Defining Resilience Series: Step 5 – Healthy Habit Formation

Defining Resilience


Step 5: Work on Healthy Habit Formation

Before diving into step 5, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences.

What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?

  1. Focus on the positives. 
  2. Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
  3. Utilize self-care strategies. 
  4. Take action steps to create positive change.
  5. Work on healthy habit formation. 
  6. Find a guiding hand to hold.
  7. Learn to become our own hero. 
  8. Be gentle with ourselves.

Today we will cover Step 5: Work on healthy habit formation.

Being an avid reader, particularly of self-help and trauma-related research books, I discovered the critical importance of habit change as a catalyst along my healing journey. One of the books that I talk about in my presentations is Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza. This book helped me understand that my brain was not hard-wired in a permanently damaged state due to circumstances beyond my control (i.e. traumatic events) and I had the power to change my habits, thereby creating new neuron pathways. I also practiced the book meditations regularly as a transformational tool.

Another book worth diving into is The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. One of the powerful lessons in this book, at least for me, was learning to replace “bad” habits with “good” ones. For instance, instead of merely telling myself “Teri, you need to stop eating junk food,” I instead took on a 30-day journey of whole food eating, creating a food diary, and teaching myself new recipes. I created incredibly healthy eating habits by educating myself on the benefits of healthy food choices. Transforming our habits is a powerful tool we can utilize as we continue along our healing journey.

Here are five action steps you can implement in your life in order to create positive change:

  • Create an action plan for replacing unwanted habits with desirable habits (or creating altogether new habits): Take that written goal and create a plan, filled with achievable steps, ideas, research information, and rewards. Instead of “lose weight” try “create a healthy menu, adding one whole food meal a day, eliminating any processed products during that particular meal; pack a bag of healthy snacks to carry with me at all times including fruits, vegetables, and nuts; limit fast food to once a week (or not at all!); move for thirty minutes every day in whatever way I choose in order to increase my heart rate, blood flow, and create a sense of well-being and achievement; watch YouTube videos on easy-to-make healthy recipes; read up on whole-food eating benefits; and reward myself for a month of healthy eating patterns with dinner at my favorite restaurant.”
  • Be gentle with yourself as you change old patterns: If you accomplish your goal without a single stumble, kudos to you! I applaud you and your determination. If, however, you experience a set-back or even give up all together your first (or second or third) attempt, please be easy on you. There’s an ancient saying that goes something like, “Old habits die hard.” Yeah, #truth. Give yourself a big hug, a pep talk, and then start again. You are creating a new habit where an old one has kept shop for a long time, most likely. If your new goal is, “Eliminate negative self-talk and replace it with positive affirmations,” but you find yourself beating yourself up on a bad day, praise yourself for now being aware of it and making an effort to change it. Then write yourself a thank you card, filled with positive affirmations, and maybe even mail it to yourself as a “surprise”.
  • Sing your own praises: Continuing with that thought from the previous step, yes, it’s okay to applaud your accomplishments and even your attempts, whether you failed or succeeded. Put a post out on social media when you’ve had a successful day with your new healthy habit formation and embrace the accolades from friends and family. You deserve the praise! Join a group and share your successes and your fall-on-your-face moments. By exposing your vulnerabilities, you will find strength in the connection with others who sing out, “Oh my gosh, me, too!” Notice your mile markers and talk about them: “Hey, it’s been a month since I quit drinking soda.” I am cheering you on from here . . . yay!
  • Reward yourself for goals attained: Make sure you reward yourself. Not just for the end product, but for all of the baby step accomplishments along the way. If you made it to ten exercise classes last month and “being more active” was on your healthy habit formation list, then treat yourself to some new workout clothes/shoes or a rockin’ headband or a new smoothie maker. If you volunteered twice this quarter and felt inspired to do more, then reward yourself by stepping into a leadership role within that organization. Rewards do not always have to be monetary. You deserve the reward of not only achieving your goal, but a special “thank you” to yourself for believing in YOU!

