First, I’d like to say that this is not a professional list from some psychology handbook. This is what I’ve known to work for me when coping with anxiety and cases when being an introvert hits me hard in the face. These little things I do to take care of myself have proven effective and are my go-to remedies when I’m feeling stressed.
I consider myself a social sprinter. I may not want to go somewhere and do things with people, but when I absolutely have to, I try to make the best impression I can. This may be considered “fake” or like I’m wearing a mask and I have to say that I perfectly agree. Yet, for the sake of those around me and the people I care about, I don’t show the nasty side of myself because then you’d be wondering where all my black clothes, piercings, thick black eyeliner and black lipstick went because I’d be acting like a goth that’s mad at the world but not look the part exactly. Well, I’m not mad at the world. I just have the “resting bitch face”. I’m actually pretty amiable and not easily enraged by the actions of others (unless you’re just being a dick, which is unacceptable anyway). I can normally play the part of an extrovert for about an hour, maybe two, and then I start to shut down. The mouth that was once laughing and making small talk will turn into a slight frown and there’s little I can do about it. I become disconnected and distant from my situation and all I want to do is go veg on the couch or take a long drive with no destination. When this happens, the only excuse I can give is that I’ve “burned out” or I need to recharge.
When I’ve reached that point, if at all possible, I remove myself from the social situation. My safe place is normally my home or inside my car, so I’ll go to either of those places and do some of the following:
*Disclaimer: Since introverts are drained by social interaction, these activities are to be done ALONE or with someone who is not emotionally/mentally draining for you, like a significant other or close friend.
1.) Music. I know, it’s a little corny to say, but music really has proven to be my therapy over the years. I collect songs that epitomize every shade of my moods and emotions. I love opera, country, pop, hip hop, punk rock, hard rock, and of course Disney tunes which really don’t fall into any category. The key to utilizing music to bring you out of a funk or to mellow you out, is to NOT listen to something that mirrors how you feel. If you’re sad, whatever you do, don’t listen to sad songs. Those songs about breakups, death, the endless abyss of life that is meaningless, are NOT what you need. Listen to something light, something happy. But, if you’re happy, listen to happy stuff unless you want to make yourself miserable by listening to the opposite… Which if you do, you need more than my blog to help you. If you’re mad, don’t listen to Five Finger Death Punch.
Listen to something soothing like classical symphony style. Once you’ve found the genre that helps your down, empty mood: SING. I don’t care if you shatter windows and make dogs bark within a five mile radius. You need to sing. Singing releases endorphins, which is the “feel good” chemical in your brain. When I’m feeling low and I go off and sing a few of my favorite songs from childhood, it has a noticeable effect on my psyche. When I sing, I take my mind off of what was bothering me or why I felt anxious or drained in the first place and all that exists is me and the radio. If you’re confident enough in doing so, even dance a little bit. Dance like no one is watching and enjoy it. Dancing is a good, easy form of cardio and can get your blood moving, which will enhance your emotional state as well.
2.) Tea. OH MY GOODNESS! I’m baffled that no one had told me about herbal teas sooner! I’d spent nearly 23 years of my life without herbal teas and I don’t know how I made it! When I was having high anxiety issues, a friend recommended I try Yogi tea. Specifically, the Honey and Lavender blend or Kava blend for stress relief. I loved black teas when I was a teenager, but in later years, I developed some issue with the caffeine in the teas and stopped. I was very nervous to try the herbal teas, but I needed something to help my anxiety beyond what I was doing. I went to my local grocery store and they didn’t have the specific blend of Yogi tea that I was looking for, but I found a variety pack of Celestial tea that included chamomile blends and “sleepy-time” blends. Guys, I had sleepy-time tea that night when I was getting ready for bed and I swear I hadn’t slept that sound in months! Getting that good sleep then carried over into my day and I wasn’t as volatile in my anxiety. I tried the chamomile when I got home and after a long, difficult day at work, I actually had the motivation and energy to do stuff! I had the clarity of mind to wash the dishes, do the laundry, FOLD the laundry (which is a big deal because I hardly ever do that), and get so many other things done that I’ve been putting off for weeks because I was never in the right state of mind to do it. Since then, I’ve purchased more tea and am experimenting with their different effects and because they don’t contain caffeine, I have had no headaches. Anything with chamomile, lavender, kava, and ceylon are great for stress relief and to give your body the soothing effects you need.
3.) Sleep. You know when you call tech support and their first question is “have you turned it off yet?” Well, our bodies can work in the same way. If you’re stressed or just drained (even if it’s not physically), try taking a nap or going to bed early. Sleep has regenerative effects on the body and mind. And I’ve always found that it sort of wipes the slate clean. If I’m freaking out over something, I go to sleep and in the morning it doesn’t seem like such a big thing anymore. It might not have lost it’s bite, but the blinding panic is gone and I’m able to reason through it. Make sure when you get this sleep, that the room is dark, cool, and quiet. Anything different and you won’t sleep well.
4.) Candles. Aromatherapy has been used forever and their beneficial effects are still prevalent today. Find a scent that makes you melt and buy as many as your pocketbook will allow because you need that stuff. There’s nothing like coming home, brewing a cup of that hot chamomile tea and lighting a lavender or cinnamon candle.
5.) Take a break. Above all, you have to take care of yourself. Running on fumes for too long will send you to an early grave. When you feel you’ve reached that breaking point where “If I listen to another line of small talk, I’m going to blow my brains out”, take a step back and recharge. Do something you enjoy and forget about responsibilities for a while. Dishes can pile up, laundry can overflow, phone calls and texts can go unanswered, because there’s no one more important in your world than yourself. If watching sitcoms makes you happy, do it. If you get a buzz from playing a video game, play that game all day. If you enjoy painting, drawing, knitting, origami, alphabatizing your movie and music collection, browsing Facebook for hours, writing, reading, or whatever – then DO IT! Doing what makes you happy and what you enjoy is going to help you recharge faster and prepare yourself for doing the things you don’t like to do.