Author: Cheryl Wilson-Stewart

Maintain The Cheerful Vibe This Winter

Maintain The Cheerful Vibe This Winter

BRING ON THE CHEER!

Knowing the months ahead will be a challenge to everyone’s mental health I’m proactively creating a plan to stay cheerful! I want to manage anxiety, stay cheerful and radiate vibrant health.

Here’s the list I’ve compiled. If you’re like me you’ll need a few strategies, that work together to make this a winter filled with peace and joy.

THE PLAN TO STAY CHEERFUL

  1. Revisit your best TEACHERS. Dig out books, quotes, figures or songs that you treasure most. Take the time to immerse yourself in the ideas that re-orient you to your joy center.
  2. Permission to REST. The rested version of ourselves is more able to stay cheerful than the version that’s sluggish or in survival mode. Give yourself permission to snuggle in, get toasty warm and take a break during the day, read a few pages of a book or have a little cat nap.
  3. Make a JOY list. Big small, logical or not, make a list of experiences that bring you joy. Include as many small things as you can and include a few of them in your plans for the day or week. Joy can have a real effect on our brain chemistry, fueling and strengthening us more than we know.
  4. Choose your WORDS. Regardless of where you are but especially in the throes of any big life struggle, take a pause and ask yourself – What qualities do I need most right now? Write them down. Address them one at a time. Each morning engage in the OH MY WORD daily ritual by drawing and colouring the chosen word on your daily page. The word will return to you throughout the day and be reflected in your experiences. Repeat the same word day after day until you feel it is a part of you before moving onto the next.
  5. Try ADAPTOGENS. These are a class of herbs and foods that help us achieve equilibrium in body and mind. A few common ones are rishi, maca, ashwagandha, and rhodiola. Do your research and start slowly.
  6. Gaze into a LIGHT THERAPY lamp. This may sound a little woo woo but it works! Turn the lamp on for 15 minutes in the morning and feel your mood lighten. You can actually feel yourself getting cheerier. It’s particularly good for people who suffer from SADS.
  7. Take a STEAMING BATH. I love this I fill the tub with hot water and lavender Epsom salts and a squeeze of bubble bath. I do it right before bed and then curl up like a happy, little kitten.
  8. Get a stack of FUNNY BOOKS and MOVIES. Keep the laugh muscle exercised.
  9. Light CANDLES. There’s something about candles that makes me… exhale….”aaaahhhh”. Have them flickering in the kitchen, bedroom, living room, dinner table.
  10. Engage in HOBBIES. Hobbies make us happy. They boost creativity and confidence. Having a hobby is a radical form of selflove and care because you are taking the time to engage in something you love. So, what interests you? Genealogy, pet fostering, crafting, puzzling, writing? Need ideas? Check out hobbies on Wikipedia there are over 600 to choose from!
  11. HOST a virtual group. Common interests bring us together, create a bond and give us a place to belong. Keep the group small and manageable so everyone will have a chance to contribute and get to know each other.
  12. JOIN virtual groups. Why not be a part of several groups that represent your interests? You stay connected and benefit from a sharing of thoughts and ideas with a diverse group of people.
  13. Make DATES. The single biggest predictor of human resilience is support from other people. Set up dates (phone, virtual or in person) with loved ones and friends. Establish your own covid19 safe pod or bubble so you can spend in person time with loving, supportive people.
  14. WALK…walk…walk. Walking has been a mental health lifeline for so many people during the pandemic. Keep it up all year. If you can brave the weather suit up, bundle up and connect your feet with the earth.
  15. Keep an OPEN MIND. Instead of looking ahead into the cold winter months with a sense of foreboding expect that winter will be a beautiful season. We attract into our lives what we think about.
  16. Remind yourself it’s NORMAL. If you have a not-so-good day remind yourself it’s perfectly normal. This acknowledgement will lessen any anxiety and allow the cheerful’s in. When I have an ‘ugh’ day I take deep breaths to reset and then open my OH MY WORD journal regardless of the time of day and draw and colour – LET GO. This goes a long way in releasing any negative energy.
  17. LIMIT news time. Too much news these days is just not good. Remember our thoughts create our reality so if we allow ourselves to be constantly consumed by news those news stories and the associated feelings will solely create the world in which we live. Find a balance of staying formed and being engaged in things you LOVE.
  18. Yoga, mindful mediation, deep breathing, journaling practices. All help maintain psychological equilibrium and restore cheer.
  19. Proactive CHEERFULNESS. Focus on what is going right in your life right now. Research has found that having a ratio of 3 positive things to every negative emotion helps people flourish. Grab on to the positives and hold onto them throughout day.
  20. Find JOY in what you have vs what you don’t. The tough stuff is meant to challenge us. It encourages us to develop new qualities and find new solutions and silver linings. We can seek to be cheerful in the face of adversity or we can succumb to the negativity around us. The choice is always…ours. This point was brought home in spades last summer when I was in India. I saw small communities of people (parents, children, adolescents, elders) living on the medians dividing traffic. They were always happy, the (beautiful) women crouched, engaged with each other; the kids laughing, playing; the elders working with their hands. The community buzzed with life. They weren’t thinking about what they didn’t have but what they did.

I hope you find some strategies on this list that resonate with you. Taking care of our mental health has never been more important than now.

