Top 5 ways of dealing with anxiety

 

As a person who deals with anxiety on a pretty regular basis, I know how hard it can be to deal with it. When there’s no bathroom stall to hide in, or blankets to cover your face with, you can feel trapped, panicky, and like you’re losing control.

I’ve collected here a list of my top 5 helpful things when you feel anxious, whether you suffer from deep anxiety or are merely a little unsettled. I hope it can help!:

5. Becoming mindful of my body and my environment. This is the newest one I’ve found; it’s a type of meditation you can do at any time, no matter where you are. Allow yourself to feel the chair you’re sitting in, to hear every sound in the office, to smell the world around you. Do a mental scan of your body, take note of every ache, itch, and sensation. Becoming aware of how you fit in the world helps you feel more connected to it. This site is great for guided meditations like this: http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22

4. A calmer task. When I have homework piling, I often like to take a break to freshen up my makeup. Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone, but doing my makeup is a calming task that allows me to let my mind take a break. It’s also a great way to get my eyes off a computer screen and let my hands do some work. Doing a task that is still productive (ie, not watching television. Something like knitting or playing a sport) for a few minutes but isn’t the stressor can help you reset. These two websites are less productive than knitting or so, but are still calming and may help if you just need to turn your brain off for awhile: Silk: http://weavesilk.com/

Line 3D: http://www.barcinski-jeanjean.com/entries/line3d/

3. Talking it through. Whether a long rant to my mom over the phone or a brief pep talk to my mirror, talking out loud can help relieve the stress. Someone who will listen without telling you you’re being unreasonable or too worrisome would be best. Even just listing to yourself what is stressful can help you put your thoughts in order. If you have no one to talk to, try this site: http://www.7cups.com/talk-to-someone-about-anxiety/

If you really need someone professional to talk to, try this:  https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/

2. Staying organized. When tasks keep getting put on my desk one after another, it makes me want to crawl under said desk and hide for days. Having a to do list helps a million—I like to put a star next to the items I have to get done today, and then number them in order of importance. It helps me realize how much I really have to do, and how much can wait until later. I use an app for this: Productive. It allows you to check off events throughout the day, even things you might not think of, like eating fruit or checking your posture.

1. Deep breathing and meditation. The best part about deep breathing is that you can do it all the time, without anyone noticing. Stressed during a meeting? Stressed in the subway? Deep breathing is your friend. If you have a bit of time, meditation is like deep breathing to the max, helping to relax you from the inside out. I have this amazing, free app on my phone called Pacifica that uses guided meditation and pleasant sound-scapes to help you relax. There is also a deep breathing activity that simply helps your breathing stay constant. You can plug it into your headphones wherever you are to help you calm down.

Of course, sometimes none of these work, and anxiety takes over. Whatever you do when anxious, even if nothing helps, know that you are not alone. There are millions of people dealing with anxiety all over the world. If you have extended period of anxiety or feel anxious often, and want to learn more, go to http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

Time Zones, and a Big! announcement

Hello, friends. It just recently came to my attention that my WordPress clock was off for some reason, so things have been posting willy-nilly at random hours. I’m sorry if an email about my blog woke you up at like, three in the morning. I fixed my clock and now things should be posting at better hours…according to Eastern United States times, anyway.

It’s always a bit mind-boggling when I think about how people are living at different hours–even in different dates!–across the world right now. Having to accommodate for time zone changes is something I’ll have to get used to…in my semester abroad.

Surprise!

5325791497_a7248cfd8f.jpg

This fall, I’ll be studying at Kasteel Well, shown above, a literal castle that my school owns in the town of Well in the Netherlands. I’ll get to visit several countries while there, all while taking a Travel Writing course.

What does this mean for Introvert Playground? Not much change. I’ll still be posting about the introvert life, but now it will include how to travel as an introvert. I’ll also be posting bits about the trip separately.

I’m very excited! It’s really the first thing I have to look forward to in a long time. It’s a well-earned break, that will help me expand my horizons and learn more about the world that I have only discovered a small portion of.

