Mindfulness and Happiness Through Art Making

Mindfulness and Happiness Through Art Making
by Debbie Lyn Toomey

 

Are you a doodler or a dabbler of any arts?

As a visual learner and self-taught artist, I’ve always turned to some form of art making activity to help me quiet my mind and soothe my spirit. I love creating anything with my hands. I love to draw, paint, take pictures, etc. I remember many years ago, in nursing school, I used art to help me study. I used to draw what I learned in my science classes to help me remember what I was learning. For me, using art this way provided me with a positive outlet to help handle my stress. The mindfulness and happiness I experience through art has always been a game changer for me.

Flow

Any form of arts therapy based exercises put me in the state of flow. The concept of flow according to positive psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is the secret to happiness. When you are in the state of flow, you are in “the zone.” The zone is where you are fully immersed in an activity and your whole being comes to life. It’s mindfulness in motion at its best! Being in flow, makes you lose track of time because of the combination of doing something you love and pushing yourself to the next level. Art making is one of my favorite mindfulness practices because it helps me get into the zone and makes me happier.

Participants

As a workshop leader and mindfulness educator, I introduce arts therapy based exercises to my participants. I use art making as another form of mindfulness to help people reduce stress. Mindfulness is being in the present moment purposely and with no judgment. And what better way to explain that definition than through art. I use art therapy based interventions as an avenue for people to add play to their day and to feel better.

Workshops

My signature workshops incorporate positive psychology, the science of happiness and mindfulness, for people of all ages. There is something magical about taking time for art that makes everyone excited. When I pull out the colored pencils and paper and explain the art making technique that I am about to cover, the room is silent and all eyes are on me. It’s a class that everyone absolutely loves! There is a general sense of relief when I explain that not only are they creating art but also experiencing a mindfulness state that reduces stress, increases focus, and boosts their sense of wellbeing.

Creative Process

Art making is not about having a perfect and professional looking master piece. It’s about the creative process that gives way to self-healing, personal transformation, and mindfulness. The process of creation is as important as the end product that reveals so much of what you are not able to put into words.

How to

Here’s how you can access mindfulness through art making and become happier.

1. Preference – Determine what form of expressive art you love. If you don’t have a preference, try doodling. Doodling is spontaneously drawing lines on a piece of paper. Doodling has been found to help with remembering and retaining information.

2. Supply– Have your supplies readily available and accessible. If it is out of sight, then it is out of mind. Keep it visible so that you will remember to do it when you need it most. Have extra supplies at work and in your bag. Set yourself up for success and keep your arts therapy based tools handy.

3. Exercise– When you are doing your arts therapy based exercise, notice the feelings and emotions that you have before, during, and after the practice. What did you learn about yourself and the situation that might have upset you.

4. Masterpiece– Study your art piece and non-judgmentally observe what you did. Are you getting any insights or inspirations? Are there any surprises from what you are seeing?

5. Write– Journal about your experiences to learn more about the art piece you have in front of you. You may start the journal by completing this sentence:

“This art piece is about…” Write for a few minutes until you feel you have flushed out as much hidden meaning as possible from what you just created.

6. Read– When you are done writing, read what you wrote. You will learn more from doing this.

Permission

If the pen is mightier than the sword then, next time you are stressed, pick up a pen (or colored pencil) and make your mark on a piece of paper and express yourself. Give yourself permission to take the time to do this. Pour your feelings and emotions in between the strokes. Notice how you feel during the whole process. The more you do this, the more you will gravitate to it as a stress reducing activity that makes you feel better and happier.

Great News!

If you love to color, my latest book is going to be ready soon! The Happiness Result Art Therapy Coloring Book – Express and Enjoy Yourself is going to be available on Amazon early next week – just in time for the holidays! Get one for yourself. It will be the perfect stocking stuffer for your friends and family.

For instant arts therapy ideas and inspiration, my online course that I created with master trainer, Patrick Howell is ready for you to access at a special price. It is called, Therapeutic Arts: Art Therapy Based Practice for Self-care, Stress-reduction, and Mindfulness. This comprehensive course will introduce you to more art therapy based practices. Here’s the link to help you get started https://www.udemy.com/artstherapycourse/?couponCode=NEWSLETTER .

I hope that you take advantage of the great resources that I provided for you to help you add more mindfulness and happiness to your day. See you in the class.

Art Heals: Express Yourself and Reduce Stress with Art

Art Heals: Express Yourself and Reduce Stress with Art

by Debbie Lyn Toomey


Ever have a terrifying nightmare from childhood that sneaks up on you?

Similar to the usual “falling” dream that some people have, I have one that I call the “Tidal Wave” dream and it happened last weekend. Thanks to art, I was able to rise above the lingering feelings of dread. By drawing and coloring, I literally “drew” out the feelings of uncertainty that stayed with me all morning long.