Take care friends. Be healthy. Be well. Wishing you warm cheer and positive vibes.

 

 

Choose JOY

Choose JOY

“We cannot cure the world of sorrows. But we can choose to live in joy.”

Joseph Campbell

There is a lot of frustration and unease in the world right now. Fear and uncertainty are at an all time high. Many of us have lost the capacity to find joy and see the magic in being alive. After all a lot of us are just trying to make it through the day. We’re stuck in a struggle because we don’t have clarity and we can’t move forward because we don’t know what the future looks like.

CHOOSING JOY

These are exactly the times when we can’t forget about joy it steers us in the direction of understanding and connects us to who we truly are. I don’t know about you but I’m not waiting for joy to find me I’m taking the bull by the horns and choosing it. I’m on a mission to capture it and bring it into my life.

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”

Henri J. M. Nouwen

Choosing JOY

JOY JOLTS

I’m creating JOY JOLTS for myself. These are sudden abrupt moments I give to myself that immediately spark joy, soothe my spirit and take me out of my head and into my heart.

Here’s some of the JOY JOLTS I’ve given to myself so far:
• Reread saved messages, cards and notes from loved ones and friends. Makes the heart swell instantly.
• Found pictures of myself as a kid full of excitement, wonder and awe and posted them. Enliven my spirit.
• Deleted all social media that doesn’t uplift.
• Replaced the regular news with good newscasts like these… www.goodnewsnetwork.org www.happynews.com  www.gimundo.com

JOY JOLTS create instant joy.

JOY JOLTS that take a little more time

Heart opener

Oh…oh ….oh…I love these they feel so good. I include them in my yoga practice daily. If you aren’t into yoga you can still give yourself a heart opener. Place your hands on your heart and take a few deep breaths. Connect to your physical body and tune in to the thoughts and energy of your mind. Notice what’s going on up there. As you continue to breathe with your hands on your heart, allow your whole body to fill up with a sense of openness to your upcoming day. See yourself joyfully connected to your day. Even if there are things that feel overwhelming or intense, invite the energy of joy into those moments and see how it makes your body feel instead. Before you close out this ritual and begin the day, ask yourself “What is one self-loving act I will do for myself today?” or “What is one self-loving choice I will commit to for myself today?”

Noting what makes you joyful

Take out a pen and paper and write out the things that make you feel joyful. Anything and everything that you can come up with — write it down. When you feel complete, close your eyes and begin to slowly allow each of those ideas to enter into your body, almost like a visualization of the moment being present inside of you. Feel into the vibration you connect with when you recall these things. After a few moments, notice how you feel. Begin to breathe through those feeling of joy without any restrictions. Visualize yourself with joy inside of your whole body for the rest of your day or week. Ask to be shown what joy ‘looks like’ for you for the rest of the day. See yourself embodied in this place and let it settle into each cell of your body, mind and heart. Take this visualized feeling into the day with you and open up to that feeling with a deep breath at any moment to come back to your joy state.

Remembering joyful moments
What brings you joy?
The joy of children is contagious

Giving JOY

Perform one act of kindness during the day to give joy to someone else. Anything from a text message to someone you love letting them know that you appreciate them to holding the door open for someone qualifies here. Make an email introduction to two people who may be able to support one another’s work. Plant a small herb or give someone a plant. Make the simple effort to recycle or pick up a piece of trash on the street. All of these micro-moments can create a macro-impact on those around you and You!

Giving joy to friends

Make a JOY JAR

A Joy Jar is about noting, collecting and celebrating the joy in your life from the small moments to the big ones. Capturing and transferring them into a tangible form that can be seen and reviewed at any time. From a neurochemical standpoint celebrating ‘joys’ over and over provides a dopamine rush that makes us feel good all over again.

Celebrating unabashed JOY

Create JOY

Another way to joy is to ‘create’…when we aren’t creating a part of us feels stuck and frustrated. Creating is expressing ourselves from our hearts instead of our heads and makes us feel good. How do you create? Do you build, cook, sew, knit, weave, write, doodle? There are thousands of ways to create. Do a little bit every day.

Tapping into Creativity every morning

Every morning I tap into my creativity. I start by asking myself, who I want to be or how I want to feel or how I want to express myself today. I sit quietly. I wait for the one-word response. You’d be surprised how quickly one little word can cut through a lot of baggage and bring you back to center. I draw and colour my word in my OH MY WORD journal. This 5-minute process triggers my creativity and instantly brings back the joy of my 6 year old self. This feeling plus the ‘thought interruption’ I’ve created in my brain sets the tone for the entire day.

A page from my OH MY WORD journal. Today I choose to .. feel JOY

YOU DESERVE JOY

You deserve to be awed by life. You deserve joy that lights up your life. Our lives today are filled with new challenges making it essential to give ourselves the JOY JOLTS that fill the heart, soothe the soul and give us the joy, peace, and fulfillment we crave.

OH MY WORD is a helpful tool to create more JOY in your life.

OH MY WORD Journal can be a helpful tool in creating more Joy in your life.

OH MY WORD is a science backed, 5 minute daily journal that will help you zap the anxiety and amplify the Joy in your life .

  • Replaces negative thoughts with positive joyful ones you choose
  • Positive thoughts flood the body with dopamine and serotonin
  • Helps relieve stress and anxiety

OH MY WORD Journal can be purchased here:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

Amazon.ca

Chapters/Indigo

Please share with anyone you know who needs more Joy.

