4 Steps For Self-Growth

How often do you find yourself looking in the mirror wondering where the 18-year-old version of you disappeared to? You look at yourself, thinking that the size of your jeans actually plays a part in your ability to make friends or fall in love. You may catch a glimpse of yourself while walking out the door and think that if you could look a certain way, maybe people would treat you differently. Negative thoughts of yourself swirl through your mind just to pollute the your self image.

Well, I’m here to tell you that those thoughts are not working for you. You will always be the only version of YOU and no one can take that away. As humans, we sometimes believe that growth is something that just comes with time. We think that things will eventually just change for the better and we will naturally just grow into the person we want to be. It is important to think deeper into that theory and imagine what our lives would be if we choose to do nothing and just assume growth will happen.

You can think of it almost like the life of a plant. Now, I have no green thumb but I do know that if you forget to water your plant and keep it out of the sunlight, it will soon wither away to a very little, frail version of its previous self. This is similar to what happens to us as humans. If we forget to love ourselves, to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, to love the body we have, we will become weak and frail. The best way to avoid this is to simply tell ourselves we are enough.

Now, I say simply, but I know this is no simple task at all. This will require work and dedication. It takes discipline. If every time we looked in the mirror we told ourselves we loved the body we live in, rather than hate it, eventually we will. Like a plant, we all need a little love, compassion, and sunlight to help us grow. Being mean to others never got you ahead in life. What makes you think being mean to yourself will?

Here are some steps to help you focus on your good qualities and the love you deserve to show yourself.

Step One: Locate the problem. What is affecting your self-esteem? Is it a relationship or an outside source? Where is it coming from?

Step Two: Avoid negative self-talk. Like we talked about before, speaking negatively toward yourself will only harm you.

Step Three: Connect with those who love you. This may be a relative or friend, anyone who sees the good in you that maybe you are having a hard time finding. Being around positive supports can help us remember why we love ourselves. .

Step Four: Set a goal and make it your challenge. Focus on the good around you and create routines to achieve it. Having good hygiene and a clean room will help clear your mind as well. Open the blinds to allow light and take a walk outdoors.

All of these things will be pieces of the puzzle that will eventually fit together to complete your challenge, finally showing you the full picture. Don’t forget, we are all human and no one is perfect. Rather, perfectly imperfect in our own ways.

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3 Ways to Treat Yourself this Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, the longing for a significant other becomes overwhelmingly apparent for those of us lacking our “perfect person.” For those of us in a relationship, the pressure of Valentine’s Day can be growing and we may be running to find the “perfect gift.” It is impossible to walk through a retail store without feeling overwhelmed by oversized teddy bears and heart shaped chocolates. It is natural for us to want another half, someone to hold or hug, someone who brings out the best in us.

We all know a perfect first date doesn’t exist, even if we are in a relationship.

How can we make Valentine’s Day About Self-Love?

Movies portray an unrealistic vision of how love really looks like and ultimately forces us to create unhealthy and unnecessary expectations for a potential partner and Valentine’s Day celebration.

So, instead of blindly searching for your person this February, or the perfect gift, I challenge you to find your self-love.

Here are three tips to spend your day in a healthy way:

1. Galentine’s day (or we can call it Palentine’s day for the fellas out there): Have a Valentine’s Day exchange with some of your friends, Secret-Santa style. This time, focus your gifts on self-love: everyone loves a good face mask, scented candles, great book, a gift card to your favorite spa or restaurant.

2. Snag a friend for the day and take advantage of Valentine’s Day deals: A half-off couple massage and discounted dinner for two are definitely some deals to take advantage of. You do not have to be in a relationship to enjoy great discounts.

3. Pamper yourself: Maybe you don’t want to go out, that is totally fine. While others stress about the pressure of planning the most romantic day of the year, you can sit and relax in your bathtub, watching standup comedy or horror movies, while eating your favorite chocolate. Soak in those positive endorphins and focus on you.

Love is everywhere we look, including inside ourselves. Searching in the wrong places will just leave you finding something you were not looking for. By finding and loving ourselves, we attract others who have the same energy. Your Valentine’s Day is what you want to make of it, be positive about your relationship status and focus on the relationship you have with yourself.

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3 Tips to Reduce Stress

Hello, I’m Ciara Gorby and I’m the new Administrative Assistant at Serene Mind Psychology. I just graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Biological and Behavioral Health Science and recently applied to the Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Program there as well.

