I love Halloween and Spooky Season probably more so than anyone I know. Just ask my husband, who is already trying to get me to watch White Christmas when I want to watch Beetlejuice.
I myself have general anxiety disorder, and I know several others who have various mental issues such as depression and PTSD to name a few. While I love Spooky Season, and I know a lot of them do too, it might be a difficult time for others with the same illnesses.
In today’s post, I want to talk about the four ways Spooky Season can harm people with mental illnesses.
1: IT IS A GENERALLY FRIGHTENING TIME
On top of the increase of frightening activities, there are people dressing up in what might be horrifying costumes to some. Scary costumes can be a trigger for people with PTSD or anxiety depending on how the costume relates to the person and their experiences.
2: IT CAN BE A TIME FILLED WITH MENTAL HEALTH STIGMAS
It might be annoying or difficult for someone with a mental illness or someone who is a family member of a person with a severe mental illness, to see costumes involving straight jackets or other things associated with “crazy people.” These are also mental health stigmas that the community is trying to overcome. It is harder to normalize and talk about mental health issues when they are portrayed this way.
3: PRESSURE FROM FRIENDS TO PARTICIPATE IN HAUNTED HOUSES OR TRAILS
I wouldn’t call what my friends did “pressure,” because they always let it go and never made me feel bad about it. However, I know some friends will make their friend with anxiety or another mental illness feel terrible for not going with them.
HOW TO PREPARE
This section is really for those who may be affected by these triggers. If you are one of these people, be sure to stay away from Halloween parties and events, as costumes might be at play here. This will also help you avoid negative stigma.
Be as firm as possible with your friends, and try to be honest with them. If you believe going to a haunted house or on a haunted trail will trigger an attack, do not be afraid to tell them that.
When I'm working, I find that listening to TedTalks can be therapeutic and enlightening. After having a tough week a few weeks ago, I decided to look up some TedTalks on attitude and anxiety.
After clicking on one TedTalk and listening to it, I was recommended the below video from Isabelle Mercier-Turcotte. I promise that this 20 minutes will help change your perceptions on worry!
"What you tolerate, you worry about." According to Isabelle, more than 90 percent of Americans wake up worrying about something. She said that 40 percent of what we worry about will never happen. That's like putting a downpayment on a house you won't own. She goes on to talk about the fact that 30 percent of what we worry about has actually already happened! And 12 percent of what we worry about is health issues that aren't actually cause for concern.
Isabelle wraps up her TedTalk with a formula for dealing with worry: H.E.R.O:
H- Hush. Take some time for yourself and quiet your worries.
E- Evaluate. Is this something worth worrying about, or one of those needless worries?
R- Ritualize. Come up with a way to deal with worry.
O- Own. Own yourself. Don't let others cause you to negotiate.
WHY THIS SPOKE TO ME
It is so simple to change your perception on this. I'm not saying that I don't worry anymore, but simply that I worry a little less about trivial things.
As a matter of example on a change that I've made, I have decided to delete my work email off of my phone. A ton of successful people do this. This has allowed me to stop checking my email when I'm not on the clock. I find that, sometimes, checking my email can cause stress when I'm supposed to be out of my work environment and in my home environment.
HOW TO DECIDE YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES
Your non-negotiable might be that you must leave time at the end of the day to spend an hour taking care of yourself. If anything interferes, you're not going to worry about it!
My non-negotiables are:
This is my base list! I'm still working on this and probably always will! I hope you will start taking this approach to dealing with worry.
In the U.S. alone, more than 40 million adults over the age of 18 suffer from anxiety disorders. It’s one of the most common mental health-related problem in the U.S., and likely the world.
I myself was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder in college a few years ago. To be fair, I did push myself to the limits when it came to involving myself in not only my school work, but also various clubs and organizations around campus.
I decided to test four anxiety help and management apps that were recommended by websites around the internet. Each of these apps are completely free to download, but you will have the option to purchase additional features here and there. Here’s what I found:
App Description: “Worries exist for everyone. Worry Float helps you release your worries by visualizing your worries floating away. Naming your worry helps bring mindfulness and awareness into the moment. Then you let it go."
As soon as your balloon makes its way into the distance, an affirming, “and there it goes” message pops up on the screen, along with a happy-looking sun.
My opinion on this is that, while it is a good way to visualize your anxiety, it isn’t going to take it away. I felt just as concerned about college debt when I typed it on the balloon as I did when it floated away.
App Description: “Meditation made easy. Calm is the #1 app for meditation and mindfulness. Enjoy 100+ guided meditations to help you manage anxiety, lower stress, and sleep better. Calm is the perfect mindfulness app for beginners, but also includes hundreds of programs for intermediate and advanced users.”