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

They all tend to fall into a shared basket of maladies in the 21st century. Do you suffer from a triumvirate of all three or does one create major havoc in your life?

If that’s the case …. which one?

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

The New York Times recently had a great article by Emma Pattee that explains the difference between anxiety, worry and stress. Since one or all affects most of us, I thought it would be great to offer a summary. You can read Pattee’s article here.

What’s WORRY?

Worry is characterized by being obsessive and repetitive. It’s when our minds ruminate and dwell on negative thoughts, uncertainties or things that could possibly go wrong. Melanie Greenberg, a clinical psychologist in Mill Valley, Calif and author of The Stress Proof Brain explains it this way, “worry is the cognitive component of anxiety. That means worry happens only in the mind and not in the body. When we worry it calms the brain down, it’s likely to cause us to problem solve or take action. Worry is a way for the brain to handle problems in order to keep us safe. Its only when we get stuck thinking about a problem that worry stops being functional and start becoming negative.”  

If you’ve been in the clutches of worry you know how tightly it can hang on and consume our thoughts.

Dr. Luana Marques an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and President of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests taking these steps to manage worry:

  1. Give yourself a worry budget and only allow yourself to worry for a specified amount of time (i.e. 20 minutes) when the time is up. Redirect your thoughts.
  2. When you’re worried push yourself to take action to move the thought out of your mind.
  3. Write your worries down. Studies show that 8-10 minutes of writing can calm repetitive thoughts.

What’s STRESS?

Stress is a physiological response to an external event like a deadline, doctor’s appointment or exam that exceeds the individual’s resources.

Stress used to be a natural response to a threat like a lion lurking nearby. Today we’re not faced with lions but traffic, work and relationship expectations and financial issues that fire up the limbic system and release adrenaline and cortisol which help activate the brain and body to deal with the threat. Symptoms of stress are a rapid heartbeat, clammy palms and shallow breathing. While it might feel good  at first as adrenaline floods the body and gives you a boost to reach a deadline or get to an appointment, it becomes chronic stress if your body stays in this fight-or-flight mode continuously. Chronic stress can lead to many health concerns like digestive issues, increased risk of heart disease and a weakening of the immune system. Try these to manage stress.

  1. Exercise is a way for your body to recover from the increased production of adrenaline and cortisol.
  2. Know what you can control and let go of what you can’t.

What’s ANXIETY?

Anxiety is the culmination of both worry and stress. It is both cognitive and physiological. This means we experience anxiety in both mind and body. It takes worry and stress to the next level. Dr. Marques explains it this way, “anxiety in some ways is a response to a false alarm. An example would be you show up at work and someone gives you a look. You start to experience all the physiology of a stress response because you’re telling yourself that the boss is upset with you or that your job might be at risk. The blood is flowing, the adrenaline pumping and your body is in fight-or-flight but there is no predator nearby. The threat is in your mind.”

Dr Marques reminds us that there is a difference between feeling anxiety which can be a normal part of life and having an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is a medical condition that may include stress and/or worry. Suggestions to manage simple anxiety.

  1. Limit Sugar, caffeine and alcohol
  2. Wiggle your toes – this kind of refocusing can calm you and break the anxiety loop.
  3. Distract yourself – go for a run, listen to music, cuddle a pet, or rub a piece of Velcro or velvet.

In SUMMARY

Worry happens in the mind.

Stress happens in the body.

Anxiety happens in both mind and body.

In small doses worry, stress and/or anxiety can be positive forces in our lives.  It is when it escalates and stops us from acting in healthy, positive ways that it becomes an issue that needs addressing.

OH MY WORD can be a helpful management tool for worry, stress anxiety.

OH MY WORD Journal can be helpful in managing anxiety, worry and stress.

OH MY WORD is a science backed, 5 minute daily journal that will help you transform negative thoughts, ease anxiety and worry and cultivate joy in your life.

  • Replaces negative thoughts with positive ones you choose thus redirecting the worry.
  • Positive thoughts flood the body with dopamine and serotonin diluting and effects of adrenaline and cortisol.
  • Creates a creative, mindful distraction from anxiety.

OH MY WORD Journal can be purchased here:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

Amazon.ca

Chapters/Indigo

 

Breathwork takes OH MY WORD practice deeper

Breathwork takes OH MY WORD practice deeper

I took my life back from the grip of anxiety with two strategies: journaling (in a novel way) and breathwork.

As someone who suffered from anxiety for most of my adult life, I was always on the lookout for strategies that would help me.

I felt like my life had been saved 6 years ago when I started doing ‘heart doodles’ which I would later become OH MY WORD – the insanely simple daily journal to intentionally become who you want to be.  With my daily intentional word, I was able to replace my disabling negative thoughts with positive ones I chose. I was in the driver’s seat of my life and my anxiety relegated to the locked trunk.  I was free to become the person I wanted to be living with ease and joy.

But that’s not where the story ends.

In the last 2 years I’ve added another strategy or rather I’ve learned a new skill which has taken my daily practice to an even deeper level.

 I learned to breathe.

