Self-Growth is a Steady Journey

This week I decided I needed to take my own advice.

As I have been writing about self-care, self-growth and the preservation of the love we have for our own selves, I came to the realization that these things are much easier said than done. I looked in the mirror and saw someone I love, but she’s not quite present on the surface. The part of me that loves myself to the fullest potential was hiding somewhere deep within.

So, the question stands:

How do I find the version of me that is capable of loving myself, and others, to my fullest potential?

Well, first I had to figure out what was shadowing me and what it was that was dimming my light. This was not easy. This came with tears and telling myself some things that I had been pushing behind me for a long while now. I thought about why I felt like I am not good enough, why I felt like I need someone else to love me, for me to love myself, and why I allow the opinion of others to affect my mood and cloud the lens that I see the world through. Ironically, the answers were simple.

Some very hard questions that revolve around a simple explanation:

I was afraid.

I was afraid that the negative people that surround me are, in fact, right. I was afraid that the ME I see every day in the mirror is not the version of me others perceive. I was afraid that I will never get my happy ending.

This, though, is negative self-talk; something we may acknowledge but ultimately want to stay away from. There is no good reason to consistently try to believe the negative accusations that you direct at yourself.

So, I joined a yoga class. In my practice I focused fully on my breath and my intension. I brought those negative feelings in with me and I let them melt away through my pores as I went through the flow of Vinyasa.

By the end of my practice that day, the stress and anxiety that filled my head and my heart had calmed down and I finally felt grounded for the time being.

After this I suggested connecting with loved ones. So, that is what I did. I met my sister for dinner and we talked about irrelevant topics like school and how we want to redecorate our rooms. A day that started so wound up and uncomfortable turned slowly into a calm, comfortable conversation.

The last step is to set a goal. I am often very busy and find myself feeling overwhelmed by all of my responsibilities so I had to truly think about what I needed. I needed to feel comfortable in my own skin. I needed to be calm and collected while I navigate my day. I needed to show myself that I am capable of giving my body and mind more love than it has been receiving.

With that being said, I set two goals:

My first goal is to attend at least four yoga classes a week. These classes will help me become more in-tune with my physical self, helping me feel grounded in the process.

My second goal is to make time for breakfast every day. I do not always have time for more then a coffee and a quick bite on the go. Changing this routine will not only help adjust my health and eating habits it will become a healthier alternative for my mental stability and sleep cycle by creating a routine and forcing myself to make time for one specific thing each day.

I have been active in following through with these goals for two weeks now. After a week of this routine I felt better. My mind had found a safe space and I began to understand how much I had truly been neglecting myself.

After two weeks, I am thrilled. I have started to see changes in my physical self and I am finally focused on creating a better me for ME, not for others. My path may not be the right path for you, everyone is different, but I encourage you to find one.

As the wise Buddha once said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

depression anxiety counseling therapy tampa young adult teen millennial yoga self growth self care self love

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.

self growth tampa depression anxiety therapy young adult millennial teen young women online therapy

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.

pexels-photo-481901.jpeg

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.