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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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Healing From the Core: Elemental Energy

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When one heals from the very center of their being, the core, their whole body, mind, soul, and heart heals as well. The very core of a person’s body is deep inside, it is not the stomach nor the pancreas, it is something bigger than their soul. It is their energy, it is where a person gets their energy from. That energy is linked to every part of their body, including their personality, a great example for this would be: when you see a friend or relative of yours who you consider down-to-earth, they get their energy from the earth below their feet. Or someone who is like a cloud moves about, sometimes there or they have taken off to unknown places, they are connected to the air that is around them, that is where they get their energy, by standing on top of a mountain or hill, letting the wind gently brush up against them, giving them their energy to thrive for a period of time.

Returning to your element, to heal yourself is vital, because you would not be able to focus on the tasks at hand, nor would you feel healthy and safe. And there are many ways you can get your energy back whether you be outdoors or indoors.

Fire

For those who resonate with the fire, those who are normally hot-headed, fiery, passionate, and just have an all-over connection with the element, you can warm up your house with the fireplace on, or you can participate in hot yoga (not only will it get you moving, you will be able to connect with the heat as you practice). At work, add some photos of warmth, such as your memories of bomb fires; or if you are allowed in your workspace, light a candle.

Water

When it comes to the water element be near a body of water, such as a river, lake, or ocean. Being near the water will help you rejuvenate and bring your energy levels back up. Submersing yourself in a body of water will help you out, even more, go for a swim, and just let the smooth water wash over every inch of you and just let it fill you with delight and peace, when you let that happen you will become healthier once more. At work, you can add a little buddha fountain or whatever your preference in the statue is, that has the trickling of water into the numerous rocks, or you can add water meditation music as you work throughout the day.

Earth

Mother earth, she truly is a beautiful piece of artwork, isn’t she? When it comes to the earth element, it is easier to find your energy more outdoors than indoors, but that doesn’t mean that it will be impossible to incorporate the earthy element into your office or home. Add plants or flowers, add little bamboo pieces around to make you feel grounded and in your natural habitat. When you add these little pieces whether at work or at home, your energy draws from the plants and bamboo, revitalizing and becoming healthier.

Air

When it comes to the air element it is a little bit harder to place objects around your office or home to draw in that energy you are needing. However, it is not impossible. Adding meditation music such as birds chirping, wind chimes playing, or even lighting an incense candle will bring the element of air into your office space if you are unable to open a window (city buildings don’t have a lot of windows that are able to be opened). At home you can also do the same thing, or you can even just open up your window, and let the breeze fly into the house, filling everything with positive energy, bringing your core into a healthier state.

Digging into our core, we will be able to heal once again and be able to boost up our energy levels so that we may thrive and be ready for whatever the Universe throws our way.

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Reconnecting With Yourself

There are times where we need to unplug from our electronic devices, get away from the internet, and the social media wars that seem to plague everyone across the world. The reason for this is to reconnect with ourselves, continue our own growth, and get back to the core of our own being. That is what I have been doing for the past two months, I had rarely made any posts on here, or on any of my social media accounts, because I wanted and needed to reconnect with myself and see where I was going, to see if I was growing in any sense of the word (except for height, because I am always going to be short).

Stepping away from the internet helped me, because I was able to focus more on my poetry, on myself and heal. Knowing that I was starting to become a slave to my electronic devices, I set them aside, and started to focus on myself and see what it was that I needed to do in order to grow more spiritually, personally, and career wise. Plus, I needed to focus on my health. During the two months of not only posting anything, I also ended up not really speaking to many people that I know, this is also due to a fact that I needed a break from socializing, because I was being drained. Drained of my energy, and drained of any thoughts that I harbor. And it was slowly making me depressed and unable to focus on a lot of things.

After spending time by myself, meditating, healing, and just focus on my own well being for a change, it made me happier, and made notice that we all need to make time for ourselves more than just an allotted time each day. And so now, after taking those two months, I figured out how each person, child, woman, or man can create more time to just reconnect with themselves even if they are on a tight schedule and cannot devote an entire month to themselves.

Each morning when you are getting up, or helping your children get ready for school, create a drink  to your liking for each season (hot chocolate or coffee for fall or winter, smoothies or iced tea for spring or summer), to go along with your breakfast. Sit together, you don’t have to speak to each other necessarily, but sit at the same table, and enjoy  the silence or put on some light music, while you prepare yourself for the day ahead. For lunch time, sit by yourself and enjoy your lunch while you read a book, listen to your iPod, or sit with your friends or colleagues and just enjoy a light conversation that doesn’t cause such a big stir (ahem, politics). When it comes to dinner, socialize with your family, talk about your day, enjoy your dinner. But after dinner, make that time for you, and you alone. Put on some music, write in your journal, meditate; just shut out social media for that time period. On your days off, go out into nature, embrace the beauty, the energy that she provides us, and take it all in. Because while you are walking through the hills, forests, mountains, or near by the ocean, your body is healing, your soul is healing. And that is what you are needing.

A lot of people don’t realize that they are needing some time by themselves, so that they can heal, can reconnect with themselves. And that is the problem with social media and the internet, it takes away that time, and instead uses its vortex of search engines and websites to drag you in further, keeping you away from what your body is needing, and what your soul is needing. Always make time for yourself to heal, to reconnect, because if you don’t then you won’t be able to help others. You need to help yourself first before you can help others.

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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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Paint me in Orange: Art Therapy

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Many of you know that Mental Health Awareness Month is not until October, however, we shouldn’t be discussing it only during one month. It should be a topic that should be discussed frequently, and not just only during a designated month. Mental Health is one of the few topics that most people do not want to discuss, due to the fact that they are afraid of the topic, afraid of the reality of illnesses that plague nearly 43 Million Americans alone.

