Free confidential crisis text line

If you’re in the United States and need someone to talk to you can text 741741 any hour of the day and be connected with a crisis counselor (For Canada text 686868, and for UK text 85258). My sister-in-law volunteers for the Crisis Text Line, and she said counselors go through continuous training and are always supervised by mental health professionals. I tested it out to make sure it works and the first text was automated, but I was connected with a live person in less than 2 minutes. I hope I don’t need it, but I’m relieved to know that it’s there. For more info check out their website: crisistextline.org. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
Give advice to your younger self

I love the concept of Hey, From the Future, a website that lets you share advice you wish you had at specific ages. I encourage everyone to contribute. I read all the advice that is posted from age 35 and up, and from what I gathered I need to spend more money traveling and more time with my parents and the people I really like. Also, it’s not too late to [fill in the blank]. Whatever you’ve always wanted to do. You can still do it. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
A helpful relationship app

I like the Gottman Card Decks app because it requires minimal effort to use, it’s not awkward and it actually helps me get to know my husband better. There are 14 decks to choose from. Some of them have interesting questions to help you start a conversation, others have ideas for improving your relationship, or there are phrases to help you word what you’re having trouble expressing. It’s free and a great way to connect with your partner and work on your communication skills. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
Strikethrough stress note

I started a “stress note” in my Notes app where I keep a list of whatever I’m anxious about. Anytime I add something new I reread my past worries and if they no longer matter (which is usually the case), instead of deleting them I apply the strikethrough style. There is something very calming and self-affirming in doing this, and as the list grows I actually find it very beautiful to look at. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
List of truths

This list of 88 important truths are all aha moments for me. My top three are: 5. Everyone likes somebody who gets to the point quickly. 16. Cynicism is far too easy to be useful. And 86. Wishing things were different is a great way to torture yourself. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
Cool down phrases

This Gottman Institute blog post has some examples of phrases to help de-escalate arguments with your partner. I wish it wasn’t so hard to say “I’m sorry” when I’m in the wrong, but these workarounds help steer heated conversations back on track. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
Danish word for stressful situations

“Pyt” is now in my vocabulary thanks to this Fast Company article. It doesn’t have an English translation, but Danes use it as an interjection to frustrations or mishaps. It means something like “Oh, well,” and is used as a reset button to accept the situation and refocus rather than react. I like it because it sounds like a cute short curse word. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
The Alien Exercise

In Jen Sincero’s book, You Are a Badass, she describes the Alien Exercise for rebooting yourself and getting some clarity. Imagine you are an alien and you’ve just landed on Earth — into your body and life. Take notice of all the connections, opportunities, skills, possessions and people who love you and can help you. What would you do and how would you feel? I think this is great for brainstorming projects, ideas and new ways to enjoy your day-to-day life. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
Find out more about yourself in 5 minutes

This Personal Values Assessment takes only 5 minutes to complete and it peers right into your soul. I felt naked after reading the report of what matters to me the most and essentially, what drives me. I don’t know much about where it originates from but it seems to be used as a tool for leadership and career training. Personally, I think it’s far too personal to share with just anyone. With that said, I did ask my closest friends to take the test and send me their results. It helped me understand them so much better. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
Book excerpts about Happiness

Excerpts from the book, Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels, by Loretta Graziano Breuning:

“Finding threats makes you feel curiously safe. When you know a lion is near, you feel safer when you can see it. We keep seeking evidence of threats, and we get a dopamine boost when we find what we seek. You may also get a serotonin boost from the feeling of being right, and an oxytocin boost if the evidence bonds you to those with similar concerns. This is why people seem oddly pleased to find evidence of doom and gloom.”

“Happy chemicals were not meant to create constant ecstasy. They were meant to steer us toward things that promote survival. When we try to get constant happiness from them, disappointment is likely.“

“Celebrating small steps triggers more dopamine than saving it all up for one big achievement.”

“Your brain will never stop trying to promote your survival. It will take what you have for granted and look for ways to get more – more rewards (dopamine), more physical security (endorphin), more social support (oxytocin), more respect (serotonin). Seeking more is risky. Your brain is constantly deciding whether it’s worth giving up some of this to get more of that.”

— MF

MindClaudia Dawson
How to deal with difficult emotions

Practicing mindfulness is easier said than done. This chart breaks it down into six easy steps to make sense of your difficult emotions. I find that visualizing my emotion as a little tangled mess that lives outside of my body makes it less likely I will react impulsively. — CD


MindClaudia Dawson
Death reminder app

WeCroak (iOSAndroid) is a bit morbid but I love it. At random times throughout the day I get a notification banner that says “Don’t forget, you’re going to die,” with instructions to open the app for a quote. All the quotes are about dying. The app is inspired by Bhutanese culture where one is expected to think about death five times a day to achieve happiness. So far my favorite quote to contemplate is a question from Pema Chödrön: "Since death is certain, but the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?” — CD 

MindClaudia DawsonDeath
Advice for talking to new people

I came across this piece of advice pertaining to job interviews, but I find it’s a helpful tip when dealing with bouts of social anxiety: Pretend the stranger you are talking to is an old friend and you’re catching up. Imagining this makes me feel more comfortable and confident. My go-to question with new people is usually a variation of “So what’ve you been up to today?” It takes the pressure off of me to talk about myself and creates a more natural conversation. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
Look and sound more confident

Here’s a chart to remind you of the small things you can do to appear more confident. Speaking slowly is one that I’m always working on. When I’m on the phone, I tap the desk for each word I tap the desk for each word I say to avoid uhms or uhhs. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
Become a mind reader

A good practice in empathy I like is copying someone’s body language to get a glimpse of what they’re feeling. Sometimes taking notice is enough, but if you mimic a person’s posture or positioning you might be able to understand them better. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
Apologize effectively

I often refer back to this Reddit LifeProTip that describes the three parts of an effective apology. (1) Acknowledge how your action affected the person; (2) Say you’re sorry; (3) Describe what you’re going to do to make it right or make sure it doesn’t happen again. Don’t excuse or explain. It’s amazing how easy this is to forget so I have it saved and pinned in my iCloud notes. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson
Science of Happiness

This infograph by Happify is a great reminder to check in with yourself and your current priorities. It lists 5 instant ways to boost happiness, and the one that always works for me is to send a quick note to someone thanking them for something they did. Always puts me in a better mood. — CD

MindClaudia Dawson