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.”

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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.

The New Normal

Miss Indiana, Mekayla Diehl has been attracting positive recognition since the swimsuit competition during the Miss USA broadcast. Diehl revealed that she weighs 135 pounds and does not consider herself curvy. She attributes her great figure to working out and eating healthy.  

Although she has managed to attract positive reactions, the question remains: Is this the new normal? Well no, a female weighing 135 pounds or being curvy is not new. What is new, is females with different body types are gaining confidence and are not afraid to show off their bodies! 

Having confidence is important for all girls from a very young age. Many girls grow up looking at stick figure models and idealize this body figure. The majority of the girls idolizing these models are also experiencing insecurities. They begin to formulate the idea that looking thin and being secure are the same thing. This idea grows and can become dangerous, to the point of starvation and eating disorders!

Prevention and early intervention when it comes to teaching girls about body image and feeling secure about their bodies is one way to stop the "I want to be thin" craze. Now that America has responded in a positive manner to Miss Indiana let us keep spreading the confidence. Females have to learn that by the way we think, act and feel about our bodies we can continue to teach others that loving ourselves is most important!