Do You Know How To Breathe Properly?

Breathe in, breathe out. Rinse and repeat. You would think that breathing is a natural phenomenon that everyone shares, but did you know that you might be breathing wrong!

Oh, No!
That’s okay – take a deep breath and let’s get through this together! First, let’s look at some stats:

– Adults at rest take 12 to 20 breaths per minute
– This adds up to 17,000 to 30,000 breaths per day

How Does Breathing Work?
Breathing supplies oxygen to the lungs which feeds into your respiratory system. This supplies your body’s cells with much needed oxygen.

When you breath, the diaphragm helps you manage air flow in the chest cavity by expanding the chest when you inhale and return to its normal size when you exhale. In your lungs, oxygen travels to alveoli that have tiny blood vessels called capillaries that transfer oxygen to the blood.

What Is The Right Way To Breathe?
It’s not as hard as it sounds. You can breathe properly by:

– Taking in a long, deep breathe through your nose
– Exhaling through your nose

Focus on keeping your breathing relaxed, rhythmic and silent. Keep on trying! For an in-depth tutorial, watch this video.

Share Your Tips!
Do you have some insights that you have found when trying this technique? Share your comments below.

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What Are American Girl Dolls So Popular?

American Girl is a U.S. owned toy company based in Scottsdale, AZ that sells 18-inch dolls and corresponding accessories. Founded in 1986, this company started selling via catalogs and now uses a strong in-store and online presence to grow its business with gross sales topping $645 million last year.

The Brand
American Girl has built a strong brand name with parents and children by tying history and stories with dolls to create depth and context. In addition, the brand is respectful of diversity and celebrates all aspects of girlhood. Millennials that grew up with the brand are now parents themselves and have passed this tradition onto their children. Management loves to say that: ‘girls love us and moms trust us.’

Customization and personalization of the 18-inch dolls also play a factor in its popularity with its target demographic – 6 to 12 year old girls. Consumers can purchase a customized doll that looks like them and then choose dresses that fit best with the doll’s personality. The store boasts a hair salon for dolls, bistro, and magazine boutique.

Are You An American Girl Fan?
Tell us in the comment section below why you are an American Girl fan. What is your favourite American Girl doll? Why do you think the brand is so popular?

Why Are Beavers Awesome?

As their official emblem, the U.S. has the bald eagle which represents majestic beauty and strength. Canada has the beaver (castor canadensis). My first reaction to this news is: Really?, Huh!?, and Meh!

But Wait, Beavers Are Awesome!
Beavers are cute, adorable creatures that quietly show up for work every day in the name of ecological conservation. Over the last few years, scientists have begun to understand the full impact of beavers on nature.

They have survived becoming almost extinct due to extensive trapping efforts in the U.S. in the early 1900s. Today, there are 6 to 12 million North American beavers that are busy working professionals. (I wonder if they get any vacation time?)

Biochemists
Beavers have schooled scientists in biochemistry by showing up for work every day. They remove nitrogen from the ponds and wetlands they inhabit. Nitrogen seeps into waterways from farmers using nitrogen fertilizers to increase their crop sizes. Nitrogen reduces oxygen in waterways, thus reducing fish and other water-bond species.

By removing the nitrogen, fish can survive and local waterways can thrive. The behaviour of beavers helps solve a major environmental problem in the 21st century.

Engineers / Hydrologists
Beavers have been busy at work creating dams that slow down water flow that allow local habitats to survive, recharge local waterways, and prevent erosion. By acting as engineers and hydrologists, beavers are having a positive environmental impact by changing how water flows. Well, I’ll be dam(ned)!

Do You Think Beavers Are Cool?
Tell us why in the comment section below.

What Symbols Represent Canada?

When you think of Canada, what national symbols come to mind? Apart from behavioural ticks such as being nice and saying sorry, does anything come to mind? Well, let’s explore how our national psyche is represented in symbols together!

