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!

 

The Upside of Bad – How to Find the Silver Lining During the Bad Times

The Upside of Bad. How to Find the Silver Lining During the Bad Times.
By Debbie Lyn Toomey

 

Two weeks ago, I got sick. Sick enough that I had to stay on my couch for four days. I couldn’t do anything because I was achy, sweaty, and weak from the flu. I haven’t been ill like that in five years. Because of this, I got way behind with my work and came back to hundreds of emails in my inbox waiting for a reply.

Sick

During my awake times on the couch, I wondered if I willed this to happen. Because days earlier, I wished I had a day of rest with nothing to do. Then before you know it, I got sick!

Have you ever willed yourself sick so you can get rest?

What did you do?

Did you work despite the fact you had no energy or will to do anything?

A Break

Not me. When I am sick, I just don’t feel like doing anything. After a day of feeling badly about missing work, I decided to give myself a break. I gave myself self-compassion and self-care. I basically nursed myself back to health with rest, liquid, and medicine. Instead of forcing myself to work, I gave myself permission to be human and to trust the whole process. I realized that my immune system was low from overworking and worrying too much about my impending projects.

Let Go

Laying on my couch barely having energy to walk from one room to another, I was able to see things with better perspective. I realized that I had to slow down and let go of any extra burdens that I placed on myself. Despite the glassy-eyed look I had in my eyes from having the flu, I was able to see my life and work with clarity. I saw what was important and what was not. In other words, I found a silver lining in my sad moment. You can do it too.

Silver Lining

You don’t have to wait until you are bed-ridden and sick to see the silver lining of whatever it is you are experiencing in life. Here are three questions you can ask yourself to get started in finding the silver lining during bad times.

1. Ask yourself what has been working well in your situation?

Focus on the good. Taking time to reflect on the good things that have happened will make you feel happier about yourself.

2. Ask who has been helpful to you?

Who has your back? The more we recognize and appreciate the people who are on our side and help us the more we will feel supported and less alone.

3. Ask what successes you have accomplished recently?

Count your winnings. Celebrating all successes (big and small) will give you confidence and positivity.

Reflect

Life is so busy and can be discouraging if we don’t take the time to find the silver lining during the bad moments. Don’t wait for the situations to get worse. The best way to see the silver lining clearly is to stop and reflect upon who and what you have around you that is good and worth celebrating.

Support

If you or your organization needs more support in increasing positivity levels and finding the silver lining, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com for ways we can work together.

3 Ways to Win Friends and Be a Positive Influence at Work

3 Ways to Win Friends and Be a Positive Influence at Work

by Debbie Lyn Toomey



Have you ever had a bad day that quickly changed after someone did something nice for you?

Have you ever given someone heartfelt praise that left them smiling from ear to ear?

Have you ever gone out of your way to let your boss know that you appreciate him or her?

A long time ago when I worked as a nurse in an inpatient floor at a hospital, there used to be a worker called Buddy. Buddy was very popular not because he was a world renown surgeon who saved lives, but because he was a kind person who was extremely friendly and appreciative to nurses. He respected nurses and took care of us. Buddy won us over and became friends to all the nurses.

Buddy

Buddy’s job was transporting patients to and from their tests. Everyone loved seeing him because he always came with a smile on his face, a pocket full of mints, and a thoughtful statement of appreciation. Even when he was busy, he took the time to give praise or a piece of candy from his bottomless pockets. Kind deeds and heartfelt gestures are wonderful ways to brighten someone’s day.

Positive Influence

Businesses can use a lot more people like Buddy to help decrease negativity in the workplace. While it’s few and far between to have a “Buddy” in every workplace, there are ways to adopt his winning and positive gestures to be a positive influence at work.

Three Ways

Here are three ways to win friends and be a positive influence at work.

They are:

1. Time: Take a few seconds to extend your good wishes to a co-worker or a boss. This gesture is one of the best uses of your time in the workplace. In fact, consider it part of your duty.

2. Treat: Keep a stash of hard candy or gum at your work desk. Always be ready to give someone a treat. It’s hard to say no to someone bearing gifts. No matter how small the gift may be.

