leader must have the support of others for anything to really happen. Some studies suggest that the most successful presidents (though they have not defined success) have been ones with high EQ. World leadership requires those who carefully choose their battles, are assertive when needed, and demonstrate courage in unnerving situations.

Whether a world leader, or leader of an organization, self-awareness is incredibly important. Leaders need to understand their emotions, moods, and what motivates them. They also must be in control of themselves, their feelings related to difficulties, and ensure they are rational in their decisions. Leaders need to be aware of how their words and actions affect others. Leaders want to answer questions such as how they can align with others toward a common goal, how to inspire others to work together toward that common goal and how to stand up for what they believe. Great leaders understand what inspires and motivates others.

How Do Great Leaders Influence and Inspire?

A great leader knows about emotions, feelings, passions, and what drives people to be the best they can be. The great leader must also know how all those same things can bring a person down and be the source of pain and hurt. Sharing stories, creating rituals and traditions, being inspirational to boost the team, and to celebrate all the little successes are important qualities for any leader, but come more readily to someone with high EQ. All teams have conflict and disagreements. A great leader with a high EQ knows how to prevent conflict by ensuring that respectful, open, non-judgmental discussion is encouraged. The great leader is a great communicator and guides employees to become great communicators. A work environment is built on relationships, and relationships are built on communication.

Leaders need many skills. One of my recent posts, 7 Must Have Leadership Skills tells you more about what a leader must have.

How to Increase Your EQ

Emotional Quotient increases with age, but you don’t have to wait till you are old to have excellent EQ. Learn about your own emotions, what triggers your various emotional responses or reactions, how to be in control of your responses so there are no more unplanned reactions that get you in trouble. Learning how to improve your communication skills, make better decisions, understand what drives you and what drives others are important parts of developing EQ. Build your resiliency, learn to maintain positivity, be assertive, and engage in self-development – personal and professional. A good leader will also ensure that these opportunities are available for all those they lead.

What are your next steps to increasing your EQ and developing your leadership skills? I’m available to help drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach.

Reference

EQ information from Norwich Pro

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If We Could Talk to the Animals

figurine of thee meerkats
Photo by Mike B on Pexels.com

If we could talk to the animals, what would they tell us about leadership? I couldn’t resist searching to see what information I could find on how animals lead. We know there are alphas and betas, leaders, and followers, and sometimes loners. We also know that sometimes there is a fight. Is it always with a fight? How are the leaders determined? Is there hierarchy? It depends on which animal you talk to.

We have a beehive and recently there was no queen. We don’t look after the bees; we have a beekeeper. He brought a new queen, and she was accepted. I’m sure we can learn a lot from animal leaders, have fun, and remember the information we get a bit easier.

I have decided to take a quick look at 7 animals identified by Tom Sommer to see what he had to say in 2018. The meerkat, the bee, the elephant, the octopus, the crow, the dog, and the gorilla.

Meerkat

a furry meerkat standing on a wood
Photo by Volker Kaes on Pexels.com

I love meerkats. They seem to be very aware of what is going on around them. While at the zoo one day watching and photographing the meerkats, we noticed one of them following my grown granddaughter and posing for pictures. It was quite noticeable and other zoo patrons were getting a laugh at this activity.

Stop running, pop your head up, look around, adjust course, then keep going.*

We don’t want to get so focused on the task at hand that we don’t see what is happening around us. Make sure to plan your work and work your plan.

Bee

honey bee perched on pink and yellow petaled flower closeup photography
Photo by Miss Pooja on Pexels.com

Bees and beehives have always fascinated me. I don’t know much about them, but I have learned more in the last few years. One day the bees from a neighbour’s hive ‘swarmed’ and gathered in a tree in our yard. We were told that the owner of the property can keep the bees and set up their own hive – we did.

If I understand the concept of swarming, this occurs when the hive becomes overpopulated. A second queen is produced, and she leaves with a bunch of the worker and drone bees (or at least that is my understanding).

Create autonomy and empowerment to enable your team to work efficiently without a centralised leader.*

Bees go out every day and gather pollen. The work in the hive is carried out by the worker bees with little involvement of the queen – she delegates. The queen doesn’t have to go out and tell them what to do. The colony is cooperative and works together to take care of the needs of the hive. She leaves them to do what they know to do, no micromanagement. But she is aware when there is overcrowding.

Elephant

close up of elephant family
Photo by Katie Hollamby on Pexels.com

They do the neatest stuff. I’ve seen paintings, I’ve watched them play, and though they didn’t create the paper, their poop has been used to make paper. The moms are incredibly protective, and I think many of us have seen documentaries showing elephants grieving. Elephants develop strong bonds with friends and family. This makes me think of the saying “It takes a village…”.

Create a healthy and safe environment for your team to ensure ongoing success and productivity. *

Oh, for all our leaders to do that.

Providing the resources and safety necessary for workers to meet the set goals is an important role for a leader.

Next is an example of situational leadership.

Octopus

“Adapt your leadership style to each unique situation. No single way to lead is always right.”

Octopuses are great at camouflage. They can adjust their appearance to blend in with their environment and situation. Imagine if we could all adapt to the environment and situations we encounter.

Octopuses lead their 8-arms. However, Octopuses are solitary animals who adapt to the situation and environment in which they find themselves.

Crow

bird animal beak outdoors
Photo by Odd Falch on Pexels.com

Aren’t these absolutely amazing birds? I love watching them and how they interact with people and other animals. Crows are highly intelligent and if you pay attention to, you will see how they come to recognize you or others you see, and how they remember where danger has lurked.

Develop and grow those around you in a consistent and systematic way. *

Crows have learned and I am guessing they continue to learn. This suggests that the crows encourage learning. What an important concept for all leaders; how are you ensuring your workers are learning for the job and for personal development?

Dog

Our Sadie

My husband and I have a dog. There is no question she has done a good job of training us. Though we did our best to establish my husband as the Alpha, that only seems to hold true some of the time. She is also a great communicator. She was a rescue, and I remember when we brought her home as pup and she would roll onto her back and be submissive in all new encounters. We never heard a sound from her for months and she has remained quiet, though she has gotten more talkative as she has aged.

Dogs, well at least the ones I know, make their expectations known very clearly.

Watching dog interaction is a learning experience. A look, then a soft growl, then watch out if you don’t pay attention to these signals. Don’t go near my food, don’t come between me and my mom.

Gorilla

animal portrait of a gorilla
Photo by Pierre LESCOT on Pexels.com

More about communication, you need to provide feedback to be a good leader. Do you beat your chest like a gorilla? Probably not, but make sure you provide constructive feedback.

Feedback is the most important tool for a leader to help others grow. *

Although variable in form, every animal society has some form of dominance hierarchy. Hierarchy is defined as priority of access to resources and probability of winning competitive encounters and reflects underlying asymmetries in power. (Cronin, K. A. et al. Hierarchy is Detrimental for Human Cooperation. Sci. Rep. 5, 18634; doi: 10.1038/srep18634 [2015]).

*These are quotes are from the works of Tom Sommer.

When Things are Bothering You – 7 Tips to Help

When you are bothered by upset, frustration, or feeling overwhelmed you can choose to calm down. “Thanks” you say “but I think you are out to lunch”.

I’m sharing a short bit from HeartMath(R) with you. Check out the graphic on this link – it is pretty darn cute.

These 7 tips are easy (not necessarily simple) but you can learn if you focus and do some practicing so that when such situations arise you have tools to use.

  • Heart-Focused Breathing (TM).
  • Talk to a friend or adult.
  • Walk away.
  • Send love and care.
  • Use your words to express your feelings.
  • Do something you enjoy to relax.

You can also connect with me to gain access to additional tools or just to talk. Some people are more comfortable talking to someone they don’t know rather than a friend or family member – I’m here for you at drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach

https://www.heartmath.org/resources/infographic/connect-with-your-heart/

Where Does Your/My Energy Go?

Happy energy of children
Adelkazaika / Pixabay

Once upon a time, in years gone by there was an abundance of energy for me to access. Have you experienced that? As the years went by, I found myself needing more breaks, getting tired more quickly, and even needing more sleep. The four to six hours of sleep no longer was enough. Where did my energy go?

I had been able to work full-time, go to school, run, and exercise daily, and care for my children and home. (I am not and never was a good housekeeper, so that saved me some time). As the years passed, I found this more difficult. By this time, my children had grown and were independent, and I had a husband to help. I refuse(d) to believe this was the ‘aging process,’ give me a break, I don’t feel old. Age, as time is an illusion – right?

I had no idea that stress and stressful events can drain our energy. Good grief – work, school, children, home – those all have stress accompanying them. Of course, though I knew it wasn’t the right thing to cut, I decreased my exercise time. My knees were bad anyway so running was gone from my life. That is when the weight started to pile on – lovely.

I have since learned that our emotions and things that annoy us daily, like our commute to work, cause us stress that we don’t even notice and that stress depletes our energy. I have also learned ways to boost my energy.

There are many things influencing the amount of energy we have available. Think of energy like a battery. Some things charge the battery, and some things drain the battery.

Fight or Flight

Many of us are aware of this term, but we don’t really think much about it. Fight or flight response occurs when there is an “acute threat to survival that is marked by physical changes” (Britannica, 2019). These changes include our nervous and endocrine (hormonal) systems, which we rely on to keep us safe by either running away or staying to fight. There are few events in our day-to-day life that are life-threatening, but our body still responds as though the stressors are life-threatening. We have been a little slow to adapt to this. And these responses drain our energy. We can learn to have some control over our responses and conserve some energy.

