Managing Your Mental Health: An Insider’s Perspective

How can we manage our mental health if we don’t talk about it?  The media has been encouraging us to talk about mental health and reminding us that “it is ok to not be ok.”  But is that the reality?  How well do any of us understand what it is like to live with any disease or disorder?  I don’t think we really understand until we have had the experience.  Nonetheless, we can do our best to learn and to have empathy.  One of the ways to learn is to share stories, facts, and read scientific literature.  With that in mind I am sharing a small part of my story.

I have had depression for over 60 years.  I didn’t get a diagnosis till I was in my late teens, following the birth of my second child.  I have always continued to function, though sometimes with great difficulty, and while in the work force, I never missed a day of work.  To be honest, I deserve an Oscar.  For many years I have been successfully treated with anti-depressants.  Over the last couple of years, I have been weaning myself off the antidepressants, with some guidance from my family doctor.  I don’t want to get off my anti-depressants but to get off as many of my prescribed medications as possible. It is a slow process and sometimes I have had a backslide. But that isn’t the purpose of what I am about to share.

Though I am officially a senior citizen I am not old and believe I have many more fulfilling years to live.  With that in mind I am on a journey to improve my health and my life.  With a background in nursing, I am aware of the basic behaviours and lifestyle choices we need to have a healthy, vibrant life.  I am an avid reader with a wide range of interests and like to keep up with the latest information. 

I wanted to refresh my memory and explore any new options about what is recommended for personal care of my mental health. The National Institute of Mental Health provides these self-care guidelines:

  1. Get regular exercise.
  2. Eat healthy, regular meals, and stay hydrated.
  3. Make sleep a priority.
  4. Try a relaxing activity.
  5. Set goals and priorities.
  6. Practice gratitude.
  7. Focus on positivity.
  8. Stay connected.

These eight basic tips are the basics of all self-care.  Remember, self-care is not selfish. They are not just for mental well-being; they are for overall well-being.  Our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health cannot be placed in silos.  What is happening in one area has an influence on all other areas.  Just as each being on earth is connected, each area of our individual health is connected.  You can’t have one without the other.  These tips are a good start to overall good health.

 There are several Toolkits available from I recommend you look because health is important to having a beautiful, joyful life.

As I go through a period of struggle with my mental health, I reflect on the eight self-care guidelines I shared above.

