Emotional regulation plays a crucial role in maintaining our mental well-being and navigating daily life effectively. For individuals who struggle with emotional regulation, incorporating visual aids and schedules into their routines can be immensely beneficial. In this blog post, we will explore the power of visual aids and schedules in supporting emotional regulation and provide practical tips for their implementation.
The Role of Visual Aids
Visual aids are powerful tools for enhancing emotional regulation by providing visual cues, reminders, and structure. They offer a tangible representation of information, making it easier to understand, process, and follow. Visual aids can be used in various forms, such as charts, diagrams, pictures, and symbols, tailored to individual preferences and needs.
Creating Visual Schedules
Visual schedules are visual representations of a sequence of tasks, activities, or events presented in chronological order. They provide predictability, structure, and clarity, significantly assisting emotional regulation. Creating a visual schedule involves breaking down tasks or routines into manageable steps and displaying them in a visual format, such as a daily or weekly calendar, checklist, or visual timeline.
Benefits of Visual Aids and Schedules
Enhancing predictability: Visual aids and schedules offer a sense of predictability, helping individuals anticipate what comes next and reducing anxiety or uncertainty.
Promoting independence: By providing clear visual cues and reminders, visual aids and schedules empower individuals to independently navigate their daily routines and responsibilities.
Facilitating transitions: Visual aids and schedules smooth transitions between activities, events, or changes, minimizing disruptions and easing emotional transitions.
Reinforcing routines and expectations: They serve as a visual reminder of routines, expectations, and boundaries, promoting consistency and reducing behavioral challenges.
Increasing focus and attention: Visual aids can help individuals stay focused and attentive by providing a visual anchor for attention and concentration.
Practical Tips for Implementation
Customize visuals: Tailor visual aids and schedules to individual preferences, using colors, symbols, or images that resonate with the person.
Keep it simple: Use clear and straightforward visuals, avoiding clutter or excessive information, to maintain clarity and ease of understanding.
Involve the individual: Collaborate with the person to create and personalize visual aids and schedules, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement.
Make it visible: Place visual aids and schedules in easily accessible locations, such as a bedroom, desk, or common area, ensuring they remain visible and prominent.
Update and adjust: Regularly update visual aids and schedules to reflect changes in routines, activities, or goals. Be flexible and adapt as needed.
Reinforce with praise and positive feedback: Celebrate successes and milestones achieved with the support of visual aids and schedules, reinforcing their effectiveness.
Utilizing visual aids and schedules can be a game-changer in supporting emotional regulation and promoting overall well-being. By incorporating visual cues, reminders, and structure into daily routines, individuals can gain a sense of predictability, independence, and focus. Remember to tailor visual aids and schedules to individual needs, involve the person in the process, and regularly update and adjust as necessary. Embrace the power of visuals and empower individuals to enhance their emotional regulation skills for a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Life often presents us with challenges and stressors that can leave us overwhelmed and disconnected. During these moments, grounding techniques can be powerful tools to bring us back to the present moment, cultivate a sense of stability, and restore a calm state of mind. In this blog post, I will explore the concept of grounding and provide you with various effective techniques to incorporate into your daily life.
What is Grounding? Grounding is a practice that helps anchor us in the present moment, bringing our awareness away from racing thoughts, worries, or anxious feelings. It involves reconnecting with our physical body and immediate surroundings, allowing us to find stability, focus, and a sense of inner calm.
Engage your Senses One effective grounding technique is to engage your senses. Take a moment to notice and describe what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Pay attention to the details, colors, sounds, and textures around you. This practice helps redirect your focus to the present moment and brings you into a more grounded state.
Mindful Breathing Concentrating on your breath is a powerful way to ground yourself. Take slow, deep breaths, and focus on the sensation of each inhale and exhale. Feel the expansion and contraction of your abdomen or the air passing through your nostrils. This simple act of mindful breathing helps calm your nervous system and promotes a sense of centeredness.