White Heart

Even though we are not being chased by a lion there are things that make our heart rate and breathing rate increase, sending more oxygen to our muscles so we can run or fight. The threats we have today tend to be cognitive (thoughts, beliefs, opinions) rather than physical. Most of our fears these days don’t call for either fight or flight. However, our body doesn’t recognize the difference between physical and cognitive threats, and our heart and breathing rates increase. I wonder if that is where the run-away bride comes from – stressed by getting married she needs to run or fight, she isn’t going to fight the man she loves, so she runs. The increased heart and breathing rate are from the activation of our sympathetic nervous system. This heightened sympathetic nervous system activity gives us some of the symptoms of anxiety.

To counter the sympathetic nervous system, we have the parasympathetic nervous system. Think car – sympathetic is gas and parasympathetic is the brake. When our heart is racing and our breathing is rapid, we want to bring these under control, we want to activate the parasympathetic system. We can learn to have some control of these and stop the battery from draining dry, we can learn how to charge the battery. This is an example used by HeartMathTM.

 Breathe Inhale Exhale  - kathleenport / Pixabay
kathleenport / Pixabay

Since learning about HeartMathTM I have been in much better control of my energy drains. I have learned controlled breathing and to plug some energy leaks. First, I needed to be aware of some of the areas that were draining my energy. Some of these are things that occur every day, and we rarely think of them as anything but routine, let alone that they are using up our energy. Some examples for you:

MeetingsEmailsFinances/BudgetsPoor sleep
Technology glitchesDeadlines, time, overloadOther’s mistakesChallenging people/clients
Unexpected changeDecision makingHome/workplace DramaBalancing work/family
TrafficNoiseHealthInefficiencies

Though many of these things are part of our daily life we don’t tend to think of them as anything but routine. Knowing that they are draining energy I also found ways to decrease the drain and charge my energy. I’ll share some ways to decrease energy drain, I wish I had known this years ago.

  1. Breathe: When our sympathetic nervous system is triggered our breathing becomes rapid and shallow and uses up our energy. Taking slow, deep breaths will help you find calm and reduce your energy expenditure. Combining breathing with some positive thoughts, feelings, and memories can also help boost your energy.
  2. Notice and Prep: Being aware of when you find yourself in fight or flight reactions is a good start to counteraction. Knowing that you get ‘up-tight’ at a certain meeting you can prepare for that meeting by breathing, doing some positive self-talk, and adjusting your perception. Remember: you are enough.
  3. Acceptance: Knowing what you can change and what you can’t change is a good start. If you cannot change something/someone you might as well go with the flow. But to do so means awareness and choosing how you will feel – no use worrying, accept that is the way it will be. Even if you still find your heart racing and your breathing rapid and shallow, you can accept this and know that a few slow, deep, abdominal breaths will help you.
  4. Exercise: We don’t know why exercise helps but we might be able to guess. When we are exercising, we are focusing on what we are doing rather than the stressful situation(s) we face. Exercise increases our heart rate our breathing – so what is different? Your state of mind. Also, you are in control. The rapid heart rate and respiratory rate aren’t all that is draining your energy, there are other hormones and chemicals in the body that react to feelings and emotions. While exercising you aren’t thinking about the department budget meeting that you know will be difficult; instead, you are focused on your health and well-being, and this changes what occurs in our bodies.
  5. Cognitive-Behavioural Approaches: When you are in fight or flight mode take a moment to reflect on what you are thinking. Then ask yourself, “Is this the best solution, the best way to be thinking of this? Is there a better solution or action?” By taking the time to consider options you might find you can reduce your energy expenditure by finding a new solution.
  6. Talk to a Professional: You want to make sure that your mental and physical health is good. A professional can help you learn ways to deal with stressful situations, anxiety, panic, or even poor sleep. You do not have to do everything on your own.

In summary, our fight or flight response is important to keep us safe. Sometimes that response is overactive, and we need to find a way to get control. Getting control will help improve your health and energy. Who wouldn’t like that? There are many resources available to help you find a way to better health, less stress, and happiness. We all deserve a beautiful life.

I am available to discuss how you can boost your energy rather than decrease it, and to be in control of your emotional responses. Check my calendar to book an appointment at your convenience https://koalendar.com/u/drelaineleadershipcoach

Dr. Elaine Leadership Coach

Put Yourself in a Better Mood

Photo from my trip to New York’s Central Park. John Lennon’s songs always give me hope and lifts my mood,

Put yourself in a better mood. How? Check out these science-based ways to increase positive emotions, decrease negative emotions, and make yourself feel better.

Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes bad things happen, and we find ourselves in a bad mood. At times we make decisions that get us down. Other times we feel bad for no obvious reason. We know we want to feel better…but how? Psychological research has shown us there are ways we can boost our mood. Check out a few of them:

1. Practice gratitude to boost your mood

​One of the best ways to start feeling better fast is to practice gratitude. You can write a gratitude journal or a gratitude list. This practice can lead to a quick and fast boost of feeling more positive.

2. Don’t be too hard on yourself

How you treat yourself matters. Treat yourself at least as well as you treat others. Learn self-compassion, being hard on yourself can bring you down. Being gentle with yourself can help you feel better about yourself. When we’re not judgmental of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, we treat ourselves better. You can boost self-compassion by writing a self-compassionate letter to yourself. In this letter remind yourself of all your good qualities, and good things you have done, and celebrate by treating yourself kindly.

3. Boost your mood, boost your self-confidence

When we are confident, we are more likely to take action to improve our lives. Being in a better mood can help make that happen. Boost your self-confidence by examining your strengths and positive qualities. Name your strengths and write or record them so you can refer to them during tough times. These don’t have to be big—are you a good cook, good at playing video games, or have a good, creative imagination.

4. Write yourself a ‘feel better soon’ letter

Research suggests we look at our current situation from a time in the future. Doing this can lead to decreased negative emotions and make us feel better (Bruehlman-Senecal & Ayduk, 2015). That can be tough to do, depending on the situation. This suggestion has you think about what you want to do and where you want to be (dream a little, then write those things down).  If you’ve experienced a breakup or other negative situation or event leaving you in a bad mood or unhappy, imagine the future you want (remember you are in control). Then write this letter to yourself, but from the future. This letter is from the view that you have achieved all your dreams and are reflecting on the tough time. In this letter praise yourself for all you have accomplished (from what you want to do, want to be, and for your happiness. Tell yourself to “feel better soon”. You recognize how proud you are of all your future self is doing when this challenging time has passed. You might also want to consider a vision board for long-term dreams and goals or even a quick collage for the immediate future (I like pictures, though I know this isn’t for everyone).

How can that smile not help lift your mood?

5. Notice positive things and watch your mood improve

Numerous studies show that focusing our attention on the positive rather than the negative can improve our well-being (MacLeod, et al., 2002; Wadlinger & Isaacowitz, 2008). For example, if we lose a job, we might say to ourselves: “I am so happy to have my family and friends” or “It was time for me to find something new” or “I deserve better than this”.

6. Positive images can make you smile

Science is great for helping us learn strategies to feel better. But sometimes we just want to look at something funny or cute. (Science suggests positive images do boost our mood.) Sometimes, when we’re feeling down, it can be helpful to let our brain rest, look at cute cat videos or pictures, and just let our mood improve that way.

For quick fixes check out this short article from Psychology Today.

7. Oh, just one more thing to wrap up

If you’re in a bad mood, there are things you can do to feel better. Try these tips. Be gentle with yourself and take your time. Don’t forget to breathe. As a Certified HeartMathTM Trainer and Coach I have programs to guide you to be in control of how you react to your emotions. I can tailor these to meet your needs, we work together. See more information here https://leadnurses.com/programs/

References

  • Bruehlman-Senecal, E., and O. Ayduk. 2015. “This Too Shall Pass: Temporal Distance and the Regulation of Emotional Distress.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 108 (2): 356.
  • MacLeod, C., Rutherford, E., Campbell, L., Ebsworthy, G., & Holker, L. (2002). Selective attention and emotional vulnerability: assessing the causal basis of their association through the experimental manipulation of attentional bias. Journal of abnormal psychology, 111(1), 107.
  • Wadlinger, H. A., & Isaacowitz, D. M. (2008). Looking happy: The experimental manipulation of a positive visual attention bias. Emotion, 8(1), 121.

I Get So Mad. Are Your Emotions Holding You Hostage?

pexels- ronald- 1260644

I get so mad. Are your emotions holding you hostage?

Husband: “Why are you always talking in the middle of a tv show? You know I can’t follow the show when you are talking.”

Wife: “Humph! I was just asking the dog if she wanted out. I wasn’t even talking to you.”

Wife to her friend: “He makes me so mad. Everything must be his way. He can talk to me when I am watching something or on a ZOOM call, but everyone must be perfectly quiet for him.”

How often have you said something like this, or heard someone else say it? “She made me so upset.” “He really hurt my feelings.” We say these things often not even thinking. But was it really the other person who made you mad, upset, or hurt? No. Those feelings come from your response to that emotion. What if you could control your response?

Sure, that sounds ok. But does it really make any difference? And what does it have to do with the way I lead?

You can control how you respond. I will share a bit more about that shortly. And as a leader, you are setting an example. Furthermore, as a leader you want your team to function optimally, and to do that, they also need to be able to be in control of their emotional responses.

