One-Minute Mindfulness Techniques for the Busy Person

By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, CIPP
Author of The Happiness Result

Six year ago, I fell in love with mindfulness while studying Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). I fell hard and I was never the same again. I learned how simple and forgiving this technique was for someone like me who was constantly juggling work/life balance. What is mindfulness? It is being in the present and experiencing that moment with all your senses. It’s also a way of becoming non-judgmentally intimate with yourself – the good, the bad, and the ugly. In a nut shell, it is a science, a practice, and a way of life. 

Mindfulness Experience

Since studying MBSR, I’ve studied other mindfulness specialties, such as, mindful education, mindful communication, mindful leadership, and mindful self-compassion. Over the course of six years I’ve created and facilitated mindfulness workshops for children and adults, keynoted on the topic, and even did research on it.

Imposter

Mindfulness has become a part of my personal and my professional life. But even though, I practice it all the time, I still get mindless! Sometimes it happens when I am trying to focus and concentrate on something important, like reading, writing, or even listening to someone. I feel like a mindfulness practitioner impostor. I should know better, right? Wrong!

Only Human

As it turns out, I’m not the only one. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is considered “the father of mindfulness” the more we practice mindfulness, the more we notice how mindless we are. We are only human. It’s part of the human experience since we have about 70,000 thoughts going through our head every day. It’s no wonder we get distracted from time to time despite mindfulness. After all, that is why mindfulness is considered a practice. It’s a skill that we constantly need to work on so that we can get better and better at it. The more we do it, the stronger our mindfulness muscle becomes. The stronger it becomes, the sooner we can catch our mindlessness and get back on track to the task at hand.

Here’s How

Here are three one-minute mindfulness techniques for the busy person. If you are new to the practice, welcome! The exercises below are great for beginners. However, if you dabble with mindfulness and want to enhance your practice, the suggestions below are good for you as well. Set your timer and try one or more of the following activities today.

  1. Mindful breathing – Take a slow deep breath in through your nose and then out through your mouth. When you inhale, notice the coolness of the air as it enters your nostrils. Likewise, when you exhale, notice the warmth of your breath as it exits your mouth. Continue to monitor your breathing and be curious with it until the minute is over.
  2. Mindful listening – Either at your desk at work, in your car, or even in your home, close your eyes (not while driving of course!) and tune into the different sounds around you. Try to listen to as many as you can one after the other. Notice how your body responds to what it hears. If you hear a sound that is passing by, try to listen to the sound for as long as you can until it disappears, then choose another sound to focus on.
  3. Mindful eating – During one of your meals, take your time and eat slower than usual. To get the full experience of eating your food, examine each bite before you put it into your mouth. Look at its color, texture, and shape. Touch your food and notice the temperature of the food. Then, hold it close to your nose and smell it. Next, put the food into your mouth. Allow it to sit on your tongue until you can taste the flavors. Finally, notice how your tongue moves the food in your mouth to allow your teeth to chew it before you swallow it.

When you finish each technique, check in with yourself to see how you feel compared to when you started.

Take Care

I know you are busy but remember, there are 1440 minutes/day. What better way to take care of yourself during your busy day than to set aside a few minutes to exercise your mindful muscles. I suggest that you try all three. Then pick one that you want to commit to for one week. When the week is over, choose another one to do for the next week, and so on. If you get distracted during any of the exercises, don’t worry. It happens. Just get back on track. Remember, while distraction is a part of life, noticing when you are mindlessness, is part of the mindfulness practice.

Need Help?

If you have any long-term goals and keep getting stuck from doubt or the distractions in your busy life, contact me for coaching at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today. Your best life awaits. I know it and so do you.

Mindfulness and Injury Prevention

Mindfulness and Injury Prevention
By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, author of The Happiness Result

What does mindfulness have to do with injury prevention?

Almost everything!

Most accidents are preventable.

For example, have you ever tripped and fallen because your mind was elsewhere and you were not paying attention to what was in front of you? 

Or have you ever closed the door on your finger because you were stressed and overwhelmed from what you have to do.  

Or have you ever hit another car “by accident” because you were distracted.

