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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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Normal (Poem)

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I broke all of the rules
got in a car and drove far away
pressed my foot down harder to pick up the pace,
and began to toss my items into the wind
as I said my piece.

I feel so free
not chained by normalcy,
and now I can throw this away,
letting myself continue this road to my dreams.
So, please just let me go,
just let me go on with my own normal life.

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Drenching Yourself in Colors: Telling Society to Back off

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We live in a society where it seems that to be your true self is the worst thing a person can do. That if we were to pursue our passions, we could be considered an outcast, that if we wanted to dress the way we want or do whatever we wish to our hair, we would be ostracized. Why? Why should someone feel as though they are an outcast for following their passions and dreams, why should someone be labeled freak, odd, eccentric, for being true to themselves? Why should society dictate how someone thinks, feels, and looks? In all honesty, it shouldn’t.

For thousands and thousands of years, people have constantly felt ostracized for being themselves, for not fitting into the mold that society has created. It seems as though society just wants every man, woman, and child to be the same lifeless robotic shape with no mind of its own and just rely on the opinion of others. However, once someone has stepped away from the social norms that has been dictated all hell breaks loose. Families disown that member of the family for not being “normal”, society shuns that person just as the family did, labels get placed on an individual, leaving an individual all alone and feeling as though they are worthless and at that point they begin to feel the pressure of fitting into the mold that has been created by society.

Not fitting into the mold that has been placed before us by society is invigorating, breathtaking, and it gives us a chance to feel and be free from the social norms. Who wouldn’t want to be free? Free to make your own decisions, to go off and study whatever you want in college or not even go to college at all and just travel the world, or to dye your hair an outrageous color, have a tattoo or piercing that you’ve always wanted.

Let me tell you, to step away from society and do your own thing is the best thing that you could ever do. Saying “screw you” to society will be the best thing you will ever do in your life, for you will finally be in control of yourself and of your life, for you are no mindless robot, you are a human being with a mind, a heart, and a soul that yearns for freedom to be yourself. Isn’t that what you wanted?

 

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Healing From the Core – Weight loss

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Scales, they are the epitome of evil; they can make grown women and men cry just by the number that is on the scale. And pretty much all of you know that I haven’t really stepped on a scale in quite some time, in fact, I threw out my scale way back in the beginning of the year. And here we are, just a couple of weeks away from it being 2017 all over the world. And you know what that means, resolutions. Every single person on this year is going to make a resolution of some sort, for some it might be to move to another place, for others it is to finally settle down, and for some it is to lose weight.

Now here is the problem that I have with people trying to lose weight, everyone seems to think that once they lose that 10,15, 25 pounds that they will have a healthier relationship with their body; not only that, they seem to think that the number on the scale is what matters the most, which to me is utterly horrifying. First off, before you start losing the weight, you need to establish a healthy relationship with your body now. Not after you lose the weight. If you establish a healthy loving relationship with your body then you will still love it after you lost the weight. You shouldn’t be at war with your body, that is the media and society telling you that. You don’t need to be downing every diet pill that is out there just to lose a little bit of weight just because others are telling you to lose the weight. And you certainly do not need to lose the weight just to please others (however, I would like to interject here, if you are clinically obese and are on the verge of Type II Diabetes, then you need to speak with your physician).  Secondly, that scale that you have stored in your bathroom next to the shower or toilet, you need to toss that thing out the window and straight into the dumpster. Why? Because scales are completely inaccurate on many different things. For example, it does not take into consideration the organs, bone density, the meal you just ate, breasts (ladies your breasts weigh anywhere from 1 pound to 23 pounds, depending on size); those are just a couple of ways the scale is inaccurate.

If you want to lose weight than please do it the healthiest way possible, it isn’t that hard.