Let’s examine more about emotions; where they come from, and why we react the way we do. First, we don’t want to get rid of our emotions. What we want is to be in control of our response. Emotions aren’t good or bad, but they do drive our physiology. Some emotions drain our energy, while others recharge our energy, like your cell phone battery. Some emotions are more intense than others. Regardless of the emotion, they affect our energy, how we perform, how we communicate, and our ability to self-regulate, or be in control.

Without going into a lot of detail I will explain what happens to our bodies when we are experiencing stress. After all, when we are angry, frustrated, or frightened we are experiencing stress. Knowing what is going on physiologically might help you to understand why you want to be in control of your emotional responses.

Within seconds of sensing a threat – real or perceived – fear, anger, or frustration your body is at work releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline to increase your blood pressure and heart rate. This is needed to ensure that you get the required oxygen and blood to where it is needed – the brain, muscles, heart, and lungs. You need this to ensure you are physically strong enough to protect yourself. (Remember, your brain doesn’t know if it is anger or a lion attacking, it merely knows there is stress.) When your heart rate increases you are stressed. There is also less blood going to the skin, digestive system, and kidneys – that is what causes the ‘butterflies’ in your stomach. Noradrenalin also hones your senses making you more alert, causing your facial muscles to become tense, you might clench your teeth, you might get goosebumps, and you are likely to look more aggressive.

Cortisol is also released and converts stored fat into energy to drive your muscles. However, too much cortisol weakens your immune system. Have you ever noticed that after the big project is completed, or the exams are written you get a cold, cold sore, or other infection? I often got ill when I took a vacation – why? – because I had been under stress, knew it was time for a break, but I had waited too long and there was just too much cortisol that had weakened my immune system.

Learning to control our response to emotions will help keep our stress down. It won’t make it go away, but it will help keep it in control and less cortisol will be released.

What are we going to do about this? There are numerous things that we experience daily causing us stress. Some of them we don’t even notice anymore because they happen all the time – your daily drive to work, your rush in the morning to get the kids off to school and you to work, or standing in the grocery store check-out line.

When you react to your stress you are prevented from thinking as clearly as usual, you can’t solve problems as easily, and your production decreases.

Have you ever found yourself saying something along the lines of

“that made me so mad, and when I get mad, I cry, which makes me angrier cause that looks like he had hurt my feelings, rather than I was angry”?

I know I have certainly done that a time or two. I have learned over time to have better control of my emotional responses. Of course, that doesn’t mean I will never do that again. Being in control of my emotional response is the way I expect to respond most of the time.

Have you noticed the use of the words react and respond? They are not the same. In this situation ‘react’ means what happens is spontaneous, without thought. Respond means you have taken a moment – now or at some point in the past, to evaluate how you will behave to the words or activity that stimulated a specific emotion. That time between the action and what you say is where you choose to either react or respond. When you choose to respond, you are in control. When you react, your emotions are in control. Most of us like to be in control of our actions, words, and behaviours.

Learning to respond rather than react isn’t easy. We have probably been reacting all our life. This kind of change takes some work, but with a few simple steps, it can be done.

Gaining Control of Your Emotions

  1. Acknowledge and name your feeling.
  2. Focus your attention on your breathing – the chest area or your upper lip where you can feel the cool air going in and the warm air coming out. Picture your breath flowing in and out of your chest area. Breathe a little slower and deeper than usual. Choose a rhythm that is comfortable for you. Do this for 3 – 5 breaths, or more if you feel you need to.
  3. Identify a positive attitude or regenerative feeling – calm, peace, sitting on a beach enjoying the sun, something you appreciate, petting or playing with your dog, or just relaxing and reading.
  4. Now ask yourself – what would be a more appropriate, effective, or efficient way for you to respond to the feeling you identified. (What would be a better solution than displaying your reaction?)
  5. Notice the very subtle change in how you perceive the situation, your feelings, and your attitude. Make a promise to yourself to sustain this feeling and your attitude in this and similar situations.

You have now taken a few minutes to go through this process and in doing so you have not reacted to the emotion. Will this happen the next time an emotion overcomes you? Good chance it won’t. But, as soon as you realize that you reacted and were not in control, go through these steps. Continue to do this practice until it becomes comfortable, and you can do this before you react. You will find that as you do this with each emotion you will be establishing a new pattern for yourself.

What if you don’t identify a better way to respond? Don’t worry about it, just repeat the process later, or the next day until you identify a better response. The more you practice the easier it will be to have the response come naturally.

You can use this technique at times when you feel frustrated, angry, impatient, worried, or scared. Identify your emotional reactions that could benefit from being controlled with a response.

Check out an earlier blog for some more about stress and emotions and the video that accompanies it:

Emotions – Heart – Stress: Be in Charge of Your Emotions!

Our world is full of potential stressors. We aren’t going to be able to control all of them. But there are many emotions connected with these stressors that can be tamed. You can avoid some stressors – don’t have the news on constantly or even take a few days to not listen to the news, consider a change in your morning routine, or maybe change the time or place you do your grocery shopping (or maybe get someone else to do it occasionally).

Your health includes managing your response to stress. Give me a shout and we can discuss this in more detail and plan what you can do that is specific to your needs.

Let’s talk: drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach

or set up an appointment on my calendar: https://koalendar.com/u/drelaineleadershipcoach

What is Happiness?

Is Happiness a Choice?

Don’t worry, be happy” – that is how the song goes. The song is very uplifting, and I find myself singing along. At times it is hard to be happy. We tend to worry a lot, and are anxious, sad, or unhappy. Worrying can use up a lot of energy, as does anxiety, and sadness. Worrying usually doesn’t solve anything, it just tires us out and makes us miserable.

Happiness – joyful, excited, content, calm, relaxed, ecstatic, sometimes this results in a warm feeling, causing us to smile. Have you ever walked down the street and smiled at people as you walked past? If you haven’t,  try it and notice the reaction of others. It is a fun exercise to do. An article I recently read suggests smiling at the first ten people you meet today – I love this idea. Just smiling can make you feel better. I’m a Certified HeartMath Trainer and Coach, I practice breathing to help me get into coherence and I have found I can increase my coherence by smiling.

We don’t need to be unhappy. There are things we can do to help make us feel happy. According to Positive Psychology, a Harvard Health Publication, the following things can help make you happy (I’ve added a few of my own):

  1. Feeling good – seeking out pleasurable activities
  2. Being fully engaged – going after goals and activities that are important to you. Do you know what these are? Have you identified your values?
  3. Being of service – helping others, volunteering
  4. Children (to a certain extent)
  5. Gratitude
  6. Vacations and special events, if you live in the city – get out of town for a hike
  7. Being mindful and focusing on one thing only – i.e., no multi-tasking
  8. Enjoying simple things like sunshine, being outdoors – a walk around the neighbourhood or a park, curling up with a loved one, popcorn, and a movie
  9. Not taking on too much, or being a workaholic – spend time with yourself, family, and friends
  10. When is the last time you coloured, painted, or did something that you enjoyed as a kid – hide and seek, tag, a snowball fight, a pillow fight, a board game?
  11. Look through old photos, reminisce, and plan some fun activities for the future.
  12. You can also try meditation or going on a retreat (I have done at-home retreats; they can rejuvenate and be fun).
  13. Get yourself out of a boring routine, turn off the screens, don’t listen to the news for a few days, try new things – cooking classes, dancing, swimming, sports, reading a book
  14. Put on your ‘thinking cap’ and come up with some fun things to try, some boring things to get rid of, be active, be with others. You don’t need to spend money; you only need to think and get active.

Research has also shown that being grateful helps a person be happy. Though not having enough money, being ill, and being in a country at war certainly give you the right to be unhappy. Nonetheless, to get through such times with a bit of hope, and taking the time to think about what you do have, rather than what you don’t have can lead you to a state of gratitude. As nice as it would be if money could buy happiness, it just doesn’t.

Happiness is a Choice

Young people, those in their late teens, report being happy, but people in their eighties report being even happier. Positive Psychology also reports that happiness and enjoyment decline until about 50 years and then steadily increase over the next 25 years.

Where you live can also influence how happy you are. The following are the ten countries identified as the happiest:

  1. Finland,
  2. Norway,
  3. Denmark,
  4. Iceland,
  5. Switzerland,
  6. the Netherlands,
  7. Canada,
  8. New Zealand,
  9. Sweden,
  10. Australia.

The happy countries, according to Positive Psychology, are often those where the culture and economy allow the people to experience pleasure, purpose, and security. I don’t want you to dwell on this, but what is the culture and economy of your country now? The current state of the world has created economic concerns in many nations – this could decrease happiness worldwide. If that is the case, we need to be paying attention to our own state of happiness and take every measure we know to maintain and build our own happiness and that of our family and friends.

We have learned much during the pandemic. We have become very aware of the need for social contact. Social support has been identified as one of the Social Determinants of Health, it is not a new concept. Additionally, social support is also important for happiness. Accessibility to healthcare, another Determinant of Health, and “healthy years of life expectancy” also support happiness.

Marriage can assist in happiness, but that happiness can decline after the birth of the first child and not recover until the child(ren) leave home (these days they are often at home for an exceptionally long time – don’t wait for them to go to be happy). Personal relationships are important to happiness, as are having friends and frequent sex. Though we sometimes take our partners for granted, we don’t have to, and it does nothing for happiness. Plan for time together doing something you both enjoy. Plan for family time and learn to enjoy the children, they can be fun, and family fun is important. That is how great memories are made.

