mental health

Releasing the Negative Energy

I have a presentation coming up and one of the biggest things causing my anxiety, is that my former supervisor abusive will be present. The thought of them watching me and judging me is terrifying me at my very core. Despite this, I want to explore releasing that negative energy and moving on so I can achieve to my full potential.

Certain situations in which you were made to feel you had less worth can count as trauma and cause severe anxiety as a result. So, when situation that is similar arises, a person can either fight or flight. Fight being getting anxious and angry then projecting this, whereas flight is running and this could be in the form of shutting down. Either way, trauma and anxiety can effect a situation to the point you may not be able to handle it. While, it’s good to understand why this happens, identifying the causes are only a small part of releasing this fear and anxiety.

Before I go into ways to reduce this anxiety, I want to stress that it takes time to release the initial trauma and even then it may not be completely released. Regardless, what matters is trying, never beat up on yourself for trying. See the growth and embrace it. Trying something new, you’ll definitely feel like crap if it doesn’t go well. But feel proud of yourself, because you’ve taken a massive step! I also want to stress one more thing, that there’s different types of trauma and it isn’t all the same. These techniques are certainly not going to work on all types of trauma and some do require professional help, especially if it affects your day to day life tremendously.

Build a Vault and Lock it Away

Have a box or something you can store your thoughts in. It can be a mental vault or even a physical. You do you basically. If you need something symbolic, write the thoughts down and vanquish them into a literal box. They’re still there, but you don’t have access to them. The important thing to remember with this technique is that you can access them if you absolutely need to. You have the key and if remembering and reflecting will help then do it. But having a barrier there will mean you have to make an effort to access it, and when you remember it, you see this barrier – reminding yourself of the effort you have to go to in order to unlock it.

Give the Invasive Thoughts a Character

Invasive thoughts are not you. Give them a character. Mine is Peeves the Poltergeist from Harry Potter. If he brings up a memory, I simply tell him to ‘piss off’ and he goes. Sometimes he does return but I keep saying it until he doesn’t. It definitely isn’t linear and will take a lot of time but I think it is beneficial. Some character suggestions include: a bitter old man or the stereotypical ‘talk to the manager karen’. Just a character that you really really despise. You might be thinking ‘why would I want a character who I dislike in my head?’. Well, making them responsible for the invasive negative thoughts creates that dissociation that it isn’t you, and it also makes it easier to tell them to go away.

If you Need to Break Down, Then do so

Sometimes to get back up, we need to break down. Cry, scream, by all means have a panic attack if one is coming. But get back up. This anxiety attack is one small moment and it will be over soon. Feeling like shit will end and you can rise back up. Everyone has moments like this but it’s about not letting it consume you.

Know Who You Want to Be

Write a list. Know your core values and base your decisions of that, not emotions. Emotions are fuelled by anxiety and they can influence your decisions, which in turn affects your daily life. If you’ve written them down, you can remind yourself of your values and base your decisions off them.

These are just a few techniques and they are more on a personal level. Everyone experiences life differently, so please try what you feel will help and go with it. Be sure to check out my post on childhood trauma and psychological techniques to manage anxiety, posted on ThatHipsterScientist. While these ones are a part of scientific psychological techniques, I feel it’s best to understand the all encompassing technique and branch down into them with your own.

Thank you so much for reading!

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diary

Feeling like an Onlooker

Sometimes I feel like I’m looking upon my actions and not doing them. Recently, I’ve become stressed about my mothers money troubles and I’ve been trying to help her out as best I can. Coming from a single income household, I need to do my part now that I’m an adult. So, what’s holding me back from work? The mental exhaustion I think.

My father who is very much still present in our lives is an addict and it can be quite an emotionally abusive situation. I have always been the adult and it seems like I’m the only adult. I feel as if am looking upon myself from a third person view. Maybe it’s imposter syndrome, but I don’t feel like an adult and I don’t think I ever have. Yet, I am stringed into this and it is quite exhausting. That might be the root of it, I needed to grow up too fast to emotionally support others.

