Renew your spirit with the start of the New Year

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The start of the New Year marks the ability to set the reset button on your life. We can “press the reset button” anytime, but there is something about the end of one year and beginning of a new year that just makes setting goals and evaluating our lives feel…so right.

Lately, I’ve been pushing a concept in my practice of renewing your spirit and reconnecting with self. Your spirit being that intangible part of yourself-the parts of you that make up your character, your emotions, your soul.  And yourself being, well who you are, who you used to be, and who you WANT to be.

Over time, our spirit can become a bit withered with negative life events and hurtful relationships. Our sense of self can become so foggy underneath the roles we have to assume in life that we feel unsure of who we are anymore.

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We can become so busy with life that we forget to take care of ourselves and as a result, we lose sight of who we are and forget to nurture ourselves. Women, by nature, are nurturers. We are the glue that holds a family together! Where do you think the phrase, “if momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy” came from?

I give you permission to recognize that “holding it all together” and multitasking til the cows come home DOES come at a price—our emotional well-being. It can become so easy to think that we should be doing more and not give ourselves permission to say “I don’t feel happy!”

As women, we are certainly allowed to feel discontent but the important thing to remember is that we also hold our own key to feeling more empowered and self-aware of what we need at any given time. The process to becoming more self-aware just takes practice, especially if you have pushed emotions so deep down that you’re not even sure where they are at this point!

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So how do we renew our spirits and reconnect with who we are?

1.       Ask for help. At some point, we have to realize we do not have to keep all the tops spinning. You are allowed to ask for help from your husband, your colleagues, even your kids. Be clear in your communication of what you need, verbally naming what you need out loud. You need a hug? Name it. “I’m telling you that right now, I just need a hug”. You need your significant other to pick up the milk? Name it. “I need you to go to the store and pick up A, B, and C”. I know that most of us know we can ask for help, but I also know that women intrinsically start to take on more and more and before we know it, we feel overloaded and overburdened. So get into the practice of naming what you need before reaching the point of anger and emotional burnout.

2.       Practice self-care. Now I realize “self-care” has become a “trendy” concept over the years but taking care of you is of utmost priority in order to be the best version of yourself. Like I tell my clients, self-care is doing anything—no matter how big or small—that honors WHO you are and WHAT you need. Something as seemingly simple as lighting a candle, taking a bath, painting your nails, or listening to your favorite Pandora station can yield excellent benefits to your mental health and happiness because you are going back to fulfilling an important duty—taking care of you. These activities are not trivial despite what people may say! Little things add up to be big results. Do you appreciate beauty in your life? Then make your home office or kitchen an oasis for you. Wherever you are spending the majority of your time should have something in it that brings you joy. Sounds simple but honoring yourself is something we must actively choose, not passively hope will happen.

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Do it. Light the candles. Take a bath. Do one thing no matter how big or small that helps you feel calm and taken care of.

3.       Get in touch with your emotions. I see this time and time again. Women get married, have children, move up the ladder at work and all of a sudden, they wake up and realize “I don’t even know why I’m so upset these days, I just feel worn out!” Cue my therapy plug here— helping you get in touch with your emotions is what I do! If you are not at a place to call a counselor, then consciously identify what the biggest stressors are in your life. Ask yourself what purpose negative thoughts are serving you and then choose to consciously let them go. Family background can paint the picture for how we handle emotions so think about how your own parents handled stress and anger. The beauty of therapy is that you have a place to just be you. To have your outlet because everyone needs one! I encourage you to find a counselor that fits your style, where you feel complete acceptance, positive regard, and support.

4.       Consider who you are and who you want to be. Years of pacifying everyone else can cause a person to lose sight of goals and expectations of self. Use this new year as a way to start a journey of self-exploration. Whether you have always wanted to try yoga, attend a church group, or try you hand at painting, engaging in activities that bring us joy are keys to finding our life balance. Realize, however, that in order for reconnection with self and renewal of spirit to occur, we have to actively take charge and make these goals a priority.

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So what will be your focus this new year? What is an area in your life where you want to “let the top stop spinning” and focus on your growth and reconnection with self?