Life has many ups and downs, how you choose to respond to them will make a difference in whether you are happy. Happiness is a choice.

As a leader, you want to instill happiness in the workplace. The benefits are numerable. I can help you focus on achieving the happiness you want in your life, and in the life of your organization, you do not need to do it alone.

Book a ‘get to know you’ call: https://calendly.com/fromtheheartwithdr-elaine

More to come on Happiness, Mindfulness, and Inner Strength in the next few weeks.

08/04/22

The Search for Happiness

Girls Nature Happiness Kids Happy  - Adelkazaika / Pixabay
Adelkazaika / Pixabay

Most of us want to be happy. Many people search for happiness unsuccessfully. Many people don’t need to search, they are happy. Some people are happy, sometimes. Where do you fall?

What is happiness?

Merriam – Webster Dictionary gives the following definition:  

a: a state of well-being and contentmentJOY

ba pleasurable or satisfying experience: I wish you every happiness in life. I had the happiness of seeing you— W. S. Gilbert

Wow! That sounds almost simple. Well-being can vary from person to person, and contentment can be a bit obscure. Nonetheless, most of us know if and when we are happy. Let’s dig a bit deeper into happiness and how we can achieve that beautiful state.

What we might be wanting is a good quality of life. Is this different than happiness? My guess is that it is part of happiness. My quality of life has deteriorated over the last several years. However, it has now improved significantly. It isn’t what it once was and probably won’t get back to what it was 10 years ago. Nevertheless, I continue to be happy, and I am learning to adjust – slowly, but I am getting there. I am also noticing that my health seems to be improving daily and I am also calmer, less likely to get upset, and when I do it doesn’t last very long. Part of that is because of meditation, spiritual practices, and HeartMath. Focusing on my strengths and what I can do, rather than what I can’t make a huge difference. Positive Psychology (A Harvard Medical School Special Report) suggested supplementing traditional mental health treatments with positive psychology, focusing on both a persons’ strengths and weaknesses, as this is beneficial to achieving happiness and improved quality of life.

Dog Pet Animal Cute  - Pexels / Pixabay
Pexels / Pixabay

There is also a belief that Happiness Is a Choice You Make, (I believe there is a book by that name) by choosing to live in the moment, appreciating what you still have, and building on your strengths. I have found this to be true and am seeing more validation of this as the years go by. Autoimmune disorders and a bout with cancer have not dampened my overall happiness. This has not always been easy: I have gotten benefit from increased meditation, paying attention to my spirituality (I’m not religious), developing spiritual practices, increasing my use of HeartMath, and focusing on all for which I am grateful. I am incredibly grateful for my life. I find I have more patience and when I do get upset or pissed off, it just doesn’t last as long.

Because happiness is very subjective, you might determine if it is worthwhile to find a way to track how you are feeling. You might discover identifying your emotions a good method to track your feelings. Identify some words that resonate with you: content, excited, calm, enthusiastic, happy, peaceful, sad, angry, frustrated, down, or any of the multitude of words that can be found. Happiness can often be equated to inner peace. You might find spirituality or religion beneficial to you.

Numerous online tools are available to help you assess your happiness. You can also consider Maslow’s Hierarchy. Maslow’s 5 levels include:

1) basic physiological needs – food, water, clothing, shelter, breathing, sex, homeostasis, excretion.

2) safety needs – police, fire department, medical care, schools, employment.

3) love and belonging – family, friendship, sexual intimacy, interpersonal relationships.

4) esteem – self-confidence, self-esteem, achievement, sense of accomplishment, self-respect, and the respect of others.

5) self-actualization – morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts, personal fulfillment, sense of accomplishment, being the best you can be.

Supposedly if you have all of these you will be happy and fulfilled. What do you think? Is it enough for you to have all of these or do you need something more? If you need something more, can you identify what that is?

Easter Child Baby Spring Children  - gabbrielleite / Pixabay
gabbrielleite / Pixabay

You might find that your happiness is based on emotions. Emotions can lead to a good feeling, or a not-so-good feeling, to down-right miserable. More often than not, it is our reaction to the emotion that is the actual cause of our feeling. How you respond to your emotions can be learned and changed. I have written about this in the past and will soon be doing another blog on emotions including some brain information. This is one of the things with which HeartMath can help.

I am planning a series of blogs related to positive psychology. Look for my next blog Monday, 11 – April. Till then be happy and content with your life, seek out all for which you are grateful.

Learning to Breathe

Yes, We Need to Learn and Practice Breathwork

Breathing Exercises

Street Art Breathe Inhale Exhale  - kathleenport / Pixabay
kathleenport / Pixabay

Why is breathwork important?

Who thought we would need to learn how to breathe? Yet as we go through life we don’t often pay attention to breathing unless we are having difficulty. Think about how often we tell ourselves or others to ‘breathe’. When we are scared or upset someone is apt to tell us to ‘just take a deep breath’, during labour a mom is instructed how to breathe, playing a wind instrument or singing requires breath control, as does swimming and other sports activity. Anyone with lung problems knows the importance of breathing and breathing properly. However, we don’t often think about why our breath is important in various circumstances and how our breath can affect the body and mind.

According to Deepak Chopra’s information, there are numerous benefits related to breathwork:

  • helps relieve physical, mental, and/or emotional tension
  • causes activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which then slows down your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure and thus causing a sense of calm
  • helps reverse the effects of cortisol and adrenalin (released during stress) and relaxes the body
  • deep breathing can help you slow down the monkeys busy in your brain
  • helps you reach a deeper state of mind; calms the mind and helps you focus
  • helps you attain inner peace and awareness

One of the first things I encourage you to do is notice how you are breathing. When you breathe in you should see your belly rising, and then with breath out, your belly will relax. A good deep breath helps increase the amount of oxygen you are getting and gets more oxygen to the brain – more oxygen, better brain activity.

There are many breathing exercises available. I am sharing a few for you to try if you are healthy. If you have any health concerns check with your physician or healthcare provider before launching into any of these exercises.

Warning!!! If you feel lightheaded at any time stop & breathe normally. Though these breathing exercises are generally safe, if you have any health problems check with your physician before giving any of these breathing techniques a try.

Abdominal/Belly/Diaphragmatic Breathing

  1. Sit or lie comfortably.
  2. Place one hand on your chest & the other hand on your belly, just below your rib cage.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose & feel the air move down & your abdomen rises.
  4.  Breathe out through your mouth. Let your belly relax.

Don’t force the breath in or out. Breathe in & out smoothly. Start with doing this 3 times. Eventually, you can work up to 5 – 10 minutes.

You can do this several times a day for short periods.

Box Breathinga powerful, yet simple, relaxation technique to return breathing to its normal rhythm. May help to clear the mind, relax the body, and improve focus.

  1. Sit or lie comfortably.
  2. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
  3. Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
  4. Begin to slowly exhale for 4 seconds.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times. Ideally, repeat the three steps for 4 minutes, or until calm returns.

Sistali – Cooling Breath – builds breath awareness, is said to calm hunger & thirst. As well as cooling the body, it adds moisture to the system.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Close your eyes, and practice diaphragmatic breathing for several minutes.
  3. Open your mouth & for an “O” with your lips.
  4. Stick out your tongue & curl it into a “U” shape.
  5. Inhale deeply across the tongue, into the mouth as if drinking through a straw.
  6. Focus your attention on the cooling sensation of the breath as your abdomen & lower ribs expand.
  7. Draw your tongue back in & close your mouth, exhaling completely through the nostrils.

Continue Sistali for 2 – 3 minutes. Then return to diaphragmatic breathing for several minutes & repeat cooling breath for another 2 – 3 minutes. You can gradually work up to 10 minutes.

Bellows Breathingboosts your energy, eliminates morning doldrums, and strengthens your immune system. This is not a relaxation practice – it will invigorate you. Don’t do it at bedtime as it could cause insomnia.

  1. Sit comfortably.
  2. Take a few deep, diaphragmatic breaths through your nostrils.
  3. When ready to begin, exhale by contracting the abdominal muscles quickly & forcefully.
  4. Immediately follow the exhale with a quick diaphragmatic inhale of equal force, letting the abdominal muscles relax.

There is a challenge to this breathing technique. You want to coordinate the action of the diaphragm & abdominal muscles, so the air is moving quickly in & out of the lungs. As the abdominal muscles relax at the end of exhalation, the diaphragm contracts to begin inhalation. After your peak inhalation, the abdominal muscles immediately contract.

This exercise takes practice. I find it to be a good abdominal workout. You will have noise as you breathe in & out through your nostrils. Goal: make inhale & exhale equal.

Heart Focus Breathing – is a useful technique that can be used before, during, or after a stressful situation. Heart-focused breathing is about directing your attention to the heart area & breathing a bit more deeply than normal. You can practice this anywhere. In the beginning, you might want to start by:

  1. Sitting comfortably.
  2. Direct your attention to the heart area & breathe a little more deeply than normal.
  3. As you breathe in imagine you are doing so through your heart.
  4. As you breathe out, imagine you do so through your heart.

(In the beginning, placing your hand over your heart as you breathe can help you direct your focus to your heart.)

Breathe in about 5-6 seconds & breathe out 5-6 seconds, or at a rate that is comfortable for you.