There are books, YouTube videos, mediation series, classes, websites, Facebook pages, and so much more dedicated to habit formation and the benefits of creating healthy and sustaining habits. Find what works for you. We all have that thing that jives with our soul, be it humor or depth or intellectual spirituality or wise-old-owl. Whatever it is that stirs you up, use that! If something doesn’t feel like a fit, move on. This is about YOU and YOUR journey. Do you.

Coming up next month: Step 6: Find a guiding hand to hold.
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Defining Resilience: Step 3 – Utilize Self-Care Strategies

I have been working on my September newsletter and thought this was an independently shareable section. Enjoy! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter for more “hope for healing” guidance.

Step 3: Utilize Self-Care Strategies

I created a list of coping skills I have learned and utilized along my healing journey. This is most certainly not an all-inclusive list. My recommendation to you is start researching ideas for some self-care strategies. Then try them on for size. Some will work, some will not. We are unique beings so there is no cure-all fix. I, personally, love writing with meditative music in the background. Friends of mine have tried listening to meditative music while working and practically dozed off. Their productivity nose-diving into snoozeville.

However, to aid you on your self-care journey, here are ten kick-start ideas:

Surround yourself with positivity: Positive energy. Positive people. Positive places. If you find yourself surrounded by energy-vampires, eliminate your exposure to their toxic energy or, at least, off-set it with positive people.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Nap: Seriously. Treat yourself to a nap. Curl up with a favorite movie and a blankie. Sit outside in a lounge chair, close your eyes and let yourself doze off for a bit. Snuggle with a fur-baby and snooze away. Allow yourself the gift of rest.

Exercise without telling yourself you are exercising: One of my best friends came over for a swim and she mentioned how she loved swimming laps and doing treading exercises while we all hung out in the pool because it didn’t “feel like exercise”. Dance for an hour around your house. Take a bike ride. Walk your dog for thirty minutes. Anything that has you moving without dreading it.

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

Know your food cravings: Being aware of food’s addictive effect on me (I am a carboholic and sweet-tooth junkie!) has helped me curb those cravings a bit. Therefore, I have been trying more Paleo-based recipes. Particularly in the crock-pot so dinner is ready when we walk in the door.

Try a fun new social gathering: Singo rocks! It’s like Bingo (Tuesday nights, sitting next to my Grandma Kitty, in Guardian Angels church undercroft come to mind), but instead of scanning your card for O-63 and B-11, you sing along to songs and find those on your Singo card. It’s my new favorite!

Practice positive self-talk: I saw my reflection in the mirror as I cleaned our bathroom this morning and I stopped to smile at me. Then I said, “I love you, T. You’re cute.” Try to be your own best friend. Lift yourself up with encouraging words.

Treat yourself: I am headed off to Florida (which is a treat in and of itself) and decided a super-blonde, super-short new “do” was in order. Remember, you are so incredibly worthy. Reward yourself for all the tasks you accomplish every day.

Create your own space: My writing space is a sanctuary filled with everything Teri – from my currently burning vanilla-scented candle to my angel paintings to my collection of treasured hearts and so much more. Allow yourself a sacred space dedicated to you.

Appreciate nature: Find time to walk outside, even for just a few minutes, and enjoy something – the warmth of the sun, the pink clouds at sunset, a parade of ants marching off with seeds in tow, the sounds of birds chatting on a wire. Nature is a grounding force that reminds us of the simplicity of life.

Find a new hobby: I love finding and collecting hearts. I also love photos. I have combined the two and created a new page on my website featuring all of my heart pics. Most of them I have taken, but a few have been shared with me by friends. I have friends and family looking for love all around them, as well, as they seek out hearts.

Coming up next month: Step 4: Take action steps to create positive change.

The Power of Self-Care

As I continue on this journey of healing, I am amazed on a daily basis by the number of resources coming across my path. Articles on ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) will show up in a Facebook news feed or I’ll receive an email discussing trauma recovery. I love when the universe aligns the stars just so and the answer I was seeking magically appears.

I worked in school settings for years, as a teacher and in a mental health professional role. Helping children learn to cope with anxiety, bullying, overwhelming emotions, unstable home environments, the after-math of abuse, and so much more, had my own inner-child longing for more solutions.

