How I’m Remaining Positive in a World of Chaos

My Dear Friend,

Are you having a hard time? Yeah, me too. Let’s face it, what’s going on in the world right now is utterly shitty. Unemployment rate, at-home order, global pandemic…these phrases are not at all sexy. In a time when news reports, rules and regulations are changing by the minute, it sure seems like for the past two months I’ve been stagnant. It’s as if I were painted into a scene, much like the Whistler’s Mother, unable to move but rather gazing upon the four walls constantly surrounding me unlike the whimsical artworks that line Hogwarts’s Halls permitted to roam freely as they wish. Some days, I love the autonomy. Some days, I can feel the walls around me closing in by the second. Just the mere thought of those days runs shivers down my anxiety-stricken body. It’s the unknown of it all that really takes my breath away.

But I’m always reminded of the simple fact, it’s out of our control. Why worry about the weather tomorrow when there’s literally nothing on this green Earth you can do to change it? Why worry about life looking so obscenely different right now when you can’t change the circumstances? Even though some days are the lowest of lows, I try my hardest to shift perception. Focus on what I can control. Focus on the good, the opportunity that lies ahead. I have chosen to grow from this. Grow as a creator. Grow as a daughter, a girlfriend, a friend. Grow as a career-women. Grow into a more positive version of myself. As a born-again cynic, this is something I’ve been working on for quite some time.

A quote from the globally renowned book/movie trilogy Hunger Games, who’s dystopian, post-apocalyptic nation sometimes doesn’t seem too far off from our current situation, always sticks like glue to my consciousness. “Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear”, said President Snow. He foolishly put too much faith in fear. I, such as triumphant Katniss Everdeen, choose hope.

Now I know my listicle isn’t the magic potion that will change the world for the better overnight. I’m not that naive, but I’m hoping that by sharing a few ways I’m trying to stay positive during all of this chaos that the message could radiate out into the world much like the ripples from a single drop of water. Even if one person finds value or solace from these thought starters, then I have done my job.

That’s what we’re really craving, right? A sense of community. The social aspect of normal life. I heard on the radio today, “it shouldn’t be called social distancing, it should be called physical distancing because we still have the need and capability of being social.” That’s right and this little corner, this community we’re building, is my way to stay social with you. It won’t happen overnight, but if you dig deep for the inner hope inside of you, I think these are some easy ways to start steering your mind into becoming more positive, sightseeing for the silver lining and waving away negativity through the rearview mirror:

Channeling energy: This pandemic stirs up a lot of emotion inside of us. We have the choice on where to put that energy, into being angry or use it for good? I think a great way to channel energy right now is to be creative: paint, draw, color, write, compose, sculpt, cook, tie dye (since we all know that’s the biggest trend right now). There are so many opportunities to morph your energy into a creative outlet that yields something tangible.

Write down your thoughts: You have many thoughts right now, I’m sure you do. You’re doing yourself a disservice by keeping those bottled up. Take 10 minutes a day for yourself to write down all of those thoughts. It could simply be a list of words describing how you’re feeling that day: angry, sad, mad, anxious, tired, unmotivated. Doesn’t matter, just get them out of your head. It’ll be cathartic, what do you think I’m doing right now writing this?

Keep a routine: It’s so easy to sleep in or stay up late. Act as if life is normal, fake it ‘til you make it kind of thing. You’ll feel more normal, you’ll be getting the sleep you need, which is vastly important and you’ll limit the other problems or chaos that could arise if you do veer off into a free for all. Assess and prioritize all of your current tasks, don’t abandon regular responsibilities.

Create a sanctuary: I’ve read so many articles that claim that if the space around you is organized, tidy and your personal sanctuary, you free up space in your mind. When the physical space around you is organized, you have the time and energy to organize the thoughts swirling around upstairs. Since we’re stuck in our homes, rather have the ability to be at home more (all about perception), our surroundings are more important than ever. Make those interior adjustments you’ve been toying around with. This is one of those areas where you can control what you can control.

Press pause on the news: The news is just too much for me right now. Every time I take a few minutes to catch up on the latest, I can feel a lump form in my throat. I’ve decided that, in order for me to strive to be a more positive person, I need to halt constant media coverage. It was on ALL THE TIME at my house because if there was a sudden change, I wanted to be the first to know so I could prepare. That was not the right way to go about it. I listen when I need to, otherwise I stick with reputable articles online when I feel like it.

Take a break: An afternoon walk is now an activity that I not only enjoy but look forward to. In those fleeting moments, I can take in the scenery and not think about a single thing. Give grace to my mind to wander. The same can be said for a podcast you appreciate listening to or binging a TV show as a guilty pleasure (mine is Real Housewives of Beverly Hills). Take an hour for yourself. You deserve it.