Grounding Objects Carrying or holding grounding objects can provide a tangible sense of stability. These objects can be anything that brings you comfort and reassurance, such as a smooth stone, a favorite piece of jewelry, or a soft fabric. When you feel anxious or overwhelmed, hold the object in your hand, feel its texture, and let it serve to remind you of your grounding practice.
Body Scan Meditation A body scan meditation is a powerful technique to ground yourself by reconnecting with your physical sensations. Start from the top of your head, and slowly move your attention down through your body, noticing any areas of tension, discomfort, or relaxation. This helps you become more aware of your body, release tension, and find a sense of grounding within yourself.
Grounding through Movement Physical movement can be an excellent way to ground yourself. Engage in activities that bring you into your body, such as yoga, walking, or dancing. Pay attention to the sensations of your muscles moving, the rhythm of your breath, and the connection between your body and the earth beneath you. Moving with intention helps return you to the present moment and promotes a sense of grounding and well-being.
Visualization Visualization techniques can be powerful tools for grounding. Close your eyes and imagine yourself rooted to the earth like a sturdy tree with deep roots. Visualize these roots growing deep into the ground, giving you strength, stability, and a sense of grounding. This visualization helps anchor your energy and provides a sense of security.
In our fast-paced and often chaotic world, grounding techniques offer a valuable refuge. With these practices as part of your daily life, you can find stability, calm, and a renewed sense of presence. Experiment with different grounding techniques and discover which ones resonate with you the most. Remember, grounding is a skill that can be cultivated and refined over time, providing you with a reliable anchor amidst life’s storms. Embrace the power of grounding and experience the transformative benefits it can bring to your overall well-being.
Navigating life’s challenges becomes much easier when you have a strong support network by your side. A support network consists of individuals who provide emotional, practical, and sometimes even professional assistance when you need it most. Today, I want to talk about building a support network and share tips to help you cultivate a reliable and caring circle of support.
Recognize the Value of a Support Network Having a support network offers numerous benefits. It provides a sense of belonging, reduces feelings of isolation, and enhances overall well-being. A support network provides a safe space to share your thoughts and emotions, seek advice, and receive encouragement during challenging times. It can also serve as motivation and inspiration, pushing you toward your goals and dreams.
Identify your Needs and Goals Start by identifying your needs and goals. Consider the areas of your life where you could benefit from support. This could be related to personal relationships, career aspirations, physical or mental health, or any other aspect important to you. Understanding your needs will help you determine the type of support you require and the kind of people you should seek to include in your network.
Assess your Current Connections Take stock of your existing connections. Evaluate your relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Identify individuals who are supportive, trustworthy, and understanding. These are the people who can form the foundation of your support network. Remember, a support network can be diverse, including different types of relationships and connections that fulfill various needs.
Expand your Social Circle Actively seek out new connections to expand your support network. Join clubs, organizations, or social groups that align with your interests or goals. Attend networking events or engage in online communities centered around your hobbies or professional field. Putting yourself out there increases the chances of finding like-minded individuals who can offer valuable support and guidance.
Cultivate Mutual Relationships Building a support network goes both ways. Fostering mutual relationships based on trust, respect, and reciprocity is essential. Be willing to provide support and assistance to others in your network as well. Remember that relationships thrive when there is a sense of give and take, and supporting others can be as rewarding as receiving support.
Communicate your Needs Open and honest communication is vital in any support network. Clearly communicate your needs, concerns, and goals to those in your network. Be vulnerable and willing to ask for help when necessary. Effective communication helps others understand how to best support you and ensures your network remains strong and responsive to your needs.
Prioritize Quality Over Quantity When it comes to building a support network, quality is more important than quantity. A smaller network of reliable, supportive individuals is more valuable than a large group with superficial connections. Focus on cultivating deep, meaningful connections with individuals who genuinely care about your well-being.
Maintain and Nurture your Network Building a support network is an ongoing process. It requires consistent effort to maintain and nurture your relationships. Regularly check in with your network, show appreciation for their support, and be present when they need you. Remember that relationships require time, attention, and genuine care to flourish.
