In the modern-day world that we live in, peace has become the most valuable commodity. From the looks of it, it has become scarcer than the scarcest of resources as we have seemingly accepted that stress and anxiety are natural consequences of our lifestyle. This is unfortunate by any measure, as life is not meant to be so... devoid of peace!

Regardless, this is our reality, and we need to figure out ways to survive and thrive in it. Because the fact remains, no matter who you are, there will come the point where constant stress and anxiety will start taking a toll on your body. This will not only affect your physical and mental health, but it will also adversely affect the pursuit of your goals. To that end, let's take a look at some ways you can find and keep your inner peace.

1. Spend Time In Nature: Perhaps, our modern lifestyle's biggest drawback is that we simply don't get enough time to spend in nature. However, anyone who has ever spent some time in a forest, mountain, beach knows the healing and calming effect that doing so can have. It's like nature has this fantastic ability to recharge your mind, body, and spirit. So, make it a habit to spend more time in nature: exercise outside instead of going to the gym, having lunch outdoors, and spending as much of your weekends as you can out in nature. At the very least, get a plant for your office.

2. Focus On What You Can Control: It's a human tendency to want to control as many variables in life as possible. This tendency has probably been hardwired in all of us as it increases the chances of survival. However, as we are all aware, we can only truly control only a handful of things. So, when you find yourself worrying, take a minute to examine the things you have control over. You can't prevent a storm from coming, but you can prepare for it. You can't control how someone else behaves, but you can control how you react. It's much more peaceful that way!

3. Make Meditation A Way of Life: Meditation and peace are almost synonymous. There is something about sitting quietly and going inwards that just resets all your mental activity and psychological drama. Maybe that's why people have looked up to this practice since ancient times. Even scientific studies have shown that meditating regularly can have a plethora of positive effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Therefore, you should waste no time in making it a way of life.

4. Practice Gratitude: It's in our nature to always be in pursuit of something or the other. No matter how much we achieve, we are always looking for something else. In this race of life, it is only evident that you might forget about all the things you already have. All the blessings in your life might become a blur when all you can see in the future. This can keep you in a perpetual state of "not having." And that can be a significant source of stress. But if you can change your perception and start being grateful for all the great things, people, and situations in your life, you will be in a perpetual state of "having." This can be a source of peace and contentment. So, start making gratitude lists a habit!

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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Self-love, at its core, is a state of conscious awareness for our well-being that grows from daily actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth.

February is the month of LOVE, celebrating, and recognizing the importance of love and relationships in our lives ... So, are you ready for the greatest love affair you can have? How? By falling in love with YOU

What is Self-love?

Self-love, at its core, is a state of conscious awareness for your well-being that grows from daily actions that support and nourish your physical, psychological, and spiritual growth... When we create a habit of self-love practice, we begin to feel more comfortable spending time with ourselves, understand our needs, work on ourselves—our insecurities, strengths, flaws, and have clarity of our valuable contributions to offer ourselves and others.

Self-love also means learning to accept that we’re enough as we are, recognizing that our value goes beyond our attributes, accomplishments, and actions, giving us the courage to show up in the world as authentic vulnerable and imperfect.

When we learn to love and accept ourselves genuinely, we’ll be able to show up with others as a secure being, loving from a place of feeling fulfilled rather than from neediness, insecurity, and desperation for external validation. When we become solely dependent on others to make us feel whole and loved, we can put unwanted pressure on others that ultimately compromise our relationship with others and ourselves. On the other hand, when we are secure, confident, and loving towards ourselves, we radiate positive energy and move through the world with more profound love and compassion for others.

So, How would you go about falling in love with yourself? A daily practice of affirmations meditation is one of the practical ways to get you started.

Affirmation Meditation is a mindfulness practice of self-empowerment in the form of intentional thoughts, phrases, words, images, or mantras used to overcome negative thoughts and reprogram our mindset, tap into our inner strengths, manifest goals or create a more positive reality.

Below you will find a selection of meditation affirmations to help you shift any negative thoughts about yourself back to love and feel more at ease, content, and at peace.

  • Self-love means accepting who I am.

  • Beneath my exterior is a soul that deserves to be honored. It forms the essence of my being and is meant to be treated with respect. Self-love means accepting who I am on the inside. The perspective of the outside world is irrelevant.

  • I genuinely love the person I am inside, and positive self-talk occurs naturally. Building self-love happens from the inside out.