  1. Regular exercise: This is good but not always possible.  I have some physical issues that have left me severely fatigued. Over time I learned to very slowly increase my activity so that I can do 30 minutes most days. I had been in the habit of extended periods in the gym giving it my all only to find that my physical health was deteriorating.  Eventually I found the reason – autoimmune diseases.  It took me years to figure out how slow I had to go to be able to build up my strength and endurance.  I could not comprehend doing only 5 minutes of exercise to start and work up slowly.  I could not grasp eliminating a second day, just because my body hurt, and I felt exhausted.    I couldn’t comprehend that pushing through was not the way to go.  But after getting downright ill with infections, and fatigue and pain so bad I could barely move I started to see the picture. I didn’t like it and I did not adjust well.  These physical limitations played havoc with my fragile mental health.  Though I have learned how to pace myself better, I still need to be incredibly careful as something like Christmas or putting on a dinner party can take all my energy and leave me fatigued and in severe pain for days. But I am figuring it out. I am learning to be gentle with myself and to rest when necessary, and to ask for help, or order food and skip cooking.  I don’t like not being able to do everything I once did. But if I want to do some of what I once did I have to put limits on my choices.  I often need to take 2 or 3 days to do what I once did in 1 day.
  2. Eat regular healthy meals and stay well hydrated. I have always been a fussy eater, but I know what is healthy and I learned the importance of hydration many years ago.  Despite having a better than basic understanding of a healthy diet I have found that I must remain diligent at reading labels – packaged foods have become so over processed with salt, sugar, and other preservatives it is hard to stay on top. Once again though, I have learned to be gentle with myself and make adjustments one at a time and not rush.  Did you know it can be easier to add one additional good thing to your healthy meal routine than to eliminate something? Add the good thing and have less of the not so healthy item seems to work for me.  Small, consistent changes can lead to long-lasting improvements. When you are struggling, remember it is ok to just do your best, eat what appeals to you.  You can get back to the healthy stuff when you get back on track.  You might not feel much like cooking if you haven’t slept in days and are exhausted and crying – order in – aren’t we fortunate that food can be delivered.  Or popcorn is always good.
  3. Make sleep a priority. Just try this when you wake up in a panic every hour.  A night or two of not being able to sleep because of anxiety and panic can tip you over the top into a spiral of weeping, sadness, and depression.  Keep sleep a priority but know that sometimes our bodies sabotage us. When that happens, call for help and do what you need to do to get turned around and bring the downward spiral to a stop.  If you are having anxiety and panic when you try to sleep, do whatever you have to do to let your body rest.  Then when it is ready, you will sleep.  This might be a set-back for you on your journey to mental wellbeing, but you will get back on track.  I can’t say this enough “Be gentle with yourself.”  And remember, you don’t have to do everything alone – get support.
  4. Try a relaxing activity.  You can meditate, paint, garden, do yoga, read, or even watch tv – you know what you find relaxing.  Make time to do this daily.  If you find yourself in a flare this becomes even more important.  You might have to do the activity or activities for shorter periods but then do more of them. I don’t know about you but when I am going through bouts of anxiety, panic, and depression I can’t concentrate for more than a few minutes.  I can only read a few pages, when watching tv I need to watch something I can rewind to catch what I missed when my brain wandered.  During meetings I speak up and let others know that I’m having trouble concentrating and ask them to be patient with me – you don’t need to go into detail as it isn’t always appropriate to do so.
  5. Set goals and priorities. I encourage goals and priorities to be set in alignment with values.  This has been my practice for several years and I find by doing so my life is aligned with what is important to me.  We can set long-range goals, goals for the year, the month, the week, and the day.  When life is challenging, we can set goals for the next three minutes or the next hour.  Examples: I will drink one eight-ounce glass of water every hour while awake. I will get up and move for two minutes every hour while awake.  Be gentle with yourself when you are being challenged; set yourself up for success. And when you succeed, celebrate.  Today I had two small scoops of ice cream and will stay within my calorie goal.  And if you or I should not succeed at reaching a goal today, that is ok, we did not fail, tomorrow is a fresh start.  We can start over as many times as we need to.  We can also re-examine our goals and priorities.  If you are having trouble achieving what you have set up for yourself, maybe those goals aren’t for you, re-examine what you genuinely want and need to be doing.
  6. Practice Gratitude.  Though it is 40 below be grateful your car started or that you can stay inside beside a fire in the fireplace. Be grateful for food to eat, clean water to drink, your loving family – we all have much for which to be grateful.  Write down three to five things for which you are grateful. Example: today I am grateful that I was able to talk to my doctor and they helped me choose my next steps to getting through this difficult period.
  7. Focus on Positivity.  This is similar to gratitude.  But you might need to work on this a bit more.  Not everyone is a glass half full type of person. How can you reframe your negative thoughts?  A good starting place might be how you talk to yourself.  Example: “I’m such a loser, I don’t know how my partner puts up with my depression.” Change that to “I am so glad I have someone who loves me even when times are tough. Afterall, we both know this will pass and I will be happy and smiling again soon.”
  8. Stay connected.  Humans are social beings; we aren’t meant to do everything on our own.  Some of us are homebodies and don’t relish the thought of big parties, even so we need to have other people in our lives with whom to share our lives.  Whether this is in person, over the phone, or with the use of social media, find a few people with whom you connect regularly.  It can be hard to reach out when you are down.  If you are like me trying to talk leads to tears.  However, I attended two positive online meetings today where I turned my camera off, and just put a quick note in the chat that I was having a rough day, but wanted to listen in.  I got great well wishes with love and hugs sent to me.  I truly value those relationships. If there is someone else in your home with you, ask for a hug or to have them just sit with you and watch a show or listen to a song. Just be with someone for a brief period – let their positive energy flow into you.

Staying healthy is a work in progress.  There is always more to learn and do.  As I said earlier, each area of our health is connected, when one area is suffering the other areas will be influenced.  Make yourself a priority.  You do not have to do any of this alone.  I am a life and leadership coach who loves to help guide others to a joyous and beautiful life.  I also have several coaches who help guide me to have a joyful, beautiful life and I value their wisdom, compassion, and empathy. 

