Mindfulness: Decrease Your Stress with Mindful Listening –

Mindfulness: Decrease Your Stress with Mindful Listening

Learn Seven Steps for Better Communication

by Debbie Lyn Toomey

 

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

Exchange of Energy

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

Difficulties

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

On the Go

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

Source of Stress

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

Invest a Few Minutes

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

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

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

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

4. Foster positivity by modeling respect for each other

Seven Steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Skill

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

 

Five Self-Care Tips for the Sandwich Generation & Caregivers

Five Self-Care Tips for the
Sandwich Generation & Caregivers
By Debbie Lyn Toomey


Do you remember your first job?

I do. My first job was working at a local sub and pizza shop. It was great! I gained so much from that job that if I didn’t work there, I wouldn’t have had a Junior prom date, met my future husband, or learned how to make a killer sausage, pepper and onion sub. The wide range of multitasking life skills that I learned from making subs prepared me for what lay ahead in life as a wife, mother, professional, and daughter of aging parents. It helped me accept being sandwiched. I am a part of the sandwich generation, a generation that has her own family and aging parents.

Sandwiched

The term “sandwich” generation was coined by social worker, Dorothy A. Miller MSSW. She described them as a generation of adults who are “sandwiched” between their own parents and their grown children and subjected to mental, emotional, or financial stress. The Pew Research Center states that, “one out of every eight Americans between the ages of 40 and 60 care directly for an aging parent while an additional seven to ten million Americans help their parents or other aging relatives even from a long distance.” This number is expected to increase due to the number of aging baby boomers.

Full

Don’t get me wrong! I am not complaining. In fact, I consider myself extremely lucky. My life is full. It’s wonderful to live close to my parents because we get to look out for each other. For example, my three boys help out with the garden, snow shoveling, and heavy lifting. At times, I make extra food to drop off to my parent’s house and vice a versa. It’s a win-win situation. I get to look after all the people that I love closely. I consider it an act of love, a duty, and a blessing; not a burden.

Burnt

Life is good when everyone is healthy. It’s not so good when someone gets sick or needs surgery. I remember getting a case of “walking pneumonia” after helping to take care of both my mother who had her first hip surgery and also my father who needed emotional support. The stress from worrying about my parents, working a full-time job and taking care of my own family made me get sick. It wasn’t until I saw the doctor weeks later, after feeling weak and short of breath, that I found out I had pneumonia!

Stress

The stress of it all made me sick. I felt worried about my parents. I didn’t sleep well from working different shifts at the hospital and also from being worried. I became impatient and irritable with my family about little things because I was tired. I would cry when no one was around because I didn’t want people to think I was weak or afraid. This negative spiral of stress and worry eventually made me ill. I will never forget that time because it was then that I realized how important self-care is for caregivers.

Five Tips

My bout with pneumonia gave me a self-protective and self-loving view of health for the caregiver. Here are five tips that can help the sandwich generation or caregivers become more stress resilient:

1. Positivity: See this time in your life as special because you are at the peak of your life. A time when you know better and can do better for those you love. The more you see the good in this situation the better. It will fuel your spirit instead of making you feel bitter and burdened. See all the good in your life.

2. Sleep: The more sleep you can get the more you will be effective and emotionally fit. Sleep is your best ally during these stressful times. Take naps when needed. Close your eyes and rest.

3. Savor: Open your eyes to all the love you have around you during this time in your life. Be grateful to have your kids, your spouse, and your parents around. Someday, someone will not be there and everything will change. Open your eyes and your heart.

4. Outlet: Give yourself permission to feel angry, frustrated, or resentful. You are human and these are normal feelings to have when something is not right in your life. A great way to let go of these emotions is talking with someone who cares about you. Give yourself permission to be human.

5. Exercise: Physical activity is great outlet for stress. It is a great use of your energy and it will make you feel better about doing something proactive towards your health. Take walks or go for a run to clear your mind.

Privilege

Next time you are eating at the dinner table with those you love, think about how lucky you are because life can change in a single moment. It’s a privilege to be a part of the sandwich generation because it’s an opportunity for me to help out my parents and also a way for me to further demonstrate to my boys how families take care of each other. I hope you enjoyed these the five tips. If you need further support on how to take care of yourself during these difficult times, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com for coaching.

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.

