Take a self-compassion break (DW#730 )

While some of us manage our anxiety through being hyper productive and busy, others struggle to get anything done at all. Some of us eat too much, sleep too much and others find it hard to sleep or eat much at all. All these and other ways you are coping these days are all "normal" responses in times of crisis.


The key is to remember to show kindness and compassion to ourselves regardless of the method we are using to cope. We do NOT need to add self-criticism and self-judgement on top of all the stress we are going through right now.


Research into the practice of self-compassion shows that the practice builds resilience and helps us cope with adversity. Importantly for these times, the practice of self-compassion has been shown to reduce trauma and PTSD among war veterans. In other words, if we practice self-compassion, we are more likely to cope better with adversity and build resilience in the face of challenges.


The practice itself is very simple. The...
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Ground yourself in your intention(DW#729)

Yesterday, we talked about how we can set the tone of the day by setting an intention before we even get out of bed.


Today, let us deepen this practice further. The following is a grounding practice that can greatly help us start the day right and have an anchor to come back to in moments of anxiety or distress. When your mind is racing and going down the anxiety tunnel, a grounding practice such as this can help bring you back to the here-and-now. It is a great way set a calm anchor that you can come back to again and again.


All these steps combined take only moments to practice but can have a profound impact on our wellbeing.


Once you get out of bed, feel your feet firmly planted on the floor.
Stand up tall.
Take a few deep breaths (in through the nose, down and into your sides and into your back).
As you exhale, expand your awareness into your surroundings, taking a moment to notice sounds and smells.
Now remind yourself of your intention and feel...
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Set an intention for the day (DW#728)

Have you noticed that how we begin our morning often sets the tone for the rest of the day?


I remember as a child when I was grumpy, my mom saying to me, "It looks like you have gotten out of the wrong side of the bed this morning"! (sorry mom!) I now realize what she meant was that if I was grumpy at the beginning of the day, I would likely remain so for the rest of the day.


As an adult, I am beginning to recognize that I can choose "which side of the bed I get out of". That I can practice setting an intention for how I am going to show up in the world today.


Let us remind ourselves what we mean by setting an intention.


An intention is about how we commit to showing up in our life everyday, regardless of what is happening around us. It is a guiding principle or value that we act from, and it is very much based in the present moment.

For example, intentions related to the present crisis might be:


I intend to be kind


I intend...
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Recognize and act within your circle of control (DW#727 )

One of the most important things we can do to cultivate resilience is to recognize our sense of agency.
Agency is simply a fancy word for how empowered you feel or how much control or power you feel over your own life. This is where your energy and strength come from.
The truth is that there are many many things outside our control. There always have been and always will be. The present world situation has simply brought these into sharp focus.

And the truth is also that some things always were and still remain with our control. (Can you see that?)
Now, when we focus our attention to things that are outside our control, we give up our sense of agency. We feel powerless and therefore hopeless.
The way out of this feeling of helplessness and the panic that ensues is to become more mindful of where we are focusing our attention.
Is it focused on things that are outside our control or those that we have control or power over?
When going...
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Simple tools for growing resilience (DW#726)

We will begin a series titled Simple Tools for Growing Resilience and I hope that these simple reminders and practices will inspire us and motivate us to keep going, focus on what we can control, rise up to the challenges and keep doing our best.
Let us first define what we mean by resilience:
Resilience is the ability to face adversity, to go through challenges without being overwhelmed by them. It is defined as the the capacity to manage challenge and to recover from adversity.

Simply put, it is the ability to face adversity and to "bounce back" after we have been knocked down by life.
In other words, resilience helps us:

1)    Face challenges without being overwhelmed by them AND
2)    If we are overwhelmed or ‘knocked down’, it helps us get back on our feet quickly.


Resilience, then, helps us survive the worst day of our life AND it also helps us thrive every day of our life.
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10 ways you can protect your mental health during the pandemic.

mental health Mar 13, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, many of us are feeling increasingly anxious. The uncertainty can be hard to tolerate especially for those of us who like to feel in control over our lives. While feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty are quite normal during a pandemic, there are some things that we can do to protect our mental and emotional health as this global crisis plays itself out.

Here are some suggestions:

1.     Get your news from trustworthy sources

Everywhere you turn, there are horror stories about worst case scenarios and what may happen if the pandemic continues the way it has been progressing.  

While it may be helpful to stay up to date on the current situation, we need to make sure that the health news is from a reliable source. If we rely on and react to all the panicky phone calls, media posts and WhatApp forwards from other anxious people, we will likely increase our own anxiety and the sense of loss of control.

The truth is...

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Iā€™m going on a sabbatical and you...(DW#725)

As we mentioned yesterday, a sabbatical is different from a vacation. It is a longer period away from work (anywhere from a month to a year or more) to step away from your regular job and focus on other meaningful activities.


Taking sabbaticals does require intentionality, some adjustment in your thinking, and of course planning and financial resources to see you through your time off.


The benefits of taking sabbaticals are really worth the effort, though.


Taking time off to switch gears, do some long range thinking, learn something new, or pursue other interests can rejuvenate you, not only personally, but also give your career a boost because you return with renewed energy and motivation. People who are about to take a sabbatical often find that they work harder and more effectively, knowing that a sabbatical is just around the corner.


I am going on sabbatical from Daily Wisdom until February to work on other projects and discover ways to serve you...
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Five reasons to take a sabbatical (DW#724)

We have been talking about the importance of taking time off for rest and relaxation as a part of our self care practice. Today let’s discuss another kind of time off which has a different but equally valuable purpose.


I am talking about a sabbatical. A sabbatical is an extended period of leave from your regular job or employment, the purpose of which is often travel, self growth or learning. While it is common in academia for professors to take a sabbatical in order to focus on their own learning, it is a concept which is gaining more acceptance even in the corporate world.


Here are 6 ways you can use a sabbatical from work:

1)   Learn a new skill or explore a new subject. If you have always wished you could deepen your expertise in your field, learn something new, or you are curious about a particular subject, a sabbatical is the perfect time to do this.
2)   Do some long range thinking. When we are in the midst of work,...

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Half the fun is in the planning(DW#723)

When we were young, I remember my dad talking about travel a lot. When we would ask when and how we would take all these trips to amazing destinations, his answer was: I don’t know exactly, but planning is half the fun!
Turns out that that my dad was on to something. Research shows that the biggest boost in emotional wellbeing related to taking time off actually comes from planning the vacation. A person can feel the effects up to eight weeks before the trip even starts!


So, enjoy and savor the planning process. Allow yourself to dream about what you will do and how you will spend your time.  This way you can maximize the benefits that come from taking a vacation and start to feel the effects of time off well before the scheduled vacation.  
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The perfect length of vacation(DW#722)

A study conducted by the University of Tampere in Finland suggests that eight days is the perfect amount of time to achieve the maximum amount of relaxation and happiness without growing bored or homesick.


It appears that the positive benefits of time off kick in on day one, but scientists speculate that it takes until day eight for people to fully shake off their responsibilities and work stress. This is when you get in the groove of a slower pace and really start enjoying downtime.


After day eight, however, the positive feelings begin to decrease and they fall rapidly after day 11. After this, you might begin to get anxious about what is waiting for you at work or you might begin to miss home.


So the next time you are planning time away, think about scheduling something between 8 and 11 days long.
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