I’d tried meditation it was a no-go

Years ago, doctors and therapists has encouraged me to try meditation as a way to disable anxiety. I tried it but when I’d sit down to meditate my thoughts would ramp up making endless lists, working to solve problems that hadn’t yet happened, chewing on the past and beating myself up over what I could have done better or even trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  The chatter was endless.

For someone with anxiety like myself meditation was a no-go.

My old breathing patterns

Like a lot of anxiety sufferers, I was a shallow, chest breather and a breath holder.  A double whammy! The way I was breathing was sending my sympathetic nervous system into overdrive activating the fight-or-flight response and filling my body with the stress hormone cortisol. My anxiety driven breathing patterns had put me in a continuous state of fight-or-flight, filled with cortisol and always on the run from tigers, bears and my own negative thoughts.

OK so a little bit of fear is good it can keep us safe but having too much of it is unhealthy for every part of body, mind, heart and spirit.

The new breathing

I didn’t fully understand how powerful breath was until I started doing yoga and learned about the ujjayi breath. It’s also called the ocean sounding breath and when I did it, I was always left with a sense of calm and ease.

How it works

When we engage in deep rhythmic, coherent breathing we activate the vagus nerve, turn on our parasympathetic nervous system and pump the brakes on anxiety and stress. As our physiology returns to its natural inherent state, our minds calm and our hearts open. We’re able to move the breath down from our chest and into our belly, breathing in an intention or a thought we want and breathing out thoughts, beliefs, memories or actions that we don’t want. After breathing this way, we feel good, more equipped to handle stress and anxiety melts away.

Breathwork is an active form of meditation

I did learn to meditate after all. Breathwork is like an active form of meditation. It  allowed me to consciously work my breath, bypassing the chattering (monkey) mind to enter a different state of awareness. What most people seek in meditation I was able to get by simply breathing. It allowed me to disconnect from the mind and reconnect with the body, energy and enter a different state of consciousness. This altered state enhanced my healing, clarity, peace and wholeness.

Here are some different breathing techniques to try:

The one I use

The one that I use every day is very simple. I take a long slow inhale in through my nose and exhale through my mouth out making sure the exhale is longer than the inhale. This sends the body into a more parasympathetic state, lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels and it can relieve feelings of depression. I sometimes count in 1-2-3-4- and out 1-2-3-4-5-6. I see a naturopath regularly and I was always telling her how my breathing practice was developing. She would conduct her own examination. She would stop me after one of our super animated conversations and say, “I’m going to take your blood pressure in one minute.” I would start breathing and she would test my blood pressure. She was always amazed at how low it was after just a minute of breathing.

The Ujjayi Breath

The ujjayi breath I mentioned earlier is where you breath in through your nose to a count of 4 –  hold at the top for a second – exhale through the nose (from the back of the throat producing an ocean sounding breath) to a count of  4 – hold at the base. Repeat. I often do this lying down with one hand on my belly so I can feel the rise and fall and one hand on my heart.

Box Breathing

Start by releasing all the air from your chest and hold your breath for 4 seconds, then breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds, the hold your breath for 4 seconds, then exhale out through the nose for 4 seconds. Repeat for 5 minutes to feel the effects.

 Relaxing breath from Dr Andrew Weil

Relaxing breath also known as 4-7-8 breath slows the heart rate and brings consciousness to the present moment. It also teaches the body how to take in less, release more and create space between inhales and exhales. By creating space between stimulus and response, this breath has a practical application in the stressful moments  we encounter on a daily basis.

How to do:

Start by releasing all the air from your chest and inhale through the nose for 4 seconds, then hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale out of the mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat the cycle up to 4 times.

Coherent breathing from Stephen Elliot

While our natural tendency is to breath at a rate of 2 or 3 seconds per breath, this controlled and conscious breathing which is common practice within yogic traditions) slows our inhales and exhales down to 4 seconds, then 5 seconds and beyond. The intention of this breath is to increase heart rate variability which calms the body and can affect heart rate, digestion, concentration, vitality, sleep and stress response.

How to do:

To start, focus on the natural rhythm of your breath to obtain a baseline length of each inhale and exhale. Then for 1 minute breath in for 4 seconds an exhale for 4 seconds. Then repeat for 5 seconds, then for 6 second and if you are able gradually expand to 10 seconds. Whatever elongated breath you work up to maintain it for 5 minutes to start and work your way up over time to 20 minutes.

Breathwork is available to everyone

Breathwork is available to everyone and can be very healing and restorative for people who dealing with stress, anxiety, fear, grief, sadness, anger or insomnia. But it’s also nourishing  for anyone who is looking to go deeper in their search of love, peace, gratitude, clarity, connection and insight in their life.

AAAAHHHHH…. hearty rate slows, blood pressure and cortisol levels drop. You feel a sense of peace.

AAAAAhhhhhhh……..

OH MY WORD tip:

Use breathwork to deepen your OH MY WORD practice. When you’re sitting at your desk, stuck in traffic, in line at the grocery store or at the bank. Breathe in your intentional word and breathe out your word. This moves your intention that much deeper into your mind and body.

Breathe into your intentional word.

Does anxiety and negative thought stop You from being the person you want to be and following your dreams? OH MY WORD is a science based, 5 minute, one-word daily journal that allows you to take charge of your life, become the person you want to be and live with joy and fulfillment.