As a Mindfulness practitioner and injury prevention professional, I tripped and fell on my hands and knees recently. It happened during a hike. My husband was pointing out another possible hiking trail to me to and before you know it … BOOM! I was on my hands and knees on the dirt and old fallen leaves. Instead of paying attention to where I was going, I looked away. I should have stopped and looked at what my husband was showing me. Doing this would have allowed me to appreciate the other path while maintaining my footing on the hiking trail. In other words, I should have been more mindful. If I was, I wouldn’t have the bruise on my right knee right now.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is purposely paying attention to whatever it is you are doing, seeing, and feeling -without judgement. Some say that it is being in the present moment or being in the “now.” Mindfulness is a research proven practice that can be taught to both the young and the old. 

Why is it important when it comes to injury prevention?

Mindfulness, when applied in the workplace setting, can reduce work-related injuries tremendously. When stress goes up, our ability to concentrate goes down. Stress from many factors such as lack of staffing, lack of team support, lack of time, and lack of self-care time impacts concentration that can increase the risk of mindless actions that can impact the health and safety of the worker and those around them.

Likewise, mindfulness, when taught to high school athletes, can help reduce sports related injuries, such as traumatic brain injury. When mindfulness is practiced as a daily habit, it has a self-regulatory way of helping the person feel more in control, more centered, and calmer. All traits that are important during any games.

What’s a good mindfulness tip for people on the go?

Next time you catch your mind running around like crazy or even jumping around from one thought to another, stop and take 3 slow deep breaths to get back to the present. Reclaiming your sense of presence through breathing is an easy and powerful skill that anyone can develop no matter how old they are.

Need more support?

If you need coaching on how to add more mindfulness into your life, contact me at info@healthandhappinessspecialist.com. If you need a great summer book to read, get my book, The Happiness Result. You can get my book on www.TheHappinessResult.com. 

Boost Happiness Instantly with Gratitude

Boost Happiness Instantly with Gratitude
By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, Mindfulness Educator

I am a founding member of Thrive Now Boston, a non-profit organization that “designs ‘WOW’ experiences that bring people together and make them feel happier.” We just had our first event at historical Boston Commons. We called this special event, Grati-Tuesday.

Practice

Our intention was to inspire the practice of gratitude by asking people who passed by what they were grateful for. While some had no time for us, there were many others who were more than happy to write down their gratitude, get their picture taken with the gratitude they wrote on a piece of paper, and to add what they wrote to our huge gratitude banner.

Why did we kick off our first event with gratitude?  Easy!

Research

Gratitude is an instant happiness booster that has lingering results according to a Harvard research study. Gratitude has also been linked to better relationships and also longer life.

It was an amazing time for the other “Wow-ers” and me! That evening the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Boston Common was filled with people from all walks of life. There were people kicking a soccer ball around, children chasing a dog, tourists marveling at the rich history that Boston has.

Powerful

Although making this event happen took months of preparation, the hours that we put into putting this event together was worth it. My group and I witnessed the power and grace of gratitude in action. It was wonderful to see people’s faces light up as they shared their gratitude and to see them walk away with a big smile on their faces. Some of the gratitude notes that people wrote were:

FAMILY

FREEDOM

KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

DIVERSITY

… and so much MORE!!!

Try It!

Practicing gratitude is one of the simplest happiness technique there is. Here’s how you can get started. All you have to do is finish this sentence stem and keep writing until you have fully explained why you are grateful.

I am grateful for… (fill in the blank) ______________________________
because … ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I suggest that you continue this gratitude practice for one week. Notice how you feel after you do each daily exercise. If doing this simple gratitude technique boosts your level of happiness, then keep going. The longer you do this practice, the more you benefit. “Thank you” so much for taking the time to read this article.

I wish you all the happiness in the world!

To learn more about how gratitude can help you begin a new chapter of your life contact me for life coaching at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

Mindfulness: How to Gain a Sense of Freedom by                                 Living in the Present
Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, Author, Mindfulness Educator

 

“By being totally immersed in the present moment we allow both the past and the future to stay where they are supposed to be.” DLT

Last week, I saw an old colleague and after catching up he excitedly told me about an audio book he just finished listening to called, Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright. Knowing that I’m a mindfulness educator and researcher he eagerly shared with me what he learned.

