When all falls to shit, go back to square 1

The best thing to do when you’re too busy is also the simplest and quickest: take a breath and return to your body. Maintaining your focus on your breath brings you back into the present moment, grounding you in reality.

Often we seek relief from our stress and anxiety through escapism: entertainment, distraction and aversion. However, these only address the symptoms and set us up for a harder fall next time. Dealing with stress and anxiety is a skill best practiced now. Here’s how:

Generating a healthy body is fast

One of the greatest benefits of returning to your body is that you feel results immediately. If you are low on energy from the processed snack bars you’ve been substituting for meals, make the next thing you eat a banana. What can you eat now that will nourish your body? If you don’t like bananas, find something else that you enjoy.  A healthy body is created from the inside-out.

A rule I’ve used lately to choose foods good for me is: if it’s advertised on TV, I’m not eating it. As a result of industrialization, our supermarkets are abundant with edible substances but, sadly, not food. Many food manufacturers (of which is a suspicious label to begin with) highlight their content of nutrients. Although it’s obvious that we all need nutrients and some foods are more desirable than others, consider that many of these “nutrients” are derived artificially. If no two things in this world are different, then consider the difference between an apple with another apple and an apple with an apple product (not the computers). When you eat a real apple you get these “nutrients” and vitamins in a specific process. Your body breaks down the apple  in a certain way because the apple’s chemical structure is designed in a way that releases at certain times within your digestive tract. When you eat an apple oatmeal bar, you only get an extracted (often miniscule) portion of apple and a lot of filler.

Of course not everything advertised on TV is bad for your health, but enough is for the rule to function. Be conscious and mindful with your food choices. If you can’t afford to buy organic produce, grow your own or buy the healthiest you can.

Get some sleep

Feeling tired after a long day at work? Catch up with a nap. Sleep is the master key to a healthy life. An adequate sleep allows you to live through each day with more alertness and higher awareness which leads to a better memory due to your higher level of attention. You will put yourself in an optimal position to delegate tasks with efficiency and depth leaving you satisfied and energized.

Would you be more productive if you got the extra 15 minutes of sleep or not? Learn how your body reacts to different amounts of sleep and go with what works for you. Wake up when you’re alert and go to bed when you’re tired.

Write a Journal

If you are feeling emotionally drained or taxed from the demands of day-to-day correspondence, make writing in your journal one of the first things on your list to do when you get home. Feel free to give yourself a limit if you’re strapped for time, also. Set a timer for 20 minutes if that’s all you have. Often all I need is less than 15 minutes anyway. Spew out the messy details of the day if you have to. Like with an essay, the first step – drafting – is meant for mistakes and confused communication anyway – that’s how you know you’re thinking! Once it is outside of you then can you focus on sections for clarity.

Make a private blog on WordPress or Blogspot. Just because your blog is online does not mean it has to be public. From my experience, I can type a lot faster than I can handwrite  – which is paramount for keeping track of fast, streaming thoughts.

Also, sometimes feelings and thoughts take time to clarify. Have you lost a job or experienced a break-up and felt many conflicting feelings at once? Feelings come and go, and thoughts are forgotten. It’s good to have somewhere to keep track of them.  Personally I use The Journal. It lets me search up old entries and keywords and is password-locked so I know I can be totally private. It’s a huge relief to know you can be private with the most important person in the world: yourself!

Conclusion

To help you must first be in a position to help. This means that if someone is in a burning building and cannot walk out, you must have the ability to go in there and get them out – otherwise you risk unnecessary danger to yourself. Sometimes life feels like a burning building. That is okay. First you must get into a position of helping yourself (by realizing you are in a burning building), then find a way out. Then you can use the way you got out to help others get out.

Need answers? Look within you.

Do you know how to cry?

Do you know how to cry?

My 100-level Psychology professor knew how to cry. He was the most real, genuine person I’d ever met; you could never accuse him of being fake. It’s extraordinary and humbling to be in the classroom of somebody who knows and is himself. It’s shocking and revealing when he tells you he cries.

The Benefits of Crying

Crying allows you to experience and release emotions that have cluttered your subconscious and, perhaps, have been ignored. It is not necessary to be overwhelmed or overcome by emotions to cry, but I believe that the most comforting cry requires confrontation and honesty. You must face your emotions and fears with fire in your eyes, or curiosity on your face – but for you to understand or learn anything about yourself, you must acknowledge and face what you feel.

In my experience, crying allows my heart to open rather than close. I must be vulnerable and exposed. Crying is a symbolic stretching of myself where I end up bigger because of it. Have you ever woken up in the middle of night with tears streaming down your cheeks and felt a cathartic hollowness – but not emptiness – in the centre of your chest? That is the feeling of being completely vulnerable. If you have felt this before, you must know how good it can feel to cry.

Kahlil Gibran said in his book The Prophet: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?” Through the pain and hardship of life, we are able to forge peace and understanding. Life is not one extreme or another but a balance. To reject sorrow is to reject joy as both are two parts of an entire whole.

Society

Society tells us many things about crying. As men we are told never to cry in public (let alone cry at all); that crying disgraces the family; that crying means you are weak. As women we are told that we cry too much; that we are being emotional; that it does not solve our problems. However, society has not lost a loved one nor experienced the sting of hatred.

Society is afraid. The example my Psychology professor used to explain this was when his dog died. He was at the veterinarian clinic and the attendant asked if he would like to take a back route out of the building as he cried. How horrible is that? He just lost someone he loved and society wanted to save him embarrassment.

When to Cry

At the most basic level, crying was our way to communicate our needs as an infant. As an adult, we learn that it is a way for our bodies to express sadness or gratitude. When we feel overwhelmed and helpless our natural response is to cry. This is how we express our need for help, love and attention. To treat a wound you must know where it is.

Up to a certain point I cry because it hurts and it hurts because I cry. Pain is not negative by itself, rather it is a part of life. Pain is uncomfortable but pain is also a part of growth. Feeling pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong; numbing the pain with medication or ignoring it only removes it from the visibility of your consciousness to the dimness of your subconscious. The best remedies treat the symptoms and the cause.

It takes courage to cry. It takes strength to let down your guard and expose yourself. The time to cry is when you need to. One of the worst feelings in the world is to want to cry but not have the ability to.

To cry is to give yourself permission to heal and grow.