Living Mindfully: Benefits & Applications to Mental Health

Living Mindfully: Benefits & Applications to Mental Health

Mindfulness, which comes from Buddhist practices, is a state of consciousness that is defined as “the state of being attentive to and aware of what is taking place in the present” (Brown & Ryan, 2003, p. 822).  It is also an awareness of the impermanence of thoughts, which can lead to a trained mind with an increased level of attention stability (Jha, Krompinger, & Baime, 2007; Weick & Sutcliffe, 2006).  Conceptually, mindfulness can also be considered a metacognitive process, consisting of monitoring and controlling thoughts to self-regulate thinking and emotions (Bishop, Lau, Shapiro, Carlson, Anderson, Carmody, Segal, Abbey, Speca, Velting, & Devins, 2004; Schraw & Moshman, 1995), or cognition about one’s cognition (Flavell, 1979).

Scientific Research breaks mindfulness down into three constructs:  state mindfulness (the degree to which a person is aware and attentive in each moment), trait mindfulness (looking at an individual’s innate mindful traits or the frequency and duration a person spends in a mindful state which varies from person to person), and mindfulness practice or training, which can cultivate trait mindfulness (Brown & Ryan, 2003; Hülsheger et al., 2012).  In a 2003 study, where Brown and Ryan examined the empirical links between mindfulness and well-being, they found that mindfulness practice increased well-being and decreased cognitive and emotional stress of their subjects, thus showing how mindfulness can be an important tool in daily life.  Mindfulness has also been found to enhance working memory capacity and reduce rumination which can lead to negative affect (Bishop et al., 2004; Chamers, Chuen, & Allen, 2008) by acknowledging and accepting arising thoughts and redirecting focus.

Living your life in a more mindful way can help bring about greater peace and feelings of relaxation.  When our minds gravitate to the past we start to feel depressed and when we gravitate to the future we feel anxiety.  Therefore, by focusing your mind to stay in the present with what is happening to you right then and there, you relieve yourself of depression and anxiety.

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION

Mindfulness meditation training, such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, is a form of mental training that has been proven to reduce illness and improve immune function (Davidson, Kabat-Zinn, Schumacher, Rosencranz, Muller, Santorelli, Urbanowski, Harrington, Bonus, & Sheridan, 2003; Fredrickson et al., 2008), decrease the cognitive and physical symptoms of stress, experienced negative affect, rumination (Chiesa & Serretti, 2009), and burnout (Hülsheger et al., 2013).  MBSR is typically administered as an 8-week course that meets once a week, either in person or online, where mindfulness-based techniques are taught and a daily Mindfulness Meditation practice is encouraged (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).

Many of you are probably thinking, how am I going to find the time to do an 8-week course on mindfulness?  With many free apps available such as Headspace, Calm and Insight, it has become easier to incorporate daily meditations and reminders to take a short time out of your day to unplug and refocus your attention to the present.  In addition, there are other techniques to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine such as mindful walking, cooking, eating and showering.

MINDFUL WALKING

Beyond mindfulness meditation where you sit quietly and focus your mind, there are other techniques that can help live mindfully such as learning mindful walking.  My favorite way to remind myself how to walk mindfully is to use the acronym STOP, which stands for Stop, Take a breath, Observe and Proceed.  When doing so, you want to bring your focus to your environment and away from your racing mind.  This allows you to notice the details in how things look and feel such as different colors and light that you see around you or how the air feels on your skin. Many people do walking meditations barefoot so that they can feel how the ground touches your feet. 

For more information on how to do mindful walking go to A Daily Mindful Walking Practice which includes a guided audio meditation.

MINDFUL COOKING 

When you prepare a meal, what goes through your mind as you measure and mix ingredients in your kitchen?  Do you observe details such as color and texture as you chop vegetables or chose descriptive words to describe how things feels as you touch them?  Mindful cooking can not only relieve stress and bring you more into the present but can also help those people who struggle with physical health and weight issues. Setting intentions as you prepare a meal can change your experience into one filled with love and gratitude which can impact your state of mind and your daily life.