 Freedom

Our conversation led to what we know about mindfulness and how practicing awareness in the moment can bring about a sense of freedom from our anxieties, fears, and worries. Freedom that brings enlightenment by simply being in the moment without distractions from our filters. Filters are the way we view life. They are created from our culture, family, and society.

In the Present

Both of us agreed that mindfulness is the practice of being in the present and that this awareness is more than consciously acknowledging the moment. Fundamentally, it’s allowing our senses to fully awaken to what is going on and observing what is happening without attaching any thought, feelings, or emotions to it.

Definitions

Two definitions of mindfulness embrace the mindfulness philosophies that my colleague and I were describing. The first is Jon Kabat-Zinn’s, definition of mindfulness as, “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present, nonjudgmentally.” The second, on the other hand, is Ellen Langer’s definition, “actively noticing new things.” Ellen Langer is considered the mother of mindfulness.

Get Started

Interested in how can you gain a sense of freedom from living in the present? Here’s how.

  1. Open: Be open to the mindfulness practice.
  2. Time: Set aside some time. Even 5 minutes can help transform anyone from being a sceptic to a believer.
  3. Begin: Start the practice by purposely paying attention nonjudgmentally.
  4. Observe: Be a spectator of your mind and notice what comes up.
  5. Notice: How did you feel not having to spend any extra energy on the past or the future? How did it feel to just be in the moment? How did you feel afterwards?

Be Patient

Trust that the more you practice mindfulness the more you can feel the freedom from feelings and emotions that we have about the past and the future.

Think of mindfulness as another muscle that you can exercise and strengthen that will give you more health and vitality.

Try this practice for the next 2 weeks and journal your experience.

Contact me

If you need 1:1 coaching in how to begin and sustain your mindfulness practice contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today.

Self-Compassion for Work / Life Success

Self-Compassion for Work / Life Success
by Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, CIPP

Have you ever quit on a project because of a mistake?

Did that mistake make you doubt your own ability to complete a task? 

Did your inner critic feast on your blunder and allow your old thought patterns and belief systems to hijack you?

Instead of persevering, did you throw in the towel and give up?

You are not alone.

I’ve been there and done that! Situations like these have knocked me down for months, leaving me feeling insecure and incompetent. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and thought I was the only one who could make such a blunder. They shook my self-confidence and faith. Fortunately, I learned about the practice of self-compassion. Self-compassion lifted me up and helped me shake off the lingering “I’m a loser and leave me alone” mentality.

From what I discovered this feeling is not uncommon. Many of us have experienced this and while some stopped their projects all together, others gave themselves permission to be human and press forward. The latter group used self-compassion which helped them continue through until completion.

What is self-compassion?

I define this powerful practice of self-compassion as a commitment to accepting, befriending, and loving yourself, despite what you think about yourself. Simply put, it is compassion that you would give to someone you care about, turned inwardly towards yourself. It’s accepting all aspect of who you are no matter how imperfect you see yourself.

 

Kristen Neff’s research on self-compassion has found that this practice leads to a happy life and helps us cope and become resilient.

Recently Tufts Medical Center’s interim CEO invited me to speak at the Tufts Medical Center 1st Nursing Grand Rounds. I spoke about self-compassion and how it can help with self-happiness, resilience, and wellbeing. During one part of my speech, I explained that self-compassion can help us become more resilient when doing a task because it can be a source of inner strength that fuels us instead of one that frustrates and stops us. The grit and willingness to forge forward comes from knowing that trial and error is part of the creative process. Further, it is within these instances that we gain the sense of mastery over the process.

On the other hand, when a project is tackled with perfection in mind, any mistakes or delays can quickly be conceived as incompetence, ignorance, and a waste of valuable time. In this instance, the pressure to perform flawlessly adds to the stress which increases the chances of a flood of unwanted negative emotions that can increase the chance of more mistakes to happen.