When it comes to mental health, the most common treatment is either prescription or seeing a therapist. Personally, I go to see a therapist once a week to help with my own health problems, and it is nice to have a conversation with an outsider (3rd party) that is a professional and that could help me cope with things. Besides seeing a therapist, I participate in what is called, “Art Therapy”. I’ve been doing art therapy for years now, with my poems and novels to my paintings, and it is truly a great therapeutic approach to helping oneself.

Art therapy comes in so many different ways: painting, writing, drawing, knitting, sewing, playing instruments, singing. Just about anything in the art community can be turned into a therapy session for someone. Art therapy is usually overlooked by most people, because they seem to call it hogwash, which it isn’t. It is highly effective, especially for those who wish to put their thoughts and emotions onto something that is pure white with no speck of any word or color splashed on it. Art therapy gives the person a chance to show their inner self, the emotions and thoughts that they currently having, and put them onto a canvas or on paper. Having this ability to throw your emotions and thoughts onto paper can help relieve you from the weight that has been placed on you, giving you a chance to breathe, and letting you be able to, in that moment, feel stress free.

If you ever feel that you are overwhelmed by the emotions and thoughts that have been plaguing you, grab a paintbrush, a pen, or knitting needles; because you can help get rid of those unwanted thoughts while concentrating on something that you enjoy.

 

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Healing From the Core: Lower Back Pain

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Everyone deals with lower back pain from those who participate in exercising to those who sit in the most uncomfortable chairs at work. This lower back pain is brought on by the stress that is put on it from what you were previously doing, i.e. running, weightlifting, or just sitting in a desk chair. When lower back pain happens, all of the muscles and the spine tense up and create a knot-like feeling, while having the pressure sensation of something heavy on your lower back. Thankfully there are ways to help get rid of this lower back pain, these are in no particular order.

Yoga – Yoga is one of the most amazing forms of therapy a person can use to help heal their body. The numerous amounts of poses helps a person work all angles of the lower back. The child’s pose and The Lord of the Half Fishes are the number one poses to use to help heal your lower back effectively and without enduring any pain.

Legs up the wall – Although it can be used as a cool down for yoga, putting your legs straight up the wall with a mat underneath your lower back as you lie on the floor is highly beneficial. Relieving the stress for your lower back, your entire body will feel better by the time you have risen up. Do this for roughly three to five minutes.

Chiropractor –  For this please see a professional and check their credentials. Seeing a chiropractor is what you might need, they can help align your spine and check to see what else could be going on.

Deep tissue – A deep tissue massage works wonders and getting one at least twice a month will help your lower back. Please see a professional when it comes to massage therapy, your friend might be a great amateur masseuse, but they could ultimately hurt you without realizing it.

Pilates – As a certified Pilates Instructor, I recommend this just as I recommend the others. Pilates is a great form of exercise for the body, and it is a great way for you to heal your body all over. There are several exercises that help strengthen your back and relieve the stress away from your body, attending some classes in a group setting or even private setting will help you ultimately get rid of the lower back pain, all the while strengthening your back.

There are many different ways out there to help heal your lower back pain, and that is the ultimate goal really, to heal your back and get rid of the unwanted stress and pain that is causing you aches and grief’s. Talk to your primary physician about what you can handle when it comes to exercising and stretching, that way they can also help you make the ultimate decision and also determine how bad it may be.

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Healing From the Core: Meditating at Work

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When you are working a 9 to 5 type of job, there will be moment where you will become groggy, in pain, and will have your head throbbing after hours of staring at the computer and filling out paperwork. It is just one of the things that tends to come with job the sadly, however it doesn’t have to be like that everyday when you are working. There are plenty of ways to help you from going insane at work, and meditation is one of them.

But, you can’t meditate while you are working, you need to be perfectly still and not be concentrating on anything at all! Not necessarily, in fact, when it comes to meditation, you can meditate in just about every situation, even with your eyes open. Yes you will be focusing on other aspects of your work, however you can indeed meditate while you are doing your normal routine when it comes to work.

Having an Mp3, iPod, or some sort of radio will suffice when it comes to this. Using this electronic device, you will need a meditation app. You can either go to Pandora and select nature sounds or meditation music stations and that can work just perfectly, or you can go into the app on your mobile phone (cellphone), and download meditation apps that just give you the sounds of different animals, instruments, or of nature. In fact, I have my phone next to me right at this very moment, with the app Relax Melodies, and listening to the flute play as I type this up and also do other work related things. That music or sound will reduce the stress that is currently residing in your head, the stress that is making you feel as though you are weighed down. As the music/sound does this, your mind will start to do something amazing. One part of your mind will be ever so focused on whatever the task is at hand, while another part of your mind is off in a trance like state, making you feel as though you are not really at your desk.

Another way to meditate at work is during your breaks, pretty much every job has at least a ten minute break once in the morning and once in the afternoon, then a hour long lunch, other times it will be a fifteen minute break in the morning and afternoon with a thirty minute long lunch. During these breaks, you can go outside with your Mp3/iPod with you and plug in your headphones, then head off for a Zen brisk walk. Enjoying the scenery around you and listening to the music, it will help you meditate and release the stress and anxiety that has accumulated inside your mind and body. As you walk, your mind can multitask, letting you focus on your surroundings while it is transporting you to another place where there is less stress.

Meditating at work is not all that hard, in fact it can be quite easy. Keep the nature sounds and meditation music around you at all times, and make your desk and office a sanctuary that you can relax and meditate in, all the while getting every single assignment assigned to you done in a timely manner.