We all need to breathe for life. Breathing can be difficult for some, be grateful if you are able to breathe without thinking about it. Then take some time to learn breathing techniques to help you maintain or improve your health.

The Farmer Who Grew Excellent Quality Wheat

I received the following message on FB today. These words are not mine and I don’t know who the originator is. I googled the words and found numerous entries from people who were sharing this message, but I couldn’t find an original. These are great words of wisdom, and wouldn’t it be nice to see much more of this in the world today?

There was a farmer who grew excellent quality wheat and every season he won the award for the best grown in his county. One year a reporter from the local newspaper interviewed the farmer and learned that each spring the man shared his seed with his neighbors so that they too could plant it in their fields…“How can you afford to share your best wheat seed with your neighbors when they are entering their crops in the competition with yours?” the reporter asked….“Why that’s very simple,” the farmer explained… “The wind picks up pollen from the developing wheat and carries it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior wheat, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of all the wheat, including mine. If I am to grow good wheat, I must help my neighbors grow good wheat”…The reporter realized how the farmer’s explanation also applied to peoples’ lives in the most fundamental way… Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

Neuroplasticity, Development, Leadership Do They Go Together?

I love this topic. Neuroplasticity is incredibly interesting and holds so much potential for our development. What more will we be able to do? How will neuroplasticity influence our health in areas such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, autoimmune disorders, brain injuries, and mental health? According to Britannica:

… neurogenesis has spurred an interest in stem cell research, which could lead to an enhancement of neurogenesis in adults who suffer from stroke, Alzheimer diseaseParkinson disease, or depression. Research suggests that Alzheimer disease in particular is associated with a marked decline in neurogenesis.

Interesting information I recently found can be accessed through the following link neuroplasticity. This is an easy-to-understand one page of information I hope you will read and learn a bit more. As someone with autoimmune disorders, in remission from cancer, and a long history of depression I am excited to check out all the possibilities.

I have confidence that with my ongoing use of HeartMath and incorporating neuroplastic behaviours into my routine I will see amazing improvements in my health. There remains much to learn about neuroplasticity and according to Positive Psychology there are two main types of neuroplasticity:

  • – Structural neuroplasticity, in which the strength of the connections between neurons (or synapes) changes.
  • – Functional neuroplasticity, which describes the permanent changes in synapes due to learning and development.” (Demarin, Morovic, & Bene, 2014)

Of course, neuroplasticity is not going to cure everything. Britannica goes on the suggest, some neural functions seem to be hard-wired in specific locations of the brain, while other neural networks are able to deviate from their specific functions and reorganize themselves.

The information I have found points to medical uses for neuroplasticity. The information tells us about developing new neural pathways. This suggests an opportunity for our personal and professional development, education, leadership development. The way our brains work allows us to jump to conclusions. This could be connected to the notion that the brain loves patterns. We will go along with those already formed patterns whether they are right or wrong. The things we have learned can result in unconscious bias and judgmental behaviour resulting in low workplace morale. (Reference)

Leaders need to be on the ball, life-long learning is a must for a leader to be truly successful and a true leader. Neuroplasticity can be implemented in ways to promote a positive work culture “where every worker feels valued and respected, helping employees to thrive“. What employer wouldn’t want that? If this can be done in the workplace it seems to follow that the same or similar approach could be used in numerous areas i.e. education, communities, family, and other relationships.

Where else might we be able to incorporate what we are learning about neuroplasticity?

How does neuroplasticity work with the heart-brain connection? How can it be used with HeartMath(R)?

I encourage you to keep seeking information about neuroplasticity and its uses to help us all achieve the beautiful life we deserve.

Let’s work together to make a start at achieving your beautiful life – be what you want to be – do what you want to do.
Follow me on: LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-elaine-leads-nurses/ or FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/fromtheheartwithdrelaine

Synchronicity

Image from Lonerwolf

Has something like this ever happened to you? You have been thinking about your friend, whom you have not seen in years, and they contact you.  


Psychologist Carl Jung introduced synchronicity.


What is it?
“Synchronicity is a phenomenon in which people interpret two separate—and seemingly unrelated—experiences as being meaningfully intertwined, even though there is no evidence that one led to the other or that the two events are linked in any other causal way. Though many people perceive signs or spiritual meaning in synchronistic events, most scientists believe that such events are more likely coincidences that only seem meaningful due to aspects of human thinking such as confirmation bias” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/synchronicity)

We don’t need to seek synchronous events, we merely need to be aware. If the whole idea of synchronicity seems a bit strange there are other ideas that are somewhat similar: “grace, serendipity, extra-sensory perception, miracles, divine providence, and being in The Flow. They occur without conscious effort; but, what if you could attract or anticipate these experiences to benefit yourself or your organization? There are a few things you can do to cultivate more synchronicity in your life. Tom Zender, in Phoenix Business Journal, gives some ways to cultivate more synchronicity. Stay in the present moment, be authentic, and allow your intuition to help guide you:

  • Believe in your idea with a feeling that it will have a positive effect on you and your organization.
  • Give shape to the idea by visualizing a positive result from implementing the idea. See how the idea can actually work.
  • Ponder the idea, share it with others, and get some feedback. Often, input from others will enhance the idea.
  • Spend time to clarify how the new idea can be implemented. Feel what it would be like to have the idea working perfectly.
  • Allow the idea to rest – let go of it.
  • And when the inner “nudge” happens, act upon the idea.

Examples:
You have just received your last check from unemployment when suddenly a job comes along.
You walk into a book store not knowing what to buy, and the book you need falls from a shelf and practically hits you over the head.


You don’t need to have any belief or thought about synchronicities, but I encourage you to pay attention when they occur. Who knows what you might discover? Sometimes getting out of our head and paying attention to what our heart, gut, and events are suggesting can be well worthwhile.


#leadershipdevelopment#coaching#psychology#heartmath


Brain Fitness

I recently wrote about Neuroplasticity. I’ve done more reading and am sharing what I have discovered. I found a fitness program for my brain, and it is provided by HeartMath, of which I am a Certified Trainer, Coach, and Mentor.

According to Amen (2013) “The brain is an organ of loving, learning and behavior, and so is the heart”.

As I get older, I notice my brain is not performing as well as it once did, like my body. I also found things I can do to help my brain be in better shape. Having read that cognitive decline starts in our mid-twenties I can understand why my brain might need some work. We can continue to be alert and be developing our brainpower into our 80s and 90s. I have a few good years yet and who knows, maybe I can keep going past that 90 mark.

To understand Neuroplasticity, you need to know the word Neurogenesis: the regeneration and growth of new brain cells. Neurogenesis goes hand in hand with neuroplasticity. One way to stimulate neurogenesis is through activity – physical activity –

“Aerobic activities such as running, cycling, swimming, and even sex, are effective ways of boosting neurogenesis.” (5 Ways to Boost Your Neurogenesis, 2018). Additional ways of encouraging neurogenesis include environment, diet, psychoactive substances, and meditation. More information is needed for a better understanding of how these ways boost neurogenesis. (Caution: Though most of these are harmless, you might want to be careful with psychoactive substances, most are illegal and are still being researched, and have not been approved for medical use. I am not sure about the reliability of the site from which I retrieved this information. I strongly suggest peer-reviewed research for further clarification.)

A current article by Dana Smith, supporting the above-mentioned ways to stimulate neurogenesis was found in MIT Technology Review, Sep/Oct2021, Vol. 124 Issue 5, p30-33.

Through neurogenesis, neuroplasticity is possible. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adjust and refurbish itself. Some of us older folks, the baby boomers, have been learning how to manage our emotions, listen to our hearts, and become able to enhance our creativity, problem-solving, and discernment abilities. We can continue to learn as we age.

We have been hearing the negative effects of COVID-19 on our mental health: And remember if it affects your mental health, it is also affecting your physical health. We need positive emotional states to help us improve and maintain our cognitive functions. To slow down cognitive decline, we want to ensure we have social support – consider volunteering in your community – to fulfill this suggestion, another way is to learn emotional self-regulation (I can help you with that). Keeping a positive outlook benefits our health by improving the processing of information in our brain and nervous system. All three of these suggestions work best if you do them all. You don’t have to start everything at once, take your time and start with what works best for you.

We want to spend more time being in a positive state than in a stressful state. Some examples of the two are:

Positive Outlook: hopeful, appreciative, joy, caring, compassion, excitement, and loving

Stressful Outlook: irritation, frustration, resentment, anger, worry, fear, or apathy

As I became interested in neuroplasticity and reading as much as possible, I had no idea that I already had tools to help me train my brain. I have been using several of the HeartMath tools for numerous years. There are some specifics I want to review, identifying what each tool is promoting in my brain. Being aware of how these activities work for specific areas/functions such as Freeze-Frame for decision making, or Quick-Coherence for resetting after a challenging situation will no doubt guide me in encouraging neurogenesis to develop some areas of my brain that could use a tune-up.

Watch for more from me about our heart, brain, neuroplasticity, and what evolves from this fascinating area of our lives.  

Amen, D. (2013). HeartMath Brain® Fitness Program. HeartMath.

References

How to Train Your Brain

I recently blogged about Neuroplasticity. I’ve done more reading and am sharing some of what I have discovered with you. I found a fitness program for the brain, and it is provided by HeartMath(R), of which I am a Certified Trainer, Coach, and Mentor.

