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.

a-HAHS Tip #6 Bye Bye Loneliness

 

Do you ever feel lonely and need someone around to talk to or just be with?

Why not try doing something for someone.

When you do a random act of kindness or volunteer for a good cause you are doing something positive for more than one person.

Here’s what happens:

  1. You have a purpose that day.
  2. You make a difference in someone’s life.
  3. You connect with someone.

Next time you are feeling lonely just know that you can get out of rut by just getting out of the house and doing something kind for someone. This is a great way to say bye bye to your loneliness and hello to kindness.

If you are interested in learning more about ways to increase your level of happiness contact us at info@HealthandHappinesssSpecialist.com.

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.

a-HAHS Tip #5: Easy Yoga Pose

I know you are busy, so I will keep my post quick today and remind you of this powerful tip that can make your day and another’s that much better.

Whether you’ve been doing yoga since the day you were born or not, here’s a pose that will turn your frown upside down.

This movement has been proven to boost levels of positivity within seconds. In fact, it’s so powerful that it can also make other people happy.

It’s a smile.

That’s right! This innate gesture has been proven to make people happy inside and out. This simple movement is enough to trick our brain when we are feeling badly into feeling better.

Try it next time you need a lift.

If you are looking for more ways to feel better in your life whether it’s reaching your goals or having support to gain more clarity in your life. Contact us at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today to learn how A.W.E.S.O.M.E™ Life coaching can help you live your best life.

Kindness: A Contagion Worth Catching

Kindness: A Contagion Worth Catching
By Debbie Lyn Toomey, Health & Happiness Specialist™

KIND
Are your anxieties making you feel restless, and you don’t know what to do about it?

Are you sick of feeling down and want to just be happy?

Are you feeling isolated and lonely, and you are desperate to find a way to feel connected with others?

The easiest way to do this is through kindness. Small and consistent doses of kindness will make you and another person feel better. In fact, kindness has been shown to boost our levels of mental and physical health.  It’s also been proven to enhance our relationships with others.

Kindness Study

If you are concerned that you may not have a “kind” bone in your body, don’t worry because actually everyone does. A 2013 study done by Barbara Fredrickson et al. determined that groups of participants who were randomly assigned to perform a six week (one hour long) loving kindness meditation had a marked increase in their positive emotions as compared to the control group. Participants whose positivity levels increased were noted to also have an increase in their vagal tone as compared to their baseline vagal tone measurements. A toned vagus nerve influences our ability to connect with others, our breathing, heart rate variability and so much more.

What Happens in Vagus…

Without getting too scientific here, the vagus nerve otherwise called, cranial nerve X, is one of the 12 cranial nerves in our body. It runs from our head all the way down to our stomach. That’s not counting the other nerves that run from it. Among the many responsibilities of the vagus nerve are the unconscious body procedures like controlling our digestion and heart rate. In fact, stimulating this nerve, called vagus nerve stimulation, is sometimes used to treat people with seizures or depression.

Kindness in Action

Let’s put kindness in action. There are many ways to cultivate a practice of kindness that will benefit you and others on so many levels. An act of kindness has the potential to create a positive ripple effect for those that have been touched by your one simple gesture.  For example, I gave a co-worker a compliment about her hair. This compliment made her feel good about herself the rest of the day. Because she felt good, she was extra nice to everyone she interacted with the rest of the day allowing them to also benefit. Moreover, her positive state of being helped her work more effectively, making the rest of day go so smoothly that she was able to leave work on time. This gave her extra time with her family. It’s amazing how a small act of kindness can be a catalyst for so many positive actions.

“Put on a Happy Face”

Are you eager to start this practice but just don’t have any idea how and when to begin? It’s easy! Just like the song from the wonderful musical, Bye Bye Birdie, “Put On a Happy Face.” The best way to begin to “spread sunshine all over the place” is by starting small.

Thank you on a record

Here’s a list of 4 ideas you can try.