Also, fellow introverts, where should I go? The weekends are free for us to travel to any country we want in Europe. Any suggestions? Any little, hole-in-the-wall places, lesser-known cities, hidden museums, exciting locales, fun outdoor hikes I may not find myself?

I hope you’re excited as I am! I depart in September, so it won’t be for awhile, but I’m still glad I get to bring you on this journey with me, and document it day-by-day for the future. Much better than a hap-hazard Facebook photo album, no?

In the meantime, share your favorite places, and travel tips for introverts. I’m working on an introvert travel guide to post here.

 

In defense of Vanity

Benjamin Franklin has his fair share of unusual ideas, such as the benefits of having affairs with old women and how keeping an insanely accurate diary in graph form can help one become the perfect moral being. But perhaps the most interesting quote I found when reading his autobiography for class was on his views of vanity:

“Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves; but I give it fair quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others that are within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of his life.”

download.jpg

The first thing I think of when I hear the word “vain” is Vanity Smurf, the little gay stereotype with a flower and a mirror who can’t shut the smurf up about how hot he is. The second thing I think of is that Carly Simon song: You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you…even though it is. But that’s beside the point.

Vanity isn’t something people usually think fondly of, but here is a beloved father of America saying that it wouldn’t be crazy to thank God for vanity.

Well, I thought it was crazy…until I looked closer, and slowly I began to realize that I spend a lot of time thinking in terms of “I.” That’s what this “magical land of quiet introspection and peaceful alone time” is about, after all. An introvert playground. A place to think deeply and enjoy one’s own presence. Is it so bad to like yourself?

maxresdefault.jpg

Think of the mirror scene in Mean Girls, when everybody is picking apart the minute imperfections of their gorgeous bodies, and then look to Cady for her input. It’s expected to think poorly of oneself, even if you think you’re rather fine (as those girls clearly do). It’s my firm belief that if you say or think something enough times, it is sure to become true…whether that thing is positive or negative is up to you.

I agree with Benny Franks…to a point. Certainly we wouldn’t want to be so vain as to seem obsessed with ourselves or to think that we are the most important thing in every situation, but we could afford to have a bit of self love. To pat ourselves on the back every now and then, and to allow a bit of healthy pride into our daily diets. After all, we accomplish great things every day. We deserve to be happy with ourselves.

maxresdefault (1).jpg

This is especially important with introverts. We may not spend as much time with other people, and therefore have to give ourselves the extra love we might be missing. Also, since we tend to like to be alone, we spend a lot of time working on ourselves to make ourselves better. This time that we spend thinking about ourselves isn’t self-indulgent—it’s self-improving. It’s looking honestly at our strengths and weaknesses, evaluating how we might improve, and then doing that. We are breathing examples of how thinking about yourself isn’t a negative thing, outright.

Vanity is something we all try to hide, to the point where it’s strange to hear someone indulge in it, even to a small amount. I say, smurf that. If someone says you look nice, or did a good job, or some other compliment, don’t deny it, thank them. We spend  a lot of time on our appearance and on our accomplishments—enjoy them!

Vanity can be extremely helpful in small doses; as Franky Ben said, it is “often productive of good to the possessor, and to others that are within his sphere of action.” So go on, my beautiful people, and feel good about yourselves. You deserve it.

My little cactus

I love my little cactus. I got him (him? I suppose so) about half a year ago, and the little guy’s going strong. He’s been through a lot, like the time I left him in my dorm over winter break, or the time I whacked him off the shelf and the dirt went everywhere.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like, to be a plant. Can trees feel the wind in their leaves? Do cacti feel safe, hidden behind their spikes? Does my little bamboo plant feel lucky, or does it feel just constant growing pains?

For millennia people have used earth, water, air, and fire to categorize personalities. You can see this in…well, a lot of things. Harry Potter houses, for instance. Zodiac signs each align with one of the elements.

I’ve always wondered…why not plants?

An “ivy” personality is far different than an “elm tree” personality. Seaweed, cactus, basil, lilac, lettuce…or just “plant,” I suppose.