Love yourself – Yes, it sounds like being selfish. And in a way it is, the reason why you need to love yourself and accept yourself is due to the fact that you have been brainwashed by society and by the media since your birth to hate yourself for not looking like one of the many photoshopped models that you see on the runway. Instead of believing in our society and believing in the media, start believing in yourself; as cliché as it sounds, you know I am right on this. Every morning or evening, after you have taken a shower, stand in front of your mirror and look at your body. Name three to five things that you love about yourself, they can be about your personality, character, body, anything. By the end of the year, your relationship with your body will be healthier and more loving. **Everyone has flaws, it is just how we are all made, and it is great to embrace them.

Nourish yourself – Food is meant to nourish us and give us the energy to carry us throughout the day. It is not something that we need to torture ourselves with. And it is certainly not what we should be harming our bodies with. Eating the nutritious foods that are available in your stores and local farmer’s markets will help your body get the nutrients it needs, all the while you are enjoying the food. Eat whole, clean, simple foods. Basically, anything without a label is going to be great for you. On this note I would like to say that when you cook and bake for yourself, you are able to see what ingredients are going into the product itself. Unlike what you find in packaged processed foods and fast foods, where you clearly have no idea where that meat or other product comes from.

Exercise – It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you move around. Dance, swim, ski, snowboard, running, hiking; anything that gets you moving. Exercising at least four to five days a week for at least thirty minutes will keep your body healthy. Don’t make exercising feel like a chore, make it fun. Do something that you love to do and just do that for thirty minutes or so to get you moving. For myself, I am a Pilates Instructor and Muay Thai Instructor who loves to swim, jog, hike; play volleyball, tennis, and practice what I teach. You know what makes it even better, is when you have a partner with you; it can either be a friend or it can be your pet. Exercise for both you and your pet does wonders.

Catch those zzz’s –Sleep is a big thing, and trust me when I say this, for those who don’t get the number of hours recommended (8to 9 hours), they end up gaining weight. During the night (or day for some of you who work night shifts), your body is trying to run through the entire day and trying to loosen up your muscles, help in aiding digestion from the meals you had throughout the day, and letting loose of all of the stress that lingers in your body. Sleep is such a beautiful thing, and I think everyone on this planet agrees.

Release the stress – Stress is a big factor when it comes to weight loss, when you have a lot of stress reigning in your body, your body will try to fight back but to no avail. Instead you will have gained stress weight and then you will become more stressed, making yourself even more agitated. Yoga, meditation, retreats, camping, anything that will reduce the stress and help you relax will relieve that stress weight.

Toss the scale – Like I said before, the scale is inaccurate and therefor should not be in our lives. It does nothing but causes grief and hatred towards ourselves. There are many other ways to see your progress to a healthier you, and one of those ways is to look at the fit of your clothing is one way, for when they get looser and start to fall off that is a key sign that you have lost the weight.

Don’t listen to the media/society – Let’s be honest here, the media and society doesn’t know their head from a hole in the ground, in fact that they seem to think that you need to look a certain way to “fit in” or to be considered beautiful. But we both know that everyone is beautiful in their own way and their is no such thing as a “one-type”.  If everyone looked alike then it would be very boring.

Don’t fall into the fad diets and pills that these companies are pushing on you, because they are going to be more deadly than helpful; learn to love yourself, nourish your body, exercise, and live a life that is less stressful and more relaxing, and you will become a healthier you.

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The War on Our Bodies

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About seven years ago, I sat myself on my bed and decided that I was going to have a conversation with myself about myself, to finally heal. I grabbed my journal, a pen, and turned on some music. No one was home at the time, so this was a great time for me to do this. As soon as the pen touched the paper, a letter to myself began to take form. There were moments where I cried and there were moments where I laughed out loud. I just kept writing, it didn’t matter how long this entry was, and it didn’t matter how long it was taking, it had become highly therapeutic for me. I was finally having that conversation that I truly needed, the one that I had put off for years due to other commitments, but I had realized that this was something that needed to be done. This is was the conversation that I need to have to heal my mind, body, and soul.