  1. Smile – even if you are not feeling very happy. Smiling can trick your brain into feeling that it is happy. Smiling is a nice way to greet someone without using any words. It’s a way of spreading sunshine all over the place.
  2. Space – giving up your space in line is a wonderful way to be kind to others without it costing you any money. Whether it is allowing someone to cut in front of you in the grocery line or in traffic, this gesture can go a long way.
  3. Say it – letting someone know that you appreciate them is a great gesture that will surely make anyone’s day. Whether it’s your family, friends, or co-worker, spend some time letting people know they matter.
  4. Secret – doing a kind act in secret, otherwise called Random Act of Kindness, is a fun way to strengthen your kindness muscles. Do something kind for someone without them seeing you do it. This adds a fun mystery to someone’s day that makes them feel special. Although anytime is a great time to be kind, February has a special day that honors this particular action. This year it is on February 17th.

“Pay it Forward”

Kindness is a wonderful gesture that makes more than one person feel good. It’s creates a “pay it forward” action that is contagious and effects others in so many wonderful ways. Remember any small gesture of kindness is enough to cause a powerful ripple of greatness. If you need motivation or just a way to stay connected with like-minded people who are looking for fun and unique way boost their health and happiness, then join our Facebook page called Positivity All the Time. Also, sign up for our newsletters at www.HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today to get your free 1-Minute Health and Happiness Assessment 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.

     

 

A Positive Spin on Resolutions

How many times have you started a New Year with one of these resolutions?

 

“I will lose weight.”

“I will go to the gym 3 times a week.”

“I will stop eating sweets.”

“I will spend less money.”

At this time of year, there are countless articles and news stories about setting New Year’s resolutions and why most don’t work. According Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, when setting resolutions, most people “tend to focus on things they want to change about themselves and things they dislike about themselves.” In doing this, we focus on negative feelings rather than positive ones.

Replacing the New Year’s Resolution with an Intention

Instead of making resolutions that focus on a negative, why not focus on something positive for 2016?

Take a moment and think about the good things in your life right now. What are you most grateful for? What would you like to have more of in the New Year? Visualize that one thing. How does that one thing make you feel? Try to choose one word or one symbol to represent the positive thing or feeling you would like to experience more of in 2016.

Set an intention to bring more of that ‘one thing’ in to your life in 2016. Spend some creative time with it. Draw a picture that you can keep referring to throughout the year.  Take a walk by yourself and breathe your ‘one thing’ in. See yourself surrounded by it, embraced by it.

Share your ‘one thing’ with us. We would love to hear from you as we cheer each other on for a 2016 filled with Health and Happiness!

-Marie, Health and Happiness Team Leader

2016

Pain Relief from Kindness and Laughter

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Have you ever suffered from searing pain that…

  • drained the blood from your body and almost made you pass out?
  • kept you up all night?
  • made you feel depressed, hopeless, and scared that it will never get better?

It was exactly this time of the year last year that I was living in this nightmare. A year ago, I couldn’t walk without being in excruciating pain. Simple activities such as sitting, standing, and sleeping made me anxious and worried from the unexpected shooting pain. Both unfortunately and fortunately this painful episode lasted for about one month. While it was unfortunate that I experienced intense pain, it was fortunate that I saw a glimpse of what life was like for people living with chronic pain and importantly able to see firsthand the healing power of two unlikely techniques— an act of kindness and an act of laughter.

Dismal with Disability

What led to my temporary disability is still unknown to me.  I was in great shape last year! I had a personal trainer and worked hard at keeping my weight within a reasonable range. I felt good about myself, I had great energy, and I enjoyed seeing my favorite clothes falling nicely in areas that they were supposed to. To this day, I cannot pinpoint the very moment when it started. Over and over I asked myself.

Was it working out too hard and not stretching long enough?

Was it the way I slept?

Was it my new high heels I wore to match my holiday dress?

 Who knows? All I know was I was in pain and I felt miserable!

The Pain

I always took pride in having a high tolerance for pain but this one was nothing like I’ve ever experienced. I thought I knew what pain was. I’ve had plantar fasciitis on both feet as I worked 12 hour shifts as a nurse. I’ve had shooting sciatica pain from my pregnancies that would have me gripping the furniture or walls around me so I didn’t fall down. Lastly, I endured natural deliveries twice because my childbirth labor always came fast. But this holiday pain felt like a perfect storm of angry sciatica pain, tight hamstring muscles and back pain. The jolt of spasm would catch me so unexpectedly that I would gasp with pain and feel cold, sweaty, and pale from a head rush of blood, making me feel as though I was going to pass out.

