Appreciate the Good: Five Reasons to Start a Gratitude Practice

Appreciate the Good: Five Reasons to Start a Gratitude Practice
By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, CIPP

 

 

Next week in the United States, Thanksgiving will be celebrated. Thanksgiving symbolizes the start of the holiday season. Thanksgiving is a special day when Americans give thanks. This special holiday feeds the body with delicious food and the heart with sincerity. While it feels good to give thanks on that day, giving thanks daily will make us feel better in the long run. One of my favorite sayings when I was studying Positive Psychology was from professor and author, Tal Ben-Shahar: “when you appreciate the good, the good appreciates.”

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is more than an attitude or saying thanks. It’s a science that has been proven to have significant benefits. Robert Emmons, considered the father of the science of gratitude defines gratitude as, “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation for life.” This definition opens us to endless opportunities to be grateful. The challenge is remembering to do it every day, especially during the tough times.

Why is it important?

The best way to start the exercise is to know why it is important and how it can benefit you. Here are 5 reasons that caught my attention and inspired me to begin adding the gratitude practice into my life.

1. Resilience – Gratitude fosters resilience. A 2003 study found that gratitude was the main contributor to resilience following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York.

2. Relationships – Gratitude is the antidote for failed non-abusive relationships. A studyfound that couples who express gratitude for each other are motivated to maintain their relationship with each other.

3. REM – Gratitude before bedtime helps with sleep. A study in the Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being found that 15 minutes of writing in a gratitude journal before sleep promotes better sleep.

4. Rich – Gratitude cancels out envy. According to Robert Emmons, gratitude blocks toxic emotions such as envy, regret, and depression because gratitude makes you feel rich and feel you have more than enough.

5. Rejoice – Gratitude is linked to a happiness booster according to Harvard University study. If you need a quick way to cheer up, start listing some things you are grateful for to turn your emotions around.

I hope one or all of these reasons inspired you to begin a gratitude practice. If you have one already, thank you. If not, try any one of these techniques.

1. Journal – Start a gratitude journal. This was the first gratitude exercise that I did and it helped me during the good and the bad times of my life. This exercise trained my brain to look for the good in all situations. It was extremely helpful when I was coping with my mother’s three cancer journeys.

2. WWW? – What Went Well? Is a question that helped me teach my husband and three boys the practice of gratitude without being too “mushy”. This question has helped me and my family cultivate the practice of gratitude. Next time you are with your friend or family ask, “What went well?” and notice all the goodness that come out of this powerful question.

3. Walk – As you walk from one place to another, find as many objects to be grateful for. This helps increase my level of energy and happiness when I feel tired or anxious. It can definitely turn your “frown upside down.”

4. Jar – Collect moments of gratitude in a jar. This is a great practice for you and your group. This exercise is a positivity booster and it’s fun to watch as the gratitude fills the jar. Reading gratitude from the gratitude jar is another way to deepen relationships in the group and improve communication.

5. Letter – Writing a gratitude letter to someone you love and has greatly influenced you is a proven gratitude technique that has shown to create lasting positive emotions. Once you write your gratitude letter, deliver the letter in person and read the letter to that special someone.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope that it has inspired you enough to begin a gratitude practice. Try one of the gratitude practices that I shared with you for the next 30 days and watch your appreciation grow.

I am grateful for…

This year I have so much to be grateful for. Besides my awesome family and friends, I am grateful for publishing my coloring book, The Happiness Result Art Therapy Coloring Book – Express & Enjoy Yourself. This book is going to be available next week on my website, www.TheHappinessResult.com.

Also, I am grateful for doing my first online course called, Therapeutic Arts: Art Therapy Based Practice for Self-care, Self- healing, and Mindfulness. This is terrific course that I created with master trainer and colleague, Patrick Howell. Here’s the link for you to get your special price and immediate access to the course https://www.udemy.com/artstherapycourse/?couponCode=NEWSLETTER.

Lastly, I am grateful for you and your continued support and interest in my health and happiness message.

Thank you!