If you are interested in learning more about mindful cooking, check out Recipes for Compassion and How to Master the Art of Mindful Cooking

MINDFUL EATING

When we eat we often rush through our food because we are thinking about the next place we have to be or the next thing we have to do.  We don’t allow our brains to really take in the experience of eating and end up in a whirlwind of thoughts or eating unhealthy because we are not fully aware of what we are doing.  This is why we eat when we are stressed or binge eat because we are not fully conscious of what and why we are doing what we are doing. Taking a moment to be more cognizant of our actions will allow for better choices when it comes to eating and a more relaxed and enjoyable practice of having a meal. This is an important component to living mindfully on a daily basis.

For more information on Mindful eating versus Mindless Eating check out 6 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating, 8 Steps to mindful eating and The Center for Mindful Eating.

MINDFUL SHOWERING

Have you ever heard of meditating while in the shower?  Learning how to shower mindfully is something not many people think about but if you start off with the right mindset in your daily routine can drastically change how you feel throughout your day.

Interested in learning how to shower mindfully?  Check out How to Be Mindful While Taking a Shower and A Mindful Shower – The Perfect Start to Every Day.

~ Stephanie Baker 

REFERENCES

Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., Segal, Z. V., Abbey, S., Speca, M., Velting, D., Devins, G. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11(3), 230-241.

Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes, 84(4), 822-848.

Chambers, R., Lo, B. C. Y., & Allen, N. B. (2008). The impact of intensive mindfulness training on attentional control, cognitive style, and affect. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32(3), 303-322.

Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: A review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593-600.

Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F., Urbanowski, F., Harrington, A., Bonus, M., & Sheridan, J. F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65(4), 564-570.

Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive–developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34(10), 906-911.

Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2(3), 300-319.

Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel, S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition, 95(5), 1045-1062.

Jha, A. P., Krompinger, J., & Baime, M. J. (2007). Mindfulness training modifies subsystems of attention. Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, 7(2), 109-119.

Hülsheger, U. R., Alberts, H. J. E. M., Feinholdt, A., & Lang, J. W. B. (2013). Benefits of mindfulness at work: The role of mindfulness in emotion regulation, emotional exhaustion, and job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(2), 310-325.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144-156.

Schraw, G., & Moshman, D. (1995). Metacognitive theories. Educational Psychology Review, 7(4), 351-371.

Weick, K. E., & Sutcliffe, K. M. (2006). Mindfulness and the quality of organizational attention. Organization Science, 17(4), 514-524.

Caitlin Cawley Interview: Staying Strong Against Co-Morbid Mental Illnesses

Caitlin Cawley Interview: Staying Strong Against Co-Morbid Mental Illnesses

We had the great pleasure of speaking with Caitlin Cawley. She is someone who shows resilience and fight against many things affecting her mental health. She continues to how one can overcome co-morbid mental illnesses, such as OCD, anorexia nervosa, PTSD, depression and suicidal ideation. 

 

1. How was it for you when your dad was sent to Iraq?

My parents weren’t together my entire life.  That said, my dad and I talked regularly and he came to NH every few years for a visit.  When he went to Iraq, it was scary to think about the possibility of losing a parent – regardless of how close we were.   I watched the news every night at 5:30, 6, 6:30, 10 and 11 and woke up to watch it again at 6 and 6:30a. It helped me to get updates on the war and ease some anxiety.

2. How did your grandmother passing affect you?

It was my great-grandmother, but her death broke my heart.  We were very close. She was my first significant loss and still haven’t processed her death 13 years later.  When she died, for years, I had nightmares about her death and the last look she gave me where I knew she recognized me.

3. When did you know you had depression?

When I was told I wasn’t as bubbly as I used to be and felt hopeless almost everyday.