According to Amen (2013)

“The brain is an organ of loving, learning, and behavior, and so is the heart”.

Radiant Life Chiropractic

As I get older, I notice my brain not working as well as it once did, like my body. I’ve also learned that there are things I can do to help my brain be in better shape. Having read that cognitive decline starts in our mid-twenties I can understand why my brain might need some work. We can continue to be alert and develop our brainpower into our 80s and 90s. I have a few good years yet and who knows, maybe I can keep going past that 90 mark.

We can’t talk too much about Neuroplasticity without the word Neurogenesis: the regeneration and growth of new brain cells. It goes hand in hand with neuroplasticity. One way to stimulate neurogenesis is through activity – physical activity –

“Aerobic activities such as running, cycling, swimming, and even sex, are effective ways of boosting neurogenesis.” (5 Ways to Boost Your Neurogenesis, 2018) https://www.neurotrackerx.com/post/5-ways-to-boost-your-neurogenesis. Additional ways of encouraging neurogenesis include environment, diet, *psychoactive substances, and meditation. I will do more reading to get some details on these suggested ways to boost neurogenesis. (*Caution: Though most of these appear harmless, be careful with psychoactive substances, most are *illegal and are still being *researched, and have not been approved for use. I am not sure about the reliability of the site from which I retrieved this information. I strongly suggest peer-reviewed research for further clarification).

A current article by Dana Smith, supporting the above-mentioned ways to stimulate neurogenesis was found in MIT Technology Review, Sep/Oct2021, Vol. 124 Issue 5, p30-33. Through neurogenesis, neuroplasticity is possible. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adjust and refurbish itself. Some of us older folks, the baby boomers, have been learning how to manage our emotions, listen to our hearts, and become able to enhance our creativity, problem-solving, and discernment abilities. We can continue to learn as we age.

We have been hearing the negative effects of COVID-19 on our mental health: And remember if it affects your mental health, it is also affecting your physical health. We need positive emotional states to help us improve and maintain our cognitive functions. To slow down cognitive decline, we want to ensure we want to have social support, also consider volunteering in your community, and learn emotional self-regulation. Keeping a positive outlook is beneficial by improving the processing of information in our brain and nervous system.

We want to spend more time with a positive, outlook than with a stressful outlook. Some examples of the two are:

Positive Outlook: hopeful, appreciative, joy, caring, compassion, excitement, and loving

Stressful Outlook: irritation, frustration, resentment, anger, worry, fear, or apathy

As I became interested in neuroplasticity and reading as much as possible, I had no idea that I already had tools to help me train my brain. I have been using several of the HeartMath tools for many years. There are some specifics I want to review to identify what each tool is promoting in my brain. Being aware of how these activities work for specific areas/functions such as Freeze-Frame(TM) for decision making, or Quick-Coherence(TM) for resetting after a challenging situation will no doubt guide me in encouraging neurogenesis to train some areas of my brain that could use a tune-up.

Watch for more from me on our heart, brain, neuroplasticity and what evolves from this fascinating area of our lives.  

If you want more help training your brain schedule a chat at your convenience: https://calendly.com/fromtheheartwithdr-elaine

References

Amen, D. (2013). HeartMath Brain® Fitness Program. HeartMath.

Neuroplasticity: Train Your Brain

Why would someone want to retrain their brain? A few reasons could be to overcome depression or anxiety, learn new physical skills, improve memory, and build your resilience. This is an area in which I have had an interest for many years before I ever heard the word ‘neuroplasticity’.

Brain Training Presentation Skills  - geralt / Pixabay
geralt / Pixabay

In the past scientists did not think the brain continued to develop after childhood. Now, it is known that the brain continues to grow and develop through life. How exciting! Knowing that the brain continues to grow and develop: What are you going to do? There is so much to do and to investigate, let your curiosity run wild. There is much to learn and changes to be made.

I am not well-versed in neuroplasticity, but I have several articles to read and plan to investigate what we might be able to do. According to Psychology Today

The importance of neuroplasticity can’t be overstated: It means that it is possible to change dysfunctional patterns of thinking and behaving to develop new mindsets, new memories, new skills, and new abilities.

Psychology Today

This sounds incredibly beneficial to those with mental health concerns; neuroplasticity is a foundation for mental health treatment (reference: Psychology Today) I am also wondering about skills – what kind of skills can be learned? Can someone who has had a stroke recover more than we have thought in the past? I also wonder about developmental concerns – this sounds like another area that would be of great benefit to many. I guess I can’t blame my advancing age on my memory concerns – time for me to find out what I need to do to develop some new neural pathways. After all, we can continue learning throughout our life. The information related to age and memory suggests lifelong stimulation could well be a way to decrease memory loss, dementia, and disorders such as Alzheimer’s and maintain optimal brain health. I think I exercise my brain quite well on a regular basis, but I might need more as I certainly notice my memory is not as good as it once was. On the other hand, maybe I just have a lot of information stored there and I need to clean out some files. Or are our devices that store phone numbers and other information for us eroding our neural circuits to where they are no longer functioning in an optimal manner?

As a Leadership Coach, and HeartMath Trainer, Coach, and Mentor among my specialties – helping people build resilience. Psychology Today had the following information about the brain’s ability “…to change and grow in response to experience enables people to bounce back from setbacks and adversity – to be resilient.”

Severe stress, trauma, or worry can disrupt neuroplasticity. This disruption is characteristic of depression and PTSD. An example given by Psychology Today is that of former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who after her shooting was unable to speak, but through therapy had regained her ability to express herself.  This information suggests to me another reason why it is important for each of us to learn how to use our brains for optimal wellbeing and to manage our responses to concern and adversity.

How do we stimulate this neural plasticity, so we get the most possible benefit? Physical activity. And you thought I was going to say mental activity. Aerobic exercise helps both the heart and the brain. Aerobic exercise helps the brain stimulate the release of “brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which sets in motion the growth of new synaptic connections and bolsters the strength of signals transmitted from neuron to neuron. (Reference: Psychology Today)  I think we all know that the human body wasn’t meant to be sedentary, we are built to move.

Are you always happy with the way you respond? Do you say things you don’t mean when you are angry or upset? Are you at a loss for words when someone challenges you? Do certain things trigger you to feelings of sadness, anger, frustration? You can change how you respond. A few simple steps to retraining: 1) Identify the response you want to change – name it. 2) Identify the response you want to develop. 3) Explore what could decrease the undesired responses and boost the desired responses. 4) Practice the new desired response until it becomes natural to you. Let me help you with this process, sometimes we can’t quite grasp how to do these steps, as simple as they seem. You do need to be focused, aware of what you are doing, what you want.

Let’s talk more about this and see what we can do: Give me a shout drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach

Hope: Looking Forward to 2022

Another year coming to an end. The passing of time; so quick as you get older, so slow when you are young. We’ve gone through a lot in our lives – good, bad, and so-so. The past couple of years has certainly challenged most of us in a variety of ways. What have we learned from the challenges?

I’ve learned that there is far more dissension than I thought. Masks, vaccines, conspiracy, are only a few of the items that have elicited the numerous disagreements in the world. Nonetheless, hope remains.

Our hopes can range from big to small, from personal to international. For what are you hoping?

I am a Life and Leadership Coach, and a Certified HeartMath® Trainer, Coach, and Mentor, and as such I continue to hope for a world of love, peace, kindness, caring, respect, compassion, and cooperation. I will continue to encourage and guide others to focus on gaining control of their responses as they work toward a life of love, health, and prosperity (not necessarily money).

It is easy to lose hope, or for hope to wain during these times of chaos. That sounds pretty normal – after all, how could we appreciate the benefits of hope if we don’t experience disillusion from time to time. But don’t let that disillusionment become your norm. We can learn to have hope, even when we have been let down (and I’m sure we have all been let down at some time).

I recently received this email message from HeartMath® which prompted me to write about hope.

Having hope is important, but it’s time to start creating forward steps along with it – not just waiting for hope to put solutions on our doorstep. A good first start is to begin expressing more care and compassion and bringing it to the street in our day-to-day interactions, then the rest will unfold….We were born to love, respect and cooperate with each other, and collective humanity is starting to move in that direction, although it may not seem like it at this time. Sara Childre

(https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgzGllMDQTCFhstXPfRJlXWdchbSL)

Learn to listen to your heart and heed its guidance. Our hearts are quite brilliant. They send more messages to the brain than the brain sends to them. Something to think about, something to learn about. We have more control over our lives than we know. I suggest we keep delving into that theory and see how we can improve our lives, the lives of our family and friends, and the lives of the world population.

To increase hope for a better future, we can learn to connect with our available heart’s guidance that’s within all of us. This connection born from love and care, can unfold the higher qualities of life we are looking for, and increased joy and fulfillment. Sara Childre

(https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgzGllMDQTCFhstXPfRJlXWdchbSL)

Build trust in your heart and the intuitive guidance it can give you. Believing in your heart’s intuition will help you reveal those qualities of life, joy, and accomplishment.       

Several of the HeartMath® Techniques can help you become aware of your heart’s intuition i.e., Quick Coherence Technique ®, Heart Lock-In Technique®, or Freeze Frame Technique®. I can teach you these techniques and many more that will help you be in control of your responses and connect with your heart.

Are You Stressed This Festive Season? What to Do

Our beautiful Sadie enjoying our backyard.

