Make Change Happen

Routines are hard to maintain. They are healthy because they keep us organized and help us maintain some sense of normalcy. But what happens when there is a glitch in our routine? What happens when we have to make a change?

Now, change can be a very broad term. We can change many things like the color of our hair, the clothes we wear, the way we act or even the way we think.

Each form of change comes with one common factor: the unknown.

Every time we make a change we take a risk, no matter how small or how noticeable this change may be. The changes that are the hardest to make though are those that come from within, rather than those that appear on the outside. Working to make an inner change is hard and it is completely normal to not know where to start or how to go about it.

Let’s talk about some examples of what making an inner change looks like.

It is healthy for us to notice our negative qualities and want to adjust them.

A bad trait we sometimes have is addressing ourselves with a negative tone. By this I mean you wake up in the morning, get ready for work, walk past a mirror and think “yikes” to yourself as you walk out the door because you’ve had better hair days before and today was just not cutting it.

We can start by taking baby steps toward the changes we wish to make that will create an overall happier version of ourselves.

Step 1: Identify the problem. What is causing you to be upset? When you go through your daily routine, take note of the things that make your day better and of the things that make you feel uncomfortable. By identifying the underlying causes of our feelings and insecurities, it becomes easier to change these behaviors slowly over time.

Step 2: Create a plan to make things better. If you notice every day you do happen to be that person that tells yourself you don’t look that great when you walk out the door in the morning, make it a priority to find something about you that you DO like. Look at yourself and find one thing to compliment. This will help build self-esteem and help us realize that no one is perfect so we must love our imperfections.

Step 3: Surround yourself with support. If you feel uncomfortable around a group of people, you feel like they are not good for your mental health, find a way to fix it. This does not always mean kicking people out of your life or cutting them off but, instead, try to find other grounds to talk about, other common factors. Learn to listen, rather than talk for a more positive outcome.

Step 4: Maintain a routine. Once we have identified the things we wish to change and come up with a plan to enact this change within our daily lives, we must find a way to keep the positivity prevalent.

As I’ve said before, being human is hard. It is not always easy to know right from wrong. It is not always clear what steps we should take to make ourselves feel happier. Change is ultimately inevitable. So, if we can learn how to maintain a sense of normalcy while going through a change that we decide on, it will make it easier to cope with the changes in our lives that are out of our control.

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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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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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A Side of Love, Forgiveness and Patience

   You're at your favorite date night restaurant, and you've been looking forward to it all day. You order the salad with dressing on the side and wait patiently as you sip your glass of wine. Finally, the waitress comes over with your delicious salad bowl, and you dive right in! It takes you about a minute to notice...she forgot your dressing. A little dismayed, you flag her down when she's near, and politely let her know. She's is so sorry! She was buzzing around and it simply slipped her mind, she asks that you please forgive her. You tell her it's no big deal at all, you just wanted to remind her. You offer a reassuring smile as she scurries to go get your dressing. Within seconds, it's on the table and you go right back to your meal. It is delicious and you are once again reminded as to why this is your favorite place. 

     So why when your significant other doesn't listen to what you're saying or forgets something, are you not as forgiving and friendly as you were with the forgetful waitress? Surely you love them more than the waitress, so what is keeping you from being just as kind? Maybe because it's a common thing, and you feel as though you are constantly reminding, and repeating yourself. If that is the case, ask yourself this: when is the last time someone had to remind me of something? In today's world, I can guarantee it wasn't that long ago. 

    Communication comes in two primary forms. Verbal, and non-verbal. It seems that in times of frustration or stress, many of us remember our verbal communications well, but what about the non-verbal? Have you ever said something was 'okay' with your mouth, but your face and that long sigh said something else? "It's fine, I'll just run to the store myself and get it." You say, as you snatch the keys and shove them in your pocket, marching towards the door. Body language says everything when your mouth doesn't, and it can be one of the main roadblocks to proper communication. Reactions like this can bring such unnecessary stress into your relationship when one of you feels they have to walk on eggshells and have the memory of an elephant. The solution to this is something that must be practiced, and it involves three words. Love. Forgiveness. Patience. 

   There are many times during our day that I am sure we wish we had more patience. At the minimum, can we try to give our loved ones the same courtesy as we do our waiters and waitresses? All of us know what it is like to be human, and we should try to remember that the next time we say something without saying it. Do we want to be sure that we aren't doing this all for a show, right? Let's not smile through the conversation, and lament in our heads for the rest of the evening. Forgiveness not only releases the person, but it frees you as well from the burden of agonizing over it. The most important of the three is love, and it is my favorite. No matter what, you should always speak to your significant other out of love. This is a great way to keep yourself in check, and in times of frustration, you will be shocked at the results. Their reaction to being spoken to out of love rather than irritation will not only ease them but bring you both happiness in solving the issue together. Try it. Practice it. And be kind to everyone you meet, waitress included! 

The 3 R's to Help You Stick to Your Resolution

Hi everyone, my name is Melanie. I am the new administrative assistant of Serene Mind, and I wanted to take a second to congratulate everyone for making it through another year! No matter what happened, no matter how you are feeling or where you are, if you’re reading this, you made it. 

                Such as the New Year, I would like to take a closer look at New Year’s Resolutions. How many of us have made one this year, and moving towards the end of the month, aren’t feeling all that hopeful anymore? How many of us have made the same one that we made last year…and the year before that? I am writing this in the hopes that after reading it, you don’t walk away feeling discouraged, or berating yourself. All of us have things about ourselves that we would like to work on, but there are right and wrong ways to go about it. A New Year’s Resolution should not be something for us told hold over our heads like a demanding cloud of gloom. It should a goal. Humans are creatures of habit. If you have been doing the same things for the past fifteen, or even five years, please do not think that you will suddenly be able to change it at the stroke of midnight. 

                The same way that a habit is made, it can be broken. Some of us don’t know how we even got to the point that we are at today, we just know that change is necessary. Know that is half the battle, having the motivation to see it through, is the other half. I would like to share a little bit of knowledge that I acquired recently that might make this whole thing seem a little more feasible. 

What are the 3 R’s of Habit Formation? 

Reminder: The Reminder is a trigger and it can come in the form of many different forms such as a location, time, struggle, emotion, or action. A good amount of the time, this isn’t something that is within our power to change.

Routine: Then there is the Routine, which is what we do in response to the Reminder. This is where change happens. You control how you respond to that Reminder, and you alter your process. Try doing this 21 days in a row, however big or small it may be, and you are on track to modeling a new behavior.

Reward: The last is the Reward, and this is the joy within ourselves that we feel after a job well done. Don’t forget to celebrate each day that you accomplish your daily goals.

       This formula is broad for the purpose of it being adaptable to all of your different situations and work habits. There is wiggle room, and forgiveness if you allow it. There isn’t room for self-doubt, or beating yourself out, so leave it all at the door, and see what happens. I wish you guys the best of luck in all that you set out to accomplish and have the happiest of New Years.