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The Safe Haven: Where Social Anxiety Cannot Reach Us

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Away from the civilized society, away from the sounds of the bustling city streets, and cars honking continuously, away from the mass crowds of human souls; this is where those like us with anxiety retreat. We retreat into our own habitat, into our homes, locked away, or out into nature where no one can reach us, and where all of our anxieties have disappeared for the time being. It is something that we have been known to do.

It is hard to determine what actually causes anxiety because for each person it is different. It can be caused by traumatic childhood memories, or it could be just a part of their personality. Mine is more along the lines of being part of my personality, and also part of what I had gone through while growing up in a town that looked down on me. And to this day, my anxiety can get pretty rough, but there are days where I can handle it very well, then there are days where I cannot handle it.

For those who do not live with social anxiety (which is what I have), here is an example of a situation in my everyday life: I am at a function (book reading, work, or even a get-together with co-workers, etc.) and on the outside, I seem happy and cheery, however, my voice slightly shakes just as my hands, and my mind is racing a thousand miles an hour, trying to look for an exit. Sometimes those around me, who know about this, will check on me and will say something to calm my anxiety or just make me laugh. And I am grateful for when they do that. However, there are times where I cannot handle it and there are times where even someone with good intentions will be unable to calm me down. Another example: At work, the phones are constantly ringing, and I talk to a lot of people throughout the day. While on the outside I seem okay, and somewhat normal, on the inside my heart is racing, and the thought of answering the phone makes my chest tighten.

On the days where I or anyone else out there that also lives with anxiety gets to the point of being unable to handle our anxiety, we retreat. In the first paragraph, I had described that we retreat to our homes or into nature, and that is very much true. Like everything else in life, everyone is different, and how and where we retreat will be completely different. One person will retreat into nature and just go camping for a few days, another will just stay inside on a weekend and not talk to anyone.

I have done both of these, however, for the most part, I end up staying at home, where I can stay in bed or chill out in a different part of the house with a puzzle, a book, movie, or music. I will wear my pajamas, dance like a fool, or just focus on a puzzle for hours, enjoying the silence, enjoying the fact that my anxiety has been put to sleep, at least until I venture outside and be surrounded by a lot of people. Throughout the years I have learned to manage my anxiety, and sometimes it does get the best of me, however, I have learned to embrace the chaotic part of my mind that makes me want to turn on my heels and run for the hills, thus making my life with social anxiety somewhat easier.

Do you have social anxiety? Do you have a different type of anxiety? If so, how do you cope with it? How do you retreat?

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Into the Mist with Audiobooks: Running With Audible

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It is a misty morning here in Alaska as I run through the streets and trails, and so far there has been a murder of a young school girl, and I’ve been getting to know Magnus fairly well, in fact, I would say we are becoming friends. Magnus is a man of mystery to most people, partly because he is a hermit and not many people want to get to know him, and partly because they care more about town gossip and make up false stories about him.

Although I am in Alaska, where it rains more than most places in the country, the man, and the murder mystery is happening in my head, actually to be more accurate in my headphones. As I continue to run the novel “Raven Black” by Ann Cleeves keeps my adrenaline thumping, making me more excited as I continue going about my path. The thriller novel set in the Shetland Islands in Scotland makes me wish I was solving each case with Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, chatting with Magnus about ravens, and roaming around Scotland taking in all of the sites. The thought of solving a mystery half way across the world through an audiobook delights me, and even as I run I feel as though I am part of it.

Listening to audiobooks while running isn’t quite new, in fact, loads of people have been listening to audiobooks while they were running, lifting weights, or hiking; just to name a few. For me, when I am running I have found out that I cannot listen to music while I run because the music is more of a distraction than a helpful tool, whereas the audiobooks are more of a helpful tool for me. I can concentrate on the narrator, imagine the scenes playing out before me, and can even concentrate on my pace. While I am concentrating on all of that, I have completely forgotten how many miles I have logged.
The best thing about the audiobooks that I pick I can easily access them on my mobile, having already downloaded the app, making it easier to access them before I suit up for my morning jog. Not only that, I don’t have to listen to the same old boring music that seems to haunt the radio stations over and over again. I can listen to a novel for a couple of weeks in a row (if it is a lengthy one) and will never get bored, because the story is captivating, and keeps me up in the morning as I lace up my running shoes.

Many of you already follow my book club, which I am extremely thankful that you have joined, and so it is with great pleasure to let you all know that I will be hosting an audiobook book club for those who are runners, hikers, weight lifters, or any of the like. I think it will be fun to get people into listening to more audiobooks while they are engaging in activity, to make it more fun.

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Healing From the Core: Working out for the Bookworm

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As a bookworm (I refer to myself as a book dragon, but I digress), and a fitness enthusiast and coach, I try to make my workouts a lot of fun because I don’t want to make working out feel like a chore. And if it were a chore, I wouldn’t want to do it at all. That being said, I know a lot of bookworms out there who want to workout but don’t know how to go about it, because they are constantly wanting to read a book instead of working out (I used to be like this). After giving it some thought, I realized how to help other bookworms on how to incorporate books while working out and making it fun.

Running – While you are either running outdoors or indoors on a treadmill, grab your iPod, Mp3, or cell phone and download audible. Audible is a great sight for where you can get some amazing books as audio, you can listen to them while you run and still get into the story. Whenever I am running and don’t want to listen to music, I turn on my audible app and go to town with the running. I try to make it through at least five chapters of the story while I am running.

Wall sits- The exercise where you are pressing your back up against the wall with your legs bent and parallel with the floor is a great exercise as it is. Now grab your favorite book or any book in general, and begin the exercise. With the average novel, read at least two chapters and you will be done after that with that exercise.

Planks – When it comes to planking, you can go two different ways with this, you can either listen to an audio book or you can just read a normal hardback book. If you are going to use a hardback book, use a weight of some sort so when you are at a spot in the book where you need to keep the page kept down, it won’t keep flying up and making you lose your spot.

Bicep curls – Pictured above is a girl with her dumbbell and a book, which quite honestly is one of the coolest pictures I have yet to find. Holding the book in one hand and reading, while you do the curls with your other hand is easy yet hard at the same time. It is all about balance. Trying to steady the dumbbell with one hand, while you are trying to steady a large book takes a lot of balance, so keep that in mind when you are preparing yourself for this exercise.

There is a site roaming around on Google about workouts for bookworms according to their genre preference, and after looking at it and chuckling a little bit, I could definitely see that those specific workouts would be perfect for anyone who is into certain genres of the literary world. I will post the link down below to that site. Engaging a bookworm into exercise is a tricky thing, do to the fact that they already have amazing arms from carrying all those heavy books that they find at the bookstores (you should see how many books I will come home with at the end of the month when I go shopping for new books to read), however it will help them have a healthier body by engaging not only their mind, but the entire body as well. What will be pretty amazing is that when the bookworm is in their 80’s, reading a classic novel, and being able to knock out someone for trying to take their book (I do not condone violence, I just think that it would be funny).

Follow this link for exercises and bookworms: http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/2015/08/18/gym-rats-bookworms/