The festive season, whatever that means to you, comes at the same time every year. Yet, for some reason, many of us seem to be caught off guard and aren’t ready. We experience stress as we work at decorating our homes, shopping, and wrapping gifts, baking, and organizing and attending parties – and I have probably missed something from that list. The end of the year is also approaching and for many that means the end of a business year and lots of bookwork and deadlines. For students and teachers, there are final exams and the marking of those exams. Good grief – so much going on.

Will we never learn?

How do you handle the extra work and the stress?

We all experience stress, there are stressors every day. Some of our stressors are small and we don’t notice them – though they do build up. At this time, we might want to identify the stresses of the season and figure out what we can do to really make this a joyous, beautiful festive season.

Another person’s stress might not be the same as yours. I know some people get excited about decorating their homes, baking, shopping, and parties. But, for many, it is an overwhelming amount of work and stress.

Our coping methods also differ. There are a wide variety of methods to deal with stress, but they are not all equal. Some coping methods are also not good for our health.

With the season comes parties which include food and alcohol, and maybe recreational drugs. These tend to not be good for your body if overdone.

Not so good coping mechanisms – Smoking, Alcohol, Drugs (prescription and recreational).

Coping mechanisms that can be good or not so good – depending on how much you do them – Sleep, Watch TV, Hole up in your bedroom, Ignore the stress, and carry on.

Better coping mechanisms can include – Exercise, being with Friends/Family, Read, Meditating, getting a Coach, Praying, get a Massage.

Distinguish helpful from harmful. What really works for you? If you aren’t sure what works, take some time and become aware of when you are stressed and what you do to help you cope.

Great, you have this year under control now. But will it be the same next year – too much to do, too much to eat and drink, too much spending?

Consider taking time, reflecting, and discussing with your loved ones what can be done to make this a fun, joyous, and beautiful time.

Traditions – outdoor fun like tobogganing, building that snow person, cross-country skiing, skating or if you are in a warm climate, swimming, hiking, walks on the beach, water skiing. Maybe the tradition of watching a Christmas movie on Christmas eve or day, or board games. Spiritual practices can help alleviate some of the frantic activity of the season.

What if we were to spread the joyous season out to cover the entire year – what would that look like. Family get-togethers and small gifts more often throughout the year. Getting together with friends more often would be nice (depending on what COVID is doing of course). All the activities we cram into a few days could be spread out over the entire year.

That doesn’t have to leave us without a special celebration. Decide what you want to celebrate, and how. Also, think about your values and align your celebrations with those values to get the greatest benefit. I love the food of the season, but I don’t necessarily have to prepare all of it, and I could enjoy it at other times throughout the year; I love the time with family and friends, but it doesn’t all have to be done in a day or two or even a week. Re-think that special meal and divide the duties. We have learned over the last 2 years that we can visit virtually – not quite the same, but it can be done and might be better for the planet and the pocketbook. You can decide you don’t have to do everything on one day and spread it out for the time(s) that work for you.

For years I worked on Christmas Day. The father of my children and I had divorced. His family celebrated big for Christmas, and we figured it was more fun for the kids to spend time with their dad and his family. And, by my working someone else would be able to spend time with their family.

Do what you can to make this a beautiful and joyous time.

Contact me if you need some help cutting back or reflecting on the past year and deciding to make 2022 a better year.

Enjoy this festive season, no matter how you celebrate.

Has Your Work Increased Over Time?

When you started your job, you probably had a fairly good idea of your job description and what your work would involve. You knew that as you became more competent at the various /tasks you would have more responsibilities added till you were proficient in your role.

You are starting to find this a bit too much for you to manage. You are becoming tired, less enthusiastic about your job, and the stress is starting to get to you. You are asking yourself, “how did I get into this situation”?Have you heard about boiling a frog?

You have become proficient and taken on the additional tasks and projects given to you. You have done well and are proud of yourself. Now the additional jobs and projects are becoming more frequent and many are now expected of you and added to your responsibilities.

Recipe for Boiling a Live Frog

Ingredients

  1. One live frog
  2. One pot large enough to cover the frog with water
  3. Enough water to cover the frog

Fill the pot with water. While waiting for the water to boil, catch your live frog. Once the water is boiling, drop the frog in the water. Boil till done.

Comment:

My frog jumped out of the water; I don’t think your recipe works.

Response:

My goodness, everyone knows you can’t boil the water first. You must put the frog in the pot of room temperature water, then bring the water to a boil.

Why Have I Given You This Information? What Does This Have to do With the Changes to Your Work Responsibilities?

More than once I have ended up in such a situation. One time when I moved on two people were hired to replace me. Has this happened to you? As in the opening description, I took on one more thing, then one more thing, and it continued – after all, how much time can just one more thing take? One little task, no problem.

More tasks are given to you and you are managing them quite well, but you are getting tired. You are no longer sure if this is the job you want. Your family is complaining that you spend too much time working and that you are too tired to do things with them when you get home.

What has happened here? Just like the frog, the heat was slowly turned up, you didn’t even notice until it was too much and you were done – just like the frog.

What can you do about this type of situation?

You might have been in the job for years and you are satisfied. You are working in a field of your choosing. When you first started you were excited to go to work every day. Some of that initial enthusiasm has worn off now as your workload has increased and no longer aligns with your values or the direction of your goals. It is not too late. You can start now to set your boundaries. Of course, it is difficult to backtrack, but it is possible. A carefully thought-out plan is needed, and this plan begins with an open mind, courage, and a clear understanding of your values and goals. What is important to you? What are your priorities? This can be a hefty task and you might want to get a bit of help.

Know your boundaries (ideally from your first day of work, but it is never too late). I suggest you go back to look at your values. Is the job in alignment with your values? As you determine your boundaries are they in alignment with your values and goals?

Guidance at such a time might be valuable. This is where a coach or mentor can come in handy. Give me a shout and let’s figure out what you want to do and how you will go about getting what you want.

drelaine@drelaineleadership.com

Follow Your Heart

I’m sure you have heard this somewhere, at some time. But what does that mean? To me it means living from my heart. That still might not be enough to give you a good understanding. Let me tell you more.

Our mind/brain tends to rule us like a dictator. When we follow the brain, we are ruled by what we have learned and what has been handed down over the years; this influences our understanding, actions, reactions, and decisions. When you think of actions and reactions think about emotions. So often we react to our emotions only to later regret our actions. We don’t need to do that; we can learn to reprogram our brains and respond rather than react. By reprogramming our brain, we can then respond in a way that aligns with our values, in a way that we choose, in a way that will lead us to be the person we want to be. By constantly following your brain there is a good chance that you are doing what you have always done. We know where that will lead – to the same results you have always gotten.

For example: Stress often causes people to react (respond) by habit to challenging situations with anger, resentment, frustration, hurt feeling. We know these behaviours are destructive, to both you and the receiver.      

https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/the-math-of-heartmath/heart-based-living/

The term Heart-based living can mean something as simple as including your hearts’ intuition, your mind, and your values as you make decisions/choices. Your heart has wisdom in its/your feelings you want to learn to discern this wisdom and find the guidance to make that process easier (HeartMath is one source of guidance).

What would it look like to follow your heart? What would others see?

Love, compassion, kindness, patience, forgiveness, cooperation – these are a few of the qualities you might see in yourself when you begin to follow your heart, and you can look for these qualities in others.

You do not need to follow any specific religion to follow your heart. Following your heart is an intelligent way of living that can help reduce stress, separation, and greed which are the drivers of our major problems (think world, and then focus on your community, then yourself).

The information in this blog is from https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/the-math-of-heartmath/heart-based-living/

Love Makes the World Go Around

porapak-apichodilok

Is it love or money that makes the world go around? Or might it be something else? I shared my thoughts on money making the world go around, now my thoughts on love making the world go around.

Check out Dion Jackson’s song ‘Love Makes the World Go Around’. I like to believe it is love that makes the world go around, if it isn’t it should be. Yes, we can be hurt by love. I’ve been there a time or two. But I am better for having loved and been hurt than to not have loved.

Love is a great feeling, regardless of what kind of love it might be, whether we are giving love or receiving love. The love of your parents or children, of your partner, or a friend. As I searched to find out what others had to say about love I found eight types of love. 1) Passionate love (Eros), 2) Deep friendship (Philia), 3) Self-love (Philautia), 4) Enduring love (Pragma), 5) Universal love/ selfless love (Agape), 6) Familial love (Storge), 7) Playful love (Ludus), 8) Obsessive love (Mania).  Other than obsessive love, all love is positive.

What if love were the foundation of all relationships? What would that look like? In a romantic relationship, if we always treat the other person with love, and also love ourselves, it seems we would be able to work through just about anything. Though partners might decide they no longer want to be together, for whatever reason, that break can be much better for everyone if done with love. Friends can do the same thing. What about our jobs? If you don’t love your job, would it be a good idea to change jobs? Even if you do love your job, if you are not treated with love you might want to consider leaving.

Could our world leaders really go to war if they considered the love of others? Maybe different solutions could be found if war or embargos were not an option.

As COP26 enters its second week, can you imagine how different it might be if everyone loved our earth and all the people and animals it holds? A very different outcome could be a real possibility if we came at the challenges from a place of love.

All You Need is Love according to the Beatles. And some health experts agree we need love. There are 10 ways in which love improves your health 1) fewer doctor visits, 2) less depression and substance abuse, 3) lower blood pressure, 4) less anxiety, 5) natural pain control, 6) better stress management, 7) fewer colds, 8) faster healing, 9) longer life, 10) a happier life. I don’t think we can get those things from money. *

I am going to continue to love; how about you?