Building a solid support network is crucial to personal growth, well-being, and success. Surrounding yourself with caring and supportive individuals can provide the encouragement, guidance, and sense of belonging needed to navigate life’s challenges. By recognizing the value of a support network, identifying your needs and goals, expanding your social circle, cultivating mutual relationships, communicating effectively, and prioritizing quality connections, you can build a robust and reliable support network that uplifts and empowers you on your journey.
Remember, you don’t have to face life’s difficulties alone. Invest in building your support network, and let it become a source of strength, resilience, and joy in your life.
In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, prioritizing self-care is a vital part of maintaining a balanced and fulfilling life. Developing a self-care routine allows you to nurture your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, enabling you to show up as your best self. In this blog post, we’ll explore seven practical tips to help you develop an effective self-care routine that supports your overall well-being and helps you thrive.
1. Assess Your Needs and Priorities Start by assessing your needs and priorities. Identify what truly matters to you and what brings you joy and fulfillment. Reflect on areas of your life that require attention and care, such as physical health, mental well-being, relationships, or personal interests. This self-reflection will guide you in creating a well-rounded self-care routine that aligns with your unique needs.
2. Make Time for Self-Care Prioritize self-care by making it a non-negotiable part of your schedule. Set aside dedicated time for self-care activities as you would for work or other commitments. Treat this time as sacred and non-negotiable. Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, carving out time for self-care demonstrates its importance in your life.
3. Explore Different Self-Care Activities Experiment with various self-care activities to find what resonates with you. Consider activities that promote relaxation, joy, and personal growth. This could include practices like reading, journaling, practicing mindfulness or meditation, engaging in physical exercise, pursuing hobbies, spending time in nature, or simply enjoying quiet solitude. Discover what brings you a sense of well-being and incorporate those activities into your routine.
4. Create a Self-Care Plan Develop a self-care plan that outlines specific activities and when you will engage in them. Write down your self-care goals and schedule them into your daily, weekly, or monthly calendar. Having a plan ensures that self-care becomes a consistent part of your routine rather than an afterthought.
5. Practice Self-Compassion and Forgiveness Self-care is about nourishing your well-being, not adding more stress or pressure to your life. Remember to be kind to yourself and give yourself grace and compassion throughout your self-care journey. Allow yourself to embrace imperfection and be forgiving when your routine doesn’t go as planned. Be gentle with yourself and adjust your routine when needed.
6. Set Boundaries Establish clear boundaries to protect your self-care time. Communicate your needs to others and assertively express your limitations. Learn how to say no to activities and commitments that do not align with your self-care priorities. By setting boundaries, you create space for self-care and ensure that your needs are respected.
7. Regularly Evaluate and Adjust Periodically evaluate your self-care routine to ensure it remains effective and fulfilling. Check in with yourself to see if your activities are still bringing you joy and meeting your needs. Be open to adjusting and evolving your routine as you grow and change. Self-care is a dynamic practice, and what works for you now may change over time.
Developing an effective self-care routine is an investment in your overall well-being and a key to living a balanced life. By assessing your needs, making time for self-care, exploring different activities, creating a self-care plan, practicing self-compassion, setting boundaries, and regularly evaluating and adjusting, you can cultivate a self-care routine that supports your physical, mental, and emotional health. Remember, self-care is an ongoing journey of self-discovery and nurturing, so embrace it wholeheartedly and prioritize your well-being.
Understanding our emotional landscape is fundamental to managing our mental and emotional well-being. This self-awareness allows us to recognize, acknowledge, and navigate the intricate tapestry of emotions we experience. Today, I’m delving into the importance of understanding our emotional landscape and providing practical insights on cultivating this awareness for enhanced emotional well-being.
1. Recognizing and Labeling Emotions
The first step in understanding our emotional landscape is to recognize and label the emotions we experience. Emotions can range from happiness and excitement to sadness, anger, fear, and everything in between. Pause and take time to identify your specific emotions in different situations. Labeling these emotions with descriptive words, such as joy, frustration, or anxiety, helps to bring clarity and awareness to your emotional experiences.