You then have to sign up for an account (no credit card needed) and then you are asked to purchase the full app.
While there were a few free things to listen to, I was disappointed to see that most everything was locked. I get that the company needs to make money, but I hate to be tricked into thinking something is free only to be hoodwinked.
Anyway, I was able to listen to one of the 7 Days of Calming Anxiety. It was soothing and did make me feel calmer. So, my overall opinion is that I like the concept, but I wish more was available for those who don’t have money to subscribe. Ads are a common way a brand can make money for providing free content. Subscriptions costs $12.99 a month. Or, if you have the cash to spend, you can pay $300 for a lifetime subscription. I honestly could see myself using this if it wasn’t so expensive.
COLOR BY NUMBER COLORING GAME
App Description: Color by number in a new, addictive game. Choose from a variety of super-fun images and follow the numbers to bring them to life. Coloring has never been this easy. Anti-stress coloring is the perfect relaxing activity!”
While you can pay to unlock special photos, there are a fair number of free pictures that you can color. I would most definitely recommend downloading this app. I think it is my favorite in the bunch!
App Description: Moods is the fastest and easiest way to record your current mood, which can be critical to maintaining good mental health.”
However, this is a great app to use if your doctor or psychiatrist wants you to log your mood changes. I didn’t get any demand to subscribe, which was awesome, and you can add custom notes. This could be helpful in determining treatment based off of your feelings.
I think that all of these apps can be useful if you’re willing to pay for most of them. Although I was bummed about the cost of the Calm app, you can always find a free copycat or subscribe if you have the money. The sounds and narrators are soothing for sure.
My favorite app was the coloring one. I think if getting your mind off of your anxiety is what helps you relax, this is the app for you. It makes you concentrate for a bit while presenting you with positive, cute images!
Recently, I heard news that 12 people had been killed by a man in Virginia Beach. The man, who's name I don't want to share because I don't want to glorify or publicize him, was described as a "disgruntled employee" who came in and shot down 12 people, injuring several others in the process.
Like everything else that happens after a mass shooting, the gun control debate came up yet again, despite the fact that the shooter was using a legally owned .45-caliber handgun with a silencer. Most gun control debates involve limiting the type of weapon, usually automatic weapons, available for sale to the public.
BUT WHY ARE WE SO FOCUSED ON THE TOOL OR METHOD OF KILLING RATHER THAN THE PERSON BEHIND IT?
MENTAL HEALTH IN MASS SHOOTERS
As I mentioned before, today's post does not intend to take blame away from the mass shooter. However, there are very limited resources and a strong negative stigma associated with mental illness all over the world and in the United States.
A lot of people either have no money to be treated for mental health problems, or they are told to just "get over it" by relatives, friends, classmates, teachers, and church officials.
I have general anxiety disorder. This means that I get anxious about certain things. I still operate normally in life and try to keep my reactions behind closed doors between trusted people like my mom, best friends, or my husband. However, I have had to fess up to my disorder to a church official who told me that, despite physical ailments that were coming to light because of my anxiety disorder, I still needed to come to church every single service, even if that meant distracting others.
I've had family members shrug off my issues. I've had coworkers unknowingly say things about my nervous energy in a bit of a negative way. Unless you've experienced my illness full-time, you don't know what it's like. Even if I told you.
WITH MANY SIDE EFFECTS OF MENTAL ILLNESSES TRANSLATING TO PHYSICAL HEALTH, MOST PEOPLE WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS WOULD GLADLY "GET OVER IT" IF THEY COULD, BUT OUR BRAINS ARE SICK
HOW WE CAN ALL HELP
1. STOP REACTING BADLY WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU ABOUT THEIR MENTAL HEALTH
Mental health problems are becoming increasingly more common as the years go on. If someone tells you they have a major mental health issue, don't get "creeped out." Many people who have major health issues are getting treatment of some sort. Don't villainize those who are upfront about their struggles.
3. CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT AND WORKER'S RIGHTS
Your representative can bring up your concerns in front of other representatives. They can help normalize the mental health talk in your country.
But another big thing that needs to be handled is worker's rights. A lot of other mass shooters are people who worked at the place they shot up, like the Virginia Beach shooting. Some employees who may have a hidden mental illness will try to take things into their own hands if their issues aren't being handled, if they feel there is a problem in the workplace, or if they feel unfairly compensated.
There are companies that don't give lunch time to their employees, don't provide proper breaks, and threaten to black-ball the employee if they leave for a new job. Americans need more time off and need to be compensated fairly to avoid mental exhaustion which might lead to depression or general anxiety disorder.
