Distracting from anxiety with noise

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“In an episode of a podcast I listen to…” is a pretty common way for me to start a sentence.

I get lost in my head. A lot. I’ll start off thinking about something nice that has happened or could happen, and then be thinking about all the bad things that could come of it. I’ll replay fights I’ve had or could have, always following the worst case scenario paths until I’m feeling all the horrible emotions so strongly, it’s as if these things were actually happening.15722572132_c875823cc0_o

Singing used to be the only thing to get me out of these loops, but listening to podcasts has been added to the list. It’s one of the most effective ways of pulling me out of my anxiety.

While a lot of people make fun of me for how often I tell them about something I heard in an episode of a podcast, I also get asked a lot for a list of what I listen to. So, here it is!

All We Cannot Say: I’m actually writing for the website version of this podcast soon. Camilla Ruth hosts the show. She chats with folks about love, sex and relationships. I always learn a lot from both her and her guests. And it’s recorded with a really conversational tone, which is rad.

Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People: Host and comedian Chris lets someone call him each week and then he chats with them about whatever they want to talk about for one hour, no more. The stories they tell are hilarious and heartwarming. So hard to focus on anxiety during this show.

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Budgets and Cents: As a freelancer, my number one source of anxiety is worrying about money. The gals who host this podcast about money are also freelancers, so I get some helpful tips from them.

Call Your Girlfriend: Funny story. During an interview for a podcast, one of the only two feminists I look up to whose name I could remember was Aminatou Sow. She’s one of the hosts of this show!

Criminal: Each episode covers a short crime story. Often, they’re both hilarious and educational.

Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids: The hosts travel across Canada to host events where adults get on stage and read out stories, poems, lyrics, journal entries, letters and more that they wrote as children. Hilarious.

Guys We Fucked: This podcast has legit changed my life. The hosts are two hilarious comedians who also happen to be women and feminists. They give advice, discuss tough topics and bring on hilarious guests. They talk candidly about their kinks, sexual misadventures and gross bodily functions, making me feel more comfortable with myself.

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HerMoney with Jean Chatzky: Though focused on Americans, Jean gives readers tons of tips that can translate to folks in other countries, and of other genders. It really lights a fire under my butt to focus more on my financial situation.

Love + Radio: This one’s episodes are kind of hit and miss for me, but some are super rad.

Modern Love: Each episode, someone famous writes an essay written about love. At the end, the writer comes back to reflect on their story. I’ve learned so much about relationships from this podcast.

Real Crime Profiles: Three professionals take a look at high profile murder cases, focusing on the victims who lost their lives. A friend of mine shared an article with me about why people with anxiety enjoy horror stories. Listening to this works the same sort of way for me.

Sunday Dispatches: Quick weekly tips about freelancing from a super rad feminist vegan. Love Paul Garvis.

This American Life: Most weeks, there’s a topic and then a few stories on the issue. Each episode is rather different, so I recommend just checking out a couple that focus on something you’re interested in.

Although the list of episodes I have yet to listen to is getting out of hand (70+, guess what I’m doing on my drive to Calgary from Montana today?), I’m open to adding a couple newbies to the list. Comment below or tweet me your favs.

Self-care is important

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There’s a lot of hoopla about “self-care” and there’s also a lot of push back against the commercialized term.

When it started to explode, I was not doing self-care, in any definition of the word. I was working my ass off in college, while also volunteering a lot and taking care of my unemployed live-in boyfriend. I ate Mr. Noodles for dinner. Sometimes, I ate more than one package in a day.

If I got any moment of time where I felt I didn’t have to work, I collapsed in bed and watched Netflix. Sometimes, I’d just collapse in bed and do nothing while having panic attacks about how much work I needed to do. Once, I didn’t sleep two nights in a row because I had so much work.

I thought self-care was for people who were weak, for people who couldn’t work hard.

Then, after a number of breakdowns where I lay in bed sobbing for days, binge watching funny shows and eating crap food, I realized that I needed to take care of myself. Fact is, I’m a young woman living in a city away from most of her family. I have great friends and sometimes partners who don’t leech off me, but I’m still the best candidate for making sure my own needs are met.

There was a lot of struggle as I started focusing on the definition of self-care that is so lightly thrown around the Internet. There was some lying in the bathtub, feeling awkward and not understanding how being in a hard basin with hot water and bubble bath I couldn’t afford was relaxing. Some friends took me to Thermea where I tried my best not to freak without constant access to my work emails. I put a lot of energy into making myself sit and read a book when I kept wanting to get up and to write an article or clean or do anything productive.

I made myself try the things I loved doing as a child and I made myself try new things that terrified me.

I re-evaluated my work situation and why I wasn’t bringing in enough money. I made a food budget and a fun-stuff budget and a new clothes budget.

Experimenting with the over-commercialized “self-care,” I realized what self-care really, truly is.

Binging on cupcakes is not self-care. It’s unhealthy indulgence. What is self-care is going over the grocery budget by a few bucks to get organic veggies.

Splurging on an expensive dress is not self-care. It’s an unnecessary, poor decision pick-me-up for a bad day. Self-care is splurging on a trip to the dentist. Less tooth troubles equals better days.

Spending an entire day in bed watching Netflix isn’t self-care. It’s probably coping with a shitty time. Self care is spending an entire day hiking in a beautiful forest, which is a physically and mentally healthy activity that will leave you feeling better.

Self-care has become extremely important in my life. For me, it is:

  • Taking time to make delicious healthy meals.
  • Not regularly working more than 40 hour weeks.
  • Allowing myself to be carefree and silly every day, even if I just dance in my kitchen by myself.
  • Pushing myself to say no to helping people when I’m at my limit.
  • Accepting that time doing things which make me happy isn’t time wasted.
  • Focusing on my mental health issues and actively working to reduce my anxiety.
  • Fitting fun, physical activity into every week, if not every day.
  • Spending time with people who respect, love and inspire me.

Understanding the basics to keep you mentally and physically happy is important. Sometimes, it’s going to be difficult. When it’s too much to handle, you can ask someone who loves you to take on a couple of your self-care tasks, knowing that in the future you’ll be happy to do the same for them.


podcast artwork4In this week’s episode of Ramblings of an Anxious Mess, I talk about what to do when you’re struggling with meeting your basic self-care needs and why we need to create a better community for everyone.