When I first saw the list of eight self-care tips under the “Caring for Your Mental Health”  ( site I was a bit taken aback till I gave it further thought.  My first thought being “this is too general.”  Expanding on each of the eight tips has helped me to understand something clearly at last that will shine again and has helped me recognize the importance of taking each tip and figuring out how that tip can work for me. You can do this too.  Though one size does not fit all, each tip gives you the power to adapt it to suit what you need at various times of your life.  A day of rest, rather than your usual work out, comfort food instead of green, extra sleep, or a day to wallow and feel your pain and hurt so that you can move on tomorrow, or a day to just ignore everything you usually do, knowing you will figure out what you need tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.  Be open and accepting of yourself.  You will figure it out.

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

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.


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

2. any confused, disorderly mass

Complexity Theory

modern residential building facades in summer city
Photo by Athena on

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.

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.

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


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?


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.


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

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.

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
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Our Brain and Leadership: Where Does Neuroplasticity Fit?

Leaders need to always be learning. As I continue to delve into information on leadership, neuroplasticity, and synchronicity I am learning unbelievably interesting material. Of course, I will be sharing at least some of what I read with you.

As leaders, we are influencing others all the time and a good leader is cognizant of their attitudes, actions, and words. Leaders also have a large influence on their work environment. With the influence on the work environment leaders also influence the brain development of employees. Self-directed neuroplasticity, according to Bosch (2021), “is the process of the brain adapting to the work we do and how we do it.” As such, leaders want to endeavour to create a positive workplace recognizing peoples’ needs for such things as “autonomy, relatedness, and fairness” (Bosch, 2021). A few steps Bosch (2021) suggests to create a positive work environment include:

  1. Positive feedback in a timely manner
  2. Learning opportunities
  3. Communication – all forms, by everyone
  4. Participation in ideas  
  5. Limited distractions thus allowing people to focus and develop new neural pathways
  6. Necessary breaks encouraging reflection and new thinking – did you know some studies suggest longer hours make people less effective

Knowing that we can continue to develop neural pathways throughout our life we must consider what those pathways will be and how we will develop them. How we use our brain determines what we develop. Just as you train for physical competition, or for a chess game, or a spot on Jeopardy, we exercise and plan. The same must be done to develop the brain. Practice what you want to learn, expose yourself to new ideas, new people, new experiences. Challenge your brain and your memory. Your neurotransmitters need to be kept in balance.

Our brains play a vital role in emotions and memory. Our brain is also involved in our reaction or response to stressors. As I have written about in the past, the heart is also involved. Stress results in both physiological and biological responses with the fight or flight response: increased heart and breathing rate, increased blood sugar, the release of adrenaline and cortisol, our pupils dilate, and we are not able to digest food as easily as blood is redirected to essential areas for survival. When cortisol (the stress hormone) is released this, in turn, releases stored glucose for energy, and over time our immune system is suppressed.

There are ways to adapt our response to stress. I encourage the use of HeartMath and any other techniques that you find work for you. Bosch (2021) identifies the following as ways to help reduce your stress level:

  1. Make your goals realistic
  2. Learn your triggers and how to decrease your response to them, or avoid those triggers
  3. Take time during the day to refresh yourself through calm moments that could include conscious breathing, HeartMath techniques, meditation, go for a walk or other physical activity
  4. Connect with people – friends or family – did you know loneliness increases your vulnerability to stress
  5. Physical activity also reduces levels of adrenaline and cortisol, so make it a regular part of your daily routine

We can do a myriad of things to improve our well-being and as leaders demonstrate to others healthy habits. Include healthy habits with additional activities to build a safe, positive, desired workplace.

I can guide you to learn specific techniques and systems that relate to you and your situation, personally or professionally. We all deserve to live a beautiful life.


Bosch, H. 2021. Why We Do What We Do. EBSCO Information Services –

How Is Your Team Functioning?

I enjoyed and learned a lot from Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you are a leader, a manager, a coach, or at any time have people who look to you for advice, coaching, or leadership I recommend you give it a read.

The Five Dysfunctions that Lencioni identifies are: 1) Absence of Trust 2) Fear of Conflict 3)Lack of Commitment 4) Avoidance of Accountability 5)Inattention to Results.

Absence of Trust: If the team members are open and honest with each other trust will exist. Team members need to be able to share what they might have done wrong, what their concerns are, and any weaknesses they might have. There is a need for vulnerability among the team members.

Fear of Conflict: Many people want to avoid conflict. Conflict can be ok as long as it is respectful and not about a person but about a process or a thing. However, to have open discussions the team members need to trust each other. Passionate debate that is open and respectful can be a great advantage for any team.