The kids and I would work on filling their “tool box” with coping skills, such as using manipulatives like stress balls to ground themselves or release energy, simple breathing exercises for centering, free art to express something they might not have words to convey, and so on. Allowing kids the opportunity to express themselves in whatever way they were comfortable, while I listened respectfully and without judgment, created a space filled with compassion and tranquility. I once had a fifth grade child, whose home life was in the midst of chaos, tell me, “I like your energy. You have white light around you. I feel safe here.” To say I was blown away by that message would be an understatement. Knowing this child was picking up on the energy I was sending to her as she learned to cope, heal, and empower herself, made my sappy heart dance with joy.

This morning as I scrolled through the amazing articles on ACEs Connection, I came across an article titled, Why Adults Need Social and Emotional Support, Too by Mathew Portell. In it, he discusses the needs of his school, not just in regards to the students, but in relation to the staff and parents’ care, as well.

Pointing out norms they have implemented in their school structure, this blogging principal sets a shining example of trauma-informed care in action. Self-care is critical in all aspects of our lives. I think about those funny memes that state, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” #truth

The point being . . . when we learn to take care of ourselves, we fill our own coping tool box with beneficial energy we can share with others: compassion, understanding, patience, kindness, and love.

As you move toward healing in your own life or reach out a helping hand to others who may be struggling to find their footing along their path, make sure to heed the advice offered in 25 Self-Care Tips for the Body & Soul.  Learning to live in the “now” and allowing myself to experience joy on a soul level has been life-altering. A great read, and a catalyst for change in my own life, is the book, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle. In it, the author advises us, “All the things that truly matter-beauty, love, creativity, joy and inner peace-arise from beyond the mind.

Empower yourself with self-care and watch your life transition. Then share your tranquility with others as we move toward a world filled with compassion and joy.

Peace to you,

Teri

Weekly Update – Book Proposal

Weekly update!

This week has been fairly quiet on the book-front. The completed proposal is in my editor’s hands. She will have it back to me by the first week of February. Then I can edit away!

As for the book itself . . . I am so excited to have an outline to work with and a plan for it. Finally. As I’ve told so many, I’ve been writing this book for years. In, what feels like, circles. Always coming back to “what is it I am really trying to say?” I knew in my heart and soul I didn’t want it to be a “woe is me” story all about my trauma. I wanted it to be about hope and healing and the journey toward joy, yet knowing the trauma has to be a part of it.

There is a connection that happens between our souls when we have those “me, too” moments. The haunting beauty of my story is that it paints with a broad trauma brush, touching different people in different ways . . . yet, the vast majority of those folks are striving to live a more joyous, peaceful and purposeful existence. And many are stuck. Not knowing quite how to do move forward.

This is my tale from trauma to triumph, the “how to” for getting oneself unstuck from the muck.

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Tomorrow, I have a meeting to discuss the website development. Excited to move forward with that, as well! Wish me luck.

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A beautiful and incredibly talented friend painted this unicorn shadow for me. It hangs next to my desk in my writing space. I smile at it every day.

 

Goals and Self-Care

Facebook post from January 3, 2017:

 

Goals for 2017 include continued self-care, cultivating peace in my life, experiencing continued connectedness. This morning before heading off to work, I took some “T” time.

I’m currently reading 13 different books but my favorite is “The Gifts of Imperfection”. If you’re looking for an amazing read, pick this book up.

I also wrote in a Gratitude journal, with today’s instructed subject: “To learn from our enemies is the best way to loving them: for it makes us grateful to them” . . . not that I have “enemies”, per se, but a difficult subject to write about in a grateful way, nonetheless.

Finally, I took a few minutes to mindfully color. Just breathe and settle into my day.

Take care of yourself in some way today. Whether big or small. You are so very worth it ?

I wish you a life filled with an abundance of joy, tranquility, laughter and love.

Peace,

Teri

#traumainformedcare #hopeforhealing #hope #healing #unicornshadows