As I grow up, I’m starting to wonder if there is any point we figure out what’s going on. Do we ever fit the shoes we need to fill? I hope one day I can. With a PhD to focus on, the stress is definitely getting to me. But at the end of the day, we can only try our hardest and there is no obligation to be the adult for others. So, as part of this post I want to fill some typical journal prompts. These are mostly ones I’ve found are good for gratitude and self discovery. While life can be a struggle, we just need to remember we can get through this.

List three things you’re grateful for

  • My opportunities.
  • My loving pets.
  • All the leisure items I own.

What can you do to make your day better?

  • Write a blog post.
  • Play some video games.
  • Cuddle a doggo or cat.
  • Read a book.
  • Cook fried chicken.

What’s your focus for today?

Finishing my presentation and getting my dog to the vet.

How will you achieve the tasks you need to?

I will focus on myself with keeping important matters in mind. Although, if it becomes too stressful, I’ll take myself out of the situation as best I can.

I stole most of these from the app stoic, however; they help me gain a sense of direction which is great. Before I finish the post, here’s a quote to keep you thinking.

Thanks for reading!

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Inspiring People

The Importance of Self Care

When our mental health takes a down turn, self care tends to be one of the first things that are effected. Though, this can be detrimental to our mental health in itself. It’s very easy to neglect ourselves and in doing so, we lose sight of who we are.

Recently, I ordered beauty products. I struggle with saving money so I thought I’d regret it, yet I didn’t. The ritual of washing my face and applying toner and serums has brought me more joy than I’ve expected. It’s a great feeling to take care of yourself and I’ve even started to look forward to it. Waking up and seeing my fresh skin everyday feels great. So, why do we stop taking care of ourselves when we feel down?

The effect of neglecting self care

Mental health issues can arise from insecurities and anxiety, in particular, likes to play on these insecurities. For depression, that hopelessness can cause people to shut down and in turn, it’s hard to look at ourselves. So, when we are struggling mentally, we tend to abandon self care routines. But this has the opposite effect in making us feel better.

I understand it’s easy to think focusing on ones looks is superficial. Owning lots of clothes, makeup, skincare or even Botox and cosmetic surgeries can be viewed as a want and not a need. That if we own a lot of these items or do undergo modifications then we must be materialistic and only focus on our looks. Society did a great job at teaching us this. But if we go beyond that view of superficial, we notice that it’s about confidence and feeling comfortable in your own skin.

Confidence

The way we present ourselves not only shows confidence, it makes you feel confident. When we feel confident, we feel comfortable in our own skin. The anxiety about our insecurities can be reduced. And don’t get me wrong, it takes a lot of time to feel confident in yourself. But it’s the steps in self care that eventually lead to this confidence. It’s progression from hating yourself and your body to being in control of how you look and feel. By control, I mean the clothing you wear, the makeup masterpiece you create (makeup is an art), the exercise you do if you want to achieve muscles or even a bigger booty. We have a lot more control in our body than we believe and working for it helps us see that.

The process of working for what we want, shows us we have control in our lives and it aids in the journey to recovery. A lot of the time, I felt like I had no control. While it may not work for everyone, I told myself I did have control and I put the effort into self care to show it and now, I love my body more than ever. Don’t get me wrong, it depends on my mood but overall I’m incredibly proud. I’m hoping to do an update fitness journal soon and share some tips. Regardless, these activities create a sense of control in our lives where we feel there is none.

Self Expression

Both fashion and makeup, are fantastic for self expression. There’s nothing quite like expressing your personality through your sense of style. This can be in the form of cheap or expensive clothing. It doesn’t matter the cost of the material items, what matters is that you are expressing yourself.

Self expression also goes hand in hand with confidence. If you’re expressing yourself, you feel more comfortable and confident. While anxiety can deter this, wear what you’re capable of and feel great doing so. It will take time but the more comfortable you feel, the more likely you’ll be to explore your style.

Where can you start?

