Ways to Feel Better Instantly

The past 9 months has been a whole lot more on my plate at once than I’ve had to deal with, probably, than ever before. Two deaths, my dad losing his job (and starting to work for himself!), getting engaged, planning a wedding, finishing university, and trying to cope with the fact that my life will look completely different in two months. I am 100% uncertain regarding just about every important aspect of life in the next year; I don’t know where I’ll be living, where I’ll be working, what I’ll be doing, how often I’ll see my mom, what I will be able to afford, etc. In addition to all this, my personality definitely makes it easy for me to get caught up in stress about the future. This is why I decided to flesh out a list of ways I know that I can start to feel better instantly. If there’s ever been a time I need a list like this, it’s right now!

  1. Close out of all of you tabs on the computer, and actually shut it down/restart it.
    I know I’m not the only one who tends to keep tabs open on their laptop because I plan to read or make some sort of use of it in the future. Having a cluttered computer without actually shutting down or restarting it for a few days just begins to feel like being in a cluttered room. Clearing off my computer makes me feel like I can breathe a little bit better, and go about the things I actually need to do on my computer with more organization.
  2. Clear out your inbox.
    No, seriously. How many emails are in your inbox? How many have you already handled? How many are spam? I just looove going through all my emails and mass-deleting useless ones, or unsubscribing from newsletters or subscription emails. On top of all of that, I couldn’t survive if I didn’t label and archive my emails. If my school sends me an email about graduation, I read it, label it, and archive it. Same with important emails from anything else (especially online shopping receipts and such). Archiving in folders means I know exactly where to look for it later, if I ever need to reference it. It’s like deleting everything without having to worry about losing it.
  3. Clean your room.
    Just do it. Start by putting everything all in once place – a chair, bed, the middle of the floor, etc. Play music. I end up reaching a state of flow at some point and just go until I know I’ve either finished or made some significant progress.
  4. Just do one thing. Then do another.
    Mail that letter. Answer that email. Make that call. Set up that appointment. Doing one thing will help you feel like doing the next thing, and soon enough you feel like you’ve been at least marginally productive.
  5. Chocolate! 
    This is self-explanatory. Treat yourself. Be nice to yourself.
  6. Write it out.
    Here I am, doing just that. Whether it’s a blog post, a journal entry, a letter to a friend, or a list of some kind, getting it put down on paper helps you separate yourself from and organize the things buzzing around your brain.
  7. Hug someone
    This one is science, peole. Oxytocin is released in your blood stream when you hug or shake/hold hands with someone for more than 6 seconds.
  8. Look at baby things.
    Watch youtube videos or browse pictures of baby animals and baby people. This is science, too. Don’t pretend you don’t love doing this.
  9. Stretch.
    Whether you do yoga or just need to stretch out a bit, it feels amazing. Put down your phone, take your eyes off of your computer, step away from the to-do list, and just stretch. There’s no way to doubt that this will make you feel better right away.
  10. Work out.
    It’s okay if it’s just going on a walk! You don’t need to go spend an hour at the gym to gain benefits (both physically and emotionally) from exercising your body. Getting up and going on a short walk outside is worlds better for your sore back than pain killers or further resting. (Also science.)
  11. Look at pretty things
    The specific way I tap into this is browsing and curating my Inspiration Board on Pinterest.
  12. Remember that there are more important things.
    Sometimes you just have to remind yourself that there are more important things than killing yourself over not getting 100% on a school project, or being 15 minutes early to everything. Cut yourself a little slack once in a while, and remember that there are people who love you no matter what. That you’re not going hungry. That you are smart, capable, and special.

If you’ve been feeling like you really need a pick-me-up (who hasn’t at some point during this ridiculous winter?), hopefully some of these ideas help, or at least get you thinking about what makes you feel better.

What kinds of things always seem to brighten your day?

Guys I had a really bad day... I found out that one of my friends got hit by a car and died. I was crying like CRAZY in my first class and everyone stared at me. He was so nice and funny. I'll miss him. And on top of that I have a massive headache, I don't feel well, and I failed two quizzes... I'm so sad :'(

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2014 & Weird New Things

Happy New Year, everyone!