ONE WORD CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Buy OH MY WORD here:

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Indigo/Chapters

Barnes & Noble

 

The daily practice that wires happiness

The daily practice that wires happiness

When we ask ourselves, what makes us happy we generally think of the people in our lives, circumstances and possessions.

But in reality, happiness is mostly a chemical experience.

There are 4 main neurochemicals, hormones and neurotransmitters generated in the brain that are fundamentally responsible for creating the sensations and emotions we associate with happiness – endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.

The good news is that with a little bit of knowledge we can trigger happiness whenever we want.

So, the next time anxiety threatens to extinguish your joy or life feels out of control or not exactly the way you’d like it to be there are simple things you can do to take charge, increase your happy chemicals and dramatically change how you feel.

Happiness is on the Way

Endorphins

Endorphins are produced by the central nervous system and help us deal with physical pain. They also make us feel lightheaded and giddy. They produce what we know as the ‘runner’s high’ and also the good feeling after just 30 minutes of walking. If this is the boost you need, get walking outside in nature versus a treadmill and amplify the good feelings.

Serotonin

Serotonin is the best know happiness chemical neurotransmitter. It is naturally triggered by several things we each do every day. Getting out in the sunshine and happy thoughts (like the ones you experience from journaling in your OH MY WORD journal) stimulate the production of serotonin. If you‘re an OH MY WORD journaler this is awesome news because as you know the happy thoughts and good feelings experienced during the morning ritual repeat throughout the day thus generating a steady flow of serotonin.

Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter often referred to as the chemical of ‘reward’. After you accomplish a task like completing your 5-minute OH MY WORD daily ritual you receive a pleasurable hit of dopamine in your brain that tells you – way to go…good job! Thoughts of loving kindness can bring on a dopamine high too so spread the love with a loving intention and keep the dopamine hits continuing all day.

Oxytocin

Oxytocin is primarily associated with loving touch and close relationships. It’s the warm fuzzies that make us tingle all over. To get an instant hit of oxytocin give someone you love a cuddle even a furry friend will do the trick.

There you have it! The 4 feel good hormones and neurotransmitters and how they work.  Now you can trigger them whenever you want.

OH MY WORD Journal

Start OH MY WORD journaling and get a big hit of both serotonin and dopamine first thing every morning.

Now that’s the way to get The Happy Factor at work in your life.

Zap Anxiety and Amplify Joy + Happiness

Does anxiety and negative thought stop You from being the person you want to be and following your dreams? OH MY WORD is a science based, 5 minute, one-word daily journal that allows you to take charge of your life, become the person you want to be and live with joy and fulfillment.

ONE WORD CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

 

Get your OH MY WORD Journal here:

Chapter/Indigo

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

 

Relief From Anxiety

Relief From Anxiety

ANXIETY. It makes your head feel like it’s sandwiched in a vice grip. You mind overwhelmed with thoughts of fear, doubt and worry.

Did you know that from the time a girl reaches puberty until the age of 50 she is twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than a man?

WHY WOMEN ARE MORE AFFECTED THAN MEN

Differences in brain chemistry may account for part of these differences. The brain system involved in the fight-or-flight response is activated more readily in women and stays activated longer than men, partly as a result of the action of estrogen and progesterone.

The neurotransmitter serotonin may also play a role in the responsiveness to stress and anxiety. Some evidence suggests that the female brain does not process serotonin as quickly as the male brain. Unfair as it may be, it’s a simple fact, women suffer from anxiety much more often than men.

I KNOW THE PAIN I’VE BEEN THERE

I suffered from anxiety for most of my life. Mine would manifest as a loop that went around and around and keep me trapped until I could break it. I was basically held hostage by my own negative thoughts. My family and close friends described me as an intense, tightly wound, obsessive person who sometimes disappeared down a rabbit hole. Not who I wanted to be. Other people didn’t know the struggle I was engaged in because I had cultivated a glossy, upbeat façade that fooled everyone. Maintaining that was a struggle in itself.

Always looking…

I was always looking for relief and ways to break the loop. I tried so many things, exercise (helped) mediation (couldn’t concentrate), affirmations (no effect), chanting (not for me), journaling (too much writing), vitamin and herbal therapy (didn’t work).

One of the things I started to do was to write down quotes that I found meaningful on an index card and tack them on my bulletin board. One day instead of writing the quote I wrote the word from the quote that had the most meaning for me … the word was joy. I wrote JOY and drew a big heart around it and then I dug out pencil crayons, glitter and sparkles and I started to play. I felt like I was channeling my inner 6-year old.  I remember tacking my it up on my bulletin board and smiling. The interesting thing was as the day went on, I kept flashing on my card. I would be reminded of the word JOY and I’d be filled with those good feelings all over again.

A few days later I did it again and tried another word. I had the same experience I was reminded of my word as I went through the day and I felt the feelings.

 I started doing more of these.

I choose words that represented who I wanted to be or what I thought I needed that day. I always had the same experience.  The word which was my intention for the day became top of mind and the loudest voice in my head as I went through the day. Whether I was in line at the grocery store, driving or at the bank I would be reminded of my intention. I would see word. I would feel the word.  The word was reflected in my experiences. I felt good.

 I called these heart doodles.