4. Can you tell us more about OCD?

My OCD presents itself in different ways depending on what the trigger is.   I always have the obsessions and compulsions. However, when my anxiety isn’t in control, I check the locks and the stove multiple times in fear of a fire or someone breaking in and killing me or my family.   

5. Can you tell us more about the eating disorder?

I have struggled with an eating disorder for 13 years.  I have struggled with anorexia and ed-nos/osfed. I have in the past also struggled with exercise addiction and laxative misuse.  My eating disorder has always given me a sense of control and first started when my great grandmother died. My eating disorder has also numbed me from having to feel my feelings – particularly anger and sadness.   It is still something I struggle with more often than not and still struggle with body image issues.

6. What was your experience like in a hospital?

My first hospitalization was in 2006 when I was in high school.  The experience was fine – I was with other teens and some kids. In 2010 I was in residential treatment for my anorexia. It was extremely painful to refeed my body and get back to a healthy weight.  However, I was able to work on several issues while there. In 2011 I went back to the same program I was in in 2010 but signed myself out AMA after a week because I was so resistant and didn’t want to be there.  Later that year I went back into treatment at a different hospital. It was, again, painful to refeed myself as I was at the lowest weight I had ever been. Since then, I have not been in treatment for anorexia. However, in 2016 I was hospitalized for a week for suicidal thinking and plan.  The experience there was ok as well but felt like I knew a lot of the stuff they were teach from all my times at treatment. A med adjustment was what I needed.

7. What type of help have you received for OCD, eating disorder, PTSD, suicidal ideation and depression?

I have been in individual therapy, gone through IOP a handful of times. I have also gone through DBT  in a formal setting twice and Cognitive Restructuring.

8. What do you want people to know about OCD, eating disorders, PTSD and depression?

There is no shame in talking about it with people you trust and who respect you.  There will be A LOT of education for yourself and loved ones but it’s crucial. Recovery isn’t linear and relapses happen.   Pay attention to when you struggle most so you can see if there is a pattern and cope ahead for when that pattern is due to start again.

9. If you could change how suicide and mental illness is seen, what would you change?

There is no need to be stigmatized or feel stigmatized.  Just because you can’t see mental illness doesn’t mean it deserves less respect, funding or research as medical diagnoses like cancer or diabetes

10. Do you think it's important for people to advocate for mental health awareness? If so, why?

Yes – sharing one’s story can be healing for the individual telling it and those listening.  It helps to ease some of the loneliness. Sharing your struggles or your story can help people in ways that aren’t always tangible and clear.  

The Psychology of Addiction

The Psychology of Addiction

Addiction is described as a condition in which a person engages in the use of a substance or in a behavior for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior despite detrimental consequences. An addiction can involve the use of substances or it could be a behavior.

The most common drug addictions are addictions to nicotine, THC or marijuana, opioids, pain relievers, and cocaine. It’s reported that a nicotine addiction is one of the hardest addictions to break. According to the AddictionCenter, approximately 50 million people in America are addicted to some type of tobacco product. Beside drug addictions, Addiction.com has found that other common addictions include: coffee or caffeine, gambling, anger when it’s used as a coping strategy, food, technology, sex, and work. It’s important to note that the American Psychiatric Association does NOT recognize technology, sex, or work as actual addictions in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Often, an addicted person will react negatively when they don’t receive their “reward.” In this article, we will discuss what makes a person addicted, how an addicted brain looks, and both the physical and mental effects that can take place due to an addiction.

What makes a person addicted?

When an addiction occurs, it gives the person a pleasurable “high” that can be both physical and psychological. What tends to happen is that an individual will engage in behaviors or use certain substances to achieve the same high that they once received from their initial addiction. However, when this occurs, they want to gain the same high but for longer periods of times. Addiction is considered a biopsychosocial disorder. A biopsychosocial approach is an approach that considers an individual’s biological, psychological, and social factors as a contribution to why and how they experience their health or illness.