Last night, everyone kicked 2013 out of the way to welcome 2014. It’s been a long while since I’ve had a good New Year celebration. Actually, I don’t even really remember having a specifically nice New Year’s, like, ever. I remember New Year’s Eves spent sitting on the couch and web-surfing with my parents while the news showed the ball drop in the corner of the living room as casually as if it were just another night on which we were letting Star Trek reruns play in the background. I remember another year, in high school, I was being an angsty teenager for not being driven to celebrate the coming of the new year with my first serious boyfriend. The year I met my fiancee, I was home alone because my folks were at a party with their friends. The next year was spent with some friends, which was fun but also somewhat socially stressful. Last year, I was working all day on New Year’s Eve, and only managed to get out of work by 11:45; the new year came while I was in my car, speeding to a friend’s place, where Luke was celebrating with friends until I could get there.

This year, I was expecting the same situation as last year. I worked all day New Year’s Eve, and was fully prepared to be there for the restaurant-wide champagne toast at midnight. However, we were actually pretty slow (extremely so, compared to last year) because of various reasons, and I was cut by 8:45 (which is early to be cut, even on a normal weekend shift). I was able to get out of work with enough time to stop at home and change into normal clothes before heading to where Luke was celebrating. This year, he was at his grandparents’ house with a lot of family. I didn’t tell him I made it out of work and could be with him at midnight, so it was a surprise when I turned up. When I arrived, I got lots of welcoming hugs before finding Luke playing a game (of course – what else?) called Munchkins with his brothers and cousins. I quietly settled next to his chair and started rubbing his back, and after a minute he turned to see who it was and just about fell out of his chair when he saw it was me (he comically repeated his double take – ridiculous faces and all – to play off just how surprised he had been). Obviously, a giant bear hug followed. Happy.

I got there at around 11, and had time to grab some grub and socialize before we all gathered in the main living room to watch the ball drop and cheers with sparkling juices. At the end of the countdown, we all cheered, sipped our drinks, and the room began churning and stirring from everyone going around hugging absolutely everyone else. I grew up separate from all of my extended family, and it’s just my parents, my sister and I here in Michigan, and most family gatherings included stuffy road trips and a fair share of personality clashes. Luke has at least a hundred members of his family (read: clan) here. They get together all the time. Seeing the entire room of family so relaxed and comfortable and happy was really new. And really great. 

Shortly thereafter, we all migrated to a different room to take a family picture (also not as long, stressful, or exhausting as the ones I grew up with!). However, there was one thought that hit me hard: this is the first year that Grammy never gets to see. The already-heightened emotions in the room definitely gave way to a wave of momentary crying. I told Luke and he just hugged me and soon everyone was back to chilling and playing games. 

2014 is going to be a huge year for me. I’ll be leaving the restaurant I’ve been at longer than any other, I’ll be getting married, moving out of my parents’, finding a new job, and starting a new education program (massage therapy, probably. Maybe grad school. I’m still picking which to start first). And, I get a huge new family (and brothers! which I’ve always wanted). Lots of new, weird things to do and responsibilities to have. 

All weird stuff. Stuff I’m sure I’ll get used to at some point. Hopefully, I can learn to be super organized, responsible, and tragically domestic and actually do those meal planning things and decorate a home and have a cleaning schedule and such. How else will I get along without my mom nagging me to empty the dishwasher? We’ll see what obstacles I can conquer. I’ve seen a lot of statuses about being glad to leave 2013 behind, but I feel like I can’t help but be aware that the things I want to leave behind in 2013 (grief, stress, homework,  etc.) will all carry over and find me in 2014. The only thing I can hope for is to face these things with more flexibility, resilience, and positivity.

And now, I’m going to get all list-makey and organize, clean, sort out schedules, appointments, resolutions, and to-do lists.

Happy New Year!

 

Holiday Catch-Up

I’ve been a busy, busy girl lately. Because it’s the holiday season, and particularly this week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, my work knows no schools are in session so they just decided to schedule me just about every day until school does start again. I’m not happy with a lot of my work situation currently, for many reasons. Because my fiancee lives so far away from the restaurant I work at, I know I’ll have to leave once I get married; I thought that knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel would help make frustrations at work more bearable but, in actuality, it does the opposite. With only a couple months to go, I find myself thinking “what am I putting up with this for? Why don’t I just quit early?” Honestly, though, I have friends here. I’m looking forward to my last day to go get married and have people go out with me after work to say goodbye and such. One of my coworkers I was venting to suggests that I just leave now, and find someplace like Applebees to just fling burgers out for cash for a month or two until I get married. This is a perfectly valid plan, but I’m still torn because I love the people where I’m at. I’ll leave the settling for someplace like Applebees until after the wedding until I can find myself a big girl job that actually utilizes my degree or something.