It depends on whether you think there are only a handful of different personalities, or an infinite amount. Sure, you can categorize people all sorts of ways, but none seem to quite be accurate…

Well, anyhow, what I’m trying to get at is: what plant are you? Not in a silly, ice-breakery sort of way, but which do you most identify with? The endurance and safety of a cactus? The bamboo, which grows quickly and with abandon? The strong oak tree? The weeping willow? Delicate lily pads? Expansive grasses? Nuanced herbs, like oregano or thyme? The beauty and complexity of a flower? Resourceful vegetables? Crawling vines? Clover, peeking up in sunny fields?

It’s more fun than the four elements, because there are far more possibilities, and have far more implications. And once you pick one for its positive attributes, you can look deeper and see the more telling traits…the way the cactus shields itself from the outside world, for example, or how the bamboo grows so fast it doesn’t take the time to enjoy where he is, or how the oak is so strong and steady that when it does fall it takes other trees down with it in a huge, crashing disaster.

It’s a tool to help us look deeper at ourselves. And even if it seems silly, give it a try. You might be surprised at what you find.

I think I’m a lily pad. Perhaps with a flower, now and then.

Chasing Michael Rezendes

This is the mortifying, victorious story of how little introvert me chased down award-winning investigative journalist Michael Rezendes.
Michael Rezendes is a member of the Boston Globe Spotlight team that covered the Catholic Church abuse scandal. If you saw the movie Spotlight, he was played by Mark Ruffalo, and honestly, I was more star-struck than if actual Mark Ruffalo were there, and I love the Avengers.

I’m an intern reporter at the Boston Globe, as many of you know, and Rezendes is a living legend in journalism. All the interns gather every month or so for a “Lunch and Learn,” where we get free sandwiches and special lectures. This one, hosted by Rezendes and Jenn Abelson, also of Spotlight, was about investigative journalism.

They both shared amazing stories about “Fishy Business,” “Clash in the Name of Care,” and, of course, the Catholic Church scandal the movie focused on. I took plenty of notes and learned a lot, but I couldn’t help my hands from shaking .These people are the best of the best.

My mom had messaged me and said she wanted a picture of me with them. I thought to myself, that’s rather unprofessional…I mean, they’re just normal people trying to do their job. But as I sat, I realized that this was the time. I might never see them again, this building is huge, and after my internship is over, who knows if I’ll ever get the opportunity?

I had a mission.

As the meeting was over, I scrambled to get to the front, but Rezendes and Abelson were out the door and people were pushing their chairs in my way and huddling around the trash. I fought my way out, and caught them heading around a corner. I couldn’t believe it—I was chasing the Spotlight team around the office. What the hell?!

They were talking to someone in their cubicles when I finally caught up, and I was about to turn around and give up (realizing how silly this all was), when Rezendes saw me staring at them from behind a pillar and said hi.

“Um, hi,” I said, almost dropping my phone. “Ah, so, my mom really likes Spotlight, and I was wondering if I could get a picture?”

Of course he said yes, and the deed was done. I shook his hand and scooted back to my desk, hands shaking, face burning, giggling uncontrollably. God, I just chased down a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for a photo-op

He’ll forget it happened, I figured, he won’t remember me.

Nope. He said hi to me in the hall the next day.

I don’t know if he sees me as the crazy intern, or the one brave enough to talk to him separately, or what, but it doesn’t matter. He recognized me. Michael Rezendes recognized me. What is my life??

So yes, this is the closest thing I have to knowing a famous person, and it was one of the coolest days of my internship so far…I can’t even handle it.

I still can’t believe I did this! He was so nice, and so incredibly intelligent. What a great, inspiring person to have had the pleasure to meet.

Now here’s hoping he doesn’t find this post and think I’m even more of a crazy person.

If you think you can’t draw…

I recently saw a TED talk by Graham Shaw called “Why people believe they can’t draw – and how to prove they can.” I have always doodled in my margins, and have always wanted to be able to draw, so I took the time to watch his talk. And now I can do this!IMG_3613.JPGIMG_3612.JPGIMG_3611.JPGIMG_3607.JPG

He ended the talk saying that many people just say to themselves, I can’t draw, and that’s that. People accept this about themselves, but it’s not true. Anyone can learn to draw like this. He then said to imagine—what else do we think we can’t do? What boundaries have we put up for ourselves that we think we can’t break down?