3. Talk: Instead of emailing someone, walk over to their desk and speak to them face-to-face. It’s always better to interact with a real person than a virtual one. Texting is cheap. Talking is priceless.

Invest

The more you invest the time in a personable communication, the more your company will see you as a positive force in the workplace. Positive people can inspire others to do more for them than negative ones. Be like Buddy and be the change you want to see at work. To learn more ways to add more positivity in the workplace, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com for ways I can bring more content to your workplace.

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

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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!

Gratitude: A Simple Way to Accept Appreciation and Recognition

Gratitude:  A Simple Way to Accept Appreciation and Recognition
By Debbie Lyn Toomey, Health and Happiness Specialist™

gratitude

Have you ever been given a compliment that you turned down by saying something that completely negated the great gesture?

 You are not alone if you just nodded your head. There are so many people (myself included) in this world who are not used to receiving appreciations easily.

For some reason, although this positive gesture is expected, many think the following:
“Oh, they were just being nice.”
“They said that because they had too.”
“They didn’t really mean it.”

Self-deprecating
Our own self-deprecating thoughts can cause us to end up missing out on a gift of appreciation. We quickly respond by saying:
“I could have done better.”
“No. You were much better.”
“Oh, I was just lucky.”

Deserving
While it is better to give than to receive, we cannot throw away the kind gesture of appreciation or recognition when it is given to us. We stand the chance of hurting the feelings of the person who took the time to give us appreciation and gratitude. It is important to recognize the balance of expecting to receive negative feedback and positive feedback. Positive feedback given in a form of appreciation boosts our sense of well-being. This wonderful gesture reinforces the value that you offer to others.

Give and Take
Here are three gratitude “truths” that I love to teach in my positivity in the workplace workshops. They cover the powerful “give and take” art of gratitude nicely.

  1. Gratitude is an instant way of boosting your levels of happiness.
  2. Both appreciation and recognition are important in the workplace.
  3. When appreciation or recognition is given, simply say “Thank you.” Then keep your mouth closed.

The Practice
Today’s busy professionals must not only work hard to get ahead in this world but they also must work hard to accept a genuine gesture of gratitude that is given to them. Doing this will help you feel more valuable in the workplace and an important part of the team.

Keep practicing by saying “thank you” to yourself so that when the time comes and someone gives you the gift of appreciation you will be prepared to receive something that you well deserve.

To learn more about my coaching services and my positivity in the workplace programs, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today. Until then, thank you for just being you.

How the Angry Birds Movie Helped Me Beat Procrastination

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Have you ever procrastinated doing a task because it felt so boring, monumental, and time-consuming?

If you just nodded your head, then I know I’m in good company. I, myself, have a project at home that I’ve been avoiding. It’s going through all the bins of old clothes in my basement to make room for my new home office. Every time I think about it, I cringe knowing that it is going to take all afternoon. These days, I am extra mindful of what I do with my time. I have a full schedule, and I don’t want to spend my time doing something that doesn’t make me happy. After all, the overall mission of my company, Ultimate Healing Journey, LLC is to inspire and inform busy people on how to use happiness skills to help them reach their goals.

A Playdate
This past Saturday, my son, Maxwell, and his friend, Aaron, had a playdate. Aaron’s mother and I took them out for lunch and then we saw the movie Angry Birds. For 11-year-old boys who enjoy playing online games, this movie was a great hit! As a parent, I loved spending quality time with my son and his friends. And as a positive psychology practitioner and coach, I was interested in how the characters used their strengths and talents during the course of the movie.

Angry Bird
The main character, “Red,” who was this red looking bird with thick bushy black eyebrows was a grunt and a loner. He disliked being liked or showing any positive emotions. As the movie evolved with its twists and turns, Red used his courage, determination, and anger to lead the bird community who have turned against him. Without giving away too much of the plot for those you of who haven’t seen this movie, the good guys, in this case the Angry Birds, won and saved the community from the bad group of green pigs. Interestingly enough in this day of anger management and stress reduction, this movie used the opposite to feel better. It used anger in a positive way as the driving emotion to herald courage, clarity, and creativity to save the day.

