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As we enter the new year, we are all still faced with the realities of a global pandemic. This is a stressful time for so many of us. A new year can be a time to reflect on growth and change. One way to do this is through setting intentions around the new year based on our values and what is important to you. Here are 10 tips for setting some intentions.

  1. Limit and monitor your social media & news intake. Staying connected to people via social media is important. And staying informed about world events is important. But it’s so easy to get caught up in the daily scroll of news feeds and updates that you end up wondering “where’d the time go?” and you walk away feeling heavy, discouraged, and scared. Think about ways to bring more intention to what you’re absorbing from what your viewing. Are there accounts that you might unfollow? You may also try rearranging your home screen to reflect the apps you want to visit.

One the things you have control over right now is how you spend your time.

  1. Create structure and routine. Chances are, your life looks different now… One of the best ways you can stay grounded is to create routines and structure for yourself. It’s important that your routine isn’t too elaborate or intricate. Establish realistic goals and expectations for yourself. Choose 1 thing to try today!




Choose 3-5 things you want to do every morning or throughout the day.

Sit in silent meditation/prayer Stretching Listen to a guided mediation
Journal Listen to a podcast Read a book
Drink coffee/tea Walk the dog Write down a daily gratitude
Shower Sit outside Journal
Go for a walk Listen to music Make your bed
Do gentle yoga Read inspirational text Get dressed for the day
Brush your teeth Watch a TED talk Other:
Drink a glass of water Do a crossword puzzle Other:
  1. Setting boundaries. Working or doing school from home? Try to plan ahead what your working hours will be and stick to them. Find what works best for you and then set boundaries that hold you accountable. You may also want to take a close look at your relationships. Constantly taking in other people’s emotions is exhausting and can harm your own mental health.

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4. Find compassion. Although many of us are able to find compassion for others during this time, it might be a little more difficult to practice self-compassion. Find ways to recognize your own struggles and meet yourself with kindness and understanding. We are all in this together.

  1. Develop or grow your mindfulness practice. Pick a mindfulness practice that works for you and start integrating it into your morning, afternoon, or nightly routine. 5-10 minutes a day is all you need to notice a profound impact on your mood, thoughts, and overall wellbeing.

Here are some great mindfulness apps: Insight Timer, Oak, Breathe+, Calm, Mindshift, Headspace

We are living in a stressful time. Stress lowers the immune system, affects your sleep, and creates tension in your body. It is so important for us to keep our mind and body connection. Meditation and mindfulness exercises are one of the most effective (and free!) ways you can decrease your stress levels.

  1. Get creative! This is a perfect time to pick up an old hobby or learn a new skill. A sense of purpose is crucial for staying mentally afloat. Maybe do something you haven’t tried before- take a paint class, go on a camping trip—whatever you might be interested in!
  1. Maintain social connections. Social distancing doesn’t have to equal loneliness. We are social creatures. We are wired for social connection and it is vital for our well-being. There are plenty of ways to stay connected to others while staying inside your home. Phone calls, Facetime, Skype, Marco Polo, Zoom are all ways to connect with people in real-time. Schedule time in your schedule for human connection.

Find other ways to attend social gatherings. Churches are live-streaming their services, studios are offering weekly yoga/art classes via Zoom every week, and businesses are using this opportunity to up their virtual game and many places that didn’t previously have online offerings now do.

  1. Feel your Feelings. It’s okay to feel your feelings… even the uncomfy ones! This is a time to stay connected to our internal experiences.

Observe, name, and notice what arises within you. And then… Let them go. Intense emotions serve as information and as guides. And we must let them pass through our body rather than hold on. Make time and space in your day for thoughtful reflections. Create time for journal, prayer, reflection. Whatever brings you closer to your inner wisdom.

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Emotions are tunnels. You have to go all the way through the darkness to get to the light at the end.

-Emily Nagoski

  1. Joyful movement and rest. Movement can help our physical and mental well-being. Joyful movement is about choice and recognizing that all kinds of movement are valid. Find something that feels good and brings you joy. Listen to your body and what it needs. If it needs rest- rest!
  1. Keep showing up. Keep your therapy and nutrition appointments! Now IS the time to talk openly about your feelings. To get support. To find someone you trust. To lean on a guide.

We are offering sessions virtually and in-person to keep people connected. We are here for you. Keep logging on Recovery Record. Keep showing up in your recovery.

Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do for the world right now.












Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a trauma. According to US Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 8 out of every 100 (around 7-8% of the population) people in the U.S. will have PTSD at some point in their lives (Gradus, 2020). A common emotional symptom that individuals suffer from with PTSD is shame. This can be true even if there is nothing objectively to be ashamed of. PTSD symptoms can be intense and impact many facets of a person’s life. Shame or guilt can interrupt our beliefs about ourselves and our worldview (Johnson & O’Brian, 2013). Self-compassion can be an important but difficult step in trauma recovery.


“Self-compassion refers to healthy ways of relating to oneself in times of suffering, whether suffering is caused by failure, perceived inadequacy, or general life difficulties. Self-compassion allows individuals to accept themselves as they are, including the limitations and imperfections that make them human.”
(Braehler & Neff)


Self-compassion includes three main components:

  • Kindness: Being caring instead of attacking or ignoring the pain. Meeting suffering or pain with feelings of kindness, care, warmth and concern.
  • Common Humanity: Recognizing that pain is a shared human experience and can connect us to others if we let it. Trauma can happen to anyone. According to the VA, about 6 of every 10 men (or 60%) and 5 of every 10 women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives.
  • Mindfulness: Noticing and being sensitive to the fact that some sort of suffering or pain is occurring. Suffering could be some sort of distressing struggle with emotional pain, mental pain or physical pain.

