Young woman doing a plank with a dumbbell in one hand, while cameras and lights surround her for her social media.

Instagram and Body Image

By | Biltmore, Blog, Happiness, Health, Mental Health, Self-Awareness | No Comments

If you use Instagram, you probably are inundated with people posting their healthy meals, smoothie bowls, gym routines and fit bodies. The social media platform has become quite the haven for promoting the healthy lifestyle. But what if it is doing more harm than good?

Instagram uses a photograph or a group of photographs to snag the attention of the everyday user. So what grabs attention and gets you more followers? Usually a photograph of perfectly arranged brightly colored foods, or posing in fitness gear with a rock hard body. But what does this do to our positive body image? It does the same thing that magazines and society has done for years. It promotes a body image that is often unattainable and sometimes unhealthy.

When we are constantly bombarded with images of what we perceive as “perfect bodies”, we are telling ourselves that we need to do everything possible to look like that. We need to eat what their eating, do the workouts they’re doing, and document every living second of it. When we see other people succeeding in their life, it changes how we think about our own bodies. We start to think, “I need to do this to look like that.” A lot of women (and men) tend to think of their own bodies with an outsiders view in mind. We want others to think we look great, eat healthy, and are happy more than we want that for ourselves. It can create quite an obsession of trying to do everything perfectly, and can lead to unhealthy habits, anxiety and even depression.

The most dangerous thing about Instagram, is we can scroll through our feed and see “everyday normal people” promoting unattainable lifestyles. We know that when we look at a magazine ad, it is probably photoshopped and the model has prepared for the shoot for months beforehand. When we look at Instagram, we think this person just posted a photo and they’re not famous, so if they can look that good, eat that well, be that fit, than obviously we can too. We fail to admit that most photos on Instagram are actually heavily edited and photoshopped as well.

Not all Instagram is negative for our body image. It can help create a community with supportive people all around the world. It can give tips and tricks on how to eat healthier, workout more efficiently, and the wide array of resources are endless. But the safest way to enjoy Instagram without falling into the thought process of, “I’m not good enough” is to tread lightly. As with any form of social media, limit your time on it. Acknowledge that a lot of pictures are edited, photoshopped, prepared for, and not necessarily “real”. Know that what works for someone else might not work for you. Be realistic about what is really going on behind the camera. And most of all, enjoy it. Follow a variety of accounts, not just ones that focus on eating habits, body habits and aesthetics.

Exercise and Depression

By | Anxiety, Biltmore, Blog, Depression, Happiness, Health, Mental Health, Stress | No Comments

We have been talking about the positive impacts of eating healthy, physical activity, exercise, and sleep patterns lately. It seems like everywhere you turn, you see something promoting the plethora of benefits of exercising for mental health. Here at Biltmore Psychology and Counseling, our staff outside of work engages in many different kinds of activities to help our emotions and moods. We have Clinicians who do Zumba, some do circuit training and Crossfit, others do yoga and pilates. No matter what activity we try to do, we know the immense benefits it can have on us as individuals and as coworkers.

Depression specifically has been linked to possible heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks. And adding just 30 minutes of exercise into your day can help combat these health risks. It can lower blood pressure, boost your mood, create community and much more. Don’t worry if you have never exercised before, start with a walk around your neighborhood or a bike ride to your local coffee shop. Physical activity doesn’t have to take place in a gym to get the full benefits to lift your mood and help depression. The most important thing is to get your body moving, and do what makes YOU happy. When we engage in activities that make us happier, we are more likely to continue to do them and create a healthy pattern in putting our mental and physical health first!

Alarm clock on table with the words 'Wake Up' on the alarm time slot

How to start your Monday off Mindfully?

By | Biltmore, Blog, Goals, Happiness, Health, Meditation, Mindfulness, Self-Awareness, Stress | No Comments

Some mornings can be tough, but Monday mornings seem to be particularly tough for some. When you’re winding down from a socially filled or relaxing weekend, it can be hard to switch your mind to business mode for the Monday morning job. Is there anything we can do to make the sting of the alarm on Monday’s less painful?

Setting yourself up for a positive and productive day starts as soon as your alarm goes off. Even on that dreaded Monday you can start making small changes to act more mindfully. Studies show that setting your alarm to a less “alarming” sound can benefit in a multitude of ways. First, being ‘alarmed’ abruptly out of a deep sleep can be quite fear and stress inducing. Second, where did it say in the rule book that your alarm must be extremely loud and annoying? Try setting your alarm to a more calming sound, still benefiting from the help in waking you up, but less jolting as you begin your day.

It seems like a lot of people today find it hard to keep hydrated through out the day. If you start your day with coffee, tea or juice, it can be even harder to get back on track. Start with a full glass of water as soon as you wake up. It doesn’t mean you can’t have coffee or tea later, but starting with a full glass of water can help keep you hydrated and help keep you motivated to drink water through out your busy day.

Do you find inspirational books, quotes, or podcasts helpful? A lot of people do. And starting your day with a little motivation has a great positive impact. It might be reading an inspirational book, or having a motivational calendar in your view. There are a plethora of positive, inspiring, and motivational podcasts these days, perhaps you listen to one as you’re getting ready for work.

You might think you don’t have time to meditate in the mornings. But what about a little body scan, a little self check in? This can be done in 5 minutes, as you’re waiting for your shower to heat up. Take a few deep inhales and exhales, try some light stretching and put the focus on relaxing and setting your intentions for the day.

Adding a nutritious breakfast to your morning can help set yourself up for success as well. Try incorporating some good fiber, and complex carbohydrates to help you feel full through out your morning. Things like plain oatmeal with berries and nuts, or a refreshing smoothie with fruits and vegetables are easy and healthy.

