Travelling to a foreign country can be rather exciting and stressful at the same time. You don’t know the customs, the people, the geographic area etc.. Even going to the USA from Canada, when you don’t travel much, can elevate stress levels. Thoughts that lean toward negativity, whether they are about airport check-in, customs and security, the type of plane, people or otherwise, can disrupt, worsen and even ruin a perfectly fine holiday away.

It is important to plan ahead, not just with practical things like packing, cars and sights to see, with who you are going to meet, but also planning how we are going to handle changes in plans, monkey wrenches and even attitudes about spending money.  Keeping positive, despite the normal unexpected challenges, is not an easy skill. We are, therefore, prudent to set some internal guidelines to keep our spirits up and to have a fun time. Discovering new ways to interpret the actions and motivations of others can help us stay in a positive frame of mind. Training our mind means shifting thoughts that fuel negative emotions and actions toward the intentional selection of  thoughts that fuel positive emotional and behavioural states.

Viewing all people as generally good, kind and caring can go a long way as can the thought; “I am to be polite, kind and courteous no matter the situation”. On our trip this past weekend, to Washington DC and the Baltimore area, we had plenty of opportunity to get flustered or “out-of-sorts” and that negative voice in the back of my head offered numerous reasons to do so.  Some of the situations that could easily have turned into awful experiences, based upon my potential handling of the moment, actually turned out quite well because I did not listen to my “stinkin thinkin” … for very long anyway.  “Take a few really deep breaths” was the message to myself as the girl at the check-in counter became… well let’s just say… a little disconcerting and a whole lot unfriendly!

For some time now, I have repeatedly discovered that being gracious begets a similar response. Being good, kind, understanding, patient etc. mostly leads to receiving similar responses from others. This may not be right at the moment, yet it seems to be a very consistent phenomenon provided we wait for it. In a hurried and rushed world we may often want results right away, expecting people to be nice immediately just because we have been. Is there a time limit or expiry date on goodness and graciousness? Can we ever really give too much of this.

Make any trip, experience or journey out of your comfort zone more positive by being mindful of your own thought selection. We can increasingly search for, reach for and develop more thoughts that portray a “goodness to gracious” view, thereby improving our journey along this road of life.


Who Knew?

Are you expecting your first child? At first you can’t wait to share the news with your family and loved ones. You get to hear such sweet and sincere congratulations and best wishes. Then a couple of weeks pass by and the advice starts creeping in from all avenues.

It’s so nice that people want to share their self-proclaimed words of wisdom with you but when do you get to press a pause button? When do you get to say that you already know that you can’t have sushi?

Daily articles begin to fill your inbox about pregnancy, flu shots or the latest report on a child possibly killed due to a vaccination. Sometimes you just want to scream, “Can I have my child first!”

Amidst the barrage of uninvited advice, we may dare to share some of our thoughts about how we will be raising our child (e.g. cloth diapers, not using formula, and planning a natural childbirth). Instead of words of encouragement, we often receive looks or comments that obviously imply we probably won’t be, shouldn’t be or certainly wouldn’t be carrying these ideas out.

Your body is changing, hormones may be racing, and you can’t get away from friendly advice or simple reminders. The best option is not to hide that you are having a baby (although it may seem tempting), but instead take care of yourself. Find, improve and develop coping strategies to relax and ease your mind, eat healthy, and do yoga!

Think positive thoughts, breathe deeply and remember, you are about to be part of a miracle… child birth.

How often do we think or feel we just can’t go on at our present job. “The boss isn’t listening” or “The demands are too high”.  If I hear we’re going to “do more with less” one more time…!!!

Before you do something or say something impulsively that will cost you your job, your income and most likely increase your stress… take three to five slow (20 second) deep breaths. A lot of people are not aware that less oxygen triggers your sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight” ) and your adrenal gland (adrenaline rush) which acts to reduce clear and rational thinking.  While we think our fight or flight mechanism is only triggered by life threatening event, like a bear coming out of the woods or a car close to hitting us, it can actually be triggered by our own thoughts or, at least, the thoughts we choose to focus on.

The next time you feel your heart start beating a little faster at work, your blood pressure begin to boil and your thoughts about your boss, a colleague, or your job become more negative… STOP (Share The Oxygenation Plan) ... take three to five 20 second breaths and then you’ll be better able to clearly think about options, solutions and strategies to resolve the particular issue(s). You can do this many times per day during mild or intensely frustrating moments. By using deep breathing and other relaxation strategies you will not only have better access to your brain and, thus, sharper thinking, you will also be more light-hearted, more approachable and others will be better able to hear your ideas.

If your work-life balance becomes too difficult to manage, contact our professional counsellors in Oshawa to pick up the tools and strategies that can help you regain your sense of emotional balance and confidence at work. To help you improve fast, call, email or even Skype us  today.