Since I am currently not in school, something I had been accustomed to for my entire life, I have run into some stressors revolving around purpose. Although this was brought on by the removal of education in my daily life, this can be brought on by many things for different people. A mother can struggle with a sense of purpose when her youngest child moves out to go to college. A boy can struggle with purpose when he breaks his leg and can no longer fulfill his dreams as a professional athlete. A college student can struggle finding their sense of purpose if they decide they have picked the wrong major, with no back up direction in sight.

What I’m saying is: This is fine, it happens to all of us.

Every once in a while, we think we have it all together and then we take a long moment and figure out that we just DO NOT. And that is okay for a little while. It is totally fine to have a break down and freak out for a few hours. When the weight of a tough semester, the job you hate, and the stresses of a rough breakup get to you, it is okay to momentarily question all of your life choices. It is okay to lock yourself in your room and cry about absolutely nothing. It is definitely okay to eat an entire pint of ice cream in pajamas and binge watch Netflix for a night.

But, eventually, we have to get it together. Eventually we have to get up and leave our room. Eventually the meltdown has to end. When life starts to get though, whether by the stressors of school, a relationship, or your job, when you cannot seem to find your own purpose, I have some tips and tricks to just give you a little push on your road to feeling better.

1. Exercise: Some people benefit from a long run around the block and other people like to lift weights. Yoga, on the other hand, is my guilty pleasure and (BONUS) does not have to be strenuous or even hard at all. Any form of exercise is healthy and can be beneficial but sometimes when your head is up in the clouds a little Downward Dog is all you need to bring you back to reality. If your school offers free yoga classes, give it a try. If you don't have access to free classes and you don’t feel like paying to go, there are plenty of apps you can download on your smart devices to get you started with the basics. Following inspirational people like Rachel Brathen, also known as Yoga Girl, and listening to podcasts might help you realize that you are not alone in your struggles. Some Sava Sana may be all you need to kick that funk you are in.

2. Self-love: When you realize the only thing you have had to eat for the past week is Target brand coffee and microwaved Ramen Noodles maybe it is time to splurge. Go treat yourself to your favorite sushi roll, put on a face mask, wear PJs all day because you can. When you notice... hmm maybe you do not remember the last time you trimmed your facial hair or shaved your legs... take a long shower. Clean yourself up. The better you feel physically, the better you will feel mentally. Do not be afraid to tell your friends you are busy and take a personal day.

3. Connect with someone: If all else fails, we are here for a reason and we are all human. Find someone you can talk to and find some support in them. Maybe it is your sibling, or your parent, or maybe even your roommate, but it may help to just let it all out. But if you do not, talking to a therapist or counselor can really do your mind some justice by giving you a safe space to vent. Some schools offer free help sessions for student who feel like they can not handle the stress alone, too. The world may seem like a lot sometimes and it is not wrong to ask for someone to listen.

Being a person is hard. Sometimes we forget how much we do, and how stressful everyday life can be. Taking time to focus on ourselves and finding purpose in our day to day routine can bring us great happiness and joy. Be grateful for your struggles, they will only make you stronger.

 
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The Truth About Therapy

How do you feel about the word therapy? Some of us are under the impression that attending therapy means we are going “crazy” or “insane.” This is false and if you believe this you are actually stereotyping and increasing the stigma related to mental health. Therapy is for all, the everyday unique person who simply wants to better them self. You do not have to be experiencing a major life crisis, transformation or a traumatic event to benefit from someone listening to you.

I want to debunk some therapy rumors and clear up any misconceptions about therapy:

1. My issues are not a big deal: Your anxiety may be related to things others may not understand or empathize with. That does NOT mean they are not a big deal, it means you can talk to someone who can empathize, listen and understand how your illogical thoughts may be growing in your own head.

2. In therapy I will be told what to do: NO, sorry that is truly the most far from the truth. A therapist listens and guides. But we do not tell anyone what to do. You come up with our choices based on what you want to accomplish. In therapy, you gain insight and the ability to make your own healthy choices.

3. My therapist does not care about my problems: That may be true or not, every therapist is different and unique. If you feel they do not empathize or understand you, leave. Find another therapist, we are everywhere and we all have different talents. The most important thing for you to benefit from therapy is simply your relationship with your therapist and how well you get along.

4. It is too expensive: This can be true, but it can also be very false. Therapists can work with insurance providers, some have sliding scales or discounts for college students. I always say therapy is not permanent, it is an investment. Put away your online shopping habit and instead commit to something that can help you gain better relationships, a promotion and self-esteem.