Ride Home
The movie was a big hit for my 11-year-old companions that afternoon. It brought on an interesting and lengthy conversation on various video games they play during the ride home. By the time we got home, Max and his friend were still immersed in their talk. They both asked to have an extra 30 minutes together to trade their game cards. Because Aaron lives 5 houses down from ours, both mothers consented to this extra time together.

Timer
When I got home, I decided to put the timer on for 30 minutes to remind me to pick Max up. As I prepared a cup of tea for myself, I wondered what I was going to do with myself while I waited. That’s when I got the idea to get “angry!” Just as the angry birds used anger as their driving force to get the job done, I will use it as well to help me tackle what needed to be done. I will sort through the old clothes in my basement. Having less than 30 minutes to start this project seemed less intimidating to me because I knew that it wasn’t going to consume my whole afternoon.

I Got Angry
Noticing that my 19-year-old son, JT, was in the kitchen playing a game on his computer, I decided to add more fun to what I was about to do. I declared to my unsuspecting teenager that I was going to get “angry!” He gave me a quizzical as look he turned back to his game. I kept repeating to myself.
“I am going to get angry!”
“Yes, I am!”
“I’m angry.”
With a smile on my face, I was ready and excited to for what I used to call ‘mission impossible’. I got giddy about using anger to motivate myself and begin my own game against time, my kitchen timer that is.

Pumped with Adrenaline and Anger
I decided to further challenge myself by setting a goal of filling 3 trash bags full of clothes that I would give away for donation. I went down my basement stairs pumped with adrenaline and anger. As I opened bins of old clothes, I kept saying,
“I’m angry.”
“Oh yeah, I am angry.”
“Yup, I AM ANGRY.”
I couldn’t have been any happier playing my version of this online game! Each bin of clothes became easier and easier to go through because I wasn’t approaching my old clothes with nostalgia. I approached them like a gamer who had little time to win this obstacle.

I Won!
And it worked. Using play helped me win over my procrastination. By the time my kitchen timer went off, I was so engrossed in filling my 3 trash bags full of clothes that I asked my son JT to get Max for me so I could finish up what I had been postponing for that last few months. I felt like a winner! By the time my sons got home, I had 3 bags of clothes at the bottom of my basement stairs ready for donation and I had fun doing it.

Play Saved the Day
Adding the elements of fun and play to what I was doing helped me become more effective and efficient. As I’ve mentioned in my book, The Happiness Result, experts like Dr. Stuart Brown, researcher and founder of the National Institute for Play, have found that play can help us become more creative, optimistic, productive and so much more. In fact, play can save the day by helping you search out new solutions to your problems as it did for me.

Here’s how you can create your own winning game to overcome procrastination.

1. Play — Decide how to playfully to approach a specific project. I used my inspiration from the Angry Birds movie to power up and get excited.
2. Time — Decide on how much time you want to dedicate for this. I recommend giving yourself no more than 30 minutes. Any longer might feel too overwhelming or too time-consuming.
3. Celebrate — Celebrate your accomplishment. Recognize that you are much further along than before you started. This will give you more motivation to do it again. Remember, you’ve taken the hardest step, which is the first one.

If you are interested in more ways to gain more time, more love, more health, and more success, stay tuned for information on how to get my new book, The Happiness Result — coming out this summer! You will learn 7 simple techniques to help you create an awesome life. If you have any question or want to learn more about our services visit, contact us at  INFO@HEALTHANDHAPPINESSSPECIALIST.COM today.

Fresh, Fun, and Fabulous Tip for the New Year

Fresh, Fun, and Fabulous Tip for the New Year
By Debbie Lyn Toomey,  Health and Happiness Specialist™, Speaker, Coach

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Happy 2016 to you and yours!

How’s your New Year’s Resolution coming along?

Does the thought of having to do your New Year’s Resolution make you want to say, “Yay” or “Yikes?”

Are your old habits slowly creeping back into your routine sabotaging your good intentions towards a new and better you this year?

Alas, you are not alone! The traditional New Year’s Resolutions needs to be eliminated or evolve as a person gets older. Isn’t it time to begin the year with excitement and fun instead of exhaustion and frustration?