2. Identifying Triggers and Patterns
Once you can recognize emotions, it’s important to identify triggers and patterns that influence your emotional responses. Pay attention to situations, events, or even certain thoughts that consistently evoke specific emotional reactions. Are there particular circumstances or interactions that tend to result in feelings of frustration or anxiety? By understanding your triggers and patterns, you gain insight into the root causes of your emotions and can develop strategies to manage them more effectively.
3. Journaling and Reflection
Journaling is a powerful tool for exploring and understanding your emotional landscape. Regularly set aside time, each day or week, dedicated to writing down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Reflect on your emotions and delve into the underlying factors contributing to them. Journaling provides a safe space to explore your emotions without judgment and can reveal valuable insights about your emotional patterns, triggers, and how you respond to them.
4. Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness practices can deepen your understanding of your emotional landscape. Engage in mindful activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or body scans. These practices cultivate present-moment awareness, allowing you to observe your emotions without judgment or attachment. Mindfulness helps you tune in to the subtleties of your emotional experiences, fostering a deeper understanding of how different emotions arise and manifest within you.
Understanding your emotional landscape is an ongoing journey of self-discovery and growth. By recognizing and labeling emotions, identifying triggers and patterns, practicing reflection and journaling, and embracing mindfulness, you can gain a deeper understanding of your emotional experiences. This awareness equips you with valuable insights, empowering you to navigate and regulate your emotions more effectively, leading to improved emotional well-being and a greater sense of self. Embrace the process and embark on a path of self-discovery to understand your emotional landscape fully.
Being autistic in a neurotypical world can bring unique challenges, especially regarding nervous system dysregulation, which can lead to emotional dysregulation. Autism causes heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli, leading to intense feelings that can be overwhelming at times. However, by implementing effective coping strategies, we as autistic individuals can navigate these emotional waves and develop healthier ways to manage our emotions. As an autistic woman, I will share in this blog post an overview of some valuable tips and insights that have helped me in coping with intense feelings and improving emotional regulation. And this week, on the blog, I’ll go into more detail about each of the tips below.
1. Understand your emotional landscape
Understanding and acknowledging your emotional landscape is one of the first steps in managing intense feelings. You can better prepare yourself for emotional regulation by gaining insight into your emotional world. Take the time to identify and label different emotions you experience. Use tools such as emotion charts or journals to recognize patterns and triggers.
2. Develop a self-care routine
Self-care plays a crucial role in emotional regulation. Establish a routine that prioritizes activities that bring you joy, peace, and relaxation. This can include engaging in hobbies, practicing mindfulness or meditation, taking breaks, or spending time in nature. By consistently investing in self-care, you can enhance your emotional well-being and build resilience.
3. Build a support network
Having a strong support network is vital for autistic individuals. Seek out understanding and empathetic individuals who can offer emotional support during challenging times. Whether it’s family, friends, or support groups, having people who validate your experiences and provide a safe space for expression can significantly aid in emotional regulation.
4. Learn grounding techniques
Grounding techniques can help you regain control and stability during moments of intense emotions. Practice deep breathing exercises, use sensory tools like fidget toys or weighted blankets, or engage in physical activities such as yoga or walking. These techniques help redirect your focus and bring you back to the present moment, providing a sense of calm and stability.
5. Utilize visual aids and schedules
Visual aids and schedules are effective tools for autistic individuals to manage emotional regulation. Establishing daily routines and visual schedules can provide a sense of structure and predictability, reducing anxiety and promoting emotional stability. Create visual reminders of coping strategies or calming activities and display them in visible areas.
6. Seek professional support
Therapy can be valuable for gaining insight, processing emotions, and developing healthy coping mechanisms. Consider seeking professional support from therapists or counselors who specialize in working with autistic individuals. They can provide guidance, teach emotional regulation techniques, and help you develop personalized coping strategies tailored to your specific needs.