It really made me think. My mom insists she kills every plant she’s ever owned. My dad says he could never concentrate long enough to finish reading a full book. My musical-prodigy boyfriend has given up playing violin several times because he “just can’t” figure out how to use a bow. I’ve given up learning three different languages so far, because I swear it’s just not how my brain works.

But…what if none of that is true?

What if our kindergarten teachers were right, and we can do anything we set our minds to? If it only took a fifteen minute TED talk to get me to draw adequately, are these other problems just as easily solvable? Is learning really just about having an open mind?

Drawing is unique in that it’s something we tend to assume people either “can” or “cannot” do. It’s not really something you learn. Same with singing, dancing, writing…but of course that’s not true, there are lessons and schools for all these things. Why do we limit ourselves so arbitrarily?

I highly suggest watching this video, linked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TXEZ4tP06c

It just may change everything.

You don’t make me want to be alone

A bird uncaged, a chocolate cake, a tattooed anklebone

It might sound strange, but you don’t make me want to be alone.

An open book, a video, the photos from the sea

A single look, a Cheerio stuck under the TV

The little things, the way he sings, the way he plays along

Our long-gone flings and diamond rings, our weekend in Vermont.

You message me on whether you think I’m your counterpart

It holds my strings together when we have to be apart.

A little sigh, I’ll draw the line at one more pacifier:

A Shepherd’s pie, a glass of wine, our blanket by the fire.

Miles are long, miles to go until I hold your hand.

I know you’re gone, you know I know, it’s time I understand.

I cna’t spell for the lfie of me

Do you have those words you just can’t spell right? Mine is “receive.” That i-before-e-except-after-c rule is ridiculous, in my opinion. I’m a native English speaker, and I still spell half the words I type wrong. The most worn-down key on my keyboard is easily the back-space. Good thing I live in a time after typewriters, or I’d go through gallons of white-out a day.

I realize it’s partially because I type too fast and sometimes go on autopilot; sometimes my fingers act like autocorrect, incorrectly. Like in that last sentence, when I went to write “fast” I automatically wrote “face.” I also sometimes just don’t hit the right key, with no excuse.

Another thing I’m just recently realizing is that while my backspace is hopelessly overused, my right-shift key is barely touched. I just use the left shift key for everything, no matter what I’m capitalizing. Plus, that home-key nonsense? Please, my hands hover over the keyboard like it’s made of lava.

When I write longhand, my spelling is a bit better, but my handwriting is atrocious. Good thing we live in a time after computers, or reading this blog would just give you a headache.

To prove to you my terrible spelling, I’ll leave the rest of this unedited:

I wonder sometimes whey I’m alwaus in a rush. I guess I always have neen. I’ve always walked fact in the whllway, I’ve alwas written fac,e read fast, gotten myu homework done vcast. Like yeaterday, I think it’s time I learn to slow down. It would be best, fr everyone, if I took a breath every once in a while. That’s good anydice for anyone out there.

Stop and smell the roses. Well, I don’t knoaw. It’s a constand conflict with me—shoule I relax a bit, or keep moving forward (as Walt Disney said)? I’m in a great internship, but the youngerst one here. I’m takig night classes to get athead, at the expense of rarely seeing my friends. I’m fighting super hard to get into the study aborad program, which is oemsthing I want separately from my acreer or school.

And I’m still looiing for summer internships…maybe I’m a bit crazy. Ovre ambitious. It couldn’t hurt to take a break. Stretch betwen workouts. Check for spelling…

Where do you all stand on this? Do you hit the left shift key? Do you spell “receive” correctly? Do you fret and worry and move too quickly to breathe?

As introverts, we work well alone. We work best when we have time to recharge. If we don’t, we’ll get worn out far too quickly, and won’t be able to get anything done. Perhaps it’s time I listen to my own advice.