If you have been programmed over the years of thinking that you have to do it all, this post may seem unrealistic. Yet I will tell you with 100% confidence that reconnecting with yourself and renewing your spirit CAN BE DONE because I help women do this everyday! You are not alone in feeling overburdened and drained by life. Start small. Tiny steps everyday where you actively do something that honors who you are and what you need—I know I’m being repetitive now, but this point is SO important for feeling and living a healthy life, both physically and mentally.

You are your own best expert, so consider what needs to change or be done differently to make 2018 a year of reconnection and renewal of self.

Set that reset button and make those healthy changes you’ve been wanting to, but have let sit on the back burner.

Wishing you a health and happiness today and everyday,

Rachel Ann

Humanitas Counseling and Consulting, LLC

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816 Greenbrier Circle, Suite 209

Chesapeake, VA 23320 

757-739-6771

Lighten your load: Letting go

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need. – Tao Te Ching

Letting go. It’s a hot topic among therapists, clients, friends, and family. Often times whether it’s on a subconscious or conscious level, there are emotions that we need to let go of in order to move forward and achieve the happiness that we all deserve.

Emotional baggage is a term used to describe the negative emotions that are carried around with us on a daily basis. Negative emotions are often gathered through the years and stuffed into our “mental suitcase” that we carry.

You can always tell a difference between a person that has a heavy “suitcase” with them versus someone who’s suitcase is light. I can always tell in the eyes and the face. When your emotional baggage is heavy, there is no longer a light in your eyes. Perhaps you’ve struggled with an addiction or mental health condition and it has taken over.

When a person becomes so accustomed to carrying around excess negativity, it becomes who you are. Negative emotions have an interesting way of wearing a person down and eventually taking over if you are not careful. People begin to identify with the negative emotions of anger, sadness, and or anxiety and it becomes the very thing that you put out into the world. 

I think back to a time when I was working at an inpatient acute stabilization hospital and a very angry woman came in. I’ll admit that her rage was so thick that even I had to check myself on my own fears of her. I can remember sitting with this woman, in an effort to just let her know that I was supportive and would not run away from her anger and consequently, feeling exhausted afterwards. Anger has a way of sucking the energy out of the room and out of the person who is experiencing it.

So there I sat. And listened with unconditional positive regard to the anger coming from this woman. She had had quite the injustices occur in her life—various events that were completely out of her control. Yet she had persevered and was still here today. I pointed this out just as we were ending our meeting for the day.

The next day, I noticed she seemed calmer. It was almost like the air had gone out of her sails and she was in a different place mentally. She began to talk and amazingly became tearful when she was able to recognize the strong impact of her anger on everyone around her. She made a statement that she had always been an angry person and recognized now that she used anger to keep people away despite feeling desperately lonely and unsupported. The aha! moment had occurred.

To let go is to release the images and emotions, the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind our spirit. – Jack Kornfield

When we hide behind our negative emotions, there is a reason for doing so. Whether it is keeping other people at arm’s length, trying to appear larger than life, or to elicit sympathy from others—there is always a reason why we behave the way that we do.

The power is when you recognize how and why you use negative emotions and decide to make steps to change.

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. – Raymond Lindquist

Letting go can be scary. However, in order for changes to occur, there has to be a shift in identity and the way that you may be currently living your life. Take inventory of how you interact with others and how you feel about yourself.

If you could describe who you are with 5 words, what would they be?

What do you need to change about yourself in order to be happy and fulfilled?

You’ve got to make a conscious choice every day to shed the old – whatever “the old” means for you. – Sarah Ban Breathnach

Use affirmations to get on track with who you are and what emotions you want to put out to the world. Choose happiness because you are deserving of it. Everyone makes mistakes at one point or another but this does not mean that you have to internalize those negative emotions and allow them to take control.  

Live, learn, and move forward. The only person you can control is yourself. Try letting go of that excess emotional baggage that may be weighing you down. I give you permission 😉

 

Wishing you happiness and a “light suitcase” today and everyday,

 

Rachel Ann