Nightmare

I hadn’t had this type of nightmare in a long time. I was confused as to why it occurred again. Frankly, I thought I was over that type of dream a long time ago! The last time I had the “Tidal Wave” dream I woke up happy! I was so proud of myself because, instead of being swallowed up by the Statue of Liberty size wave, I was riding the wave with a big smile on my face boldly going where ever it took me.

Transformed

I woke up feeling transformed. That was about 5 years ago when I started to feel more confident and clear about my life’s work (the big “W” work/life purpose one). That was around the time when I started my company Ultimate Healing Journey, LLC, a company focused on motivating and coaching today’s busy people with happiness and mindfulness skills to fuel their success. It was an exciting time!

Wave

Why did the wave dream came back? That dream first occurred when I was much younger; when I didn’t feel strong or sure of myself. Back then, this tsunami size wave would come out of nowhere and swallow me up causing me to gasp for air and fight for my life. I hated that sinking feeling of fright that always stayed with me for days. Although, the Tidal Wave in my recent dream disappeared way before it got to me (thank God!), it still shook me up.

Morning

I thought I was done with this dream! I wondered what could have brought it on. At breakfast, I told me family about it. I always encouraged my family to share their nightmares because I feel it was a good way to chase the nightmares away. In other words, the dark always disappears in the light.

River

After breakfast, my family and I took advantage of an unusually dry and cool August morning and went for a walk down along the Neponset River. The nice day and the cool breeze made it a great day for boaters and fishermen to be out on the relaxing waters. It was such a beautiful scene to watch. I really enjoyed that walk.

Tsunami

Later that day, I found myself sitting at my desk with a blank white piece of paper and a pencil. I decided to draw. The image I started with was the Tidal Wave. It took up 95% of my paper! At the bottom of the page was a tiny stick figure of me as if looking up at the gigantic body of water. I was taken aback when I saw it right in front of me. As I colored this all-consuming wave with my light blue colored marker my breathing soon became fast and shallow. It brought up feelings of frustration and powerlessness and of being overwhelmed! It was strange (and interesting) how my kindergarten looking drawing reflected how I’ve been feeling for the last few weeks.

Stress

The last few weeks have been tiring and tough for me. I did my best to stay afloat of what was going on. I had self-imposed stress such as creating the coloring book companion for my book and trying to get my mindfulness study approved. I also had other stressors that were beyond my control which included dealing with a strange water leak that happened on my birthday and having to go without my car for 2 weeks, helping my 79-year-old mother after having total knee replacement surgery, coping with the fact that my oldest son was ready to move out of our house, and helping my nervous 12-year-old son get excited for his week-long boy scout camping.

Depressed

Thank goodness it wasn’t a typically month for me. Despite my self-care routine of yoga, mindfulness meditation, and gratitude practice, I still felt down and depressed. I hadn’t felt like this in a long time. This became clear as I looked at my finished drawing.

Peace

I decided to draw the image that I saw during my morning walk. On a separate piece of white paper, I drew the river and the boats that were on the water. I found peace in that piece. I outlined the bench that my husband and I sat on and added the shrubs and flowers that were at the river’s edge. As I colored, a deep and soothing breath filled my lungs. It made me smile. Although, my art work was far from being a Renoir filled with pastels and pretty color, it was a relaxing work of art! I noticed my breathing change. It was slower and deeper. There was nothing stressful about my drawing. Then, I took another step.

Feelings

I compared both pictures. I noticed how different they were and how they made me feel. Then, I wrote down on one side of the Tidal Wave picture how the image made me feel. I wrote down my stressors and what caused me sadness. As I listed them, I was surprised at how many I had. The more I wrote, the more my head nodded with agreement.

Balance

I did the same thing with my other drawing. In that one, I wrote down how it made me feel. I wrote that I wanted to have balance, fun, and time to relax and be with my family. Then, I wrote down I how I would like to feel. A couple of ideas came to mind. One was to simplify and slow down my calendar. I created a schedule that included activities and projects that I needed and wanted to do. I made sure I allowed for extra time to rest and have fun. Another idea was to invite my parents over for a homemade pizza dinner so we can see each other and catch up.

Tides

These two drawings were such an eye opener for me. While they were opposites, they gave me an important insight into my internal and downward turbulence. This visual expressive exercise healed me! It freed up so much of what I was feeling in such an innocent and tangible way. I highly recommend this exercise to anyone who is feeling stressed. While a nightmare was the motivator behind my experience, you can start doing this now to determine how you are feeling.

Express

Allow art to heal you from your pain and reduce your stress. All you have to do is express yourself. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art is a form of therapy that helps people “explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.” Don’t let the simplicity of this practice fool you. Art heals and you don’t have to have any artistic talent for it to help you. Any expressive medium can help you such as clay, paint, wood, music, dance, photography, etc.