Satiated and Satisfied

As the great Groucho Marx says, “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.” There’s so much to be said about having fun and doing what you love to make your activities more meaningful. By starting the year in this positive mindset, you can continue along the year feeling satiated and satisfied with goodness instead of grudges (towards yourself and others). In other words, instead of feeling heavy with physical weight or life’s burdens, try something different that will surely make you feel good about yourself and have fun doing it. I call it 2 Weeks of Fresh, Fun, & Fabulous. It’s a 14-day challenge that will help you boost a greater positive outlook, motivating you make healthier and happier choices during the rest of your year. Instead of the old traditional New Year’s Resolution mentality which focuses on the “what-we-have-to-do” in order to feel better, the 2-week challenge will get you started in the “what-I-want-to-do” outlook that will naturally make you look healthier and happier.

Happy Note

Start this year on a happy note so that the rest of the year will become more harmonious for you – both at home and at work. Stop being amongst the statistics of well-intended people who were not able to achieve their own New Year’s goals and punishing themselves year after year for their failure to achieve (or remember) their original resolutions.

Fresh, Fun, & Fabulous

The 2 Weeks of Fresh, Fun, & Fabulous Challenge is a wonderful way of starting this year. This positive approach to living a healthier and happier life encourages the participants to be creative, courageous, and consistent in our actions, yielding great results. Try something different this year. Allow it to be the year you step out of your comfort zone and enjoy more of what life has to offer. Big or small, any fresh, fun, and fabulous action will make you feel alive. We all know New Year’s Resolutions are traditionally not sustainable and become a monumental task leaving many feeling conquered by their own well-intended goals. We don’t need any fancy statistics to prove what we have come to know year after year. This year, why not take it easy on yourself by doing for something that will not only boost your happiness and also your wellness?

When we are happy, I have found that we:

  • make better and healthier choices
  • are more productive
  • relate with others
  • look and feel younger
  • sleep better
  • and so much more.2 weeks of (3)-23931You deserve it!

    It’s time to be kinder to yourself and realize that beginning the year by failing at self-made resolutions leaves a lasting negative tone for the rest of your year. It’s time to give yourself permission to be human and realize that you have been doing your best. Isn’t it time to add more fresh ideas, fun time, and feel fabulous? Don’t you deserve it? If you just nodded and said, “yes,” please continue to read. If you shook your head and said, “no,” please go back to the top of this article and re-read again until you say, “yes, I do deserve it.”

    Don’t you owe yourself more than that?

    2 Weeks of Fresh, Fun, & Fabulous Challenge

    Ready to give the “2 Weeks of Fresh, Fun, & Fabulous” challenge a go?

    Here’s how:

    1. Dedicate: Mark 2 weeks on your calendar for this challenge. Tip: You can do this longer than 2 weeks if you want. If you forget a day, no problem. Just keep on doing it for the rest of the 2 weeks. The key is to stay true to the original challenge of doing something “fresh, fun, & fabulous.”
    2. Decide: Every day for 2 weeks, decide which aspect of the challenge you want to take on. Whether it’s fresh, fun, or fabulous, think of what you can do with it. Would it be food, family, friends, finance, faith, or frills? What does it look like? Who will you do it with? Where will you do it? How will you go about it in doing it?
    3. Document: Write down in a journal what fun activities you did and how they made you feel. Tip: journal at the same time and place daily. Create a routine out of this. Reading your journal posts will make you feel happy when you need that extra boost.
    4. Declare: Let others know about what you are doing. Share with friends to further fuel the positivity around you. Tip: If you need more people to keep you on track, join us on Facebook. There is a group called 2 Weeks of Fresh, Fun, & Fabulous that has been participating in this easy and enjoyable challenge.

    Have a Fun-Fabulous Time!

    This year, why not try something different, radical, and fun? Why not begin the year with something easy, engaging, and exciting?  Instead of attempting to do something that will take weeks and weeks until you see an improvement, such as losing weight or getting organized, start doing something that will make you good from the start. Doing something different daily for 2 weeks will be enough to get you feeling good about yourself. Isn’t that the ultimate goal of all New Year’s Resolutions? By trying this new spin on resolutions, you will add more excitement and enjoyment into your life. I wish you a fun-fabulous time as you play along with this challenge!