Navigating times of overstimulation and overwhelm as an autistic person can be challenging, but emotional regulation becomes more manageable with the right strategies and support. Remember that you are not alone. By understanding your emotional landscape, prioritizing self-care, building a support network, and implementing grounding techniques, you can develop healthier ways to cope with intense feelings. Embrace your uniqueness, celebrate your strengths, and remember that emotional regulation is a skill that can be developed and improved over time.
I was never a very healthy child. In fact, without even thinking about it too hard or long, I can easily recall half a dozen incidents of infected teeth that would swell up so bad I had trouble opening my mouth far enough to slurp soup. If anyone near me got sick, I’d undoubtedly catch it, too. I’ve had Whooping Cough, Hand/Foot/Mouth Disease, Strep throat (more times than I can count), nose bleeds that would send me to the ER, Rheumatic Fever, Sydenham’s Chorea, bronchitis, upper respiratory infections, pneumonia—you name it, I’ve probably had it. Oddly, though, I’ve never had the chicken pox… But I digress.
So, back in 2018 when I came home from attending a concert with my daughter and her friend and I got sick, I didn’t think much of it. Except, this “cold” was really severe. I wasn’t able to get out of bed for almost a week straight. My head constantly felt like someone was beating on my temples with a hammer. I lost my appetite. Had no energy. Couldn’t think clearly, let alone try to work. Then, the coughing fits started. I couldn’t walk up to the bathroom without getting winded, and then there was the time I coughed so hard I bruised a rib and couldn’t move. That was fun…
Eventually, I went to the local urgent care and was diagnosed with a sinus infection, strep throat, and a severe upper respiratory infection. With some heavy meds and a lot more rest, I finally got over all the ick.
But I didn’t. Not really.
As I said, this “cold” was different. First, I’d never been that sick before, despite all my childhood ailments. Everything about that just felt… wrong and weird. Maybe, subconsciously, I knew things weren’t ever going to be right again, but I was feeling better, so I went about with life.
Fast forward to early 2019, and I couldn’t ignore things any longer. My body was in constant pain. I was popping Tylenol like Tic-tacs, and my heating pad became my best friend. I’d wake up in the morning (after sleeping for a solid 9-10 hours) and be tired. When I did sleep, I’d twitch and jerk, and that often interrupted my sleep. I’d sit up in the morning, and my entire body would just slump with utter exhaustion. My husband and kids would want to go places and do things, and I just physically couldn’t do it without intense pain or wanting to curl up and take a nap. Focusing on anything was impossible; I felt like I was in a constant fog. And don’t get me started on what it was like every time I’d eat a meal and then have to run to the bathroom because of digestive issues.
At one point, my husband made a comment that I wasn’t the same woman he married, and that really hit home, because he was right. I’d changed—through no fault of my own—and not for the better. I was moody, miserable, forgetful, angry, depressed, tired. I hated being in my own skin.
I needed help.
After a lot of visits to the doctor, numerous tests, and a ton of tears on my part, I finally had a diagnosis: Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.
Like me way back then, you’re probably wondering what the heck Fibromyalgia is. In the simplest terms, it’s a widespread pain disease that also affects a person’s sleep, mood, digestion, and memory.
There is no cure for Fibromyalgia, and it’s a lifelong disease. However, it can be managed, and so that’s what I set out to do. My doctor advised me to try to lose some weight, because the less weight I had on my body, the less strain on my joints and muscles, which would help with the constant pain. I was also given some really strong medication to help with the pain, but also to help me sleep better and without consistent interruptions.
Armed with all of this, I began to do my own research into this disease, and I talked to a few friends who had it. The number one piece of advice I was given? Cut the carbs from my diet. *Cue the panic* I couldn’t possibly give up my bread and pasta and candy! The horror!!
This is me with my daughter back in 2017, before my diagnosis, when I was at my heaviest weight: 186 pounds.
I had a long way to go to get the pounds off and ease the pain. But, I really wanted to feel better, so with the guidance of a friend who was in my same position, I put myself on the Keto diet. I cut out 95% of the carbs from my diet, increased my protein, started drinking a lot of water, and began to exercise every day. I began my official weight loss journey in May 2019.