Benefits

There are many studies that show the beneficial effects of art for healing, stress reduction, and personal growth. Art as form of therapy has helped people with ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum, Age management, Abuse, PTSD, Cancer, and so much more. Art as a form of therapy is found in many settings such as: hospitals, wellness studios, schools, and home. While it is becoming more widely used, it is always recommended for people with mental health problems to seek professional advice before undergoing any sort of treatment.

How?

For those of you who are not under the supervision and care of mental health professionals, there are simple ways to get started. Here’s how you can express yourself and reduce your stress with art.

1. Choose: Pick the expressive art medium that you like and start creating. Allow the medium to move you.

2. Compare: Do a comparison. Have a before and after version of how you are feeling. It could be a past vs. present or bad vs. good version.

3. Clarity: Accept the different feelings that come up and view them with no judgement. This will help you to avoid clouding your mind with any self-limiting or more negative thoughts.

4. Control: Notice how much a sense of calm, control and confidence comes to you with this exercise.

5. Create: Be creative in how you do this practice. Make this practice your own.

Happiness

Go forth and express yourself through art. You will be surprise at just how much better you will feel afterwards. A great way to get started is by coloring and to help you along, The Happiness Result Art Therapy Coloring book will be available to you by the end of the summer. Coloring books have been proven to calm the mind and reduce stress. It’s a great way to combine art with mindfulness. To learn more about its companion book, The Happiness Result. More time, More health, More love, More success go to www.TheHappinessResult.com.

Class

Master trainer and coach Patrick Howell and I are going to be offering an introductory online course on this topic soon. Please stay tuned for more information on this unique and fascinating art therapy class.

1440 Minutes Per Day

A Guilt-free Self-care Tool: Your Edge to Greater Health, Happiness, and Productivity.

By Debbie Lyn Toomey RN, CIPP

I am so busy that I don’t have time to enjoy the nice weather.

I am so busy that I don’t have time to read a good book.

I am so busy that I don’t have time to take a break.

I am so busy that I don’t have time to yadda, yadda, yadda.

If you are like so many others who are stressed from working hard and have little time to tend to your basic needs, then you are not alone. It’s important to take time throughout the day to take care of yourself so that you can become more positive, productive, and have greater peace of mind. It’s simpler than you think. Instead of removing yourself from work to take care of your needs, all you have to do is infuse micro-moments of guilt-free self-care so that you feel good and are able to do good.

1440 minutes/day

I hate to break it to you but no matter how busy you are, you
do have time for self-care. If you don’t claim it, nobody will do it for you. Did you know that you have exactly 1440 minutes a day? So, why not mindfully take a few minutes of self-time so that you can work smarter instead of harder.

Self-Care is “Self-Time”

Some hardworking people haven’t fully grasped the importance of self-care at work. They don’t understand that it is a key component of stress management. Some feel it’s a selfish act or that it’s a waste of time. I disagree. As a Health and Happiness Specialist, I believe that self-care is our edge to a greater health, happiness, and productivity. For those who have a difficult time understanding the significance of self-care, try viewing it as self-time to collect yourself mentally and physically and to take care of your basic needs so that you can be fully present and impactful for the rest of the day.

Self-Care Restores Health

While nobody has the ability to stretch time we do have the power to make time for ourselves. Whether it is 2 minutes of quiet time or one personal day, it’s important to take time to restore your mind-body health. Micro-moments of self-care quiet our busy minds and refuel our bodies.

Self-Care Makes Us Happy

A little bit of self-care can go a long way. It can shift our mentality from feelings of sadness to happiness. Think of the last time you heard your favorite workout tune while sitting in traffic. How did it make you feel? Although you weren’t working out, didn’t it make you happy and feel re-energized? The few minutes that you took listening to that song was self-care! Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. It just needs to be claimed and appreciated every chance we can take it.

Self-Care & Productivity

My new tagline is “Happy Person. Healthy Workplace.” Positivity in the workplace is created by happy workers (leaders included). In order for happy workers to exist, the workplace must make it the expected culture of the workplace for its employees to take breaks and to take time for self-care. According to the Harvard Business Review (March, 2015) Positivity in the workplace leads to greater productivity in the company. Many companies like Google, Yahoo, and Proctor and Gamble are investing money to provide their employees with wellness programs for stress reduction because they understand the importance of having a healthy and happy employee and their impact on the company’s bottom line.

The Edge

Even though you may not be working for companies like Google or Yahoo, here is a quick tip that many of my clients enjoy. I like it because they can do it anywhere and anytime. You can do this technique while getting ready for the day, waiting in traffic, or sipping from your first cup of coffee. All you have to do is to remember to do it. You can begin right now by asking yourself this question.

“What does self-care look like for me today?”