This Job Made Me Fat! 10 Tips to Manage Your Workplace Stress

This Job Made Me Fat!

10 Tips to Manage Your Workplace Stress
By Debbie Lyn Toomey

PSST, between you and me, have you gained weight since you started working?

I did. It happened when I worked as a fulltime nurse many years ago. I gained 20 pounds, but fortunately I found ways to get rid of the weight. I blamed my weight gain from the chronic stress I was experiencing. Back then, I had to work different shifts with varying work schedules. I developed crazy eating habits. The busier and more overwhelmed I got, the less healthy I ate at work and the more I ate at home. Emotional hunger took over and I ate comfort food to help me feel better about myself and how I did at work. The bottom line, the more I had on my plate at work, the wider my waist line got!

Emotional Hunger

What is emotional hunger? In a nutshell, it’s eating to comfort the suffering that is experienced within. Unlike physical hunger where the stomach is empty, emotional hunger feeds the feelings of stress or emptiness inside. Regardless of the distress, comfort food or drinks are used to “nurse” and ease the discomfort. Job stress can lead to weight gain. In fact, research has shown that workplace stress is linked to unhealthy lifestyle habits that lead to smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise.

On the Go

As a staff nurse, I had no eating pattern because of the nature of my job. I worked day and evening shifts. I worked every other weekend and some holidays. My work shifts ranged from eight to sixteen hours depending on the week. When I worked, I had little time to eat or enjoy my meal. I was constantly on the go and in demand. I found solace in the fact that I could always get a decent meal and snack when I got home no matter how late it was. The heavier I got, the more I took comfort in hiding my growing weight by wearing loose fitting and unstructured scrubs.

We All Have It

Workplace stress is real and escalating. Job demands are high in all industries, not just health care. According to a survey that Career Builder, did amongst 3,031 workers ages 18 and over, 2 out of 5 workers have gained weigh in their current job due to stress. Let’s be real, there will be days when we have to shorten our breaks or eat on the run to get a big project done but that doesn’t have to be the way to operate all the time.

10 Simple Ways to Manage Weight from Stress

Although stress levels are up, there are many techniques that we can use to help us feel good and look good at work.

Here are 10 simple ways to manage your weight despite workplace stress.

1. Drink the recommended 8-10 glasses of water a day. Hydration is important for our brain and body. Water increases the performance of our brain. Have a water bottle with you in the office.

2. Jot down your big and small wins during the day. This will make you feel good about yourself. This will help you focus on the good things that you’ve done during the day.

3. Pack your food the night before and plan on high protein snacks. Protein bars and nuts work really well to curb the appetite. Pack more for busy days.

4. Walk as much as you can at work. Take the stairs and park far away from your building. Ask a colleague to be your lunchtime walking buddy.

5. Listen to relaxing music or music that enhances attention at work. This will help keep your stress at bay and make you more productive.

6. Put chewing gum in your mouth instead of high calorie or fattening food. Chewing gum helps with focus.

7. Notice the triggers that make you upset and stressed at work. The more you recognize them the better you can avoid them or prepare yourself ahead of time.

8. Sleep. The more sleep, the merrier you will be. If you can, try taking a 10minute power nap from time to time.

9. Talk with a close friend and vent. Don’t let your stress eat away at you. Find someone you can trust.

10. Eat your meals. Although there might be days when a meal is a handful of nuts and a bag of carrots, be grateful and acknowledge them as your meal so that you don’t feel deprived and feel you can eat extra portions later on the day.

I hope these suggestions help you keep your cool and your weight under control in the midst of your busy days at work. To learn more about how you or your team can manage your stress, contact me at INFO@HEALTHANDHAPPINESSSPECIALIST.COM to learn how I can help you. Here’s to your health, happiness, and success!

 

3 Super Simple Tips to Help You Succeed with Your Bucket List in 2017

3 Super Simple Tips to Help You Succeed with Your Bucket List in 2017
by Debbie Lyn Toomey

2017-01-08-1483903783-3171595-www.healthandhappinessspecialist.com.jpg


Happy New Year to you and yours!

