As an occupational therapist, I prided myself in being holistic when I graduated. Sure, in school I learned about treating the whole person, intrinsic and extrinsic factors, KAWA, all that good stuff. Definitely a more holistic approach when compared to my physical therapist and physician assistant friends’ curriculum.
Yet, having a holistic background almost had nothing to do with personal growth. I associated personal growth with the ‘Self-Help’ section at Barnes and Noble. You only needed that if you were seeing a therapist right? I didn’t give it much thought. In fact, I didn’t think about personal growth at all. It just wasn’t apart of my vernacular.
As it goes, I learned the hard way. I slowly crashed. When I experienced burnout in the workplace, I didn’t have the resources at the time to know how to handle the situations that kept rising up at work.
Nevertheless, burnout impacted me profoundly. In retrospect, I did a great job of looking somewhat put together to my coworkers and friends. I looked forward to social events on weekends, got into Game of Thrones at the time, took trips. However, the foundation inside of me was completely crumbling. I didn’t know how to turn off my sympathetic nervous system. All I could do was think about work. Dream (or I should say, nightmare) about work. The outcomes of my poor psychological detachment from work led to significant musculoskeletal pain (especially in my upper left trapezius), anxiety through the roof, and sleep disturbances (disturbed AF I should say. It was bad). As a fairly new occupational therapist at the time, I constantly doubted myself which only worsened when I began working in a facility that had the conditions to create burnout. Essentially, a lose-lose situation.
I slowly but surely got into personal growth, one of the few wonderful things that came out of my time as an ambassador for a health and fitness MLM company. It was their religion- “read personal development everyday!” After it was drilled in my head 758 times a day for nearly two years, I became a personal growth fanatic.
“What do you mean you’re not into personal growth?!” I scoffed at people who didn’t know what it was. It was the ingredient that I was missing in this recipe called well-being. Know that being well doesn’t mean forcing yourself to do workouts you don’t want to do and being stressed all the time, like I was during those challenging years.
Wellness and personal growth doesn’t look the same for everyone. Just because someone is meditating or waking up at 5am to run 10 miles doesn’t mean it will be a good fit for you. Nevertheless, if you’re brand spankin’ new or semi-new to personal growth and looking for some resources to start, I’ve gathered this beginner’s guide based off of the tools that helped me at the start (some resources are newer) and continue to support me on my path. I’m keeping this list short and sweet in order to make taking action manageable (because personally I get overwhelmed when I have too many options).
This book is the pep talk we all didn’t know we needed. Yet it’s beyond a pep talk- this book helps you to discover your inner badassery with the principles of manifestation and creating an awesome life. I connected so much to her writing style and as well as deeply connected and felt empowered by the messages in the book.
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
I love this one because it’s straight up practical. If you want to make changes in your life, you have to use to compound effect in your favor, rather than against your favor. This book allows you to look at the pieces and part that make your days, weeks, months, years, and eventually your entire life. You learn the tools to empower you to make choices in your routines that set you up for success.
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza
This one may be a bit out there for some people. Let’s be honest, I’m a bit out there myself. But when you start reading it, it’s actually not so out there. It’s based in theories found within quantum physics. You are in the driver’s seat of your life and you can unlearn and leave behind the conditioning that has kept you trapped and stuck inside yourself. It’s pretty meta, but I found this to be one of the most powerful reads that has changed my life.
Almost 30 Podcast by Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik
Hands down, the best podcast out there. Obsessed with it since day one. Krista and Lindsey began the podcast to start the conversation about the transition from your 20’s to your 30’s, but it’s so much more than that now. They cover wellness, lifestyle, business, health, entrepreneurship, and spirituality. This ain’t #YoAveragePodcast. They are incredible, down-to-earth, and relatable hosts with outstanding guests that will knock your socks off.
Earn your Happy by Lori Harder
This was probably one of the first podcasts I ever listened to when I got into podcasts in 2016. I feel like Lori Harder has guided me through so many challenges in her episodes. I also met her IRL at a conference, and she is incredibly sweet and charming. Lori explores personal growth and all that comes with it. From interviews to solo eps, Lori has got you covered and continues to bring excellence year after year.
School of Greatness by Lewis Howes
This podcast played a monumental role in my personal development. I fell in love with Lewis’ mission and message and even attended his School of Greatness Summit in 2017. Lewis brings on a large array of guests on his show from athletes to authors, from YouTubers to public speakers, from actors to musicians, from educators to leaders. This podcast helped me in many ways and I did feel like I was in ‘school’ when I listened to this show as I learned about the things you don’t typically learn in school.
Burnt Out to Lit Up by Erika del Pozo and Michael Frasso
OK, I don’t listen to my own show, but I knew I had to include this on the list for you! We started our show in 2018 because I wanted a platform where I can voice my experiences, lessons, opinions, and interview amazing guests in and out of healthcare that paint the picture of holistic wellness. I do talk about occupational therapy at times, but the show isn’t an occupational therapy show; rather, it’s a holistic wellness show for healthcare professionals.
Meditation through the Headspace app
Meditation is one of the best tools I’ve implemented in my personal growth journey. Meditation has allowed me to be in a space where I can actually disconnect from the work and truly connect with myself. Having that space is necessary for growth. I have used the Headspace app from day one and love the versatility the app provides. From 3 minute quick mindful moments to full blown 20 minute guided and less structured meditations, I am covered from A-Z.
My husband and I LOVE walks. At the end of a walk I often ask “Can we do one more lap?” Ever since we started walking together around our neighborhood wherever we lived in 2017, I have developed a great appreciation for just being together and fully connected. We’ll have our phones with us or one of us will, but we purposefully don’t check it during our walk. If I’m walking alone, I’m probably listening to a podcast. Nevertheless, I am taking in the sights and sensations I experience during my walk. I have named my previous neighborhood ducks, birds, rabbits, turtles, etc. and have developed little dialogues for them (my recent pets at the time of writing these are the two rabbits that live in my neighbor’s yard- I named them Pep and Pete. There are also two horses right next to my house, I named them Penny and Mocha). Sure, walking is a form of exercise, but I use my walks as a way to clear my head, connect with my husband or not- because sometimes our walks are silent, or listen to a good podcast, all while connecting to nature (as nature-y as a suburbia can get).
I journaled heavily as a kid and teenager. Naturally, I let it go in my twenties, thinking there is no need for it anymore. It always felt like such a kid thing. Well I’m here to tell you that journaling has been another profound tool that contributed to my emotional wellness and growth. I have always loved writing, so picking up journaling again felt smooth to me. I mostly follow a ‘future journaling’ script from Dr. Nicole LePera from The Holistic Psychologist because I am currently working through some deep self work, including manifestation and spiritual awakening. But there are tons of journaling prompts out there on the Google. If you’re looking for a place to start, start with gratitude. Write down the things for which you are grateful for everyday. Get into the habit of making a 5-10 minute date with your journal. You will begin (as I did) to look forward to your journaling time. I have journaled ‘freehand’ (without a script) when I felt I had a lot to emotionally unload.
And ta-da! There you have it! Your beginner’s guide to personal growth. If you haven’t done so already, you can get our Emotional Wellness Toolkit which breaks down the five key elements that make up what emotional wellness is (you can refer to one of our earlier blog posts that talks about each element).
The Emotional Wellness Toolkit has exercises and tips to get you to manage your emotions better in tough situations, be more present and grateful throughout the day, and more. If you’re into personal growth (hence reading this article), then you’ll most likely be interested in taking care of others aspects of your mental health.
*FTC: This post is not sponsored.