Once you answer the question, allow it to be your self-care promise to yourself that day. Every day may be different depending on what you are doing and who you are with. Self-care for you might be going outside for a 5-minute walk to clear your mind and get some fresh air or it could be closing your office door and turning off all electronics for 5-10minutes for quiet time. Or it could be taking deep breathes on your way to your next meeting. Trust in the answer that comes to you and notice how much better you feel during the day.

Just Ask

Asking this question is simple yet powerful and it can make a huge difference in your day. Try this guilt-free self-care tool for the next week and notice how much better you feel. If you are interested in learning more ways to boost your health, happiness, and success visit www.HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com to learn how we can work together.

 

 

Mindfulness: Decrease Your Stress with Mindful Listening –

Mindfulness: Decrease Your Stress with Mindful Listening

Learn Seven Steps for Better Communication

by Debbie Lyn Toomey

 

In college, many moons ago, I had an English professor who challenged me and said, “listen to your listening.” He said this on the first day of class wearing his summer straw hat and Hawaiian shirt. Professor Nelson was witty, authentic, and a lover of life. He captivated the class as he stood up on top a desk and recited his favorite butterfly poem. When he spoke, everyone listened. It was he who talked to us about the importance of effective communication. To my surprise, listening was the most important part of communication. I didn’t understand what he meant until years later.

Exchange of Energy

As I grew older, I realized he was right! Communication is not just about talking. It’s more than that. It has to do with the exchange of energy and words (said and unsaid) between the parties involved. When the mind, body, and spirit are engaged and when the parties involved are fully present for the other, mindful communication happens. Languages such as verbal, body, and intuition are part of our expression. The more we pay attention and listen to all these aspects of expression, the better.

Difficulties

With so many forms of languages available to us, why is it so difficult to communicate? Perhaps it’s because we have gotten into the habit of thinking we are too busy and feel that we can multitask while someone is talking to us. Maybe it’s because our attention span has dwindled to a mere
8 seconds. Or maybe, we are just so stressed that although we are hearing what the other is saying, we are not comprehending or remembering what was just said. Is being an irritating “squeaky wheel” the only way to be seen and heard these days? I hope not.

On the Go

Although our lives were supposed to be made easier by modern technology, it hasn’t happened. The level of stress that Americans live with has sky rocketed. We are constantly on the go and when we are not busy, we feel guilty. We feel like we always have to be doing something worthwhile with our time.

Source of Stress

Professionals in my corporate wellness training programs complain that communication is one of their sources of frustration and stress. This problem has caused feelings of resentment, staff-splitting, wasted time on valuable projects, and costly mistakes. Poor communication is confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a contributor of workplace stress.

Invest a Few Minutes

One of the best ways to take care of the communication problem is to invest in a few minutes of mindful communication. Here are four ways mindful communication can benefit us.

1. Show appreciation to the other person by fully allowing the other to speak

2. Prevent misunderstanding that can lead to errors or hard feelings

3. Save time by knowing what is being said so that the right action can be taken

4. Foster positivity by modeling respect for each other

Seven Steps

Although communication has become a big problem during our lifetime there are ways to improve it by listen to your listening. Here’s are the seven steps for better communication:

1. STOP: Create the intention of fully listening to the individual

2. LOOK: Be curious and watch his/her body language

3. LISTEN: Listen to what is being said and unsaid. Listen to what your gut instinct is telling you

4. WAIT: Allow the individual to finish his/her thought or sentence before you answer

5. SENSE: Notice your body language. Adjust yourself so that you are fully face-to-face with the individual

6. SUMMARIZE: Repeat what you just heard to make sure you heard correctly

7. REPEAT: Repeat 1-6 as necessary until the message has been fully accepted and received

A Skill

Mindful communication is a skill that is worth cultivating to be successful in life. The more you practice it the easier it gets. To learn more about mindful communication and ways it can enhance your work and life, contact me at debbielyn@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

 

Questions Create Reality

Questions Create Reality
Three Questions You Can Ask to Gain More Positivity and Success in Life

By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN Health and Happiness Specialist™

“Be careful what you ask for.”

“Ask and you shall receive.”

“The answer is in the questions.”

These sayings are so true. We have to be mindful of our thoughts and the words we use in our questions because they will create our reality.

What?

Let me explain. Have you ever stopped to think about the kind of questions that you ask? Do they focus on the negative or the positive? Questions that asks for more negative answers will give you more negativity. On the other hand, questions that seeks positive answers reveal positivity.

Why?

This happens because our mind is obedient. It will find the answers to the questions that we pose. By asking what else can go wrong, our brain will scan for other events or things that can go badly. But if we ask what else do we have to work with or how can we improve on this, our brain will find ways to help rise above the situation.

Where?

One of the best things I learned while studying Positive Psychology is how important it is to focus on the good – especially when asking questions. Positive Psychology is the science of happiness and also the science of optimum human performance and flourishing. Those who practice Positive Psychology learn what is working and create practices that cultivate growth and greatness. Positive Psychologists ask what is right instead of what is wrong. It is from asking these simple yet powerful questions that the skills of happiness, resilience, and success were discovered.