Wedding planning feels a bit like working out right now. I took a break for a couple days from the routine I had been doing, which was just doing something productive and wedding-related everyday. Now that I took the break, it’s hard for me to get back into my routine. Especially because I have the big, fun parts done with and now it’s all details, specific schedules, and guest lists. It’s also hard for me to get time with my mom to sit and power through these things because she’s traveling to see family while I stay home and work, and when she’s home it feels like she and are only ever home at opposite times. Once school starts up and we get settled into routine again, I’m looking forward to having a mom date.

I know very well that I have a lot on my plate this semester. Besides work and wedding planning, I have 17 credits this next semester, and grad school applications to tackle. I’m trying to remind myself everyday not to get angry with myself over little things, and that my attitude is my choice and choosing to be happy makes all the difference. The time I have up until the wedding is going to teach me a lot and challenge me in lots of different ways. Time for my stress management training to actually come in handy!

Right now I’m just trying to catch up on basic tasks and write an essay for my grad school app, and pirating with my man in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag until I have to go to work. 

Stress and Resilience

(First of all, I may or may not be writing this post as a break from cramming information into my head for a final that is in one hour because if I don’t I just might explode.)

I can’t even believe this semester has passed so quickly. I feel like I’ve worked ridiculously hard to get through it and also feel like I didn’t really even do anything. It’s hard to believe that my first and last year in my university’s Chorale is halfway through, and even harder to believe that I have ONE SEMESTER LEFT of my undergraduate education ever. 

This is awesome and scary. I have lots of things coming up and I can’t even imagine what 2014 is really going to be like for me. I now have to get started on actually fleshing out my “career plan,” including applying to graduate programs and myomassaology institutes and dealing with whatever becomes of my personal life. It’s all exciting, and it’s all daunting. 

But isn’t that at least a little bit of what keeps us going, as humans? Being excited and scared at the same time – what else would motivate us to do anything? This is a condition I need to become better at embracing. I want to. Technically, this “good stress” is termed “eustress.” Did you know that people who perceive stress as a good thing/positive motivator actually had no physiologically harmful reaction to stress? All that adrenaline stuff, the cortisol and narrowing of veins and rising of blood pressure and increase of heart rate and all sorts of hormonal reactions and autonomic nervous system stuff either doesn’t happen or doesn’t negatively affect you if you embrace what stress can do for your life.

More easily said than done, I know, but it’s a great concept. It’s possible to make stress healthy for you. My favorite resource of this information is this TEDtalk by Kelly McGonigal. In it, there is a quote that I just absolutely adore and want plastered all over everything I own:

“When you choose to see stress as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And, when you choose to connect with others through that stress, you create resilience.”

 

Just something about the idea of “the biology of courage” is terribly poetic. Resilience is a fundamental concept in my studies as a Wellness Promotion and Personal Development major. It is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty; it is toughness; it is elasticity. I strive to be resilient. So many times in my life I have claimed myself a victim of the consequences of stress and fear and depression and anxiety – if I can crack the whip and make my physiology work for me, and not allow myself to claim helplessness in the face of stress, then I don’t know what can stand in my way. 

 

One of my final projects for an 8-credit monster class. Appendices A-T (should have even more – I left out a couple things). Finally complete!

 

 

The Anxious Mind

Sometimes it just hits me.

The deadlines, the lab reports, the appointments and social engagements, the performances, rehearsals, concerts and homework, working and the grief and the guilt of not being able to tackle my own personal agenda. I can’t do everything I want to and I can’t avoid getting burnt out. All of the pressure (from school, work, myself) is a lot, especially when I have my own emotional mess to already try to cope with and sort out in addition to everything else. I’m trying to not let myself have to ask for grace or help or anything special. I don’t know if this is because I feel like I shouldn’t or if it’s because I’m scared I’ll just appreciate that too much and take advantage of it and let myself fall behind. There’s the part of my brain that tells me I can do everything just fine, and I don’t know whether or not the part of me saying it’s too much is being lazy. 