How addiction looks in the brain

An fMRI that shows the reward center in 4 different brains [Picture Credit: http://betaweb.thinwomanbrain.com]

When it comes to an addiction, we often forget about how the brain changes and simply focus on how it physically effects the body. However, an addiction can completely hijack the brain. Our brains have a reward system. It’s activated when our basic needs are filled. When we’re fed, when we have sex, when we drink water. Once this becomes activated, there’s a surge in our release of dopamine. However, once drugs are added into the situation, our dopamine release can be hijacked. It’s been determined that an addiction to drugs can affect six of our main brain networks. The six brain networks it affects are the reward, habit, salience, executive, memory, and self-directed networks.

In 2016, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted their annual survey on drug use and drug addiction. What they found is that no matter what the substance is they all have a similar effect on an addicted brain. However, many of the studies done on addicted brains solely deal with how a drug addicted brain looks. It’s important to remember that an addiction can be and look different to everyone.

Physical effects of addiction

Depending on the person and what they’re addicted to, addiction can physically look different for everyone. We’re going to discuss how different drugs and habits can physically affected a person.

• Hallucinogens – Hallucinogens are drugs that can cause hallucinations. This includes drugs like LSD, acid, and tabs, to name a few.

Some short-term physical effects of hallucinogens are:

  • An increased heart-rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • Distorted sense of space and body
  • Tension and anxiety that can lead to panic attacks
  • Dizziness, drowsiness or nausea

Some long-term effects of hallucinogen abuse include:

  • Visual disturbances
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Paranoia
  • Mood disturbances

• Marijuana – Marijuana typically refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the cannabis sativa or cannabis indica plant. Marijuana contains the mind-altering chemical THC. Marijuana is currently the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. It is commonly misbelieved that marijuana isn’t addictive. However, marijuana use disorder can take form in severe cases of addiction.

Here’s a few short-term effects of marijuana:

  • Severe anxiety, including the fear that one is being watched or followed
  • Panic
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lowered reaction time

Some long-term effects of marijuana are:

  • Decline in IQ
  • Lower life satisfaction
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Impaired thinking
  • Impaired ability to learn and perform complex tasks

Opiates – Opiate addiction is a common addiction and opiates are very commonly abused. Opiates are narcotics that can dramatically affect the function of someone’s brain and body. Some opiates are heroin, codeine, and morphine to name a few.

Some short-term effects of opiates are:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Pain relief
  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation


Some long-term effects of opiate abuse are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage resulting from respiratory depression

Gambling – Gambling is not only harmful to someone’s psychological health but it can also affect someone’s physical health. Gambling can lead to feelings of helplessness. Gambling addiction has risen globally over the last few years. In the United States, alone, in 2012 around 5.77 million people had a gambling addiction.

A gambling addiction can cause the following:

  • Depression
  • Migraines
  • Distress
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Anxiety-related problems

Some long-term effects of gambling are:

  • Loss of jobs
  • Failed relationships
  • Severe debt
  • Increase in alcohol and drug abuse
  • Emotional and physical neglect of a child

• Caffeine – Caffeine is a stimulant that effects the central nervous system. Regular use of caffeine can cause a mild physical dependency. Unlike some other addictions, a caffeine addiction doesn’t threaten someone’s physical, social, or economic health.

If someone were to stop using caffeine abruptly, they might experience:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depressed mood
  • Difficulty concentrating


If a large amount of caffeine is consumed, it could lead to an overdose. Caffeine poising can happen in small children.

Some effects of a caffeine overdose are:

  • Tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • An irregular and fast heart rate
  • Confusion and panic attacks
  • Seizures

Food addiction – Foods that are full of fat and sugar can supercharge the reward system in the brain in a similar way that drugs do. This can to lead to an addiction that will override the brain’s normal ability that tells an individual to stop eating. It can also cause an individual to crave the same types of fatty, sugary foods. A food addiction isn’t yet considered an eating disorder.

Some short-term effects of a food addiction are:

  • Upset stomach
  • Heartburn
  • Extreme nausea
  • Vomiting


Some long-term effects of food addiction are:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Reproductive problems
  • Depression

For The Psychological Effects of Withdrawal, What Does Addiction Feel like?  click here. 