I love this time of the year because it is the time for new beginnings. It’s the time of the year when we can fill our clean New Year’s slate with our bucket list of goals. It’s a time for reflection and intention.

Questions for You

1. What do you want for yourself this year? Once you get an answer. Go to the next question.

2. What do you really, really, really want for yourself this year? Take your time and dig down to discern what you want. Once you get your answer, imagine what that will look like and how you will feel once you have it. Repeat questions 1 and 2 until you have your bucket list of goals for this year.

Regardless of what your goals are for this year, I have learned and experienced that there are 3 super simple ways to ensure that you not only reach your goals but also sustain them.
Like so many people in the world, I have my own New Year’s goals because I am passionate about growing into the best version of myself.

I Fell in Love

I reached many of the goals that I set for myself last year. One of them was having a regular yoga practice. My mind and body fell in love with yoga after just a few classes. I felt less stressed and my body became stronger and more flexible. I wanted it to become a part of my life, and I wanted to go to yoga classes more. Unfortunately, I found no sessions that fit my ever-changing schedule. My schedule was tight. I didn’t want to waste my time driving to and from classes in addition to committing to an hour yoga class. That’s when I got creative.

A Newbie

I realized that there was another way to add a yoga practice into my full day. It was doing it at home! I wanted to give it a try. “Why not? It was better than nothing,” I thought. I challenged myself to do a 30-day yoga challenge that I found on YouTube. I chose Yoga with Adriene. I liked her vibrant energy and her philosophy of yoga. What initially was an intimidating challenge for a newbie-yogini like me, eventually became something that I looked forward to every morning. When the 30 days finished, I started venturing out picking and choosing the yoga practice that worked for me and my schedule. Yoga has since become a part of my life.

KISS

Curious about how I was able to create a sustainable home yoga practice? It’s easy. I used the KISS principle of “keeping it super simple” to avoid setting myself up for failure. I wanted my practice to work for me and not the other way around. In order for it to support me, I had to anticipate and accept the fact that there would be days that I will miss due to unexpected life circumstances. Understanding this made the process nicer for me because I didn’t feel guilty when I did miss a morning ritual.

Here’s are my 3 Super Simple Tips to Help You Succeed in 2017:

1. 20-Second-Rule
Every evening, I placed my yoga clothes next to my bed so that when I woke up; it was the first thing, besides my husband, that I saw in the morning. This technique is based on the 20-second rule that Shawn Achor shared in his book, The Happiness Advantage. By taking a few seconds to put my yoga clothes by my bed the night before, this crucial step ensured that I would not miss my morning practice. Once I put on my yoga clothes right after getting up, there was only one thing to do, and it was…yoga. “Set yourself up for success. Prepare and take a small action the night before.”

2. Create Your Rules
After the 30-day yoga challenge, I decided to allow my mind and body to choose the best yoga practice it needed that day. If my neck and shoulders were tight, then I chose a practice that focused on those areas. I made sure that this home practice was practical for me. Because I work long hours on certain days and have other days off, I defined my yoga practice as “any purposeful stretching or movement” that I can do in the morning. I created the rules that worked for me. While sometimes it was a 60-minute practice, other times it was a 5-minute practice that involved a couple of forward bends, stretches, and a few deep breaths. “It’s your practice. Define it on your own terms!”

3. Self-Compassion
Life happens, and it derails us from our normal routine. I know that I am not alone in this. Every time I noticed myself getting side-tracked from my morning yoga ritual, I gave myself a break and practiced self-kindness. I gave myself self-compassion when I didn’t have the time to commit to my morning yoga practice. There were times last year where my personal practice needed to take the back seat because my family needed me such as when my father had his heart surgery, when my mother needed someone to talk with, or when my kids got sick. That is life. In order to make up for the lost day of practice, I made sure I did a yoga practice the following day and a longer practice on the weekend. “When you get thrown off the track, give yourself permission to be human then jump back on.”

Applicable to Anything

I hope these 3 Super Simple Tips are super simple enough for you to be successful at achieving the goals in your 2017 bucket list. These tips can be applied to anything that you want to manifest this year. Remember to keep it super simple so that it will be easier for you in the long run. My goal this year will be sleep. I want to add 30 more minutes to my sleeping hours a night. What is yours? Please share below.