Who?

Next time you ask a question of yourself or others, pause for a second and think about the real outcome that you want. Once you tune into it, pose your question in a positive way so that you will create the reality that you are looking for.

How?

Here are three questions you can ask to gain more positivity and success into your life. They are:

“What went well?”

“What can we learn from this?”

“What is right in this moment?”

I invite you to try asking these questions during the day and notice all the goodness that emerges as the result of this simple, yet powerful exercise. Enjoy reaping all the benefits that will be coming your way.

To learn more ways to gain more of what you want in life, read my book, The Happiness Result- More time, More health, More love, More success. Click here to get your copy today. Contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today to learn how we can work together.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Important for Work/Life Success

Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Important for Work/Life Success
By Debbie Lyn Toomey

“What really matters for success, character, happiness and lifelong achievements is a definite set of emotional skills – your EQ — not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.”  — Daniel Goleman

When I was a little girl, I spent much of my time watching movie classics such as The Ten Commandments, The Sound of Music, Little Women, etc. I loved the stories and admired the way the main characters managed themselves during trying times. I marveled at the way the characters controlled their temperaments and were able to sense how to communicate effectively with their families and their foes. I believe they used emotional intelligence (EQ) to succeed in order to survive.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

I believe these main characters had high EQs. They all had a great sense of self and were able to use that knowledge to control and manage how they related to others. They demonstrated in their own way wonderful leadership qualities such as charisma, humor, and humility. According to Psychology Today, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” While traditionally a high IQ was thought to be the determining factor for success, researchers have recently discovered that people with high EQ have a much higher chance of personal and professional success.

Work and Life

In today’s fast-paced world of anxiety, aggression, and distraction, emotional intelligence has never been more important both at work and in life. EQ can boost levels of happiness, enhance relationships, deepen connections, and improve quality of life. EQ helps you become more resilient and separates the “star performer from the rest of the pack,” according to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

Get Started

Everyone has a certain level of EQ.  Even though there are people who are born with a higher EQ than others, there are ways to increase this talent. Fortunately, experts like Daniel Goleman believe EQ can be learned. When practiced, these skills will strengthen your character and enhance the story of your whole life. While there are many ways to boost your EQ, here are three ways to get started.

  1. Mindfulness– be present. Notice the body language of others and be mindful of your own as well. Listen fully to what they are saying and allow them to talk. Ask questions and relay back what you just heard. Doing this will help them know that you are fully engaged with them.
  2. Self-awareness– know thyself. The more you know and accept your strengths, weakness, and triggers, the more you can manage how you act and interact with others. This will help you during any unforeseen conflicts in life.
  3. Empathy– be in tune. As you talk with someone, pay attention to what the other person is saying and how they are saying it. Tune into the slight changes in their body language, vocal tone, and listen to the words that they are saying. Notice the emotions that you are picking up from them during the interaction. Study the other person carefully.

More

Have fun with these skills. Practice them when at home and at work. Allow them to become a positive habit for you so that you will gain the success that you are looking for. To learn more ways to become more mindful, self-aware, and empathic get my book, The Happiness Result. More time, More health, More love, More success. This book covers seven simple techniques to create your happy and awesome life. For coaching support or to bring a positivity in the workplace program to your company, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

DETOX WITH MINDFULNESS & SELF-COMPASSION: FEEL LIGHTER DURING THE DIFFICULT & HEAVY TIMES

Detox with Mindfulness & Self-compassion:
Feel Lighter During the Difficult & Heavy Times
By Debbie Lyn Toomey


Are you tired of listening to negativity all the time?

Are people around you dragging you down with their complaints and pessimism?

Are you sick of all the depressing stories that the media is constantly telling us?

Constant negativity is toxic. It penetrates our mind, then our heart and eventually our body. Luckily, there are techniques we can use to get rid of the unwanted feelings that are caused by negativity. These two techniques make for a healthy detox that can help you feel secure, supported and stronger during difficult times. The techniques are mindfulness and self-compassion. These two practices have helped me feel more in control and content when life seems bleak and gray.

Heavy Feelings

Negativity is infectious. It makes us feel heavy inside. In fact, according to researchers like Rick Hanson and Barbara Fredrickson, people have a negativity bias. That means negativity stays with us longer than positivity. In order to get rid of the negativity, we need to experience three times more positive feelings than negative. It takes three positive experiences to cancel one negative one. I experienced this when my bad feelings spiraled down from focusing on more and more negative experiences. My happy self was slipping away.

My Medicine

I ate junk food to feel better. Food became my medicine. It was my quick fix. Eventually, this comfort habit made me feel worse when I began to notice my clothes getting tighter and the numbers on my bathroom scale began moving in the wrong direction! Seeing my stress translated into numbers like this was a rude awakening. I realized I had to change the way I managed my stress.