I became a disciplined heart doodler choosing an intentional word and drawing and coloring it every morning. I refined it further and started titling each page Today I CHOOSE to…TODAY made it immediate and kept me present not focused on what happened yesterday or what might be coming up tomorrow.  CHOOSE reminded me that I choosing to be in charge of my life and how I felt.

What I started to notice was that the loop of anxiety that had been my permanent side kick wasn’t there and in its place were my intentional words and feelings that I was choosing every morning.

After all the things I’d tried this ‘heart doodle’ strategy worked.

That was 6 years ago.

Heart doodles become OH MY WORD as I shared it in the workshops for women I facilitated through my Red Shoe Zone blog.

Benefits of OH MY WORD:

  • Lowers stress and eases anxiety
  • Sets the tone for the day when done first thing in the morning
  • Retrains your brain to think in new ways
  • Makes your positive intentional thoughts the loudest voices in your head
  • Allows you to choose who you will be, how you will express yourself and how you will live- you are in control
  • Allows you to interrupt negative habitual thoughts and replace them with positive ones

Other ways to reduce anxiety that helped me:

  • Cut down on caffeine
  • Get regular exercise
  • Take deep belly breaths
  • Eat well balanced healthy meals

Purchase OH MY WORD on Amazon.com

Purchase OH MY WORD on Amazon.ca

Purchase OH MY WORD at Chapters/Indigo

How to Stop Negative Thoughts From Taking Over

How to Stop Negative Thoughts From Taking Over

Sometimes it feels like negative thoughts have taken over our brains. They move in and refuse to budge reminding us of worst-case scenarios and incessantly asking what if? They tell us why we can’t do something and why none of our ideas will work.

Did you know we each think between 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day and the majority of these are habitual and the voices of fear, doubt, worry and anxiety?  We infuse these thoughts with so much emotional energy, they become the biggest, loudest most powerful thoughts in our head.

Out with the old in with the new

We need a way to replace the negative, nagging thoughts with those representing the highest intentions of who we are and want to be.   It’s not that we don’t have positive thoughts, we do. It’s just that they’re busy navigating the 1,000-lane thought expressway, battling thousands of blaring thought streams while attempting to generate energy and gain momentum.

It’s a tough go for these positive intentional thoughts.

You can see how the highest expression of who we are, what we want and how we want to live our lives might get lost in the chaos.

There’s good news!

The good news is that we, as the creator of our lives, can crank up the volume by becoming clear on what we want, choosing an intention and moving it from thought to action every morning.

Thoughts need activation

To activate, our intentions need fuel to move from head into heart. This fuel supply is provided by the emotions and allows for the integration of body and mind where the real magic happens.

It’s like this. When we understand something intellectually (left side of the brain) and then make it ‘experiential’ by moving it into our emotions (right side of the brain) we are providing the life-giving fuel our intentions need to be turned on. We can then think and feel the thought.

When we experience the thought, we can change. 

The rewired brain

This experiential process actually rewires the brain, causing the neurons to create new patterns and producing a chemical that the body remembers as we move through the day.

This is also a form of what scientists call metacognition – which means it’s a way of tricking the brain into achieving our greatest good. We’ve successfully interrupted and distracted the negative disempowering thoughts with super charged intentional thoughts allowing them to break through the congestion and get to work.

OH, MY WORD gets the job done

When you do the simple five-minute OH MY WORD morning ritual it interrupts the negative thought patterns and alters the brain, causing the neurons to start firing in new ways. The mind remembers your intention and is on the lookout for ways to manifest and make it concrete.

You Think it. Feel it. Live it.

You are actively creating who you want to be by using just a word.

So, I ask you.

Who do you want to be? How do you want to express yourself?

Find a word that represents your deepest intention.

Draw the word.

Colour it.

Through the drawing and colouring process you’ve moved the thought from intellect (left side of the brain) to experiential (right side of the brain).

A new neural pathway has been created.

The rewiring process has begun.

Negative thought disabled.

Replaced by highest intention positive thought that you chose.

Bingo!

BUY OH, MY WORD in Canada at Chapters/Indigo

BUY OH, MY WORD in US and International at  Amazon

 

 

 

 

Tips For Making Your OH, MY WORD Practice (even more) Awesome!

Tips For Making Your OH, MY WORD Practice (even more) Awesome!

OH, MY WORD journaling has been described as a 5-minute active mediation.

Get cozy in a comfy chair, sip your morning coffee or tea, choose an intentional word that describes who you want to be, draw and colour.

In that 5 minutes you’ve interrupted an old, negative, habitual thought and replaced it with a positive new one, created a new neural pathway and begun to rewire your brain.

How’s that for a good use of your time??

OH, MY WORD journaling makes you feel great. There are a few things you can do to intensify your practice and make it even more effective.

It’s a 5 minute active meditation

6 ways to make OH, MY WORD (even more) awesome.

1. FIND YOUR BEST TIME

My favourite time to do OH, MY WORD is first thing in the morning because it sets the tone for the entire day.  But it can be successfully adapted for families (in the evening) and to fit work schedules.

2. USE GOOD QUALITY PENCIL CRAYONS

Use good quality pencil crayons…usually described as ‘artist quality’. These are just more fun to work with! They are smooth and velvety on the paper, they blend well and the colours are particularly vibrant and beautiful. Claire Moore (illustrator of OH, MY WORD) has offered her recommendations. Check them out here. 