BE THE CHANGE
Speak out about unfairness toward those with mental illnesses and disorders. Instead of droning on about what gun someone used, look at that person's humanity and ask if we as a nation did enough to prevent what happened not at the gun store, but in the school, workplace, and the home.
I will say once again that while mental illnesses can't be "controlled," most reactions from them can be. Those who have committed a mass shooting should not be excused for the awful atrocities they've committed. I just think there is a better way to handle this issue.
I don't know why it has taken me so long to actually put myself first. The truth is that, if you're a mess, you can't trust that you'll be able to pull yourself together to handle someone else's mess. Mess is very broad. If you don't have yourself somewhat together, you can't have it together at a job, in a relationship, or in your business.
So, I've come up with a self-care routine that will benefit me in 2019 and help me to live my best life! I've done many of these already, but I plan on adding some of them to my routine still. Check out my self-care routine.
1: LEAVE WORK AT YOUR WORK DESK
You can always do like my coworker did and disconnect your email account from your phone. You can also make a habit of letting things go to voicemail or let emails go unanswered. I still need to work on this, especially on sick and vacation days. However, I'm happy to do what I can to limit exposure to stress outside of the work day/work week.
2: TAKING CARE OF MY FACE
3: BODYWASH AND LOTION
4: MAKING A SCHEDULE
5: MAKING TIME FOR EXERCISE
6: STAYING AWAY FROM PERSONAL DRAMA
7: DO SOMETHING NICE FOR YOURSELF
That's it! Those are the five things that I'm doing to take better care of myself. I need some more self-care tips! Let me know what you do to take care of yourself in the comments below!
For today's #WellnessWednesday, I sat down with my husband to compile five tips on how couples like us can maintain a healthy relationship! If you don't know, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder in 2013 when I was in college.
My anxiety is mostly medical anxiety (I sometimes get scared that something is wrong with me medically when I am perfectly fine.) I also sometimes worry about relationships or if something that I said had a negative impact on someone's view of me.
So, if you want some tips from us, keep reading! Don't forget to drop some of your tips below, as well!
1. REASSURANCE OVER JUDGEMENT
2. BEING A GOOD EAR
3. LEAVING ROOM FOR LAUGHS
4. BE A HELPER ON BAD DAYS
5. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
This is the first Wellness Wednesday post of 2019! I'm glad you decided to check today's post out. If you missed last Friday's post, you probably didn't see that we adopted a dog! I wanted to talk today about the emotional health benefits of having a pet, be it a dog or a cat.
1. THEY CAN READ YOUR EMOTIONS
2. THEY ARE LOYAL
As I retreated inside with the dog, Jonathan stayed outside with her, and she eventually came to him. She never ran away, but just sat there outside waiting for comfort. She is so loyal and loving, and I'm so happy she didn't run off.
I am also amazed that dogs remain so loyal. Even when they are in abusive homes, they are still so loyal to their owners and would do anything to protect them. We don't deserve pets, they are so good to us! To tie this into the ultimate topic of this post, their loyalty helps us feel as though we are never alone and will always have a friend.
3. THEY BOUNCE BACK
4. THEY IMPROVE US PHYSICALLY
If you've been a pretty loyal reader of my blog, you know that I suffer from anxiety, particularly medical anxiety I would say. But, around this time of year, a different form of anxiety plagues many people, making it really hard for them to enjoy the season.
So, I thought I would share some information on seasonal affective disorder to spread awareness and urge those who are experiencing symptoms to seek help and guidance.
WHAT IS SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER?
Biologically speaking, scientists and researchers agree that less sunlight due to Daylight Savings Time can cause some people's bodies to react by reducing serotonin and melatonin which control mood and sleep respectively.
The fall and winter seasons are also hard for people who feel alone. During these times of year, people are normally filled with cheer, are giving gifts, and laughing with their family members. SAD can come around if someone they loved passed away in that season, if they feel they can't contribute financially to various celebrations, and so forth.
WHO DOES SAD EFFECT?
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF SAD?
SAD symptoms include:
WHY YOU SHOULD SEEK HELP
SAD can cause you to act out of character or harm yourself, and I'm praying that you don't do that. Everyone who was placed on this earth has a purpose. You mean something. If you don't feel like you mean something to anyone you know in person, you mean so much to me. Your life is precious and I don't want this illness to take anyone else from this world.
SAD, however, can be treated or at least managed by going to various therapies, exercising to reduce stress, or through medications.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, I hope you will seek professional help. If you don't have the means to do so, you can always search for anonymous chat lines and chat rooms where you can talk about your problem with a professionally-trained coach.