FancySushiVille

As a rule, I don’t like to spend much money. The deciding factor between two meals at restaurants is always price, and I never spend more than $20 on a dish (and even more than $15 is pushing it). Being fancy for the sake of it has just never appealed to me when you could save that money for something more important down the line.

For example, saving those $30 dinners for holidays or vacations.

But last night my friends wanted to go for sushi, and one particularly picky friend insisted we go to one of the more expensive, fancier sushi places in the area. Now, we live right by Chinatown, which is positively flooded with delicious, cheap sushi, but here I was stuck at fancy-shmancy-sushi-ville.

Well, everyone began looking through the lengthy menu, listening to light jazz and enjoying the indoor waterfall and non-wooden (!) chopsticks. There were some cheaper options, if I wanted, but something about the jazz, the gentle snowfall, the black longsleeve I was wearing, made me want to be a bit fancy.

Even so, my separate check was the cheapest out of everyone, but what could you expect with everyone ordering $3 miso soup?! I fancied up, but couldn’t help a little sensibility sneak in.

Anyhow, I’m very glad I treated myself a bit. The sushi was delicious, truly, and the mocha ice cream was the best I’ve ever had. Not that my cheap hole-in-the-walls aren’t good too, but some frankly lacked the balance that this place had. Presentation does, after all, make the dish.

It’s good to treat yourself now and then. I’m not about to go there again tomorrow, but once in awhile won’t kill me (or my wallet). I was a much happier person last night at FancySushiVille than I would have been eating college dining hall food like I usually do. It was a great start to the week.

Part of it was also the relaxed way this particular group of friends approached eating. My family, always in a rush, doesn’t get appetizers because they believe it makes your entrées take longer to get out. We always skip dessert, and my parents never get drinks or after-dinner coffee. This group got all the courses possible, shared and traded rolls, and even stayed an extra fifteen minutes for dessert, something I’ve definitely done less than 20 times in my memory.

My boyfriend’s family operates similarly. Often when ordering around the table with them, I realize I am the only person without an appetizer ready to go.

It’s a lesson in slowing down and allowing yourself to enjoy the moment. Getting a coffee, spending that extra few dollars on the meal you really want. Not always, but not never, either. After all, we deserve it.

Out the window, the snow fell. The food was delicious, the friends were laughing, and with the light jazz playing it felt like Christmastime.

Ex-

What to do with an ex? What to do with a crazy ex? What to do with an ex who never talks to you again? What to do with an ex who won’t leave you alone? Won’t make up their mind? Won’t move out? Won’t come back? Whom you hate? Whom you love?

What to do with an extroverted ex?

My ex invited me to a musical today. Free ticket, matinee. A show I’ve wanted to see for a long time. He and I are on good terms. We’ve hung out a few times.

I said no.

The thing with exes is that they make you forget. They mess with your past. They make you subconsciously sort through your memories and pluck out the ones that you think describes them best. They’re an exercise in mindfulness.

This particular ex is one I’ve tried to be friends with before. It always ended in me remembering why I broke up with him in the first place.

I’m an introvert…I’m sensitive. And he’s extremely extroverted and doesn’t understand where the line is. In fact, he’s one of the least sensitive people I know, in every way, shape, and form. And I don’t do well with that.

Not to mention the fact he hates my current boyfriend.

It’s good to see exes now and again, because they serve as markers to your personal growth. Wow, you think to yourself, I used to put up with that? I used to find that funny? I used to be okay with this? You feel better about your life choices after seeing the alternate path it could have taken.

I guess it could go really well and you could fall back in love. That situation has never happened to me before, but it happened to this ex, a few months ago. I politely listened to his terrible piano and he asked if I felt “something.” I said no, and reminded him that I was committed to my boyfriend. And he laughed.

Sometimes you might remember exes as being not so bad. You might wonder why you broke up or aren’t friends, and try to reestablish a relationship. Sometimes I’m sure this will work out, but be wary. People grow at different rates. Some people don’t grow at all.

To quote the criminally underrated 2007 Disney film Meet the Robinsons, “Keep Moving Forward.”