Need Support?

If you need support in how to reach your goals this year, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today. I’m here for you. If you want an “awesome” journal to manifest with, get my new book, The Happiness Result- Goals, Gratitude, & Success Journal. This powerful journal will help you create more positive habits to train your mind and heart to dream big, expect goodness, and have fun! In the meantime, I wish you a happy and healthy 2017!

Be a Manifestor—Reach Goals and Make Dreams Happen in 2017

Be a Manifestor—Reach Goals and Make Dreams Happen in 2017
by Debbie Lyn Toomey


Happy last week of 2016!

I hope this year was a good one for you. Looking back at what I did and who I met this year, I can honestly say it was one of the best years of my life. Last year, I made an intention of making 2016 a year of growth and excitement and that’s exactly what it turned out to be.

Year in Review

 This year started with a dream come true of taking my whole family, including my parents, back to my homeland of the Philippines and ended the year with publishing not one but two books. What happened between January and December was a series of successes that I could not have done had I not taken the time to declare what I wanted in the beginning of the year. This year I traveled not only across the country but also across the globe. I challenged my speaking skills and competed (and won) in competitions. I silenced my internal critic for not being a good writer and published two books. Lastly, I strengthened my relationships by letting go of ones I’ve outgrown and embracing new ones that came into my life. I was able to do all of these things because of the goals and dreams that I had set for myself. They all started with an intention.

Intention Please!

 The first step to reach any goal lies in the intention. Intentions are the keys that get the vehicle started towards manifestation of the goals. If you know where you want to go, you will most likely avoid getting (and feeling) lost in life. Your intentions will lead you to your goals faster and allow you to enjoy not only the end destination but also the journey along the way.

The Answer is In the Question

The best way to determine your intentions is by asking yourself questions. As I’ve mentioned in my new journal, The Happiness Result- Goals, Gratitude, & Success Journal, “the answer is in the question.” Asking the right question will get you the right answer. Start asking yourself what will make your heart sing in 2017. Keep asking yourself what is it you truly want. The more you keep asking, the more you will pinpoint what you really want. Once you know what you want, then you can implement steps to achieve it. Try not to be afraid of failure. I believe that failure is “not doing” anything about what you want. Though the road towards any dream can have its twists and turns, trust that what you gain in the journey is integral to making dreams happen.

Move over Motivation

Many studies have found that having an intention is more effective in goal setting than having motivation. While motivations and willpower can help in reaching a goal, experts have found that motivation relies on changeable behavior based on how the person is feeling that day. Intentions on the other hand, provide a plan for people to implement; even when they don’t have the motivation that day.

Quote:

“Deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your chances for success.”
—Heidi Grant Halvorson, Columbia University professor

Get Started

Here are 4 steps to help you get started on how to become a manifestor, reach new goals and make your dreams come true in 2017.

  1. Schedule – Set aside 10 minutes each day for seven days for this activity. Consider this as important as any job or activity that is worth adding to your calendar.
  1. Sanctuary – Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. This sacred space will help you tune into your still small voice from within.
  1. Success – Ask yourself what would make your heart sing in 2017. Don’t be afraid to dream big.
  1. Support – Take inventory of your support systems that will help you. If you don’t have any support, enlist the help of a coach to help you.

These steps will get you started in the right direction towards creating your heart’s desire.

Take time to do each step. Just know that it takes courage to declare what you want in life, and it also takes perseverance to reach you goals. Take your time and trust yourself.

If you need concrete tools to help you stay on track of manifesting your goals, get my new journal, The Happiness Result- Goals, Gratitude, & Success Journal. For Manifesting Goals, Giving Thanks, and Celebrating Your Success Along the Way. If one-to-one coaching sounds like a fit for you, contact me at INFO@HEALTHANDHAPPINESSSPECIALIST.COM to find out how we can work together.

May you have all the happiness and success that you are looking for.

Good luck and have fun!