You are worth it. Get help so that you can feel better and so that you can brave each and every day knowing that you have someone in your corner.
Everyone handles their anxiety differently, but I always love to do some research to see if someone has any new ideas on handling their anxiety. Sometimes these tips and tricks work, and other times they won’t. It just depends on the person and their level anxiety.
I would say that I’m a fairly anxious person. I’ve opened up about this in a number of blog posts. I find myself worrying over the smallest of things, like the way I spoke to someone or like small symptoms that I worry to be a sign of a bigger problem.
I know, however, that many have it a lot harder than I do. But, I hope this list of coping mechanisms and relaxation tips will help you as much as they help me!
MAKING A VIDEO DIARY
Sometimes, I feel even more anxious and depressed when I talk out loud to myself because, in all honesty, it makes me feel crazy. So, to remedy this, I decided to whip out my iPhone when I have something I need to talk about.
I record myself talking in vlog style. I just kind of open up about the struggles of the day and the frustrations I’m going through. I normally delete my videos because I don’t want to clog up my phone’s memory space. I think it would be really cool if someone created a video diary app where people could record their feelings and see where they used to be in their anxiety journey.
I love this mostly because it helps me get out my frustration and, during my little talks with my “audience,” I often find a new perspective in my feelings that helps me better deal with things.
USING AN OIL DIFFUSER OR CANDLE IN STRESSFUL ZONES
We all have different areas in our home or place of business that are more stressful than others. For me, it is my home office area and my regular office at my job. For myself, scents are powerful and really help me to calm down in stressful situations.
I really recommend an oil diffuser, especially if you aren’t allowed to have candles in your work place like myself. You can purchase oils that are specifically for stress relief. My favorite oil to use is a lavender oil. It really helps to destress a stressful environment.
MAKING LISTS AND SCHEDULES
I can honestly say that creating a to-do list or a schedule really helps me. For example, I bought myself a cheap planner to use for scheduling my blog posts. It helps me to stay organized and I can easily change my post ideas with some white-out.
I have another example. This past weekend, I went back home to help my mom declutter and clean my grandparents’ room. She had made a list of things to do, but they weren’t organized by type. I decided to organize the lists by what needed to be done outside of the house, in my grandparents’ room, in their bathroom, in my mom’s room, and around the house. Then, we were able to prioritize and get the most important things done before moving on to secondary tasks.
PLAYING BRAIN GAMES
I find that I tend to have fewer and fewer anxious episodes when my mind is busy. For that reason, I start almost every day with some brain games. I have two apps on my phone for this particularly. I normally plan a round of sudoku and a game of solitaire. Not only does this help me activate my brain and get it ready for the day, it also helps to take my mind of off super stressful things happening in the background of my life.
KNOWING WHEN IT IS TIME FOR A BREAK
I feel like a ton of people who struggle with anxiety tend to try to be people pleasers for the most part. For me, it’s all because of how I feel someone sees me. I don’t want to be seen as a bad friend for not wanting to hang out, a bad family member for not wanting to help out, or a bad employee for needing a break or being unable to complete something in someone’s desired timeframe.
But, I try to remember back to three or four years ago when I was in college and had to give up some of my leadership positions in my various groups because I simply couldn’t handle the stress. In college, I was the drum major of the band, the editor of the newspaper for three years, in a sorority where I was the president, in gospel choir where I was the president, and in a number of academic honor societies that had different requirements. On top of all of that, I was taking classes full-time.
I decided that I wouldn’t stop being in any of my groups, but I would give up leadership positions in some of them, mainly in my sorority. A group of people actually decided to let someone else be editor of the newspaper my senior year, so that also helped.
But, it is OK and good to take a mental health break. If you have some vacation days at work or you are able to take a long weekend, do it. Even if you just sit at home and watch your favorite shows. You don’t have to go somewhere to relax your mind!
DOING SOMETHING I LOVE
Whenever I'm feeling anxious, it always helps when I do something that I love to take my mind off of that thing that's making me anxious. For myself, that is usually watching a movie, baking, or writing. It is sometimes honestly just going to a room on my own and listening to my favorite music.
Your hobbies will change as you age, and your hobbies will be different. This one really works if you have some friends who also enjoy them. This gives you the chance to be around people who love you doing something you both love to do!
There are a ton of ways out there to cope with anxiety. I know there are many I didn't even mention. If you have any tips or tricks to coping with anxiety attacks, please let me know below in the comments so I can give them a try. I hope these few tips can help someone else out there!
LEGAL: All photos taken from Pixabay.com, a Creative Commons website that requires no attribution for photo use.