Psychological effects of addiction

Both short-term and long-term usage of drugs or having addictive behaviors can cause a change in the brain. These changes can lead to mental health problems such as paranoia, depression, anxiety, aggression, and hallucinations, to list a few. Many people who are addicted to drugs are also diagnosed with a mental disorder.

A person who is addicted to drugs is roughly twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders. In 2015, there was an estimated 43.4 million (around 17.9%) adults ages 18 and older who experience some form of mental illness. In that group, around 8.1 million had both a mental illness and substance abuse disorder.

~ Angela Tilghman

Physical Effects of Withdrawal – What does addiction feel like?

Physical Effects of Withdrawal – What does addiction feel like?

PWithdrawal is a group of symptoms with a degree of severity that occurs when the reduction in usage of psychoactive substances takes place for a prolonged period of time. With withdrawal can come some physiological and psychological disturbances. Withdrawal shows that there was a substance dependence.

Withdrawal symptoms can be time-limited and are related to the type of substance used and the dosage used before reduction occurred. We will now discuss what withdrawal looks like for each of the drugs and habits we discussed in a previous article, The Psychology of Addiction.

Hallucinogens

As hallucinogens begin to leave the system, a number of physical and psychological changes will occur.

A few of the hallucinogenic withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Flashbacks
  • Frank psychosis
  • Long term psychosis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Permanent post-hallucinogenic perceptual disturbance
  • loss of coordination
  • zombie like state
  • Hyperthermia
  • Aggressive, hostile, or violent behavior
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Depression

Marijuana

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Precention (CDC), 1 in 10 Americans who use cannabis will become addicted. That number becomes 1 in 6 if the user begins to use marijuana before 18. Smoking marijuana occasionally may not cause any long-term significant symptoms but for those that use it regularly it is a different story.

Here are a few marijuana withdrawal symptoms:

  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Sleep difficulties/ insomnia
  • Loss of focus
  • Diminished appetite
  • Chills
  • Craving for marijuana
  • Increased feelings of depression

Opiates

When the reduction of opiates occurs after heavy usage, users can experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms. With opiates, both early and late symptoms of withdrawal can occur.

Early opiate withdrawal symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Confusion

Late withdrawal symptoms:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Episodes of violence

Gambling

A gambling addiction is considered a behavioral addiction. Unlike an addiction to a substance, behavioral addictions come with their own set of withdrawal symptoms that will be experienced during treatment.

Some gambling withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Cravings to gamble
  • Irritabilit
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing

Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the most commonly consumed psychoactive substances. ** It is important to note that regular use of caffeine has also been linked to positive health and psychological benefits, including decreasing the risks of cancer and suicide **

Once the body becomes dependent on caffeine, eliminating it from a diet can cause withdrawal symptoms that will begin 12 – 24 hours after stopping caffeine.

Here are a few caffeine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability

Food addiction

Lovers of junk food who try to cut back have found that junk food withdrawal can cause symptoms similar to drug withdrawal. It’s been noted that withdrawing, or cutting back, from things like fries or chocolate can cause the same withdrawal symptoms as someone who is withdrawing from cigarettes or marijuana.

Some food withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Mood swings
  • Cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Poor sleep

Withdrawal is not easy to fight, and it can even be deadly if not done right. Read more on Withdrawal: Why it’s not easy and can even be deadly.

~ Angela Tilghman

Guidelines for Self Love

Guidelines for Self Love <3

Valentines day is a day OF love. “LOVE” is a phenomenon that has been the subject of controversy since the beginning of civilization, from poets to artists to psychologists, scientists, and religions. But today, we are going to talk about a different kind of love, and that is SELF LOVE.

What is self love?

The dictionary defines it as:

Self-love

noun

  1. regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than a narcissistic characteristic).

So lets separate this from narcissism.

