I’M BACK! Listen, guys. Vacation is a MUST. We didn’t go anywhere, and it. was. glorious. I had the best time ever sitting on my couch, watching The West Wing, and playing with my nephew, whose current obsessions include the handle to their balcony door, drinking water out of a glass, and eating my yogurt so quickly I barely eat any myself.
In the spirit of rejuvenation, this post came to mind. I’ve written before about tools that help me and my anxiety checklist, and I still use a lot of those things on both of those. I wanted to give you an updated list of gear, strategies, and reminders; please note this is NOT a comprehensive list of everything I’ve tried (though I could do that if you guys are into that sort of thing). This is a list of what I’m using currently.
- THE BEST YOGA APP, down dog.
- As always, my Manduka eKO mat for every day practice at home.
- Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Mat for when we’re not road tripping and I can’t throw my regular mat in the trunk of the car.
- Gaiam Yoga Blocks, which have totally changed my practice.
- A Gaiam Yoga Strap, which has also totally changed my practice.
- Nike Zoned Sculpt leggings, which are high-waisted(!), have the perfect amount of give, and moisture-wicking so that even in the summer I don’t have a pool of crotch sweat. (Tip: if you buy them on ebay they’re usually WAY less expensive.)
- A rosin bag, which keeps me from slipping. Downward Dog feels totally different. It’s amazing.
- Manduka mat wash in lavender. This stuff is great and cleans off the rosin and sweat like a dream.
- Still a big fan of Headspace. Though I don’t meditate every day, when I’m having trouble getting to sleep or starting to feel my heartbeat race, I breathe the way it teaches (count odd numbers on inhales, even on exhales, up to ten). I also use their SOS pack(3 minute meditations) every time the breathing doesn’t do the trick, and it’s super helpful. Just hearing someone else’s voice kind of takes me out of my own headspace(pun not intended, sorry) for a bit.
- Grounding. When I feel my heartbeat speed up or the nausea start to creep in, I ground myself: I list four things I can see, three I can touch and their texture, two I can hear, one I can smell. If I still need time to calm down, then I do that in a round robin: four I can touch, three I can hear, two I can smell, one I can see, and so on until I’m calm or back to the original sequence.
- Keeping a gratitude journal. I did this for a while when the dude and I first started dating, but I stopped when we moved in together because, I don’t know. I spent Christmas break decorating a new one this year, complete with original illustrations by Bird taped in every ten pages or so. I color one of these every so often, and it’s a nice surprise when I reach one. Each night I list three things about the day that I’m grateful for. They can be as broad as “the dude” or as tiny as “that one tooth my nephew has that sticks out of his top gums”. In the back, I have a tracker for my symptoms and activities. I did a similar thing before with the Symple app, but I found it difficult to look at the data and find patterns, I think because the retrospective view didn’t have the dates attached, so I felt like I was just kind of guessing.
Physical symptoms gear
- Can we just talk about ginger pills for a second? Because THEY. ARE. AMAZING. Seriously. They’re totally natural(obvs), and I carry them with me everywhere, because they work in less than 15 minutes. There was a time in my life when I lived on coffee and Tums (ugh, breakups), and I could never get that chalky taste out of my mouth enough to want to eat anything. With a ginger pill, the next food times that rolls around I’m like “where’s my burger? Give me all of the things to eat”, which is great because the whole loss-of-appetite-when-stressed cycle is the worst. (PS that’s been scientifically explained.)
- Coloring! Seriously. I get super into it. At home I generally prefer analog coloring, so I have a big set of colored pencils, and I like this book, this one, and this one. For digital/on-the-go coloring, I like the Colorfy app and Coloring Book for Me, which has some weird hipster pictures that are hilarious. Both of those are a tad annoying in that there’s not quite enough available on the free version, and the subscriptions feel weirdly expensive. But for the amount that I use it, I can live with that.
- Cross-stitching. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I’m totally into it. I’ve made a bunch of little stuff, and also some giant projects: a solar system for my nephew, a super intricate double-exposure portrait of Matthew Mcconaughey from the True Detective titles, and my current project, which is a complicated gift for my mom that I can’t talk about (hi Mom!). I like this hobby because it gives me something to do with my hands, it helps me feel productive(they’re great gifts), and it feeds part of my creative side. Plus, I have a bunch of my grandma’s old embroidery thread and every time I use some of it it makes me smile and think of her.
Things I want to try
- A weighted blanket. I’m just starting to think about this, so I don’t know it I’ll end up making my own or just buying one. (UPDATE #1: I’m totally going to make my own.) But I think this would be really nice for when I need some comfort but also want to be alone. (UPDATE #2: I had kind of a fragile day on Sunday and I totally wanted this. I could just feel myself craving that touch and comfort and weight.)
- A massage every month. I’ve gotten them sporadically in the past, but usually I’ve just scheduled them for whenever my breaks in school are. A massage is the only thing in my life where I get to be completely and totally selfish and also not put in any effort. This is important. I want to try to get one every month because it really does help with anxiety, and I’m curious about what life is like with relief like that in it consistently.