    Need coaching support in how to be consistent with your goals, visit www.healthandhappinessspecialist.com today.

     

 

Gratitude Tip for Positive Parenting

Parents, have you felt any of these from your child?

– Unappreciated

– Misunderstood

– Disconnected

I did a few years ago. I felt this way with my teenager and it scared me. I had a sinking feeling that our mother-son connection was slowly becoming distant. This turned into a frustration within me that made me react to him negatively.  It was pulling us apart!

Poor Connection

Our one-to-one time became less and less due to our schedules.  When I did see him, he would be sitting in his usual spot – on the recliner in our family room with headphones on connected to his iPad. This made it more and more challenging to get his attention. At the dinner table he got into the habit of answering my questions with, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” This concerned me because I didn’t know what was going on with him. It became difficult to get him to open up to me.

Crazy Worried Mind

My wild and crazy mind worried that he might turn to drugs or other dangerous habits that we sometime hear about in the news. I did not want this for him. I wanted him to know that I was there for him no matter what. I wanted him to remember how much I loved him and would do anything for him.  I remember in my desperation I would ask myself over and over these questions:

“What’s the best way to connect with him again?”

“How can I help him open up to me?”

“What can I do to bring us closer again?”

Simple and Powerful 

Fortunately at that time, while studying Positive Psychology (the Science of Happiness) under the direction of Dr. Tal Ben Sha-Har, I learned that the practice of gratitude can increase people’s level of happiness by 25%, enhance communication, strengthen relationships, boosts appreciation, attention, and awareness and so much more. I had to try it. I had to try the practice of gratitude at home. It seemed simple enough and I had nothing to lose. I was desperate! I decided that in order for it to work in my home my whole family had to do it. Gratitude had to become a natural culture in our home. It had to be a common language spoken and a way of thinking that we had to develop.  Even though it seemed to be such a simple and unappreciated gesture, I knew the impact that this technique can have on people who apply it in their everyday lives.

What Went Well?

The practice that I decided to implement was a simple technique that I learned called “What went well?” This simple question trains the brain to look for the good in a situation. It is a wonderful and non-threatening way to teach people appreciation and gratitude. It’s also the perfect way to teach someone how to become a benefit finder instead of being a fault finder.

Benefit Finder

Here’s how I literally “dished out” this gratitude technique to my family. Every time we sat down for a meal together I would casually ask, “So, I wonder… what went well with everyone today?” Then, I would follow it up by saying, “Let’s all go around the table and take a turn at sharing.” As you can imagine the very first time I introduced this technique my two older boys (and my husband) looked at me like I had 3 heads. But with persistence and consistency they got used to me asking the questions.

Surprising Interruption

To my surprise after a few weeks of applying this simple gratitude technique, my teenager, eventually started to open up and share more and more around the dinner table. It got to a point that he would interrupt his 8 year old brother, who can go on and on forever about what happened to him in school. He couldn’t wait to have his turn to share with us about what went well with his day—his “goods.” It was then that I felt that I got my son back. It was then that I started noticing him share more about his day through the benefit-finding lens of gratitude.

Powerful Parenting Tip

I am happy and proud to say that my relationship with my teenager is better than ever! Now he seeks me out to tell with me stories and jokes. He listens to me intently when I give him guidance.  I can’t tell you how much this simple practice has changed our relationship. In retrospect, while teaching my family about this principal it also affected me positively.  I noticed how my attitude towards him changed and softened because I started seeing him through a gratitude lens.

Thank You

My son has come so far. From barely mumbling his one or two word replies to me, before doing the gratitude practice at home, he has written me an articulate, hand written, one page letter to expressing his appreciation and love for me. Here’s an excerpt from the letter that my teenager gave to me during the Mother and Son Senior dinner before he graduated high school two months ago. It was with his permission I share this with you to further show how beautiful our relationship has become.

“Dear Mom,

…You see me for my whole when I only see me for my parts. For this I love you. Mom, you always saw my fullest potential and urged me on and though I may resist and procrastinate, I value your support especially as I move out to college.