3. MAKE YOUR INTENTIONAL WORD ACTIVE

When you complete the sentence Today I choose to….. make sure the word (or phrase) you choose is active. Verbs like love, forgive, trust, explore, experiment, create, see, listen are great examples. If you choose a word that isn’t a verb you can make it active by adding ‘be’ (ie be grateful, be peaceful, be vulnerable, be generous, be free, be present etc). Short phrases work very well too when made active like…. go for it, take a risk, speak my truth, stand up.  Making the word active catapults you into that state of  ‘being’ and super charges the intention and your day.

4. TAKE 3 DEEP BREATHS AND THINK OF YOUR WORD

Throughout the day when you’re stuck in traffic, in line at the grocery store, waiting at the doctor or dentist’s office take 3 deep breaths and think of your word. What I do it is see my word on the page.  I take a deep belly breath inhaling through the nose to count of 4 holding it at the top and exhaling to a count of 6 (I exhale through my nose you can exhale through your mouth if you prefer) holding at the bottom and repeat. This has the power to make me super chill in just a couple minutes. Plus, I’ve breathed all that energy and power into my word. Very satisfying.  Very uplifting. Very powerful.

5. FEEL FREE TO USE SAME WORD OVER AND OVER

This is the most commonly asked question by OH, MY WORD journalers . Can I repeat a word? Yes…yes…and YES! You can repeat a word as many times as you like for as long as you like. What you do have to do is draw it on a fresh page every day. I’ve repeated certain words over and over and over. The only person that knows when its time to move on is You.

6. WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH – KEEP GOING

We all hit patches when the going gets tough. We’re overwhelmingly busy, dealing with a setback, in crisis mode whatever it is the we feel like we’re struggling in the trenches. Don’t stop OH, MY WORD journaling! Have you ever noticed that when things get challenging in our lives we often stop doing all the things that are good for us. We say things like, “It’s just not the ‘right’ time to…. (go to the gym, meditate, journal, get out in nature, eat healthy food etc….). Let me tell you as one whose been there it’s the ‘right-est’ time EVER. Do. Not. Stop. Get something on the page even if its…Today I choose to…breathe. This can be particularly good since when we’re in the trenches we often hold our breath and forget to breathe! I promise it will help.

THE BONUS …..

Colour outside the lines.

Channel your 6-year-old self as you draw your word.

BANISH Anxiety.  Find JOY. 5 MINUTES A DAY. ONE WORD.

BUY OH, MY WORD at Chapters/Indigo in Canada

BUY OH, MY WORD at Amazon for US and International

Teens Release Anxiety with OH MY WORD

Teens Release Anxiety with OH MY WORD

Teens release anxiety by doodling their intentions in OH MY WORD journal.

Today’s teenagers suffer from anxiety more than young people ever have. Social media creates expectation and social norms that are not real or grounded. Families are busy and stressed to the max. Human interaction is down and digital connection is up.

Teens need strategies more than ever before to thrive, release anxiety and positively shape their developing sense of self.

STRATEGY TO RELEASE ANXIETY

OH, MY WORD is a science based method of journaling that can release negative, anxious thoughts and replace them with positive ones. It’s a simple process that takes 5 minutes. The user chooses an intention word contained in the journal that reflects the person they want to be. They draw and colour it on the daily page. That’s it. In 5 minutes a new neural pathway has been created and the brain has begun to rewire itself with the positive intention.

OH, MY WORD allows journal-ers to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

METACOGNITION

The thought interruption used in OH, MY WORD is part of a skill category called metacognition. Which is the act of thinking about thinking. It’s how we talk ourselves out of negative thought patterns and create positive ones. Metacognitive ability increases significantly during the teenage years, so it’s important to provide ways for teens to both choose and manage their thoughts in healthy ways.

OH, MY WORD HELPS TEENS THRIVE:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Increases feelings of relaxation and calmness
  • Increases self-acceptance
  • Helps create a strong sense of self
Teens need positive strategies to develop a strong sense of self

INTRODUCING OH, MY WORD TO TEENS

MAKE SURE THEY UNDERSTAND ‘WHY’

When we know ‘why’ we are motivated. Encourage teens to read the Four Pillars and The Intentions. This will help them connect to an understanding of how of OH, MY WORD works (which is pretty cool) and why it’s important. It will help them see they are not alone in dealing with anxiety and that we are all in the process of becoming the best version of ourselves.

PROVIDE THEM WITH A GAME PLAN

We all need game plans. OH, MY WORD provides your teen with an easy one.  Simply choose an intentional word that describes the person they want to be. For example, if your teen gets nervous every time they write a test suggest words like one of these…

Today I choose to …. Believe (I know the material and it will come to me as I need it)

Today I choose to …. Trust (everything I need to know will come to me)

Today I choose to …. Relax (with a relaxed mind I can recall everything I need)

Today I choose to …… Excel (I am smart…I am more than capable of acing this test)

MAKE IT A CHALLENGE

Teens these days are into the various 30-day challenges that float around on social media. Challenge your teen to spend 5 minutes working in their OH, MY WORD journal every day and see how differently they feel at the end of 30 days.

SO EASY.  5 MINUTES A DAY. ONE WORD.

Teens like the rest of us are extremely busy so strategies have to be not only effective but fit into modern life. Five minutes a day one word. Doesn’t get easier than that.