Within months, I was feeling like a new person. I had more energy, my mind was clearer, my moods had leveled out, and I’d lost 50 pounds!! By January 2020, I was down to a much healthier 136 pounds. It truly was life-changing for me.
Then, the pandemic hit, and the world was in lockdown. Working out and being active was suddenly a lot harder. My stress levels went up, and my eating habits started to slip back to my old ways. I was much more in-tune with my body, though, and I caught myself before things went too far south. But, the pain had returned, and my meds were no longer helping. So, I went back to my doctor, and she changed my medication. I bounced back quickly, and I was able to maintain my weight. Things were good again.
Fast forward to March 2022, and I’d taken a major slide backward with my disease. The pain was nearly non-existent, but the fatigue was kicking my butt. I couldn’t make it through the day without a nap—and when I say nap, I mean a 2-4 hour period where I’m dead to the world—and I’d packed on about 10 pounds that I just could not lose no matter what I did.
Back to the doctor I went! We agreed that my current medication was doing more harm than good, and so we’re now in the process of weaning me off all meds, and I’ll attempt to manage my fibro and fatigue with my diet and exercise. This is me today, happy and healthy at 144 pounds.
Kara Leigh Miller lives in Michigan with her husband, three (of five) kids, five pit bulls, and four cats. When she’s not busy writing romance novels that leave readers swooning, she’s spending time with her family, working out, or binge watching Netflix. And sometimes, she’ll even play golf with her husband, even though she totally sucks at it. Represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency, Kara writes primarily young adult romance. She’s also the Editorial Direct for Anaiah Press, LLC. You can learn more about Kara and her books on her website: www.karaleighmillerauthor.com
A while back, I stumbled across a Tedx about body positivity on YouTube. While I wasn’t specifically looking for a Ted Talk or videos on body positivity (I was actually looking for haircare videos in an attempt to freshen up my self-care routine), the title caught my eye: Body Positivity or Body Obsession: Learning to See More & Be More.
The video resonated with me in a big way as the presenter, Lindsay Kite, talked about overcoming body shame. But it left me wondering a few things: why do we take on the weight of other people’s opinions in the first place, why do some opinions weigh more, and how can we shed that weight?
Why Do We Take on the Weight of Other People’s Opinions?
Not a lot of people know this about me (it’s not something you really lead with in conversation), but I struggled with body dysmorphia in my teens and early twenties. Like Kite, the speaker in the Tedx video, I was an active kid and an avid swimmer. Growing up in Florida, 10 minutes from some of the best beaches in the country, I spent much of my childhood swimming. Until one day, when I was around 11, I decided I was too fat to wear a swimsuit. Some of it was from what I was seeing in magazines and on TV. I was, after all, a product of the heroin-chic beauty culture of the 90s. Some of it was due to pressure from family to be thin because they had come up in the era of Twiggy and the like, and to them, beautiful was just a synonym for skinny. But none of it was okay.
I didn’t recognize that then. I just knew I wasn’t pretty enough. Even when people called me pretty, it was backhanded: “You have such a pretty face,” or “You’d be so pretty if you lost weight.”
When I was 11, a family member put me on the Slim Fast diet. When I was 12, that same family member encouraged me to stop hanging out with two of my friends because they were overweight, and she thought I would “catch” the obesity.
Fredric Neuman, M.D. writes in this article on Psychology today that “The way people feel about themselves is formed in large part during the time of growing up by the way their parents—or other close family members—felt about them and treated them during that time.” (Neuman, 2013)
And the simple fact of the matter is that our survival as individuals depends on our being accepted into the social group. We feel pressure to conform even before we can pronounce those very words.
Why Do Some Opinions Weigh More When We Put Them On?
By the time I was a freshman in high school, I felt so fat and so disgusting (at 5’4” and 140lbs), that I truly believed no one could possibly find me attractive.