Get dressed: This is one of, if not, my favorites. I haven’t been partaking as much as I’d like (that will change this week), but when I do, it’s honestly a joy. Not only get dressed but wear something ridiculously fancy just for the hell of it. Wear a ball gown, a blazer, heels, a skirt, a jumpsuit, a wild print. Since no one is really going to see you anyways, it’s a great time to experiment with a new trend you’ve been yearning to try. Again, one of those areas in life you have full control over!

As I write these points, I can’t help but wonder if you’ve uncovered some sure-fire ways to boost positivity in your own life? If so, I’d love to hear what helps you get through the day. And always, I’m here if you need anything.

Sincerely,

How I Cope With Anxiety

Hi There,

The first time I ever felt feelings of anxiousness was around the time I was a freshman in college. Something about having to pack up my childhood room and now having to live 3+ hours away from my family and friends threw me for a complete loop. I lost a lot of weight, my thoughts paralyzed me from leaving my door room, I couldn’t focus in class, my grades suffered (which had never happened to me ever in my life) and I cried once a day for about 6 months. It was one of the toughest times in my life. From the time I realized there was an issue, I made some lifestyle adjustments like transferring schools and learned to cope with feelings of anxiousness the best way I could for those 4 years. Since then, I’ve been so much better, but my anxiety still comes to visit like a long-distance relative.

Now, I am no doctor by any means. I have no clinical definition of anxiety and I have never officially been diagnosed with anxiety, but to me, I experience feelings of anxiousness whenever I am faced with a situation or life decision that is uncontrollable or unpredictable. I have intense feelings whenever I think about if I made a bad decision in the past, how I am going to cope with what’s happening to me in the present or the uncertainty of what may happen in the future. I am pretty Type A for all intents and purposes of the definition. I love and crave control. I like things a certain way and if it doesn’t happen as such, anxiety comes. It’s when I experience the ability to control a situation being robbed from me that anxiety comes. It’s when I don’t know how to crawl my way out of an undesirable fate that life often throws at us that anxiety comes. There come slices of time in any given day where my mind often wanders and hypothesizes all these different scenarios. It completely throws me off track in that moment. I feel shortness of breath, very emotional, my heart races, I lose sleep and sometimes my line of vision can even become blurred. It can be debilitating and from what it seems, from personal stories and articles online, that my “case” is very mild. I can’t imagine what some others have to go through.

As my day job is very analytical, I find my critical thinking also becoming very analytical. I often ask myself why I am experiencing this feeling or what has happened to catapult me into this state. But rather than trying to pick apart the intricacies in what’s happening inside my head, over the years I have found coping mechanisms that ultimately bring me back down to Earth so to speak. Everybody’s experience with anxiety is so different and should be handled as so, but sometimes I think when we share stories of the practices that have helped us to cope, we can feel less alone and work towards the root of the cause.  

Tip #1: It may sound crazy, but classical music has helped with my anxiety SO much. I used to be very musical in my childhood. I was in every school play, I could read music, I played the piano and I played the flute in my school’s symphony orchestra. I love music with purpose and that changes direction to take you on a magical journey. Whenever I feel anxious, one of the ways I try to relieve myself from those feelings is to play some of my favorite classical pieces. I take time to remove my thoughts from what’s currently going on and immerse myself into the sounds. I try to decipher each musical instrument being played and focus my mind on the tempo, crescendos and decrescendos to shift my focus on only what I am hearing at that moment. It removes me from life for just a few minutes, enough time for the anxiousness to pass, and by the time the song has ended, I feel better. Here are some of the playlists I listen to on Spotify:

Tip #2: Another way I’ve learned to cope with anxiety is to clean. I know it may sound odd but tidying up my room or even the files on my computer have helped alleviate feelings of anxiousness. There’s something about cleaning up the physical aspects of your life that help you feel more in control of the psychological ones. When you are clear in one area, the physical space around you, you have more time to clear the space in your head and work through your feelings.

Tip #3: The 5,4,3,2,1 rule has also helped me tremendously with fighting anxious feelings. You have probably seen this circulated on all social channels, but the 5,4,3,2,1 rule helps in going through the numbers in order to ground yourself in present thinking. Here is how it works: you start by acknowledging 5 things that you can see around you at that moment, then you identify 4 things you can touch around you at that moment, then 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This technique ultimately helps with symptom relief because after you have taken the time to identify these things in your physical surrounding you often will have taken long enough for the symptoms to pass.

I hope this helps anyone reading who too experiences or suffers from anxious feelings or anxiety. Our thoughts are almost always directly linked to how we are feeling at that moment. Although sometimes we can lose control of our thought process and where our mind takes us mentally, there are tools and cognitive exercises that we can enlist in our daily routine to pull us out of the hole we feel that we are falling into. I can promise you; those feelings may come but they will go away. You and your mind are strong enough to fight through those feelings. You totally got this, and I am here for you!

Sincerely,