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

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

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

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

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

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

Work and Life

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

Get Started

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

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

More

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

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

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


Are you tired of listening to negativity all the time?

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

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

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

Heavy Feelings

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

My Medicine

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

Daily Detox

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

Here are two ways to get started.

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

It is Possible

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

Extra Support

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

More on Mindfulness and Difficult People

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

FAIRY (1)

The Practice is a Powerful Attractor

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

Mindfulness Emergency Manual

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

The Physical State

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

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

More Mindfulness Techniques

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

The Phase Two techniques are:

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

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

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

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

Lastly, Safety First!

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

Being Calm, Clear, and Resourceful

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

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

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.

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.

It’s all about the “Thanks!”

Are you interested in increasing your levels of abundance, attention, and appreciation?

Are you looking for ways to add more beauty and bliss in your life?

Are you willing to try a 30-day challenge that can change your life for the better?

Try a 30-day gratitude journal challenge, in honor of World Gratitude Day that was Monday, September 21, 2015. Gratitude is not only the mother of all virtues but also gives birth to so many wonderful emotions.

I love the practice of gratitude because it is totally free and it will make you feel so rich, blessed, and lucky! How great is that! This amazingly simple gratitude practice when done consistently can do so much for you and those around you. Keeping a gratitude journal does the following:

– Enhances concentration
– Deepens relationships
– Boosts happiness
– Increases appreciation
– Improves success
– Enhances sleep
– Boosts attention
– Increases awareness
– Decreases depression
– Improves connections
– Enhances communications
– Builds community
– Boosts compassion
– Cancels envy
– And so much more!

Still not convinced? Why not give it a go for the next 30 days? You’ve got nothing to lose but EVERYTHING to gain!

Here’s how to start your 30-Day Gratitude Journal Challenge:

1. Pick a date to begin.
2. Decide on the time of day you’ll write
3. Remind yourself to look for good things to write about.
4. Notice everything and everyone around you worth writing about.
5. Journal on 3 (or more) good things that you experienced each day.
6. Explain reason why you were grateful for them.
7. Use reminders such as quotes and images to inspire and motivate you.
8. Let family and friend know what you are doing.
9. Invite them to participate.
10. Share your goods with each other.

Remember, there is always something to be grateful for.

This practice has been a game-changer for me and many of my clients. Begin this simple practice today and reap the abundance all around you.

*** Special bonus: Join hundreds of grateful people from around the globe in my 30-Day Greatness through Gratitude Challenge group on Facebook. Check in with your 3 ‘goods’ everyday and enjoy reading about everyone else’s too!

Many thanks!

A Health & Happiness Specialist (“a-HAHS”) Tip #1: Physical Activity

Are you tired of feeling depressed, fatigued, or overweight?

Try doing a physical activity to chase those heavy feelings away.

 

Experts have found that any physical activity can actually make people feel both healthier and happier.

Regular physical activity improves our self-esteem and release chemicals in our body called “endorphins” that make us feel good.  Endorphins trigger a positive feeling that is similar to morphine. Endorphins decrease our perception of pain by interacting with the pain receptors in our brain. Many experience a release of endorphins after running long distance or a work out known as “runner’s high.”

Physical activity can make us feel better in so many ways. It can help to:

  •  Alleviate Stress
  •  Reduce Anxiety
  •  Decrease Depression
  •  Improve Sleep
  •  Increase Self-esteem
  •  Optimize Health and Wellness
  •  Manage Weight

As for me, doing any physical activity such as walking, dancing, even cleaning has always helped me. It takes my mind off my worries and makes me feel good. The idea of doing any movement and expending calories toward something shifts my negative mental landscape to a positive and productive one.

Because of that, I now go for walks when I feel nervous or stuck with a project or a presentation. Somehow that physical activity is enough to quite my mind from its negative fixation and allows the creative juices to flow. Physical activity has been a simple yet powerful way for me to gain clarity and creativity in such a short period of time.

Next time you start feeling the blues try any or all of these simple and practical activities:

– Go for a walk.

– Take the stairs.

– Do house chores.

– Donate old clothes.

– Do yard work.

– Go for a swim.

As you can tell, it really doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are doing something—anything that will take your mind off your worries and put you at ease.

Have fun!

For more help to reach your goals, contact us at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com today.

Like this tip? Please share with friend your friends.

Stay tuned for more “a-HAHS” in our upcoming posts.