Thank you.”

30-Day “What Went Well?” Challenge

Here’s a great way to try out this simple “What went well?” gratitude practice.

  1. Explain to your family that you want to do a 30-Day Challenge called, “What went well?”
  1. Let them know that “What went well?” will be asked during meal times (or anytime that your whole family is together.)
  1. Tell them that there is no right or wrong answer to this question.
  1. Allow them to share at least 2-3 things.
  1. Go around the table to make sure everyone shares.
  1. Finish the round by sincerely saying that you can’t wait to hear what everyone will share the next time.
  1. Be patient. Be persistent. Be consistent.
  1. Have fun!

For a summertime or holiday variation, ask your family one by one at the end of each vacation, what went well for them. This is also a great way for everyone to share and remember all the wonderful things that was experienced during the vacation. The more that is shared, the more it becomes special for everyone. The more special it feels, the deeper your appreciation and connection with each member of the family becomes.

Interested in learning more about how to apply the practical, proven, and powerful practice of gratitude to live your best life? Contact Debbie Lyn Toomey RN, CIPP, Health and Happiness Specialist™ at healthandhapppinessspecialist@gmail.com or call 617-433-8814.

4 Secrets to a Dream Come True

I can’t believe it.  I just turned 49 years old this week!

How did that happen so quickly?

As a product of the 80’s and the MTV generation, it felt like it was only yesterday that I was “Sexy and Seventeen” and “Pretty in Pink.”  Those were the days! It was the time when I was filled with many hopes and dreams of becoming a nurse, a wife, and a mother. Not knowing what my future would bring, I kept the faith and did everything I was supposed to do to make my dreams come true.

High School

Between you and me, I didn’t like to study or read when I was younger. I was a daydreamer and got bored too easily. Luckily I had parents who valued education and an older sister who was a high achiever. This combination motivated me to work hard to get good grades so I could go to college and have a career.  All that determination worked out and I got my wish; I got accepted into nursing school with a full scholarship.

Boyfriend

I wasn’t allowed to have any boyfriends or go to any dance when I was younger—my father was very strict. Because of this, I worried about not having any boyfriends, let alone any fun! Not thinking about boys when you’re a teenage girl is close to impossible. I remember dreaming almost every night of what my future would be like. I imagined marrying a handsome “Mr. Right,” having 2.5 kids, and living in a cozy home. I would do it so often that it felt real. Gratefully, it became a reality. When I was in high school, I met my soon to be best-friend and future husband while working at my first job at my local sub-shop.

Nurse

When my older sister and I were younger in the Philippines, we used to shout out what we were going to be when we got older. She would emphatically say that she was going to be a doctor. And I would say I was going to be a nurse. At a young age, I instinctively knew my limitations and strengths. The thought of reading “all those thick books” and going to medical school for so many years just did not appeal to me. What I wanted was a way to learn about health in a reasonable amount of time and to start helping people right away. I always loved making people feel better and I knew that there were many ways to do that. Nursing gave me the experience and skills to be able to fulfill that goal. Fortunately for me, I went to nursing school during a nursing shortage. In my third year of nursing school, I was accepted in an internship at Tufts Medical Center (formerly known as New England Medical Center) and was guaranteed a nursing position when I graduated. 

Being a MOM (That’s “WOW”, if you spelled it upside down!)

I’ve always wanted to have boys because I never had a brother. While it was great to be one of 4 girls in the family, I often wondered what life would be like with to have a brother. As you can imagine, I was so excited when I got pregnant and found out I was having a boy. I named him Phillip after my father, who always wanted a son and ended up with 4 girls. The expression on his face when my husband and I told him that we were naming our first son after him was priceless.

Mom is “Wow” upside down, and I can see why these two words have this relationship. Being a mom has changed me to the core. I can honestly say that I am a better and stronger person because of my 3 boys. They’ve taught me what unconditional love really means and how lucky I am to be alive.