HELPING TEENS RELEASE ANXIETY AND THRIVE

Its tough being a teen. Modern family life is full of distractions, activities and outside demands resulting in many families feeling disconnected and teenagers left to figure things out on their own. For answers to life problems they often look to friends or turn to the internet. While on one hand teens ‘look’ very sophisticated these days they are still….teens. We can’t expect them to have their own coping strategies in place nor can we solve all their problem for them. It is however our responsibly to acknowledge the difficulties they face and teach them skills that will help them cope and thrive. Establishing practices that support, uplift and strengthen them in daily life and give them life skills that they can benefit from for the rest of their lives.

The teen years are challenging ones.

Please share this with friends and loved ones and visit OH, MY WORD

BUY OH, MY WORD in Canada at Indigo

BUY OH, MY WORD US and International at Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Busy Families Can Connect and Instill Positivity in Kids

How Busy Families Can Connect and Instill Positivity in Kids

OH MY WORD provides a way for busy families to connect and instill positivity in kids.

Has life become so busy that you’re not connecting as deeply with your kids as you’d like to?

THE OH, MY WORD FAMILY VERSION

OH, MY WORD is a great way for parents to connect and prompt meaningful discussion with kids. It can be a fun and engaging conduit for discussing values, building a strong sense of self and navigating social situations. Ideal age is 8 – 12 years as teenagers may prefer to keep their OH, MY WORD journal personal. Suggested time is after dinner when the family can carve out 10 – 15 minutes of ‘connection’ time.

What you ‘ll need:

  • copy of OH, MY WORD for each family member
  • pencil crayons, wax crayons or gel pens

TO GET STARTED

READ – THE FOUR PILLARS.  Focus on one per night. Parents can use examples from their own or family life to support the FOUR Pillars. Encourage discussion…ask kids for their thoughts and ideas. There are some pretty cool facts in the ‘thought’ section like how we can rewire our brain with the thoughts we think.

READ – THE INTENTIONS.  Choose ones that are age appropriate. To help kids think about intentions ask-What kind of person do you want to be? OR How would you like people to describe you? Encourage kids to brainstorm some of their own intentions (i.e. nice, friendly, strong, helpful, kind, fun, happy) and add to the lists in the book. When drawing in the journal intentions are most effective as a verb or made active so if necessary add a ‘be’ before the word (ie be nice).

READ – CHOOSING AN INTENTION. Parents can share experiences from their own lives (think ‘do-over’) where a having an ‘intention’ would have brought out their best self and likely a different outcome. What would the intention have been? Help the kids think of experiences in their lives where an intention might have changed an outcome.

THE FUN BEGINS

Starting the daily ritual.

OH, MY WORD with kids is best done after dinner when connection time is possible. Suggest starting with the Reflections question – this will provide a look back at the day and frame it in a positive way before moving on.  Each family member then chooses an intention WORD that reflects the person they want to be and draws and colours their WORD. *Remember there is no right or wrong way to ‘draw’ the ‘daily page’ everything is totally A-OK, and it is totally fine to repeat the same word day after day until the author feels it’s time to move on.

PLAY “WHAT’S YOUR WORD?”

‘What’s your word?” Everyone shares the intention WORD they chose and explains why. While it’s ok to ask questions the most important thing to remember is that this is a judgment free zone. Everyone must feel accepted for who they are, knowing we are all in a process of becoming our best selves.

What a fun way to build a positive sense of self

THE FAMILY VERSION

Because the OH, MY WORD family version is suggested at night instead of the morning the choosing of the intention is often a ‘look forward’ reflecting the person I choose to be now and tomorrow. For that reason, it’s a great idea to leave the journals open to the current page so that in the morning everyone is reminded of their WORD.

The thing for parents to remember is that everyone draws their page in their own unique way

BECOMING YOUR BEST SELF

OH MY WORD Journal

 

OH, MY WORD is a fun, engaging way to help kids become the very best person they can be. It instills the understanding that we are each choosing in every moment of every day who we will be, that we are responsible for the thoughts we think AND (most importantly) with those thoughts we are creating our reality

This empowers kids and adult alike to think thoughts that reflects their biggest dreams and highest intentions.

Please share our family’s experiences with OH, MY WORD I’d love to hear!

 

 

If you ever have any questions or just want to say hi email me at:

cheryl@ohmywordjournal.com

I look forward to hearing from you.

Warmly,

Cheryl

PS I wanted to share this with you it’s an email I received from a Dad of 2 girls….

“People who do this together will learn not only about themselves, but about each other… which will lead to better team building and family support and accountability. I think it is an achievable goal to set in modern busy family life. It offers an important and accessible meeting place for families who have had difficulty finding time and facility to be together and present for even just a few minutes a day. AND in doing so, we are all gradually manifesting our best selves…. a win on all levels! Thanks Cheryl”

Peter-Parksville, BC Canada

Claire (illustrator of OH, MY WORD) has offered a few recommendations for artist quality art supplies (they’re just fun to work with) check them out at – www.ohmywordjournal.com

BUY OH, MY WORD in Canada at Chapters

BUY OH, MY WORD in US and International at Amazon

Instagram

Join the Tribe

Sign up for our newsletter and get a monthly dose of tips, stories and inspiration to zap anxiety and cultivate Joy.

16108
0
    0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop