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Let's work to end the suffering together.

John Tessitore is the Founder of the JCK Foundation, a non-profit devoted to ending the stigma of mental illness.

3 Strategies I Use to Heal Through Self-Love & Care

3 Strategies I Use to Heal Through Self-Love & Care

When I made the choice to face my past and heal the trauma associated with it without the use of medication, I had to find different strategies to implement that would aid in my healing. Looking back at it now, it was a mix of acts of self-care and self-love. Self-care and love is about taking back control of your life and loving yourself where you are in the present moment. It is so easy to get consumed by the Rabbit Hole (my pet name for my depression), and the monsters that call it home, that it’s as though you lose sight of everything.

Nurturing yourself and giving yourself space to just BE and do the things that make your soul happy should be at the top of your to-do list as often as possible. As a stay-at-home mom, and before deciding to start therapy for what was soon to be diagnosed PTSD that presented itself as depression and anxiety, I severely lacked in both the loving and care of myself. My days involved running and caring for our home, as well as taking care of a newborn and 4-year-old. My husband, bless his heart, worked about an hour-and-a-half away from home and also attended school two nights a week. I was exhausted and depleted. It wasn’t until I started seeing my therapist that I truly realized how much I was lacking and just how important the following strategies would be to my journey of self-healing.

 Self-LOVE is key!

Self-LOVE is key!

1. Setting boundaries in order to heal

It isn’t selfish or mean or uncaring to establish boundaries, especially when dealing with toxic people. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Healing requires a lot of energy and dealing with the not so pretty issues of your past. Setting limits is not only about who you choose to be in your life, but it is also about choosing how much or how little you let those in your life into your world. Healthy boundaries are physical and emotional. As a former people-pleaser this one has taken a lot of practice and I still have to remind myself from time to time!

Remember! It’s ok to let people go, as well. You can either limit your time with a particular person or you can end the relationship. The people you surround yourself with have such a tremendous impact on your life and mental well-being. Right now, your healing and taking care of YOU is important, too. Whether you choose to limit your time or end the relationship with someone, it is ok if it’s only temporary. Do what best suits your needs. It isn’t selfish, it is self-LOVING.

2. Lean on your tribe

Just as it is important to set boundaries, having my tribe is just as vital to my self-care routine. Whether it is your go-to group of friends, joining a group therapy program, trying a class on something you’ve always wanted to try or even something you already LOVE to do, find your people! Having people in your corner as you fight this battle is an integral part of your success. Enjoying time to hang out with them or even having a person on speed dial to call for venting will have such a major impact on your journey.

  Did you know that meditation actually changes your brain?

Did you know that meditation actually changes your brain?

3. Care for your mind, body and soul

I start my days with a workout and meditation. There is just something about the mix of endorphins rushing through my body and taking time to quiet my mind. Whether you enjoy walking, pilates, lifting weights, or dancing, find a way to move your body positively for at least 20 minutes a day. It is a great way to clear the mind by focusing on yourself. Working out not only boosts your mood but your confidence, both of which come in handy when you are healing and recovering. Bonus! It helps combat depression. I can tell you from personal experience that when I do not work out for a few days that I can tell a major difference!

Did you know that meditation actually changes your brain? When you are faced with mental illness, even just FIVE minutes of meditation can be life-changing. By changing the way your brain reacts to stress, meditation is worth the effort! For someone like me, who didn’t want to introduce medicine into my body to heal my PTSD, depression and anxiety, meditation has been my lifesaver. And, meditating doesn’t have to be the way you might be envisioning! Contrary to popular belief, you DON’T have to sit cross-legged on the floor! You can sit in a chair, lie on your bed, or sit in a bubble bath! Meditation is about quieting the mind, so get comfortable. Give it a shot!

Healing while living in the present moment and moving forward with your diagnosis is often so draining. Not to mention, processing it all and learning to live in the face of mental illness can have seemingly debilitating effects. Taking the time for yourself to administer self-care and/or work on self-love can be transforming. Whether you are med-free or not setting boundaries, finding your tribe, and caring for your self, mind, body and soul will profoundly change your path on the journey to rehabilitation. I highly recommend creating a list to add to your mental health toolkit! You can start with the things you love to do or branch off of my list above. Tailor your routine to suit YOU!

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