Daily Detox

What I did was a game-changer and made me feel better and happier. The daily detox that I did wasn’t the expensive kind that you buy at the store. My daily detox was free. This mindfulness and self-compassion cleanse allowed me to discern what was good for me and what was not. There are simple ways to do this detox every day.

Here are two ways to get started.

  1. Mindfulness: Increase your self-awareness by being in tune with your body. Notice who or what causes tension to your body. Scan your body and recognize where you hold your stress. Learning how your body responds to stress or any negativity will help you take healthier actions to soothe your stress. One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is by taking deep breaths. Next time you feel your body tightening from too much pressure, stop and take some much-needed breaths.
  1. Self-compassion: Give yourself permission to be human when you get caught up with everyone’s negativity. You are only human, and it happens to everyone. When you notice yourself feeling angry or frustrated, stop and label the emotions that you are feeling. This is a great way to shift from feeling badly to feeling better. Treat yourself like your own best friend; you will be happy that you did.

It is Possible

While it’s impossible to live without negativity in this world, it is possible to deal with it in healthier ways that will give you more control and happiness in your life. I invite you to try this “Daily Detox” to help you feel lighter during the difficult and heavy times.

Extra Support

If you need coaching support to help you with the “Daily Detox” contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com . I also suggest getting my new book, The Happiness Result, More time, More health, More love, More success. This book is a combination of self-help, science, and the power of your intuition to help you gain the happiness you are looking for. Click here to get your copy.

7 MINDFUL GIFTS: “The Present IS the Gift”

7 MINDFUL GIFTS: “The Present IS the Gift.”

How to Reduce Stress and Save Money this Holiday Season.

By Debbie Lyn Toomey

just-for-you

Stop!

Look.

 Listen.

Breathe this holiday season.

Just because it is the busiest time of the year, it doesn’t mean you have to be hustling and bustling. Don’t you do enough of that the rest of the year anyway? One of the best practices to do this time of the year is mindfulness. What better way to fully enjoy the spirit of the season than to combine this graceful technique with gift giving?

New Tradition

This year, I invite you to start a new tradition. I call it “The Present IS the Gift.” This simple tradition will help you reduce the pressure and panic that comes from little time or energy when getting ready for the holidays and buying gifts. Why not “bag” that old negative feeling and shift to a positive one? Replace stress with savoring the moment. And instead of buying expensive gifts that will lose value after a few weeks, try giving priceless ones that will be treasured by both you and the recipient for many years to come. Too good to be true? Not really. In fact, this tradition is guaranteed to be fun for you and those who are lucky enough in your life to receive this special present. This new practice will help you end the year merry and begin the new one with prosperity.

Fun and Free

The practice of mindfulness is about being in the present moment and savoring the experience. So why not add an element of mindfulness to the way you think about the gifts you are going to give? Be creative with your gifts and challenge yourself to make if fun and free. In this day of instant gratification, many people can get what they want 24/7. It’s getting more and more difficult to buy something special for someone. That is why the more unique you can make your gift, the more enjoyable and exciting it will be for both you and the other person. Mindful gift giving ideas are activities that have the power to boost your communication, increase your level of happiness, and enhance your relationships. In other words, a mindful gift is a gift that keeps on giving.

 The Presents

 Here are 7 Mindful Gifts that will get you started in “The Present IS the Gift” tradition.

  1. Date: Dedicate a day for the lucky recipient. If you can, take a day off from work just to spend quality time with him or her. This will give you a break from your normally busy life and make the recipient feel extra special.
  1. Declutter: Out with the old. In with the new. This invites new and positive energy into your special someone’s life. Got friends or family who have been trying to declutter but are too overwhelmed and busy to do it alone? Present them a homemade card that says you will be there to help get the job done.
  1. Donate: Instead of buying gifts for each other. Suggest to your core group of family and friends to donate and adopt a family. Help others in need.
  1. Deed: Create a homemade coupon that promises to do a nice deed. They can pick from any of the following: to look after baby, ailing parent, house, pet, or plant. This will allow your special family member or friend a way to go away without worrying because they know you are looking after who (and what) they care about most.
  1. Deal: Make a deal with your family member or friend to start a mindful practice. It could be doing a 30-day challenge of some sort that will keep you connected daily for a month. This is a win-win deal that will make both you and the recipient motivated to keep moving forward towards your ultimate goals.
  1. Deliver: Write a gratitude letter to someone that inspired and supported you in the past. Deliver this letter to that person and ask the person to read it out loud. This practice has been proven to have lasting feeling of happiness and wellbeing for both the writer and the receiver of this wonderful letter.
  1. Dish: Dedicate a special evening for your loved ones and make a full course homemade dinner for them. This is a great way to spend quality time with the awesome people in your life. Also, you can make and freeze one of their favorite meals and wrap it up. Your special dinner will surely be appreciated after a hectic day at work.