Natural Cures

Although I am a nurse, I always went for natural cures before going to the doctors. Years of learning over a dozen proven Complementary Alternative Medicine techniques and Positive Psychology provided me with an array of modalities and techniques to try. I tried everything I had in my natural tool-box such as: Reiki, hot and cold compresses, muscle rubs, homeopathy, and magnets. I went for weekly chiropractic adjustments and deep tissue massages. Little by little I started to feel better but my recovery didn’t start to sky rocket until I did something different. That something different was doing something for someone else. I found that doing something good for someone else help me stop ruminating on my self-pity and suffering. It helped me think of someone else who I cared about and this made me feel better and better.

Doing Good to Feel Good

One day during my one of my more painful afternoons, I decided to do something to get my mind off my pain. I decided to contact an old friend, who had been going through a divorce. Because we had not been in contact for awhile I wasn’t sure how he was doing. When I did reach him, I told him that I was going to give him a special present that I called “7 Days of Cheer.” I explained to him that I was going to send him one pun per day for a week. Knowing that he was very busy, sending him daily puns was a great way for him to know I was thinking him and wishing him well. He agreed to play along and I started. Every day, I looked for puns that I loved; ones that made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t wait but send to him. The puns were silly but hilarious.

Happy Inside and Out

I loved reading the puns during the day because they made me feel happy inside and out. This new found idea was exciting and made me feel good. Each day I looked forward to finding just the perfect pun to send him. The more I sent him, the more I noticed I felt better and better. I noticed something profound that I had been teaching all along in my stress management and wellness workshops for busy professionals.  I noticed that doing kind deeds for someone else does boost your own happiness, decrease feelings of depression, and reduces pain levels.  Further, I noticed the very same thing with laughter as well. As a laughter yoga teacher for professionals, seniors, and cancer survivors, I knew that laughter also provides the same positive benefits. I was amazed at how laughing and doing kind deeds helped reduce my pain.

HotDog


Positivity for Pain Relief

Acts of kindness and laughter, although a very unlikely pairing, provide powerful doses of positivity that are sure to help with pain relief. Our natural pain killer hormones called endorphins are secreted within our brain and nervous system when acts of kindness  are done and with deep hearty laughter. Endorphins, our bodies’ natural pain killers, are similar to morphine that is prescribed by doctors for severe pain. What seemed like a great idea to distract me from pain while cheering up a good friend, quickly became a main source of pain relief. It was as if my inner physician knew what I needed to help me feel better, and I am grateful that I listened to her. It was no surprised that his 7-day gift became a 14-day gift. Not only did my friend enjoy my gift, I was able to experience the pain relief that both kindness and laughter had to offer. It was a holiday that I will always remember.

More on Kindness and Laughter

Both acts of kindness and laughter have much in common. They are known to:

  • decrease pain
  • boost levels of happiness
  • decrease levels of anxiety
  • lead to faster healing

Gifting the “7 Days of Cheer”

Are you or someone you know suffering from any sort of physical, mental, or emotional pain?

Would you like to try something that doesn’t cost anything except your time and energy to feel better?

Are you interested in applying simple techniques that can make you feel better whether or not you are suffering from pain?

I invite you to try the “7 Days of Cheer” with anyone of your family or friends. It’s a fun and unique way to feel good as you do something good for someone. It’s truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Here’s how you can start.

  1. Pick a family member or friend that you want to give a special gift to.
  2. Contact that person and let him or her know about what you want to do.
  3. Decide on the length of time you want to do it.
  4. Use the internet for funny images, quotes, or video clips.
  5. Begin.
  6. Notice how you feel.
  7. Repeat as necessary.
  8. Have fun.

Next time you feel miserable from physical, mental, or emotional pain try taking care of it by doing something positive for someone else. It will help you to put a stop to focusing on what feels bad and instead direct you towards what feels good. Remember that your body has the capacity to help you feel better by releasing natural feel-good hormones.

Got other natural and proven ways to reduce pain? Please comment below and share it with us.

The Secret Sauce to Savoring the Holidays for Busy People

by Debbie Lyn Toomey Speaker, Author, Trainer

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How many times have you heard yourself or others say any of these statements recently?

“I cannot believe the holidays are here already!”

“What can I do this year so that I can enjoy myself for a change?”

“How am I going to get all my work done and still have time to shop for presents?”

