Updated: 2 days ago

It doesn’t take a whole new routine to instill a dose of happiness into your day—but it does take a little self-awareness.

1. Be grateful.

Research shows grateful people are happy people. It’s also important to understand that happiness is not the absence of negative feelings. Gratitude focuses on the present and appreciation for what we have now, rather than wanting more. Embracing gratitude as a state of mind can positively affect all aspects of life, including our happiness and overall satisfaction.

Up your mood by taking a moment daily to think of your world with gratitude. Start a gratitude journal or take a walk in nature, paying attention to all the gifts around us. Think of a person who helps you daily or weekly – a spouse, parent, friend, pet, teacher, cleaner, or babysitter.

Quiz: How grateful are you? Take the Gratitude Quiz published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

2. Flex your creativity muscles.

Do you have a passion or hobby? It doesn’t have to be a formal activity, simply engaging in creative thinking can enhance well-being by enhancing cognitive flexibility and problem-solving abilities. A recent study out of New Zealand, published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, explains that creative activities can trigger an “upward spiral” of well-being.

“Practicing an art — no matter how well or badly — is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” – Kurt Vonnegut.

Make some space in your day to create, even if it’s just for its sake. Try exploring unique textures or even natural and recycled materials to make something for your home or a friend and looking for some tips on how to add more creativity into your daily life? Read this list of 101 creative habits to explore.

3. Get connected, Stay connected.

Being a part of something larger than yourself can help bring perspective and a sense of belonging. Scientific evidence strongly suggests that feeling like you belong and are generally close to other people is a core psychological need, essential to feeling satisfied with your life. The pleasures of social life register in our brains much like physical pleasure does.

So take the time to nurture a friendship that is important to you. Make an extra effort to show you care, send a card, make a plan to have lunch, or give them a call and really listen to what they say. Smile and say hello to a stranger. Tell a story when someone asks how your day is going. Notice how you feel when you share something with someone new.

Struggling and need support? Join a support group and talk to others that can relate. Find your tribe: – a free online support community brought to you by TherapyTribe.

Tip: Check out the wellness tracker. It’s a simple but powerful tool designed to help you remember the promises you make to yourself. As you complete wellness activities your tree will blossom, and so will you!
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Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.— Christopher Germer

Most of us from a young age are taught how to be kind, considerate, and compassionate toward others. But rarely are we told to show the same consideration to ourselves. This becomes even more true for individuals brought up in abusive or unloving homes.

What is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion is how we can relate to the self with kindness, recognizing that personal inadequacy and shortcomings are part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone. But what does it mean to be kind to ourselves? It means being gentle and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flogging ourselves with self-criticism. Why is this important? Because exercising self-compassion helps us recognize our inherent worth and value.

The Psychological studies on self-compassion have also revealed an abundance of mental and physical health benefits to practicing self-compassion, including a significant reduction in feelings of anxiety, depression, and negative self-directed rumination; improvement in overall motivation, self-worth, general satisfaction, and optimism about the future; improved resilience; and deeper connections with others,

Now that you know the what and why of self-compassion, let’s look at the how.

How to Cultivate Self-Compassion

Some people come by self-compassion naturally, but not everyone does. The good news is it is a learnable skill, and training programs are being developed to help people discover and cultivate their own self-compassion. Here are four ways to give your self-compassion skills a quick boost:

  • Treat yourself as you would a small child: You would never harshly judge or belittle a small child the way you do yourself. You would only want to help and love that child. When you begin to treat yourself as you would a small child, you begin to show yourself the same love, gentleness, and kindness.

  • Practice Mindfulness - Self-compassion is deeply related to mindfulness, as it allows us to turn to ourselves, recognize our inner world, and observe thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. This allows us to be receptive to the present moment, not “over-identified” with negative or painful emotions, thoughts, or experiences, and be caught up and swept away by negative reactivity. Check out my personal favorite free guided meditation scripts that are available through The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion to deepen your mindful practice.

  • Be your own best friend - the next time you notice a critical thought or reject feeling about yourself, ask yourself how you would respond to a beloved friend who thought or felt that way about themselves? Would you be as critical or kind and compassionate? Apply this to yourself.

  • Forgive yourself for your mistakes- Forgiveness is paramount for self-compassion. Everyone makes mistakes, but learning from these errors, letting go, and forgiving yourself is crucial for overall mental health and well-being. Depending on the mistake, this can be a very daunting task, but keep in mind that forgiveness is not about letting yourself off the hook... It is about accepting what has happened while you are willing to let go and move past it without ruminating over circumstances that cannot be changed.

These are just a few ways you can begin to cultivate self-compassion. If you’d like to explore more options or talk to someone about your feelings of self-rejection and judgment, please get in touch with me. I’d be happy to discuss how therapy may help.


Netsanet Tegegn, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist in Virginia Beach who provides individualized counseling services for those who wish to create long-lasting and positive changes in their lives...

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The holidays are often a complex time for many people. On the one hand, there is a sense of joy in the air, while on the other hand, sorrow and grief because of either a loss or dysfunctional family dynamic. The following are some ways you can deal with family trauma around the holidays. Have an Escape Plan

It’s important to not isolate over the holidays. Being around loved ones who support and care for you can be a comfort. Having said that, you’ll also want to have a plan that will allow you to get away from crowds and holiday festivities when you feel yourself become triggered or emotional. This may mean you drive separately to an event so you can leave when YOU want and need. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and stick to them. Feel Your Feelings The holidays mean everyone is supposed to ‘put on a good face’ and act merry and jolly, right? No. It’s important to really feel your feelings, not ignore them or pretend they don’t exist. We can only heal from trauma by facing the full extent of our darkness. If you had plans to spend time with loved ones but suddenly feel angry, overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, do not deny these feelings and try to put on a good face so others have a good time. It’s better to gracefully bow out of the plans and be 100% genuine with your feelings. Make Self-Care a Priority When we relive our trauma and deal with big emotions, it’s easy to let self-care slip and eat poorly, drink too much and get far too little sleep. Dealing with trauma takes energy and mental clarity, and that will require you to treat your heart, mind, AND body with gentleness and care.

Be kind to yourself

Remember that life is a process and emotions are changeable and that every year is different. If something goes wrong, be kind to yourself, and remind yourself that in the present moment it is you who needs comfort the most. Be sensitive and gentle to yourself. Breath. Take control. Make choices and boundaries. If you are a survivor of any traumatic ordeal and you feel that you can't move past your invisible wounds, reach out for help to a professional specializing in trauma recovery that can help you navigate your feelings and offer coping strategies.


  • https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/recognizing-holiday-triggers

  • https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/holiday-blueprint-for-tackling-trauma-anxiety-1212135

  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-new-normal/201712/mental-health-and-the-holidays

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