It’s not too late to begin “The Present IS the Gift” tradition. This practice will help you and those in your life feel less stressed, and more connected to you in the coming year. Remember, mindfulness starts with awareness. The more aware you are of the stressful and wasteful “same old ways” of doing things, the more mindful you can be in giving a more heartfelt and thoughtful gift this year.

If you need support with how to add more mindfulness to your life for stress reduction and productivity, email me at INFO@HEALTHANDHAPPINESSSPECIALIST.COM today to find out how we can work together. Until then, I wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season.

 

 

Happiness and Quality of Life: How to Live a Regret-Free Life

Happiness and Quality of Life: How to Live a
Regret-Free Life

By Debbie Lyn Toomey
work-life-coaching-4-74941
What does a well-lived life mean to you?

Is it a life that gives you freedom to be yourself and express yourself?

Is it a life that is filled with meaningful moments from having a balanced life?

Is it a life that is surrounded by family and friends?

No matter what your answer is, I’m sure that your version of a well-lived life is not filled with sorrow or regrets. While it’s not easy to live a life with no regrets, there are ways to lessen them so that you can live a quality life. As a nurse of over 25 years in a major hospital in Boston, I’ve taken care of my share of terminally ill patients. Patients who were given months, weeks, or sometimes days to live from disease or complications from their underlying issues.

Patients

From time-to-time, I witnessed patients who were fortunate enough to be surrounded by people they loved. Loved ones who took turns making sure that they were never alone. Then there were other end-of-life patients who laid quietly on their hospital beds with no family or friends visiting them. Their last moments on this earth were spent with strangers who took care of them shift to shift. I often wondered what went through their minds. As they laid on their last bed not knowing what ever happened to their loved ones and probably wondering when did their series of unfortunate events began. Did these dying patients have regrets? If so, what were they?

Regrets

Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse wrote a book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. In the book, she wrote about the most common regrets of the dying. Based on her findings the core issues with the dying had to do with the lack of courage to be who they were, to express themselves in front of others, too much time spent on career and not enough time spent connecting with friends and nurturing their own happiness.

Happiness Soothes

I have discovered personally and professionally that happiness skills can help us become the best version of ourselves. There are many practices in the field of Positive Psychology, the science of happiness and optimum human performance, that boost courage, increase mindful work-life balance, and enhance connection with those who (and what) matters most in life. In fact, purposely applying simple happiness skills can soothe negative feelings into positive ones.

Regret-Free

In my book, The Happiness Result, More time, More health, More love, More success, I covered seven A.W.E.S.O.M.E.™ (Authenticity, Wonderment, Empowerment, Self-Compassion, Optimism, Mindfulness, & Enjoyment) pillars to create an awesome and well-lived life. To get you started on your journey to a wonderful life there are some practices you can begin to gain the quality of life that you deserve. Adding these simple exercises into your life can make your life regret-free.

They are:

  • Courage Boosters: Take Risks. Do something new thing every week. This can be big or small. Doing this will exercise your courage muscles and add more excitement into your life. Look at your bucket list of “What I want to do” and get started. Start with something small then build into bigger ones. The more you do this the bolder you will be in all areas of your life. Just as negative emotions impact your life, so do positive ones. The more positive experiences you have the happier your life will be overall.
  • Mindful Work-Life: Use happiness as your balancing scale. Notice when stress is building up and use relaxation techniques to help you feel better. Take deep breaths when unexpected challenges “knock the wind” out of you. While work-life balance is never a 50-50 equation, be mindful of what is tipping your scales. Honor your happiness and use it to measure what is most important to you. Doing this will offer you healthier choices to add more happiness to your day.
  • Connection Enhancers: Initiate connection with friends. Don’t wait to hear for them to ask you to connect. A nice thing to do is invite a friend to do a week long (or longer) happiness practice with you. Doing this fun practice will ensure that you both connect. Start by sending each other a daily text message that says “breathe” or “smile”. Notice how these simple reminders help you build a stronger relationship with your friend and make your day so much brighter.

Quality of Life

While there are so many scientifically proven self-help techniques available to us, they will not work unless we decide to commit to practicing them. A happy and meaningful life starts from within. It is our life’s work to live the best way we can with the “cards that we were dealt.”  Life is not perfect but we can have micro-moments of perfection by taking simple actions that add more love, laughs, and meaning to life.

Mantras to Live By

Here are helpful mantras to live by. Pick one or more to help you create a regret-free life.

“I am free to be me.”

“I am safe to speak from the heart.”

“Happiness adds quality in all areas of my life.”

“I have fun with my friends.”

“I deserve to be happy.”

 

More Results

Learn more ways to cultivate a happy and regret-free life and get The Happiness Result, More time, More health, More love, More success.   