When I was really little (like kindergarten and first grade) I developed this habit of lying for attention. I don’t remember if I’ve discussed this before, but I was awful. It started when I told my kindergarten class I was 6 years old like everyone else when I was really 5. Well, when my mom brought the whole class cupcakes to celebrate my 6th birthday, I was outed. Somehow, I didn’t learn my lesson and the whole thing got progressively worse until it all culminated in me telling my first grade teacher about how my baby brother had got a hold of some matches and my family was now dealing with the loss of his life and our apartment.

I don’t have a baby brother and I never did. No fires burnt down our home. To this day I don’t really have any idea why I even said that. My teacher immediately contacted the principal and my parents and I don’t even remember what happened after that except I’m sure my teacher thought I was a delinquent dummy or something.

Recently, I’ve noticed that the embarrassment of knowing I had that habit at some point makes me feel guilty about bringing anything up that might bring me any more attention than usual or be a reason I may get any special treatment. I don’t want to tell my professors about my grandmother’s passing because I’m scared they (and I) will think I’m just milking it to get special treatment and extensions. I don’t know if this is normal but it’s an issue in my head that just makes everything fuzzy and makes me anxious because I don’t feel like I certainly know when I need something and when I’m crossing a line.

I know this isn’t a fun post and it’s weird and personal and (ironically) all about me (when I’m sitting here worried about getting attention). It’s just what I need to say today and blogging is about being vulnerable sometimes, right? It’s hard.

My choir director recently addressed anxiety and depression and he told us to break every little thing on our minds down into the smallest pieces of a task we can make them. One quote that popped in my head was “Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is get up when the alarm goes off. (which I have not been successfully doing much at all lately). But he took it further and put it this way: When our alarm goes off, just tell yourself that you’re just going to put your feet on the floor. You don’t have to commit to getting up and walking to the shower and if you want to lay back down once your feet are on the floor, you totally can. Just put your feet on the floor and make that decision after. And proceeding on: Are you going to decide to lay back down, or are you going to decide to stand up? You can lay back down once you stand up, but just stand. And it goes on.

Another thing I’ve been focusing on anytime my guilt radar goes off or I find one thing or another to feel anxious or nervous or sad about is just to tell myself it’s okay. It’s okay. My family generally eats rather healthily, but when my mom came home with swiss rolls and Lucky Charms, she tried apologizing or saying she shouldn’t have. I laughed and told her it’s totally okay. Heck, all I’ve been eating lately is cereal and canned soup (and my morning coffee). Now isn’t the time in our lives to hold our personal goals of calorie counting or regularly meditating or keeping the house clean or getting 8 solid hours of restful sleep every night or going out with people as much as we used to. It’s not easy, but every time it comes up, I just have to breathe, let it go, and make the next choice.

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety and depression, you can probably definitely relate to one of my all-time favorite blogger’s post, Adventures in Depression. (Don’t worry, there’s pictures! And you may even chuckle.) And the Part Two to that post really helps put things into perspective about when people try to talk to you about how to “fix being depressed.”

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Rossetti: Finding an Oasis in the Midst of a Harsh Reality

Finally, this paper doesn’t seem so hard anymore. I feel like I’ve got a good start.

AWESOME!!

Newspaper headlines announce catastrophes, whole countries living in fear, social stress and tension, crime rates, political corruption, the agonizing state if the economy, international bomb threats, and the death of soldiers and civilians on a daily basis. The media goes to all lengths to make sure that everyone knows all about the terrible things that happen in the world and the state of chaos that plagues society. Surrounded with this kind of reality, one finds the task of obtaining peace and contentment understandably difficult. Many people search for relief by pursuing material objects and indulging impulsive desires. However, the most lasting and fulfilling releases from a cruel reality are those found in things that are not material, things that are intrinsic anchors of the heart. Dante Gabriel Rossetti understood this and tries to offer this truth to others in his poem, “Silent Noon.”

 

The world needs more of this:  http://tinyurl.com/yg3a6lh  http://tinyurl.com/kvav4l

PS
 Mr. Hosler:  I know this source came up as a 4% plagarism on turnitin.com when I submitted my paper. Don’tworry about it. This is my own blog. So… don’t let that effect my grade! :]