*This information comes from a reputable medical site as shown by the display of this image       

Money Makes the World Go Around: Is That What Makes Your World Go Around?

Money Makes the World Go Around, by Liza Minnelli. I remember hearing this song in the movie Cabaret. I enjoyed this song. I don’t remember if I believed it at the time. I now think that money making the world go around is what many people believe and value. Do you believe that? Is money one of your values?

Photo: porapak-apichodilok

I watched Greta Thunberg today, for a few minutes. Her comments were interesting, and I think her intentions are good. She commented on money taking priority over decreasing our negative practices leading to climate change. That caught my attention. I have often thought the same thing. I didn’t hear any suggestions from her, but we need to find practical ways to help our environment.

A bit later I got thinking ‘we are f—ed’. My husband asked why – my response was, ‘because we – humans – seem to put money ahead of everything’.

How much money do you really need? I need money for food, shelter, clothing, water, electricity, gas, sewer, transportation, health care, and education. I also want enough money to look after my dog. I might be missing something, but if I am maybe it is because I don’t need it.

I don’t need to be able to eat out, I don’t need such a big house. I have more clothing than I need. I could easily cut back on these things. I don’t need a tv, definitely not three. I don’t need to go on expensive vacations. I don’t need fancy clothing. What do you need? What do you want? What is important to you?

I want to have a healthy life. I want to be able to spend time with family and friends. I want to be able to help others. Gardening, making my own clothes, cooking, and baking more are all things I enjoy. I love the smell of my clothes when I bring them in from the clothesline. I want to be able to hang my clothes outside and not have them come in smelling of smoke from the forest and grass fires.

How many of our products are polluting the environment? Remember, it isn’t just the ‘weather and climate’ as in coal and methane gas, that are being affected by our activities. Our earth, the soil to grow food, and water are being polluted. Soil nutrients are being depleted. Yet it seems like every day I see something new on the tv (that I don’t need) being advertised and, it seems to me, many of these items are definitely going to pollute the environment in many ways; from the manufacturing process, to the use, and the disposal of these products.

Growing up, and not having a lot of money, I was taught to turn the lights out when leaving a room, electricity was expensive. We had a water meter so no running toilets, or leaky faucets, no running the water while brushing our teeth, and no long showers (we didn’t even have a shower). We don’t think about how much water and electricity cost, let alone what they are costing our environment. At what temperature do you keep your home? Do you have air conditioning, and at what temperature is it set? I remember hearing ‘don’t leave the door open, I’m not paying to heat the outdoors’. If you are cold, you can always put on an extra sweater, or wrap up in a blanket.

Do we have to go back to all the old ways? Not necessarily. I think we must look at those old ways and determine if some of them aren’t better than what we have now, whether it be for money or for the environment.

Money makes the world go around. Or is it love that makes the world go round? Watch for part 2 – Love Makes the World Go Around.

Emotions – Heart – Stress: Be in Charge of Your Emotions!

Tengyart

Stress and negative emotions have been shown to increase the severity of disease and worsen the prognosis. Positive emotions and the ability to self-regulate emotions, on the other hand, have been shown to prolong health and decrease the risk of premature death (Science of the Heart).

What is stress? A state of emotional unease describes stress. You will likely describe yourself as ‘stressed’ when you are experiencing feelings of frustration, anxiety, irritation, lack of control, and hopelessness.   

Ongoing stress can impair your ability to enjoy your life to the fullest and decrease your energy. Emotions activate physiological changes that include the stress response.

We cannot eliminate our emotions. We all have them, and they can make life enjoyable. Our emotions determine what is important to us, what we care about, and what motivates us. Our emotions connect us to others, allow us to be proud of our accomplishments, to be happy doing things we enjoy, and to demonstrate care and kindness. We don’t want to get rid of our emotions. But we also don’t want our emotions to be in control, especially when they are the cause of stress.

Emotions are closely related to resilience. There’s that word again. The HeartMath definition of Resilience is as follows:

The capacity to prepare for, recover from, and adapt in the face of stress, adversity, trauma, or challenge.

Emotions are involved in physiologic changes associated with energy regulation. I’m sure you have at times experienced extreme tiredness after an argument or dealing with disruptive individuals or groups; that is a result of our emotions triggering the stress response. This seems to indicate that to have the best of health we need to be resilient and be in control of our emotional responses.

We can build our physical resilience by increasing our physical capacity. This can be done by walking farther, walking faster, increasing your weights or repetitions, swimming farther or faster. How can we build our emotional resilience and capacity? We can learn to develop new responses to stressful situations that will help us retain energy and adapt to what is occurring. The ability to adjust and self-regulate is a skill that can be learned and will help you in building relationships, remaining calm and composed in tense situations, and maintaining your integrity. You will also be able to make clearer decisions. It is when you are stressed, frustrated, or angry that errors are made, and poor decisions occur.

It has been shown that our efforts to self-regulate emotions can produce broad improvements in increasing or strengthening self-regulatory capacity, similar to the process of strengthening a muscle, making us less vulnerable to depletion of our internal reserves.

Keeping this information in mind it would seem that the ability to self-regulate our behaviours, attitudes, and emotions could go a long way to improving our health and our life. According to The Science of the Heart, there is a growing body of scientific evidence linking “mental and emotional attitudes, physiological health and long-term well-being.”

I’m all for building my resilience and have been working on it for several years. Despite many challenges along the way I firmly believe that my resilience has improved. I am in much better control of my emotional responses. Am I in control all the time? Of course not, I am human and far from perfect, but the overall effect has been good for me. Building resilience isn’t difficult, but it does require ongoing effort. In minutes a day, you can build your resilience.

I received this video today and am sharing it with you – it suggests a great way to start and end your day, and to use any time in-between and can be done quickly.

Achieve More Inner Stillness


Our Heart: Pump, Emotions, Stress, Energy

Our Heart: Pump, Emotions, Stress, Energy

Just like our brain, we all have a heart. We know our heart acts like a pump to circulate blood throughout our body. We know that we can have heart attacks and other cardiac diseases.

Something many do not know is that the heart and brain communicate and that the heart communicates with the brain more than the brain communicates with the heart.

When you are feeling stressed, your heart is involved along with your brain. Our emotions influence our hearts and brains. The heart is an electrical system. This shouldn’t surprise you because the ECG (electrocardiograph) that traces our heart rhythm is tracing the electrical rhythm of our heart. The functioning of the brain can also be examined using an EEG (electroencephalograph), which measures the electrical functioning of the brain. Muscles are also measured electrically. We are made up of electrical energy.

Enough about the electricity for now. Next, a bit of information about how our heart and brain work together when we are experiencing stress.

What is stress and how do you know if you are experiencing stress? Definition of stress:

In a medical or biological context stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure). Stress can initiate the ‘fight or flight’ response, a complex reaction of neurological and endocrinologic systems.

Definition of stress:

Stress affects many areas of our body. Remember too, that all areas of the body are connected. We cannot separate our mind and mental health from our body and physical health. Our emotions affect our brain, mind, and mental health which in turn affect our body. Stress can lead to physical illness and physical illness can lead to stress. A bit of a vicious circle.

Researchers have discovered that our emotions are a result of our hearts and brains working together. Neurocardiology (a specialty of how the brain and heart interact) research has determined that the heart is a sensory organ. The heart can learn, remember, and make independent functional decisions that do not involve the cerebral cortex. (2003. McCraty, R. energetic-heart.pdf  Institute of HeartMath.)

Our emotions drain our energy. Think about it, when you have had a disagreement with someone, you will often feel tired and make poor decisions. Afterward, we are apt to say to ourselves (maybe even to others) ‘what was I thinking?

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”
— Hans Selye

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/stress-and-heart-health

The HeartMath™ System (programs, techniques) includes methods of mental and emotional self-regulation and energy management techniques that lead to a restructure of neural (nervous system) circuits. The techniques assist in the alignment of our mental, emotional, and physical systems. All the techniques affect several areas of the brain: amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and thalamus and improve the synchronization of the heart-brain, hormonal balance, the autonomic nervous system, and vagal pathways. Breathing is a vital component of the HeartMath™ systems. But HeartMath™ is much more than breathing. Remember, our heart and head are communicating with each other.

One of the goals of drelaineleadership.coach and HeartMath skills is to guide you to increased internal awareness. Everyone deserves to have a beautiful life that includes self-awareness and limited stress. You can be in control of your emotional responses.

Stress often leads to us adopting poor coping behaviours that can increase our risk of heart disease and stroke. Some poor coping behaviours include smoking, alcohol, drugs, overeating, absence of physical activity, unhealthy diet. Being overweight, and not taking your prescribed medications as per your doctor’s instructions are also symptoms of stress.

Stress can show up in your body as a headache, back strain, painfully tight shoulder muscles, and stomach pain. Other things that stress can do to you include zapping your energy, create sleep problems, and adding to crankiness, forgetfulness, and not being as in control of yourself as you would like. A chain reaction begins:

Stress > release of adrenalin and cortisol > increased heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure

You are prepared to fight or flee even though there is no physical danger, no lions, or tigers, or bears.

There is a large body of information and research about stress and ways to manage our emotions. I will continue to share information about stress, emotions, the heart-brain connection and how to take control of your emotional reactions in future blogs. But just a little bit at a time.