The Maple Leaf
French Canada first adopted the maple leaf as a symbol for the St. Jean Baptiste Society. From there, the symbol has become a part of our national identity appearing in countless publications and becoming a permanent part of our psyche when the maple leaf appeared on our flag in 1965.

Maple Syrup
Maple sugar collected from the sap has been part of the North American psyche prior to European settlement. French explorers and missionaries were introduced to this technique in the 1700s. Over the next few centuries, family-owned dairy farms produced maple sugar for their families, communities, and open markets.

However, since the 1970s production of maple syrup has become a well-regulated industry. Technological breakthroughs such as vacuum pumps and reverse-osmosis filters have allowed for efficient extraction and packaging before going to market.

Ice Hockey
Labelled as the national sport of Canada, ice hockey was developed by J.G.A. Creighton in 1875. What started as a simple game with two teams on skates and players with sticks to place a puck into opposing net, has become a top-ranked sports with celebrity-like athletes that make millions.

Today, Canadians love to skate in winter, cheer on their NHL-based hockey teams, wear jerseys with the maple leaf, and brag about their Olympic gold-winning women and men’s hockey teams. Wayne Gretzky and Don Cherry are hockey legends and continue to be a part of the game.

Beavers
Beavers are cute, reliable, and ecological conservation heroes. When traders started to hunt beavers to develop pelts and fur hats in the 1700s to meet the demand to suit European fashion sensibilities. The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) placed the mighty beaver on their coat of arms, and Canada followed suit by making them our national symbol in 1975. Go Beavers!

Do You Have a Favourite National Symbol?
Are there any national symbols that we missed? Feel free to leave a comment below.

It’s Valentine’s Day Tomorrow!

So, you almost forget about this important event and have not yet bought anything for your loved one. It’s okay because you still have one shopping day left and flowers are always a great buy!

Wait, Flowers?
Yes, a bright and freshly-made flower arrangements creates a memorable experience and evokes a positive emotion in the giver and receiver. Before you head out on your shopping expedition, let’s take a few moments to review what each flower colour means.

Flower Colours
– Red – This colour sends the message that there are romantic intentions in the area. Love, passion, and seduction are also words associated with this flower that is commonly given during Valentine’s Day.
– Orange – Most people think of the sun, warmth, happiness and joy when they look at orange flowers.
– Pink – This colour represents innocence and playfulness. Since this is a lighter shade of red, this colour also showcases the possibility of love and is sometimes associated with femininity.
– Yellow – Some people consider this a sign of friendship, trust, and respect.

– Green – You can think of harmony, nature, positive outlook and good fortune.
– Blue – This colour can be calming and serene; and most people think of being in a contemplative mood.
– Purple – Think of mystery, charm, elegance and creativity when you hold this flower.

– White – This colour also reminds people of purity, honesty, innocence and is used in bridal bouquets.
– Mixed Flowers – You can mix and match flower colours to create your own personalized meaning for the recipient.

Time To Go Shopping!
Enjoy your shopping trip as you explore your local flower shop (or just look it up online!). If you can’t decide on a flower arrangement, just talk to your local florist. Have fun!

Are You Afraid of Speaking in Public?

Do you tremble at the thought of having to speak in front a group no matter how small? Do your hands get clammy and your heart starts racing? Many people share this fear and they don’t understand why or how to overcome it. Let’s talk about that today.

Why Are You Afraid To Speak In Public?
The most commonly cited reasons for public speaking include:

– being self-conscious and getting anxiety
– looking nervous and appearing as if you don’t know your topic
– being concerned that you are being judged and found wanting
– remember prior negative experiences in public speaking
– not being prepared or not being comfortable with your current skill set

These are not an exhaustive list, but you can find more detailed information here to help understand the psychology behind our public speaking fears.

How To Overcome This?
Everyone experiences a different journey in how they recognize their public speaking fear, come to terms with it, and then work on overcoming this obstacle. What we all share in common is the ability to be patient with ourselves as we recognize that public speaking is a skill set that takes time to develop.