  • Becoming worthy of love starts with having a character of integrity. I ensure that my interactions with others are handled openly and honestly. I am trustworthy and proud to be a person who speaks from the heart.

  • My honesty inspires others to put their trust in me. Knowing that I am a safe place for others gives me a good feeling about myself.

  • I approach others with kindness, regardless of the relationship we share. Leading with empathy makes room for a peaceful resolution and effective collaboration. I promote positivity.

  • Although I have flaws, my positive traits surpass anything that I sometimes feel insecure about. I celebrate my strengths and embrace my imperfections. There is so much about me that is lovable.

  • Today, I am exactly the person I am supposed to be, and I love every ounce of my being. There is power in genuinely accepting myself just the way I am. I go through each day with confidence conquering significant challenges and feeling proud of my victories.

How you integrate these affirmations into your life is up to you. However, I recommend that you start with one that feels authentic and focus on the first phrase, memorize the entire thought, modify one to make it your own, and pay attention to its effect on your mind and outlook!

For long-lasting results, settle in for a daily five-minute practice either in the morning or before you go to bed as part of your daily routine. You also can write your affirmation on the margins of notebooks, daily journal entries, or sticky notes. You can even say your favorite affirmation when you’re in a difficult spot or deeply upset or if you want to break out of a self-destructive pattern.

Remember: Self-love is s key to living a happy and healthy life that takes time, practice, and devotion to master. Be gentle with yourself around this process, as you are incredibly worthy of love and support from others and, more importantly, from yourself!

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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Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.~ Andre Gide.

All relationships require love, including the relationship we have with ourselves. But, what exactly does that mean? Self-love is not about being self-absorbed or a state of feeling good; it is about an intentional commitment to extend the same kind of respect and kindness that we gladly extend towards others... Self-love is about accepting ourselves as innately worthy, good, valuable, and deserving of happiness.

Researchers in the subject have also indicated that self-love practice can lead to healthier relationships, higher optimism, greater life satisfaction, increased curiosity, learning, and greater resilience.

So how can you begin to cultivate more feelings of self-love into your life?

Below are eight practical ways to gradually help enhance your ability to love yourself fully.

1. Feel your feelings. feeling angry? Say, “I’m feeling angry,” then let yourself feel it. Are you feeling sad? Say to yourself, “That’s sadness,” then love yourself for feeling sad. Think of your feelings as waves in the ocean, coming and going, rising and falling.

Remember, No feeling lasts forever; anger and sadness are necessary, helpful parts of the human experience that help us grow.

2. Forgive yourself. You’ve made a few mistakes. Who hasn’t? It’s time to let that go. You can’t change what you have done in the past, but you can control your future. Look at it as a learning experience and believe in your ability to change. Remember, there are no failures. If you have learned and grown from your mistakes, only lessons are learned.

3. Pursue what you need rather than what you want. What you want is rarely what you need. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from something that feels good or exciting at the moment to what you need to stay healthy, centered, and moving forward in your life. Once you’ve taken care of your needs, you’ll be in a better position to acquire what you want.

5. Appreciate your uniqueness. We tend to be embarrassed about our qualities, skills, or unique abilities. However, the most valuable parts of you are different from others. The fact that you have an elbow doesn’t make you extraordinary. So don't be afraid of being unique because that's the only way to find your best self.

6. Practice gratitude. Gratitude can boost immediate happiness, help us

remain mindful and present, and (when practiced regularly) can create long-term benefits for our mental health, including better sleep, reduced stress levels, and improved self-perception. Each day, write down five things you’re grateful for ( try to include at least one thing you can thank yourself for) and see how good it feels to end your day this way.

7. Be mindful of your inner dialogue. If your self-talk is anything less than loving, encouraging, and supportive, offer yourself compassion and reassurance. You deserve to be spoken to in the same way you would talk to the people you love and care about in your life.

8. Remember your victories. View yourself in a positive light more often. One of the easiest ways to do this is to remember your triumphs. Maybe you hit a home run and won the game in 5th grade. Remember your high school graduation day. Think about that time you received a promotion. Most people spend plenty of time remembering their failures. Try doing the opposite for a few weeks and see what happens!

Finally, be patient while you remain persistent. Self-love is an ever-evolving process that needs to be practiced daily but can take a lifetime to master. Be gentle with yourself around this process, as you are incredibly worthy of love and support from others and, more importantly, from yourself!

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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