5. Talking won’t help me solve anything: Of course, it can! You just have not found the right person for you to talk to. See talking to a therapist is not like talking to a friend, spouse or family member. It is unique in that your therapist has no motif, no underlying gain, they do not know you or your acquaintances. A therapist learns to see you the way you see yourself, through your own eyes.

6.  I can not change people around me: Very true, in therapy, you will learn this. But you should not be going to therapy to change people, you should be going to therapy to improve your own thinking and insight.

7. It is embarrassing: If you feel this way, talk about it in therapy. I do not see people feeling embarrassed about going to the doctor, dentist and even your gynecologist. Talking to a therapist is empowering and the most opposite of embarrassing.

8. Therapy is forever: No, it does not have to be forever. Find a therapist with a therapy style that gives you results and you too will see not every therapist is the same, and you do not have to invest your entire future going to therapy.

Please remember your therapist is human too. In fact, many of us attend our own therapy. It is not as shocking, embarrassing or outlandish as you may think. We study the art and science of psychology, it is important for us all to realize our own limitations and to consult with other like-minded humans, who are impartial and non-biased when we need an extra boost.

Spring Clean Your Self-Care Routine

Hello! My name is Nikki Tucker and I recently joined the Serene Mind Team as a Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “spring cleaning”? Do you envision the dirt and dust that has accumulated throughout the year around your living space or do you imagine a pile of material objects that you are able to toss or donate? It seems that we, as human beings, tend to follow this mindset that if we clean up our external world then our internal world will fall into place. But what if we were to “spring clean” from the inside out? If we were to make a conscious choice to take care of our internal dirt and dust, then our external world may seem less overwhelming when it comes time to renew and clean during the Spring season.

You may be wondering how you begin to inwardly spruce up. It can start by beginning to understand your need for self-care and establishing a routine that works for you. Self-care is ways that you take care of yourself emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. It is about connecting with your body and mind and asking for what you need. Asking for what you need can be difficult if you are used too often caring for others before caring for yourself. I am going to ask that you read the steps below for establishing a self-care routine and TRY. All you can do is try and begin to practice caring for yourself. Self-care can be a stumbling point for me, especially as a new counselor in the field, so I will work hard to practice these steps right along with you.

Steps to Creating A Self Care Routine

1. Sleep When You Are Tired: This one may seem obvious but in today’s fast-paced world, it can difficult to find time to rest your body and sleep. This step is not saying that you need to give things up to sleep but to determine how to get the best amount of sleep for your body and lifestyle. Sleeping is so important to be able to recharge physically, emotionally and mentally.

2. Eat Until You Are Satisfied: After overindulging, have you ever felt sluggish, sick and just generally zapped? I know I have. This step challenges you to recognize the sign your body is giving you when you have reached a point of satisfaction while eating without feeling overly full. Eating to feel satisfied can leave you feeling less like taking a nap and more like taking on the day in between meals.

3. Find Time for Yourself: Finding time for yourself can be just five minutes throughout the day to practice your deep breathing, dance to your favorite song in your living room or listen to a song that brings you joy. It can be anything really as long as it is something that is meaningful to you and gives you space to channel your own energy.

4. Allow Yourself to Feel Your Feelings: This is so challenging but one of the most important parts of caring for yourself. This includes even those negative feelings that can be uncomfortable to feel. It may seem like you are being selfish for saying no to that person’s request, not wanting to be another person’s friend or letting someone know that they may have made you angry, but it is not selfish. Self-confidence comes with beginning to know all emotions are acceptable. Learning to recognize and express how you are truly feeling helps to make you more whole for YOU and everyone else.

5. Be Present: We hear this a lot in today’s fast-paced world but how many times do we truly take time to practice this? This includes unplugging from work responsibilities, phones, computers, tablets, etc. and just being there to experience your life. Maybe you take a walk and notice the colors of the foliage around you or you tune into what your dinner partner/partners are saying without any external distractions. You can even take a moment while at work or home to just recognize the colors around you. Whatever it might be, being present for a moment and not thinking about the mistake you made yesterday or the project you have due tomorrow begins to teach you how to connect with
your life.

All of the above is a guide for how to start asking for what you need. You can add to this list or pick out the most important steps for you and begin incorporating them into your life at your pace. However, you decide to begin, start small and give yourself grace along the way. Dusting and sweeping each area of your life takes time.