What do you do to start your week off right?

Who am I written on a small chalkboard on a table.

How well do you know yourself?

By | Biltmore, Blog, Goals, Happiness, Mindfulness, Self-Awareness | No Comments

How well do you know yourself? When asked what kind of person a you are, are you able to truly express who you really are?

Knowing yourself can be beneficial in so many different ways. When you understand the way you react in certain moments, the way you talk to yourself in your head, or a plethora of other traits that make you you, it can help you become a much happier person. When you know who you are, you are more likely to specifically seek and speak about what you want. You are more decisive with your decisions, and are able to set boundaries for people or things that might not be serving your happiness or health.

Your past makes up a big portion of what makes you you. But it doesn’t define who you are today. You might have come to certain conclusions because of your parents, or have a deeper appreciation for something that you didn’t have as a child.

Your future can shape what motivates you in life. What are your goals personally or professionally? How do you want to be treated, or how do you want to treat others? Knowing yourself can make those relationships around you deeper and more genuine. It can also show you which relationships can be toxic and should probably end.

Take a look at this article over at Psychology Today by Bill George titled, Know Thyself: How to Develop Self-Awareness . It’s a great outline for becoming more in tune with yourself!

Things That Calm People Don’t Do

By | Anxiety, Biltmore, Blog, Coping, Happiness, Mindfulness, Stress | No Comments

We all do different things to calm ourselves down in stressful situations. Sometimes these things were learned in childhood, and others we adopted as adults. Whatever the soothing anecdote is, it can sometimes be unhealthy and lead to more stress in the future.

Daily life holds so many stressors, from family life, work life, relationships stress, financial stress, and much more. From the moment we step outside the door in the morning we are bombarded with external and internal stimuli that could lead us down a path of negative thinking. Hopefully somewhere along the way we have learned what does not work for us in terms of coping skills when disaster arises. And in learning that, we can work on developing more positive steps in getting ourselves out of anxiety and stress, and back to that calming state.

So what do all those people who seem to not be bothered by much do that is so different than those of us who can get stuck in negativity?

The Art of Letting Go

They don’t obsess over every single detail. Have a big presentation tomorrow at work? Calm people don’t work themselves up every night leading up to the presentation, obsessing over every single thing that could go wrong.  Have a fight with your spouse? Calm people solve with a reasonable discussion instead of yelling and storming out.

People who maintain a sense of calm, don’t get stuck in their behaviors and thoughts. Said something that hurt a loved ones feelings? Apologize with sincerity, and then let it go. Letting it go frees up so much time we spend on obsessing over what someone else is doing or thinking, and replaying situations over and over in our head. It allows for clear, constructive, and stress free thoughts.

Putting the Emphasis on Thoughts rather than Action

When you’re stuck in a negative thought process, it is possible that this is stopping you from taking action. Many people have anxious thoughts that stop them from being able to see that there might be a solution. We can focus on an event past or present, and continually let the negative thoughts repeat in our heads until we are so clouded over there isn’t any room for a different pattern. If you’ve had a fight with your spouse, do you tend to go over the fight in your head multiple times afterwards? Do you pick apart everything you’ve both said, and play out all the worst case scenarios?

These thoughts don’t leave room for action, or for a change in behavior for next time a fight occurs. Instead of focusing on the last fight you’ve had, think about what words can be said, or behavior that can make the next fight more constructive.

A Negative Thought doesn’t turn into a Negative Day

Your internal dialogue is important in the way you interact with your environment. You might be short with a co-worker because you’re still telling yourself negative things about the fight with your spouse the night before. If someone cuts you off in traffic, it turns into a negative thought about the city you live in, to the job that have to commute to, etc.

Calm people have an ability to experience a stressor, think something negative, and then go back to a calm neutral state of mind. They don’t let one incident or thought, turn into a negative dialogue on repeat for the entire day.

Changing the way we think is not an easy task. It takes practice and effort over a period of time, but it certainly is worth it as the quality of our lives could be so much better with a more neutral reaction to life stressors. Check out this article at Psychology Today for some more insight on what calm people never do. 

Mindful Living

Having a tough day? Getting you back on track with gratitude.

By | Biltmore, Blog, Coping, Gratitude, Happiness, Mindfulness, Stress | No Comments

In March we are going to be dedicating the month to self care, mindfulness, and adjusting our sometimes negative thought processes. There are many ways to do this from breathing techniques, writing in a journal, taking a yoga class and much more.

It is easy to become pessimistic in this day in age. Especially when we are all bombarded with negative and tragic news stories, and the stresses of surviving every day life have become so overwhelming. We are a society that tends to rely on external factors for happiness, rather than our own internal factors. We are a society that wants instant relief and satisfaction, and long gone are the days when we would take the time to cultivate happiness.

A lot of times we can let a negative or stressful moment take over our entire day. Things like someone cutting you off in traffic, or the weather shows rain and clouds, or you spilled your coffee on the way to work, happen every day. And they have the potential to draw us into a cycle of negative self talk, negative interactions with others, and an overall morose attitude.

Over at they often explore techniques on how to keep control over your positive mood and the day ahead. In their article entitled, A 5-Minute Gratitude Practice: Focus on the Good by Tapping into your Senses, they discuss some ways to do just that. We’ve tried it, and it actually works! Here are some points to focus on during your practice:

1. Use the breath to anchor yourself in the present moment.

2. Next, bring to mind a sight you are grateful for.

3. Now, shift to a scent you appreciate.

4. Moving on, tune into any sounds around you.

5. The world of touch and texture beckons us next.

6. Shift to noticing and appreciating objects around you.

7. As you end this practice, carry this attitude of gratitude with you.

Head on over to the article, and read more about these focus points during the 5-minute gratitude practice!