Yes, folks it’s true! It’s the middle of November and it’s officially the holiday season. While it may seem like Father Time sprinted through 2015 (instead of marching), there are ways to have him slow down so we can relax, reflect, and rest and enjoy the end of the year before the new one begins.  My “secret sauce” will help you can gain more time to cherish this wonderful season. 

Bitter-Sweet

If you’re like many busy people, you’re probably still trying to remember what you did last month! Realizing the fact that the holidays are suddenly upon us can be enough to make some people cringe and even cry. Although traditionally this is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” some people find it difficult to be happy for various reasons such as:  having too much on their plate from work- life responsibilities, lack of financial stability, and lack of support from others. Unfortunately, the holidays can be a bitter sweet time of the year where it can feel like salt has been added to deep unresolved wounds.

Too much!

Time does have a way of escaping us because of our busy work and life schedules. It’s becoming more and more difficult to stop and slow down.  I’ve coached many busy people who fall into the same old trap of doing and planning. The mere thought of sitting and reflecting takes a back seat because it seems like an unproductive use of our time. As mentioned in my forthcoming book on living a productive and positive life, “Our time management skills are constantly being challenged because of the compounding distractions that are coming from all directions as well as our shortening attention span. Our lives are filled with so many distractions both external and internal multi-sensorial stimuli. The external stimuli come from two main sources: technology and team. Our techie toys are so distracting that even the mere presence of them on our desk tempts us to touch them and use them when we don’t need to.  The teams of people in our personal and professional lives can be a source of support or stress.  As if those distractions are not enough, we also get internal distractions that bombard and overload us with negative thoughts that ruminate and keep us from feeling good and proud of ourselves. These inner distractions add to self- sabotage, keeping us from producing easily and effectively.”  We have so much to contend with in our daily lives that for some the holidays can become more of a burden instead of a blessing.

Special for Everyone

Yes, the holidays are upon us and with them come their own sets of stressors such as shopping for “that perfect gift,” having a reasonable financial holiday budget, decorating, and going to parties. While some love this time of the year, studies have shown that there is an increase in depression, suicide attempts, and drug and alcohol use for others. No one is safe from the stress that happens during this time of the year.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), women experience a higher level of stress than men during the holidays. It is because women tend to take on the work burden to ensure the best possible holiday traditions are celebrated.

The Secret Sauce for a Health & Happy Holiday Season- Gratitude & Mindfulness (6)-11180

 

What’s in that Sauce?

Although stress is unavoidable, there are two ways of adding sweetness to the holiday season that will get even the busiest CEO whistling his favorite holiday tune as he greets his team. These two ingredients create such a rich combination that they can’t help but awaken all the senses. The two special ingredients that make up the secret sauce are: gratitude and mindfulness. When added together they can: turn bitterness into sweet, make the tough into tender, and heavy into something light. This secret sauce combination is the easiest and most practical way for today’s busy professionals to relish and savor the holiday season so that they have more time to celebrate, communicate, and connect with those they care about.

 Yummy moments

Gratitude and Mindfulness are great ways to bring purposeful awareness, attention, and appreciation to your holiday experience. Together they will give you: more time to be productive, an increased sense of purpose in your actions, and greater positivity in your day. Practicing gratitude is a heart-centered practice that can make you feel connected, blessed, and special.  Practicing mindfulness can make you feel more alive, awake, and allowing. Both of these two techniques combined have hundreds of studies that prove their ability to improve health, boost happiness, enhance relationships, and increase productivity during the holiday season. The beauty of these two practices happens during the millions of micro-moments throughout the day. The “practice” happens when we purposely remember what is happening within us and around us—without judgment. Exercising these new habits will deepen your neural pathways and ensure sustainable success in creating positive experiences in your life.

Recipe for a Sweet Holiday Season

Directions:

  1. Ask yourself what you want this holiday season to look and feel like for you. Just like with any recipe that you’ve never made before you might first have to look at the picture so that you will have an idea of what the dish will look like.
  2. “Prepave” your holiday festivities with the feeling and images of what you would like it to be for yourself. “Prepaving” is a way of creating and attracting what you want through visualization and positive emotions. Feel as if it is happening now. Have fun using your imagination to visualize and tune into what your holiday celebration is going to be like. There’s no right or wrong way of doing this. Picture yourself purposefully being aware and appreciative of what’s going on around you so that you will experience the beauty of the season so much more.
  3. Practice and play with the secret sauce ingredients throughout your days and nights.
  4. Enjoy adding other quality ingredients to this special sauce such as: creativity, courage, and self-compassion.