First, you will need to spend some time mentally preparing for public speaking. Think about who you will be speaking to (your audience), what you will be speaking about (your content), and what you want your audience to remember (your message).

Next, visualize yourself in that space delivering your speech to the audience with confidence. You are at the front of the room delivering your message, speaking with confidence, and making eye contact with the audience. The audience is responding with laughs and nodding heads.

Your next step will be to actually prepare for the speech itself. This will require:

Background Research – Find out who you will be speaking to, when, where, for how long
Pick Your Topic – Start narrowing down your speaking topics and write down ideas to refine your message and arguments
Get Organized – Refine your ideas to a speech that fits that parameters that you found out during our background research
Practice – Practice your speech until you are comfortable with the material. Word for word memorization may not be needed in all speeches, just an understanding of your topic and familiarization with the main concepts. You can use cue cards / notes to help keep you on track of main points and you can refer to them during your speech.
Get Feedback – Find a trusted friend or colleague that you can present in front of and get their feedback. Incorporate their suggestions and continue practising.

When speech day arrives, you can put it all together by:

Focusing On Your Breathing – Take deep breaths as you prepare to go on stage. Visualize on your ability to deliver a confident speech.
Keep An Open Body Stance – Keep your head up and shoulders back as you stride on stage. Make eye contact with your presenter and the audience. Using a closed position with your shoulders up, head down, and no eye contact will convey nervousness to the audience.

Afterwards, celebrate your achievement after all your hard work and keep on going! Consider joining well-known non-profit groups such as Toastmasters to continue building your public speaking skill set.

Need To Have A Conversation? First You’ll Need To Decide Between In-Person, Phone, Video, Texting, IM or Email!

Do you have trouble deciding between writing an email or having in-person conversations at work? You are not the only one!

Many of us spend time and effort deciding the best way to handle an initiative or have a difficult conversation that will ensure that the message is conveyed, received and understood by the other party.

To help make this decision easier, let’s start by thinking about all the options that we have for communication as tools at our disposal. We first need to think about the message that we want to convey. Ask yourself:

– Who needs to see this information? How will this information impact their work?
– Is this message formal or informal, information-filled or requires back and forth discussion?

All of this information will help you decide which tool or medium you will use to convey your message. Now, let’s look at all the communication tools available to you in the workplace:

In-Person Communication:
– If you need to have a formal discussion, difficult conversation, or discuss an idea that requires brainstorming, it may be best to meet in-person.
– This method works best because you can read body language and facial expressions and engage in fluid conversations with dynamic dialogue.
– You can also leverage influence and persuasion techniques to build your case or point of view.

Telephone or Video Calls:
– With a global workforce, many workplaces do not have the luxury of having all employees meet face-to-face. The next best option is to setup video or telephone calls to engage in fluid conversation.
– With phone calls, you can still build persuasive arguments or have difficult conversations, but you have to remember that it may be more difficult to read body language.
– Some apps and software offer video / web cam options, the ability to share files, complete group work in real-time on a whiteboard, and also record conversations for record-keeping.

Texting and/or Instant Messaging:
– Text-based communication is a great option for concise information that must be conveyed quickly, to confirm details, or to make small decisions between team members.
– With this medium, you will need to keep your communication to the point, organized, and professional since tone can be misunderstood.
– It may help to use this medium for initiatives that have already been started and once team rapport has been built up with face-to-face meetings or telephone calls. Find the right tool for your team.

Email:
– Emails are a great way to quickly communication with your colleagues or employees in a cost-effective manner, while recording the conversation.
– This medium is best used for conveying information, setting up projects or initiatives, creating a record of discussions or meeting notes, or setting up times for group interaction and meetings.
– Email should not be used in place of dynamic group discussions or difficult conversations because tone could be misunderstood.

What Do You Think?
Do you prefer one medium of communication over another? Do you find it difficult to turn off your email and have an in-person conversation? Leave your comments below.