Great news! Coming at the beginning of December 2016 is The Happiness Result’s companion journal that will help you manifesting your goals by helping you stay focused and motivated. It’s called, The Happiness Result, Goals, Gratitude, and Success Journal. Both books will help you gain the happiness result you are looking for.

Please share this article with family or friends who can benefit from it.

Source: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing

 

More on Mindfulness and Difficult People

Mindfulness is purposely paying attention to a particular experience without judgment. It is a science that has a wide range of benefits for many people in all walks of life. It has been proven to help people with physical, mental, and emotional stress. People of any age can certainly benefit from what mindfulness offers. I have taught mindfulness to many groups, such as corporations, hospitals, colleges, and wellness centers. The practice of mindfulness is helpful to everyone. It has helped me cope with my stress and I know it can help you too.

FAIRY (1)

The Practice is a Powerful Attractor

Mindfulness has a way of centering and calming not only ourselves but also those around us. One thing I have experienced and witnessed with many mindfulness practitioners is a great magnetism. This attraction has the ability to draw people towards you. People will be drawn to your positive vibes and feel supported and grounded from it.

Mindfulness Emergency Manual

This article aims to operationalize basic mindfulness techniques in order to help you apply them. Allow the techniques to be your mindfulness emergency manual when dealing with difficult individuals. The techniques have been highly effective for me and those of whom I have taught in my mindfulness workshops. While there are many different techniques that will be discussed here, please note that the application of all of the techniques can happen simultaneously and not necessarily in order. Operationalizing the steps is helpful when learning to apply them to situations that are different from the usual peaceful setting of your meditation space.

The Physical State

Being in our peaceful and powerful state is beneficial when we encounter others who want to use us as their sounding board and verbal punching bag. As mentioned in my previous article published on HuffingtonPost.com on March 7th, 2016, mindfulness can be used quite effectively when dealing with difficult people. There are 4 simple mindfulness practices that can help you stay in control of your actions in the moment and can also soothe the irate person. The person will be calmed and will leave feeling heard and satisfied.

These techniques purposely alter the physical state from feeling stressed to feeling strong. They are Mindful Body, Mindful Breathing, Mindful Listening, and Mindful Seeing. These are what I call Phase One of using mindfulness with difficult people. To learn more about these mindfulness techniques, I invite you to read my March 2016 article called: Mindfulness and Difficult People.

More Mindfulness Techniques

Phase One consists of the 4 basic mindfulness techniques that can subtly shift your stance from victim to victor. In most cases these are enough to help diffuse an uncomfortable confrontation. If however, you are having little to no progress, use the following mindfulness techniques to help you. This is what I call Phase Two. Phase Two is made of 2 mindfulness techniques that involve verbal dialogue that occurs in our mind and comes out of our mouth. They are mindful thoughts and mindful communication.

The Phase Two techniques are:

1. Thoughts– Mindful thoughts is a technique where we purposely self-monitor and challenge our negative emotions and thoughts. Using mindful thoughts avoids harmful thoughts from hijacking our mental and emotional state. These unwanted thoughts can be set off by any perceived threat from a situation, preconceived ideas and prejudices that can derail us from being fully present in the moment. In other words, our thoughts can lead us down a negative spiral of doom and gloom that may keep us from being calm and in control of our actions and the situation.

When you feel that your thoughts are being clouded by such ideas, do a quick check. Ask yourself if what you are thinking is really so. If the answer is no, change that thought by engaging your mindful body and mindful breathing to get back to the present moment. During encounters with difficult people, it’s very important to stay in the present moment because that is where your power lies.

2. Communication– Mindful communication comes more easily after we have challenged and quieted our harmful thoughts. Mindful communication, done face to face, is a way of effectively communicating and confirming to difficult people. Doing this helps them know that you are actually with them and hearing their problems. Remember, people just want someone to listen to them and help them find the best solution to their problems.

Mindful communication is a combination of slow and deliberate dialogue with no judgment, and periods of silence to allow the difficult person to speak. Mindful communication uses proper tone and pacing to further convey a sense of concern and control of the situation.

Lastly, Safety First!

Always remember that your safety as well as the safety of others is of the utmost importance. Here are some reminders for you when dealing with difficult people anywhere and anytime. They are:
– Never hesitate to ask for help when dealing with difficult people.
– Never allow yourself to be cornered by difficult people.
– Never go anywhere alone with difficult people.
– Never turn your back on difficult people.
– Never take the encounter personally.

Being Calm, Clear, and Resourceful

Use mindfulness to help yourself remain calm, clear, and resourceful during any encounter with a difficult person. The sooner you can use mindfulness during any encounter the sooner you and the other person can move on in a positive way. If you have any other mindfulness techniques that have been effective in dealing with difficult people, please share them below.

Contact us at info@HealthAndHappinessSpecialist.com for unique mindfulness programs for your company or organization.