I myself don’t know much about skin care. But I know a couple things. One, is that it is by no means suited to only one gender. Men can have a skincare routine and many do. Products don’t discriminate between gender. Secondly, you know your skin the best. If something works, keep it. You can add to it if you’re searching for more. In terms of where to start, r/asianbeauty on reddit has a great skincare guide and you can choose based on your skin type. Asian beauty products are amazing and leave your skin feeling vibrant.

For style, look at what inspires you. Wear what you feel comfortable in but it’s also okay to be brave. You can also look to people who inspire you. This is in terms of style though, a lot of celebrities have unrealistic bodies and please don’t compare your body to theirs. We all have different body shapes and there’s nothing wrong with that. If that’s something that triggers you, be cautious of that.

If exercising is your thing, Chloe Ting on YouTube provides great routines which make you sweat. These videos also help you to gain muscle so I’d definitely recommend them. But even simply going for a walk would count as self care. Walking helps people mentally and physically. Mentally, you can reflect and understand your feelings more. Physically, it gives you some physical activity to keep you healthy.

This post mainly covers physical forms of self care and this is by no means limited. You can also have mental self care and I think I’d like to explore that in its own post.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Poetry

Dejected

I try,

And try,

So, why do I feel as if I come up short?

And, maybe I do.


Maybe….just maybe….

That’s normal.

Opportunities are limited,

And succeeding is rare.


I shouldn’t feel entitled to success.

If anything, I’m entitled to the chance….

The opportunity….

No.

Not everyone has these opportunities I do.


I am privileged.

And so, I should be grateful,

For every single chance I get.

Because there’s others out there,

Who don’t have the options I have.


I am grateful.

If I fail,

I’m allowed to be sad.

What’s forbidden,

Is the expectation of success.


Everyone tries,

And fails.

But, that’s okay.

It makes us work harder,

To be the best we can be.

As humbly as possible.


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diary · mental health · Opinion

Shifting Perspectives – Spirituality

Just a warning, this post talks about death a bit and I understand that it’s a difficult subject to think about.

I am a quite a skeptical person. I’ve always been like that, I just think scientifically. Yet, the more you delve into the science world, the lack of answers give rise to thoughts and questions. As I’ve grown, I think it’s worked in favour of helping me become more in touch with my spirituality. Although, I was raise catholic so that might’ve helped a bit too. Regardless, in this post I want to explore spirituality more and understand it, looking at alternatives to my unanswered questions.

What is there after death?

As a catholic, I’ve always believed in God and heaven, however I have been open to my own interpretation of this. Despite this, there’s still one thing that makes me panic at night because of fear and that is; what if it’s exactly like before I was born? in other words, nothing.

Scientifically, we can analyse the brain after death, measuring its patterns. However, that’s it. We can take accounts from what people have experienced before they’ve been resuscitated but again, that’s it.

Entering into the realm between science and pseudoscience, an interesting concept that has been proposed is quantum consciousness. It’s where the quantum mechanics (nature explained in terms of atoms) is used to explain consciousness. In terms of death, scientists are starting to look into whether this means consciousness is possible after death. Some scientists even think that when a person dies, quantum information can be released into the universe, perhaps indefinitely, like a soul. While it’s controversial to some, it’s great to see that science is becoming more in touch with ideas of spirituality to understand the world around them.

Science definitely doesn’t know the answer to a lot of questions and maybe that’s just it, we need to explore ideas that challenge traditional science.

How does the universe just start expanding?

The beginning of the universe started with a singular point of infinite mass and density, called a singularity. It’s kind of similar to what’s in the middle of black holes. At some point, 13.8 billion years ago, this singular point just started expanding outwards, in all directions. Naturally, questions arise from this theory. What caused this? Why was this singularity here in the first place? And if space time didn’t exist, how was there a singularity there?

Some interesting theories include the multi-verse theory, which involves bubble universes splitting and colliding. Another is the oscillating universe theory, in which a universe expands to the point where it reverses into itself and creates a new one. The issue with all these theories is that there’s no evidence, only hypothesising. So, at what point do we abandon our conventional understanding?