Key Ingredients:

1. Gratitude:

According to gratitude expert, Robert Emmons, gratitude is defined as a “felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.” In other words, it’s more than just saying “thanks.”   This year instead of sitting in traffic just to shop from place to place, save yourself some time and lots of misery by staying at home.  Instead of shopping for gifts why not make them in a form of a gratitude letter to those you care about. This practice has been proven to boost levels of happiness for a weeks and weeks for both the writer and the recipient.

Here’s how to get started. Think of that special someone in your life that you need to get a gift for. Get a piece of paper (preferably a nice stationary) and write down how they have impacted your life in a positive way. Write from your heart and elaborate as much as you can. When you are done put it in an envelope and personally deliver it to that person and ask them to read it in front of you. Notice their expression. Notice yours. Notice how this loving practice can turn your holiday into a magical one. Try to do this to for as many people as you can. Schedule a time every evening during this holiday season to write out one letter to deliver in person. If you allow yourself to do one letter at a time, you’ll notice what may seem like a burden in the beginning will become a blessing in the end.  The practice of gratitude will make you feel blessed and blissful. Once you get into your gratitude letter writing routine this holiday season notice how you look forward to doing it each day or night. This delicious ritual will gift you the special time to relax, reflect, and remember so many golden moments that you’ve shared with your loved ones. You’ll thank yourself for doing this!

2. Mindfulness:

According to mindfulness expert, Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Any activity when done purposely and with a beginners mind is considered a mindfulness activity. In other words, activities such as washing the dishes, walking, or watching can be a mindfulness activity as long as the person purposely aims to notice and experience that particular activity fully and without judgment.

Here’s how to begin this practice. During this holiday season, purposely gift yourself about 20 minutes of mindfulness by focusing on one of the five senses at a time. Start with mindfulness seeing and purposely notice all the shapes and colors that you see around you. Once you see something that catches your eye, look even closer. What do you see? Do you see any intricate patterns that make up that particular object? Notice the different shades of colors that meld together to make the colors that you see. Is that object manmade? If so, think about how that particular item made it there in front of you. Look with a beginner’s eye and notice as much as you can in that period of time. The next time you plan your mindful sit, try another sense like taste. Practice savoring when you are eating all the delicious food during your holiday festivities. Imagine as though it was the first time you’ve tasted that food. Notice how long it took you to chew it and swallow it. Try to figure out the flavors that were used in that particular dish. Notice how slowing down and savoring your food helps you stay on track with your diet because you are appreciating each bite and notice when your stomach is full. Practicing mindfulness during this holiday season might just be one of the easiest ways to keep the extra pounds off by mindfully noticing what goes in to your body. Imagine going into the New Year without having to add “lose holiday weight” in your New Year’s Resolution!

Adding gratitude and mindfulness will surely add more richness to your holidays.  This delicious combination of ingredients will kick up your festivities a notch so that you can have your cake and eat it too– without guilt. Once you begin practicing these techniques, you will notice that you have more time for more important things and people in your life. Cultivating gratitude and mindfulness in your busy life will not only make you healthier and happier but also add more harmony to your life.  Begin today and look around you. Challenge yourself to find something new that you haven’t seen before. Have fun and have yourself a healthy and happy holiday season!

Do you have a way of making this holiday season fun and stress-free? Please share your suggestions with me below. Thank you in advance!

 

Breathing Technique to Feel Better

Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to be working out well and you are left feeling frustrated and fuming?

Next time you’re feeling angry or anxious, try this breathing technique.

It’s called Belly Breathing. This technique reminds you to take deep diaphragmatic breaths. This will help you feel calm, cool, and collected.

Here’s how:

  • Place your hands on your stomach.
  • Inhale through your nose.
  • Notice your hands move as your stomach expands.
  • Exhale through your nose.
  • Notice your hands move as your stomach flattens.
  • Repeat until you feel better.

Try the Belly Breathing technique anywhere and anytime you notice you’re feeling out of control or stressed. This technique will surely make you feel so much better and in control of yourself. The more you feel in control, the happier you will be.

Need coaching to help you sustain your feelings of wellness and well being? Contact us at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com today.