Narcissism

noun

  1. excessive interest in or admiration of oneself.
  2. selfishness, entitlement, lack of empathy, and a need for admiration.

There is a common saying, that one cannot love others until one can love oneself. This may or may not be true, as there are plenty of people who feel love with passion while still needing work on loving themselves. But can they accept love from others fully? Do you yourself believe that you can be loved completely?

Lets start there. Self love begins with allowing yourself to be loved, completely. And, well, with loving yourself, completely.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Buddha

Self love is knowing that you deserve love. Now I’m going to be honest, since the concept of “love” itself is such an enigmatic topic, I cannot tell you one ultimate word of wisdom that defines what you need to be striving for. But, we at Breaking Taboo can offer you some landmarks on your journey of self discovery.

Here are six guidelines you can use every day, to help inspire your journey to the top of the self love ladder.

1) Work on accepting yourself, and accepting what it is you want to work on.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” – Mark Twain

We all have so called flaws, but it depends on how you choose to look at it. What if we chose to see our “flaws” instead as, “opportunities for growth”? In fact, lets do that right now. Lets decide to replace the word “Flaw” with “Opportunity”. That’s it. Next time you see something in yourself that you want to change, just see it as an opportunity to change and grow. That leads us to…

2) Allow yourself to grow.

“Love dies only when growth stops.”  – Pearl S. Buck

In order to accept ourselves, we must accept the changes that naturally occur in our lives. Fighting it only creates self doubt and missed opportunities for you to expand your level of self awareness and self achievement. And, achievement in any area of your life- even small achievements- lend itself to growing your own self esteem.

3) Strive for having healthy self esteem.

“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on.”
– Maxwell Maltz

This is easier said than done, since our levels of self esteem is often deep rooted and formulated by our past experiences, which we cannot undo. But there are many programs, seminars, books, videos, healers, and therapists that are at your disposal to use! You don’t have to be defined by your past, and you CAN create a you that is confident.

4. Practice positive self talk.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
– Harvey Fierstein

Here at breaking taboo, we are all about killing silence to save lives, and sometimes what we tell our own selves simply isn’t true. When we use words such as “I can’t”, or “I’m not that good”, it’s just our mind’s way of trying to protect us and shield us inside the tiny little safety bubbles that we are used to surviving in. What you tell yourself every day is powerful. So powerful, that you can choose to tell yourself something different, something that actually helps you instead of harms you. Try replacing the words “I can’t” with “I can”, and “I’m not that good” with “I can learn how to do it”.

5. Practice self compassion    

“Self compassion is how we recover.”  – Sheryl Sandberg

Loving yourself does not mean stay happy go lucky all the time and shut off any feelings of sadness or anger. In fact, that would be the opposite of self-acceptance. Yes, I know we just spoke about positive self talk, but we also need to allow ourselves to feel. Afterall, that is what makes us human. We are all allowed to have bad days where we just want to wallow in our bed- even mental health advocates experience it. No one is perfect, and that is perfect in itself. When we fully accept ourselves, we love our imperfections as a part of our whole, perfect picture. Be compassionate to yourself when you are feeling down, know that it is ok to feel that way, it’s ok to share, to ask for help or retreat- as long as you understand that this is temporary, and soon, you’ll allow yourself to feel better.

6. Love love love

“Love is the true means by which the world is enjoyed; Our love to others, and others love to us.” – Thomas Traherne

I’ve been told that I love too many things. You know what I say to that? That there is no such thing as too much love. Love, whatever that wonderful feeling is, when practiced, is gained back in multitudes. If you want to practice loving yourself completely, practice loving others completely. Even if that other is your dog or your cat, or your special someone. Even if that other is your undying passion for the work that you do, or the cause that you are striving for.

I’m sure you have heard the saying “Joy shared is twice the joy”, well love shared is much more than that.

That’s it! We’re keeping it short, sweet, and precious, just like Valentines day. Hope this inspires you on your journey of self love. Happy Day Of Love!

~Serena Sun