Preliminary research has shown that increasing self-compassion decreases PTSD symptoms. It can reduce avoidance and self-destructive behaviors. It can also reduce flashbacks and panic attacks. Although self-compassion can be difficult to practice in the beginning, it can be an effective tool in healing from a trauma. Try out different strategies and see what works best for you! Remember, you are not alone and there is support available.

Interested in learning more?

Here are some resources:



Braehler, C. and Neff, K. (2020) Self-Compassion in PTSD. In: Tull, M. and Kimbrel, N. (eds.) Emotion in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Elsevier, 567-596. ISBN 9780128160220

Gradus, J. Veterans Affairs. Retrieved June 14, 2020, from

Johnson, E. & O’Brian, K.A. (2013). Self-compassion soothes the savage ego threat system: effects on negative affect, shame, rumination, and depressive symptoms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 32 (9), 939-963.

Every day we are bombarded with media messages about how to look, how to act, and how to feel. People often compare themselves to these media images and beauty standards and assume that it’s not only ideal, but also achievable. However, this doesn’t take into account that these images are often altered or distorted. Countless studies have found that these media messages impact how we feel about ourselves and can lead to a negative body image.

What is negative body image? It’s the negative thoughts and feelings one may experience related to one’s body. It is a negative perception of one’s self due to a perceived inconsistency between one’s actual and ideal body. A negative body image can lead to serious negative effects including eating disorders, depression, anxiety and an overall lower quality of life.

One way to begin shifting the critical, negative voice towards kindness and appreciation is through compassion. Self-compassion can help promote a more positive body image. It allows a space for kindness and understanding towards ourselves and a recognition that our flaws are part of a shared human experience. It also helps us build a connection to how we are feeling without the need for judgment or criticism.



6 Ways to Practice Self-Compassion to Cultivate a More Positive Body Image:

  • Practice mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness can help us recognize our thoughts and feelings without judging or criticizing. It can also be used to practice more intuitive eating. You can try a guided meditation, take a nature walk, practice paced breathing, or whatever mindfulness practice resonates with you.
  • Change your perspective: Try imaging how you would speak to a friend who was struggling with negative thoughts. What would you say to them? Can you try saying this to yourself as well?
  • Appreciation: Instead of focusing on what your body is not, or what it can’t do – change that focus to appreciate what it CAN DO. This can be especially helpful if you have specific areas of your body that bring you negative thoughts. For example, if I have the thought, “I hate my legs” then I could focus on what I appreciate about them “I love that my legs allow me to dance.”
  • Top 10: Keep a top 10 list of what you like about yourself. It doesn’t have to be related to how you look! When negative body image pops up, pull out your list.
  • Kindness: Do something nice for yourself to show your body you appreciate all it does! Take a bubble bath, get a massage, take a walk, find a peaceful place to read, etc.
  • Reset: Take a look at your social media accounts. If you follow people or accounts who impact your body image negatively, think about if you really need to follow that account. Or take a social media break! Get rid of those apps that have you feeling worse! Instead, surround yourself with more positive, supportive social messaging.

Kaitlyn Patterson, MA, LPA is a licensed psychological associate who treats clients individually and through groups at Chrysalis Center. Kaitlyn’s clinical interests include eating disorders, substance use, and mood disorders. 

Loving yourself can seem like an impossible task because we are really good at judging ourselves. We judge and criticize our looks, what we say, how we feel, how we act. In fact, we usually wouldn’t say our darkest thoughts about ourselves to our worst enemy. Some of these thoughts we may have even had since we were a kid. It almost seems as though it’s hardwired into our brain. But how we treat ourselves makes a big difference to our overall health. So where do you start? How do you start to love yourself?

Compassion. Having compassion for ourselves can decrease depression, anxiety, and even shame. Before practicing for yourself, I invite you to think about an experience where you have had compassion for someone else. What did compassion look like? You don’t have to have the same experience as someone to recognize and empathize with their suffering. When someone is suffering, our compassion towards them allows us to respond with kindness, with care and without judgement. It allows us to understand what they are going through regardless of their failures or mistakes. Compassion allows a space for human connection with someone which is what we’re all really looking for, right?


Self-compassion is the exact same thing but turned on to ourselves; having kindness and understanding for your suffering, without judgement or criticism. It also includes being kind and understanding to yourself, even when you fail or make a mistake. It allows a space for a genuine connection to yourself. Next time you experience suffering or emotional distress, instead of judging yourself, try finding compassion. Maybe you put your hand on

your heart or say some phrase of understanding and kindness. Maybe you treat yourself to something nice, or even simply allow yourself a space to feel the emotions you’re feeling. When in doubt, think about what you would say or do if someone you love came to you when they were suffering, and then do it for yourself!

We are all human, we all have short-comings and we all deserve compassion. We deserve compassion from others, and from ourselves. This Valentine’s Day I invite everyone to open your heart to yourself and celebrate your common humanity.


For more information about Self-Compassion and how to practice:




Kaitlyn Patterson, MA, LPA is a mental health therapist at Chrysalis Center who helps her clients learn to be compassionate toward themselves as they find recovery. To schedule your first appointment with Kaitlyn, call our office at (910) 790-9500 today.

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