When a boy in my class stopped our conversation to tell me I had a pretty smile, I thought he was messing with me and immediately stopped both smiling and talking to him.
When a senior football player from my Spanish class stopped me in the hall one day to introduce me to his friends, I was certain he’d done so because they were all going to have a good laugh at the awkward freshman girl after I walked away, and I nearly crawled out of my skin to get away from them as fast as I could.
Every day, the boy who sat next to me in Drama would stop me on my way to my seat and ask me out. I was so sure he was yanking my chain, I would shake my head and continue to my seat without making eye contact. Until one day, we went through the standard routine: he asked me out and I declined. Only, this day, he followed up with, “That’s what I like about you, your confidence.” This poor boy thought I was turning him down because I was out of his league, and I was over here doing everything I could to be invisible.
So why didn’t these situations change the way I felt about myself and my body? I have some theories.
First, as anthropologist Krystal D’Costa writes in this article on the Scientific American blog, “…negative opinions held by those outside of our social networks may have less weight than others because they are less likely have an impact on future relations.” (D’Costa, 2012). In this article, D’Costa focuses on behavior in relation to reputation, but the idea is the same. These brief encounters with people who, in retrospect, clearly did not find me abhorrent weren’t enough to change my outlook because they weren’t as close to me, weren’t as large a part of my life as the people who had put those warped ideas about body image into my head in the first place. I didn’t rely on those classmates for acceptance into the family social group or even my friend group (as they were only acquaintances).
How Do We Shed the Weight?
Several more years would pass before I would feel comfortable wearing form-fitting clothing, and even in my 30s now, I still experience a significant amount of discomfort in a bathing suit at the beach.
Going back to something Kite said in her talk, “It is incredibly difficult to feel good about your body if you are judging it solely based on appearance.”
In her Tedx Talk, Kite tells us that women she surveyed who reported feeling good about their bodies all reported a past painful experience or “body image disruption.” The disruption changes the way you feel about your own body. These disruptions can have either a very negative (shame/hatred/disgust) or very positive (self-love/confidence) impact on how you feel about your body.
The key is to develop body image resilience. Lindsay Kite and her sister, Lexie, are the founders of Beauty Redefined, a nonprofit whose mission is to teach body image resilience. And there are many other amazing people doing work in this area. I’m personally acquainted with one such woman, Christina Maldonado, founder and principal photographer at Boudoir Tampa. Her mission is to help people shed the weight of unhealthy beauty standards. She’s a master at helping individuals (and couples) recognize that each and every body is beautiful through her photography.
The key takeaway I’ve gleaned from my research is that you have to make a simultaneous public and personal shift.
Putting yourself out there is the external/public piece. It can be anything that pushes your boundaries, from wearing a tank top if you’re insecure about your arms or shorts if you are uncomfortable showing your legs, to wearing a bikini in public. Anything that opens you up and makes you vulnerable to perceived criticism can be an opportunity for body image resilience.
Changing your mindset is the internal side. We have to work to love our bodies for what they can do, not how they look. We can do this through meditation, journaling, etc. and learning to filter out the unhealthy beauty messages we receive every day from the media, from friends and family, and most especially from ourselves. Because we are our own worst critics.
Something else that I don’t see many people talking about is that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Not every person prefers model-thin, perfectly airbrushed bodies. There is an admirer for every body type. I could be built like a caterpillar, and there would still be some human out there who goes crazy for the larval butterfly look.
I just need to change my mindset and put myself out there. And that’s what my wellness journey is all about. I’m learning to love myself just as I am. Every time I put myself out there, it’s that much easier the next time, easier to put myself out there and easier to love myself just as I am. I’m taking baby steps, short skirts and bathing suits and posting pictures/videos of myself for all the internet to see now. One larger goal is to have a photography session with the phenomenal Christina Maldonado. And the more I do these things, the closer I get to the finish line of loving myself wholly and completely as I am and not striving for a perceived perfection. Because we’re all already perfect enough.
Connect with me on social media to be a part of my journey.