Why? That was one of the questions that I had asked myself, why was I so hard on myself, and on my appearance. Why was I constantly picked on growing up for looking different from others? I was puzzled for awhile after I had asked myself this question. Then I realized, it was because of society and the media. They had been trying to brainwash me into thinking that since I didn’t look like a Victoria Angel’s model, that there was something terribly wrong with me. They had been trying to make me think that every inch of my skin was deformed. Once I had realized this, that was when I knew that the media and society was truly messed up. Placing the pen down and looking at the journal, I had realized a lot of things, one that everyone on this planet is so impressionable, regardless of age or gender. Another one was that everyone on this planet is unique and different, no two people are going to look alike, not even twins (granted that I already knew this, it had just appeared to me on another level). After that, I had decided to wage what you would call a war on the media and at society for brainwashing everyone into believing that they need to look a certain way to feel attractive. Not only that, I had decided that I wanted help others build better and healthier relationships with their bodies and finally feel comfortable with themselves and feel attractive. That was when I had created a ritual type of list for everyone to participate in, and today, I will share with you that list (in no particular order):

Stand in front of the mirror – After getting out of the shower, stand in front of the mirror, butt naked. While you stand there, I want you to look at every inch of your body and notice everything. After that, I want you to list 5 things that you love about yourself. These can be qualities that you already have, personality traits, physical attributes that you have that you think look amazing. Do this every day, and by the time it is the end of the year, your relationship with your body has become healthier.

Stretch to the sky – I am a certified Pilates Instructor and enjoy both yoga and Pilates, they help the body stretch and let the muscles relax after a long day at work. Participating in yoga or Pilates will help you connect with your body on a deeper level. You will see that you and your body are no longer at war with each other anymore.

Embrace your flaws – Everyone has flaws, and I mean everyone. Even the models that walk the runway to the prince’s and princesses of the world have flaws. Everyone has stretch marks and cellulite, that is what happens when you go through puberty, when you are pregnant, when you go through life in general; it is natural and nothing to freak out about.

Shut out the media/society- Let’s be honest, the media doesn’t know anything, their metaphorical head is shoved so far up their metaphorical rear end, that they cannot see that they are doing damage to each person in this society that we live in. They do not realize that they are part of the source of the problem that is consuming each person when it comes to body shaming someone. Turn away from the side of the world, and come over to the side of the world where you are accepted, where your body is accepted the way it is, and where you will not be judged. That is where you belong.

Accept your body the way it is – Everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way, and that means you too. In the end, you don’t need to be a certain way or look a certain way to be yourself.

Remember that the scale is inaccurate – That scale that you have in your bathroom, it is completely inaccurate. It does not take into consideration your organs, your time of the month (ladies), bone density. Also, there is one thing that the scale cannot tell you…. your worth. You are worth more than a number on a scale and some waist measurement that anyone gives you. You are worth more than all of that. In fact, your worth is so priceless that it would be hard to buy it from you. Remember that.

For all of those who want a bikini body – For all of you who wish to have the “perfect bikini body”, there is only one thing that I need to say to you. Put on that bikini and rock it.

Don’t listen to the body shamers – No matter how far we get in this life, with making an impact on stopping body shaming, there will always be those who feel the need to body shame others just because they are insecure with themselves and feel like they are justified with being able to make fun of others. Don’t listen to them and don’t let their rude comments on any of your social media accounts or in person destroy your beautiful aura. They are not worth your time. I would like to bring this up in this section, if you are going to take down a body shamer, do not body shame them – you will lower yourself to their level, and that’s not what you want to do. Keep this in mind, you are the only that decides your worth; not the scale in your bathroom, and certainly no body shamer that roams about in cyberspace.

Every body is beautiful – No matter what, there is always going to be those people who have decided to say that “bones are for dogs, meat is for men” or “people don’t like fat cows”. And honestly whenever I read something like that, I throw up in my mouth. There is no one body type that is more beautiful than the other. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is beautiful.

Never be ashamed of your body, for your body is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with it, and don’t let anyone ever try to tear down your worth or strip you of your beauty that glows from the inside to  the outside.