To gain more success instead of more stress, next time you begin a project, try the practice of self-compassion. Not only will you complete the task, you will also enjoy the process along the way. The practice of self-compassion has helped me tremendously by stopping the self-punitive dialogue that gets triggered when I fail or make mistakes.

One quick self-compassion technique that can help you is to notice how you soothe or comfort yourself when you are stressed. Do you like warmth, a soothing touch, or comforting voice? The more you recognize what you do for yourself during these situations the more you can do for yourself in the future. Because we are human beings, we respond to the mammalian care-giving process of warmth, touch, or soothing voice. Next time you are stressed and need extra tender-loving-care (TLC), try any one of these three interventions to give yourself the self-compassion that you need to be a success at work or in life.

For coaching support and to learn more about self-compassion and how you can use it to gain more success in both your work and life, contact me at Debbielyn@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today.

“I Get to” vs. “I Have to”: How to Add Meaning to What You Do

I recently met with a CEO of a hospital to discuss a program that I want to do for health care professionals for stress reduction and wellbeing. In the 30 minutes we spent together, I got a sense of how passionate he was about being a doctor and a hospital administrator.

As he reminisced about the past and how he learned about leadership, he said something that struck me. He said that no matter how busy the day may seem, he “gets to” make a difference by doing something that he loves. While I left the meeting excited knowing that he fully supports the program, I also felt inspired by his work ethic. He said something that I don’t hear many leaders or manager say and that is “I get to…”

Whether it is at work or at home, the idea of having to do something can be tiring and frustrating, right?

How many times do you say to yourself, “I have to…”? 

“It’s Monday and I have to go to work today.” This mindset feels heavy and sad which makes the rest of the day drag even more.

I have to go to a lot of meetings today.” There is powerlessness and frenzy in this way of thinking which will make you less effective when joining these meetings. 

“My room is a mess and I have to clean.” There is no sense of importance in this way of thinking. That is probably why many procrastinate doing this chore. 

Next time you feel like this, stop and think about the difference it will make in those instances to say “I get to.” No matter how big or small. Make a mental list of what can’t be done without you. Once you have your list add the words “I Get to” in front of it so that you will feel better about your role. Whether you are a farmer, a cashier, or a nurse, remember that what you do matters and without you, your community may not thrive.

Notice the difference in the sentences below.

“It’s Monday and I get to go to work today.” There are many unemployed people out there who would switch position with you in a second.

I get to go to a lot of meetings today.” When you shift from the “have to” to “get to” mindset, you will be at your game in all your meetings instead of feeling lost.

“My room is a mess and I get to clean it.” Cleaning and decluttering are physical activities that allow you to burn calories and create room for abundance.

I invite you to play with these three words this week and notice how happy and fulfilled you feel at the end of the day. This is a great exercise that can add more meaning to your life.

If you need coaching on how to add more happiness and meaning into your life contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com . Also, if you like to color, be sure to purchase a copy of my latest book, The Happiness Result Art Therapy Coloring Book. It’s a great book for focusing, relaxing, and inspiration www.TheHappinessResult.com.

How to Use Gratitude for Stress Reduction and Resiliency


Next time, you find yourself in the middle of a project that is too stressful or tedious to do, think of gratitude. Gratitude can help you “hack” into your happiness so that you can reduce your stress and boost your productivity.

What exactly is gratitude?

Gratitude is not only a virtue, it is also a science, one of the 24 Character Strengths in the VIA Classification of Strengths, and a way of living a resilient life.

Researcher Robert Emmons, defines gratitude as a “felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.”

Gratitude trains the brain to look for the good. This heart-felt practice reminds us that we are connected to something bigger and greater than ourselves. It helps us realize that there is also something to be “thankful” for in every moment of our life no matter what or how we are feeling.

Here are 5 simple gratitude steps that you can use for stress reduction and productivity.

  1. Take three big deep breaths.
  2. Look around you.
  3. Find three (big or small) things to be grateful for.
  4. State why you are grateful for them. *Hint *If you can’t find anything, you are not looking hard enough. Look for something that if you didn’t have it, your work would be 10 times harder and longer to do.
  5. Notice how much better you feel just after a few minutes of doing this gratitude exercise.
  6. Repeat steps 1 – 5 until you feel better.