Society has often looked to religion and spirituality to understand the unknown. A physicists and atheist named Alan Lightman describes the idea of splitting the universe into the physical universe and the spiritual universe. Physical being what can be studied and understood; and being the experiences of the universe that aren’t subject to scientific analysis. So, maybe the answers to the greatest questions about the universe and life are in fact, spiritual.

There’s so much left unanswered out there and maybe that’s the points. It’s up to us and our own spirituality to discover this. If our soul does exist indefinitely, then maybe we have a greater role in the universe than anyone can imagine. At the end of the day, whatever our beliefs, it helps us answer the unknown and gives us mental stamina. I know that personally, discovering my own spirituality changed my outlook on life and presented hope where there never was any. So, what’s your perspective in life? What questions do you have that can only be answered by spirituality at this point and how does this effect you mentally? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading!

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Poetry

Just Try

It’s incredibly easy,

To be afraid.

Giving up,

Seems like a good idea.

So, why don’t I?


I can turn around,

Never looking back,

Life would be easy.

But,

Also boring.


Why don’t I give up?

Because I want to follow my dreams.

It may be tough,

But the end is in sight.

The ultimate goal.


Please check out my other blog if you have time! I made it to write about science and my PhD ☺️

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mental health · Uncategorized

Anticipatory Anxiety

Am I the only one who has something to do at the end of the day, so as a result I spend the day thinking about it and waiting so I can finally relax? No? That’s because it’s more common than you think.

For as long as I recall, I have stressed about the events I have to do during the day and I definitely thought I was the only one. But, it turns out theres a term for it; anticipatory anxiety. During this post, I want to explore the definition of it and ways to reduce it’s burden.

Anticipatory Anxiety

Anticipatory anxiety is where a person experiences increased levels of anxiety by thinking about an event or situation in the future. Rather than being a specific disorder in its own right, anticipatory anxiety is a symptom commonly found in a number of anxiety related conditions, such as generalised anxiety.

https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/anxiety-type/anticipatory-anxiety/#:~:text=Anticipatory%20anxiety%20is%20where%20a,conditions%2C%20such%20as%20generalised%20anxiety.

This quote from Anxiety UK sums it up quite well, basically, it’s increased levels of anxiety caused by a future event. Further on, it proceeds to explain that it can be draining for up to months leading up to this event, often causing people worry and anticipate the worst.

For me, I’ve found I experience it mostly on a daily basis and I feel as if I cannot relax until the event has occured, for example, this could be tutoring my student or even my online zoom class. Evidently, its quite a common occurance and can cause people to feel drained during the day. Of course, there’s never a complete treatment, though symptoms can be alleviated. So, let’s get into it.

Reducing Symptoms

I’d just like to clarify, I still experience this quite often, therefore; I’m not enitrely sure if these will work for me but everyone is different. Healing is a journey and now that I have a name for it, I can work towards reducing it. These techniques listed will be sourced from websites dedicated to mental health.

  • Deep breathing. This technique is mean’t to aid in regulating heart beat and assist when hyperventilating. Personally, I feel this would be best during an anxiety attack or panic attack. Although it could help with reducing the increase in heart rate during negative thoughts.
  • Journal writing. Stoic is a good app for this, it is mostly free (10/10 for not putting a high price on mental health). It asks you to fill it out three times a day, however it’s okay if you don’t. Firstly, it will ask how well you slept and how motivated you feel, then it will tell you to identify what you want to focus on today. It proceeds to ask you the single most important thing you need to do and gets you to write what you’re grateful for. There are also breathing and mediation techniques on it. I definitely recommend it!
  • Speak out loud to yourself and shut down the negative thoughts. I’ve done this in the past and it does work quite well. The only issue is it’s a mental battle and sometimes it’s a hard barrier to cross.
  • Reframe your thinking. Again, this is a mental battle. I think it is do-able, however, I feel some people might not be at that stage in their journey to reframe their thinking.
  • Place your attention on the anxiety but don’t judge it. This can aid in the prevention of over-analysing a situation. If no over-analysing occurs, your brain can’t think constantly and panic.

These are just a few techniques that can help, again, it depends on the person. Mental health is journey and it’s important to find what works best for you.