Lack of Commitment: How committed would you be to put into action something you thought wasn’t right, but hadn’t had an opportunity to express your thoughts and ideas? If team members haven’t had a chance to freely discuss their concerns or resistance to ideas and to offer other suggestions, they are not likely to have the necessary buy-in and won’t be in a hurry to accept what someone else thinks is right when they disagree.

Avoidance of Accountability: If that buy-in is not present there isn’t commitment, and without commitment, there is no reason to call attention to any errors along the way. If there is no commitment a person won’t be eager to share their own errors let alone someone else’s. Errors need to be out in the open to allow everyone the opportunity to ensure they can be overcome. There might be a need to change a process so the same error is not repeated.

Inattention to Details: Who cares about details if you aren’t in favour of what is going on anyway? Individual needs are put ahead of those identified by the team as their priorities and goals. How many organizations actually do this? The well-being of the employees is essential to having a successful organization. The details of any project will only be attended to by workers who feel valued and cared for.

These Five Dysfunctions build on each other and the first one and all the others start with Trust. How can Trust be built? Before even thinking about building trust everyone on the team will want to examine their personality type and the personality types of the other team members. There are a variety of personality evaluations available for this purpose. I know the DiSC method and am a certified partner, so will refer to it from time to time. Once personality types are identified, and all types are important, then the work of finding out how to get along begins.

Having a functional team takes work from everyone. It is a journey to create the functional team, and the journey will need to be repeated with new team members, and at times with a few new roads.

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


  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.


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


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.

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

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 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.

What is Your Mindset?

Our mindset can lift us up, tear us down, gives us a positive attitude or a negative attitude. Much of our mindset has been instilled in us since childhood. The views of our parents, grandparents, teachers, and other important figures in our life influence us, whether we are aware. Our philosophy of life directs our life experiences. Some people, fatalists, believe that no matter what they do the outcome will be the same. What about you? Do you think you have some control over outcomes? Let’s think about that – if you do not study for exams will the outcome be the same as if you do? Does your diet influence your health? These examples seem obvious. Let’s look at some other ways mindset could possibly influence our life. If you are generally a happy person and find an opportunity or something positive in most situations you have a positive mindset. Those with a positive mindset focus on positive results and good outcomes. For many of us, we prefer to be around people with a positive attitude or mindset. A positive mindset also has health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, the following are attributed to a positive mindset: – Increased life span- Decreased rates of depression- Lower distress levels- Increased resistance to the common cold- Better psychological and physical well-being- Better heart health and decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress. Considering these positive connections, I encourage the development of a positive mindset. Among the ways to build a positive mindset are:- Identify negative thoughts – that’s right – identify the negative, you need to be aware of your thoughts, identify your negative self-talk. – Focus on positive thinking and positive self-talk. Even negative thoughts and self-talk can be turned around to positive thoughts and talk. (Give me a shout, I have some tools for this). Laugh, find the humor in situations (laugh at yourself, not others), surround yourself with positive-thinking people, schedule a couple of times during the day to assess how you have been talking to yourself, and if your thoughts are positive or negative. Remember – what isn’t identified can’t be changed. Can you think of some negative thoughts that can be reframed into positive thoughts? Negative Thoughts Positive Thoughts can’t do that; I’ve never done it before. A great opportunity to try something new. That’s too complicated. I will approach that from a different perspective. I don’t have all I need to do that. I will be creative and workaround or substitute where necessary. I’m never going to get any better than I am now. I will take a chance and try some new things, some self-development courses. That won’t work. That is far out, let’s give it go.No one talks to me, so I never know what is going on. I will make an effort to engage others in conversation and show interest in what is happening. You might also consider watching less news, more comedy, or forget about tv and read positive material. Listen to upbeat or relaxing music. Spend some time outside enjoying nature. If you don’t care for nature, try just a few minutes when the weather is your favourite kind (for me sunny and warm). You can also try meditation. Or try taking a few moments to identify the things in your life for which you are grateful – a roof over your head, food to eat, a job, a family, health, life, your pet. Start a list of these things for the times when you can’t think of anything positive, and you can refer to your list. When you first wake up, or when you are brushing your teeth take a minute to take 3 – 5 deep, slow breaths, and then focus on something positive for another few breaths. It can’t hurt anything, and you might just find yourself feel more positive. I have a variety of strategies for you to try if you would like to feel more positive; direct message me and we can talk.