If you haven’t guessed by now, this whole “thank you” process is a simple way for you to cultivate the practice of gratitude. Studies have shown that gratitude builds optimism, reduces stress, and boosts happiness. Personally, my life was made even better from practicing gratitude. It’s enriched my relationships, helped me cope during my mother’s cancer journey, and also gave me a positive outlet when I felt overwhelmed. Gratitude is a practice that I enjoy teaching in my workshops and also in my coaching session with clients.

Great news!

I have opened up more slots to coach new clients. If you are looking for coaching to help you live the best version of your life, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

You will be thankful you did.

 

Create the Best Year of Your Life: Learn Three Self-Coaching Questions to Get Started By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, CIPP

Are you tired of your same old story?

Are you bored with life?

Are you ready to make this year better than you can ever imagine?

Let’s get started!

This year, challenge yourself by asking questions that will make 2018 the best year of your life.

Before you start asking yourself these questions, it’s important to understand why asking the right questions is really important. Basically, the questions you ask create your reality. It can help you shift from one state to another within minutes. It’s true!

The mind is obedient and intelligent. It’s programmed to answers questions. For example, when you ask the question, “What else can go wrong now?”, your mind will find anything that answers that question. We’ve all asked this question before and regretted asking it by the end of the day, right? On the other hand, when you ask, “What went well?” your mind will look for all that went well to answer your question. This question is an energy booster and will make you feel good.

Here are the three self-coaching questions you can ask yourself to help you stay true to your goals. Read them over once, then go back and take the time to answer questions from your heart.

1. AM I HAPPY?

According to Bronnie Ware’s work on the top regrets of the dying, the fifth regret was not allowing oneself to be happier. We all have a happiness set point. Some have more than others based on genetics and life circumstance. However, it’s important to know that you can cultivate more happiness from your intentions and actions. Happiness is not only a choice, it is also a skill that can be learned. While some people are born with more happiness genes than others, it is possible to become happier regardless of what is going on in your life.

Am I happy?

If your answer is “yes,” congratulations. Keep on doing what you are doing. Shine on!

If your answer is “no,” move on to the next question.

2. WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY?

Happiness is a positive emotion that raises your vibrational energy and makes you more attractive. Doing something that makes you happy, no matter how small it is, is enough to positively influence all areas of your life. Just as negative emotions such as sadness or anger can impact all areas of your life, happiness can do that too.

If you are not convinced, think of someone in your life that is genuine happy. Do you like being around that person? Do they seem charismatic and somehow attract people to them? Ask yourself, what makes you happy and then go on to the next question.

3. WHAT IS THE ONE THING THAT I CAN DO TODAY TO BE HAPPIER?

It can be daunting to all of sudden make major changes in your life even for the better. The best and only way to start creating positive habits is by taking small and consistent actions every day. The more you mindfully take small actions by chunking down your goals, the more they will seem doable. Ask yourself, what is the one small thing that you can do today to be happier. Once you determine what it is, do it right away before your logical mind start talking you out of it.

Once you take action. Notice how you feel. The more you recognize the difference in how you feel the more you will want to do it. Give yourself permission to have fun.

New Story

I hope these three self-coaching questions will help you add more adventure and abundance to your life. Ask these questions daily. The more you work with these questions, the more you can live with no regrets. Print out a copy of these questions and keep them close by. The more you ask these questions, the more they will help you create the best year of your life.

Happiness Result

If you need more help to reach your goals, contact me for 1:1 coaching. You can reach me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com. If you haven’t yet, gotten a copy of my book, The Happiness Result- More time, More health, More love, More success, click here to get your copy www.TheHappinessResult.com

Art Heals: Express Yourself and Reduce Stress with Art

Art Heals: Express Yourself and Reduce Stress with Art

by Debbie Lyn Toomey


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

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

Nightmare

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

Transformed

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

Wave

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

Morning

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

River

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

Tsunami

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

Stress

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

Depressed

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

Peace

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

Feelings

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

Balance

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

Tides

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

Express

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

Benefits

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

How?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happiness

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

Class

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

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.