Thanks for reading! Also be sure to check out my science blog if you have time! That Hipster Scientist

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References:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/debunking-myths-the-mind/201101/anticipatory-anxiety-the-suffering-and-solutions

https://www.verywellmind.com/anticipatory-anxiety-and-panic-disorder-2584252

Review

The Queens Gambit Will Bring a Smile to Your Face

I put off watching this show for a while. I thought it looked boring and I couldn’t be bothered getting worked up about feminist issues right now (there’s too much going on right now). However, I gave it a chance and actually enjoyed it quite a lot. It was so much more than about chess and feminism, it was about growing up too fast, having a bad family background, being an orphan, depression, alcoholism and coming out of it all triumphant. In this post I want to discuss the show and the amazing message behind it. There will be spoilers so beware please!

Some Background:

The Queens Gambit is about a girl who goes to live in an orphanage after her parents die. Elizabeth (Beth) Harmon is then discretely taught chess by a janitor in the basement of the orphanage. Eventually she gets adopted, by a husband and wife. The Wife’s name is Mrs. Alma Wheatley and I don’t remember the husbands name but he then abandons his wife, as well as his newly adopted daughter. Mrs. Wheatley and Beth hatch a plan. They decide to pretend Beth is sick so she can compete in chess competitions. Beth is incredibly good at chess and is considered a child prodigy. The rest of the story is about Beths journey to become the worlds top chess champion. Along the way; her mother dies due to alcoholism, Beth herself goes through alcoholism and drug addiction, she also encounters people along the way, hurting them but ultimately they support her in the end. So, let’s get into the reasons why this show was fantastic.

A Chess Girl’s Place in the World

Beth is a complex character and she’s written incredibly well. Throughout the show, I noticed her personality was a bit robotic. She doesn’t show emotion quite the same as others and I think that stemmed from her troubled childhood. Despite this, she was very susceptible to peer pressure and even taking on the habits other people taught her. In one scene, she’s at a party and they talk about boys, asking her if she’s taken interest in or even slept with any boys that she’s played against. Already we can see her place in the world. She doesn’t quite fit in with other girls her age nor with the boys. As a result? She feels the need to sleep with a guy to have that sense that she fits in with both of these genders. As with most teenagers pressured into sex at a young age, she didn’t enjoy it, even asking if the guy was finished yet during sex. I think this is something we can all relate to, not specifically in such a way, but the peer pressure to fit in. This show demonstrates another aspect of sexism, from being a female in a male dominated world to having female ideals pushed on her due to living in a patriarchal society. Because god forbid a woman enter a male dominated profession without fraternising with them. This show comments on feminism in a different way to a lot of shows I’ve seen. It does it subtly. From Beths style and elegance in such a male dominated world to her intelligence. She isn’t afraid to be smart and she does this without emphasising her gender (not that there is an issue with that). Beth draws attention to her intelligence through skill and the way she articulates language. I think it’s important to understand a feminist can express their feminism in different ways and my favourite way is to unapologetically be yourself.

Battling Addiction

As we progress further into Beths world, we see her rise up in the chess world and watch her mother delve deeper into alcoholism. Beths mother was supportive, yet she didn’t act like a mother at times. It made me challenge my idea of motherhood. Alma and Beths relationship was very much a partnership in which she was like Beths manager. But regardless, they spent a lot of time together and when a man stepped into the pictures, it felt like there was jealousy on Beths part. When Beths mother died, that was when we glimpsed her first step into alcoholism. She toasted the spot her mother was supposed to be sitting with a martini on the plane. It showed that she needed to drink to cope with stress and sadness. While she progressively became better at chess, she enlisted a guy named Benny to help her. She was drinking at this point by Benny helped her to reduce her intake. What threw her into a horrible bender was Bennys friend, Alice. Beth met up with her the night before an important match and as a result, entered the match hung over. The defeat made her addiction spiral.