4 Secrets to a Dream Come True

I am so happy to be getting so many “Happy Birthday” greetings this week! Yes, I am 49 and I’m happy to say that I still get carded! My birthday wish is to help you achieve your own dreams so that you can live a healthy and happy life. That said, I want to share with you my 4 secrets to help you make your dreams come true.  They are: faith, hard work, passion, and acceptance. I’ve always had faith that good things will happen for me. I always had to work really hard to get an outcome that might come easy for others. Also, I always use my passion to fuel my actions in order to keep from daydreaming and being bored. Finally, I learned to use acceptance to let go of what I can’t change and to enjoy what I have.  These 4 principles are tried and true. I highly recommend anyone to apply these into their life so that they can make their own dreams come true.

Here’s how:

  1. Faith- Cultivate faith, hope, and optimism by focusing on your positive outcomes. This will help fuel your ability to trust in yourself and your achievements. The more you do this the better so that you can change your mindset into believing in your abilities.
  2. Hard work- This is self explanatory. The more you work hard on something, the more you will appreciate it. This shows grit. A proven skill that brings on success.
  3. Passion- “Turn to your passions, and make them happen!” Do what you love and love what you do! If you ended up in a career that doesn’t make you happy then find a hobby or another job that will do it for you.
  4. Acceptance- Everyone has limitations. Everyone is different. And…everyone is unique and special. Accept what you can’t do or don’t have and move on. Don’t use your limitations to keep you from living a healthy and happy life. Use your strengths to your advantage.

I hope you get great outcomes from these principles. If you need further help in trying to achieve your dreams, contact me for coaching so we can get you back on track. Contact me at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com today.

Mindful Moment

Are you becoming more and more absentminded lately?

Multitasking

My answer is “yes.” This has become a busy and fast paced world, and many of us have taken on a habit juggling and struggling. According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, when we are multitasking, we are paying attention only partially from one task to another. A study conducted on multitasking while driving showed that the driver’s attention decreased by 37% when he/she listened to sentences while driving. How many times have we listened to sentences either from the radio or another person in the car? This important study shows that multitasking is not as efficient or safe as we once thought it was.

Les Miserable

Multitasking spreads our energy thin. Chronically multitasking can make us feel overwhelmed, out of control, and overly tired. When this happens, concentration and clarity become a challenge. A negative ripple effect of unhealthy habits arise such as mindlessly eating comfort food in front of the TV to “veg-out,” consuming endless cans of high energy drinks in order to “pull an all-nighter,” and a taking anti-anxiety medications to counteract the guilt and worries of not getting enough done.

While some people thrive under this fast-paced and demanding lifestyle, their mind and body will eventually show signs of “wear and tear” in the form of chest pain, depression, obesity, gastric reflux, etc.  There is good news! With mindful awareness, we can turn this misery into magnificence.

Mindful Moments

I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t tell you that I don’t multitask—the truth is I still multitask. But after many years of making mistakes that cost me more time to correct, I’ve decided to become more purposeful in my multitasking. I’ve learned to only do it when doing simple tasks. And it works. While it did take some time for me to get rid of the temptation to multitask, the results have been profound. I went from multitasking everything to multitasking with some things.  I made mindful choices that made my day more enjoyable and effective.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness in a nutshell is purposefully paying attention and becoming aware of what you are doing at that very moment. It’s a way of noticing (without judgment) the thoughts in your mind and emotions that you are feeling. Mindfulness also provides a time, however short it may be, to quiet our mental chatter. The more we apply this simple practice, the more we will feel calm, confident, and in control in the midst of our busy day.

Try This

Here’s a mindful practice that will help you begin to cultivate this positive habit – learn to do less and get more done. I call it Mindful Moment: Take 5 & Take a Break

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Take a deep breath.
  3. Imagine you are in your special place.
  4. Let go of your tension.
  5. Enjoy.

I recommend that you do this practice for about 5 – 10 minutes a day in order to feel your tension release. The more you release and let go of you stress the more you will be able to make mindful choices towards a healthier and happier day.

Gratitude & Mindfulness Experience. More on the program


Need Help?

Contact us for more support in cultivating mindfulness in your life. Email us at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com to begin your journey towards health and happiness. You don’t have to do this alone. We are here to guide you towards your highest and best goals.