Addiction is an ugly thing to battle. A downward fall is hard to escape and she couldn’t. Those around her weren’t able to help because she wasn’t accepting aid. That all changed when an old friend (Jolene) resurfaced, to tell her the janitor (Mr Shaibel) who taught her to play chess had died. Jolene brought her to that orphanage and when Beth saw the newspaper clippings of herself hung on the wall, that is when she changed. For me, this was symbolic that she needed someone to be proud of her, because she screwed up so immensely. The fact that it was Mr Shaibel is what mattered. The person who taught her the thing she loved. The childhood dream had re-awoken and the path she had lost was cleared. There’s a scene in which the press are asking her for a statement about a match in the Russian chess tournament. At first, she wasn’t going to say anything, her bodyguard turns and says she should make a statement about America (he was with the NSA I think). Instead she tells them about Mr Shaibel, a janitor who taught her to play chess – and the crowd is shocked that a janitor could do such a thing. She held an enormous amount of respect for this man and returning to her beginnings helped her to come out of the addiction she was trapped in. He helped her even in death. We all face these moments in life, where we’ve had such defeat that it seems like there’s no hope. Like we are alone and lost. Some can turn to substance abuse and that’s hard to come out of. I think this message is extremely important, but that’s not my favourite part of it.

Wholesome Endings

Now, we’ve reached the end. Endings are often bittersweet for me, but I absolutely loved this one. Beth went off to Russia to face the Worlds best chess player in his home country. She got there with a stranger as her body guard (this was set during the Cold War) and she played without drugs or alcohol. Then a friend appeared. Someone from the past, who I haven’t mentioned because like many of us, she had friends whom she lost. They reunited and sorted out their mistakes. Then Benny reappeared in her life, with an (ex-lover who helped her with chess) and a group of people she had become acquainted with. These people reappeared through a phone call and they wanted to help her win and they succeeded. Brainstorming strategies collectively and going through them with her. So, why do I love this ending so much? These people who she thought she lost re-appeared in her life wanting to help her achieve her dreams and through letting them help, she did. They had witnessed her worst, and even her maturing into an adult. They still wanted to help her fulfil her dream and the best part is she let them. Instead of using the alcohol or pills, she let her friends help her and that is amazing character development. I think at times society underestimates the powers of friendship. There’s a stigma that emotions and feelings are meant for romantic relationships. One should be comfortable expressing thoughts and feelings with friends. It’s okay to let see you at your worst. Friends who ignore that aren’t the ones you want in your life. Friends who let you be you and let you grow if need be. Space is fine too, as long as there’s growth. So, this is why I love the ending. Friendship is powerful. A romantic partner isn’t always going to save you. That takes coming to terms with oneself and letting the right people in. Obviously it’s easier said than done, but the journey is a process most people go through in life.

The very last scene was Beth, telling her body guard she wanted to walk to the airport. She walked through an area with old men playing chess. They recognised her and wanted to play with her. Beth was happy and she was making other people happy while doing what she loved.

Thanks for reading everyone! This show demonstrated so many topics but at the very end it was wholesome and inspiring. I wanted to write a review because this is the first show that has left me smiling in a while. I hope you can watch it!

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Poetry

Who Am I?

My morals guide me.

Be kind,

Don’t hurt others,

And the most important,

Be a good person.


These morals are inferior.

They don’t take so many things into account.

Yet,

Day after day,

These principles guide me.

The result?

I end up at the bottom.


My morals were created by fairy tales,

By organised religion designed to oppress.

I say that,

But is that really so?

Did trauma really have no part?

Hate and anger for the world fuelled me.

Now,

I refuse.


And so, when these morals are questioned.

I step back,

Thinking,

‘Who am I?’


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Uncategorized

Normalising Mental Health

Tiktok has been a great platform for education on many topics, one of which being mental health. It’s fantastic that it’s becoming more normalised in…

Normalising Mental Health

This is a repost because the WordPress app keeps glitching on me. For some reason it posts my scheduled posts a month earlier if I’m not extra vigilant. As a result it gets less reads, which can be disheartening when you work hard on it and WordPress stuffs up. Also if anyone knows how to fix this problem please let me know!