As a person who suffers from anxiety, I am always on the hunt for new ways to deal with unpleasant symptoms. Sure, the traditional routes of speaking with a therapist, contacting a friend, and using CBT workbooks have helped me make great improvements, but it never hurts to expand your toolkit.
This year, one of the goals I set for myself was finding ways to independently conquer my fears. Attempting to self-soothe when I'm alone and don't have the mental energy to complete exercises at home left me yearning for more options.
Naturally, as a writer and avid reader, I set my sights on the bookstore. I've always been wary of self-help books and found that the positive effects wane shortly after reading the last chapter. I had a list of my favorite quotes, affirmations, and inspiring speeches on hand in case of emergencies, but I was in search of something life-changing. I did a deep dive into books on religion, performing arts, spirituality, philosophy, and psychiatry.
A universal truth that was communicated throughout almost all of the works I read was that the person most equipped to guide you towards an anxiety-free future is yourself.
I'll admit that no matter how close I've gotten to my therapist, family, or friends, there are just some things I am taking to the grave! However, being brutally honest with myself has some perks that have allowed me to work towards a better version of myself in the comfort of my own home. I've learned these skills from a few non-traditional self-help books.
These 4 books have stuck with me throughout the years. Words from each chapter have sat in the back of my mind, silently working their magic and allowing me to become a more positive, open-minded individual.
I love a sturdy hardcover or paperback edition, but I love this book so much that I also have it in eBook form so I can access it anywhere. The author, Anthony De Mello, was a Jesuit priest with refreshingly progressive views. He believed that the cause of anxiety stemmed from rigid beliefs and the unwillingness to examine them.
"There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them."
Awareness is chock-full of funny anecdotes from De Mello's own life. One common theme throughout the book is that people's interpretations of a situation are a direct result of their conditioning and current disposition.
"If you find me charming, it means that right now you're in a good mood, nothing more."
"We see people and things not as they are, but as we are."
At less than 200 pages, Awareness is a quick and insightful read that can increase self-awareness while providing a few laughs along the way.
‘The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself’ by Michael A. Singer
I was sold on this book from the title of the first chapter alone ("The Voice Inside Your Head"). This lighthearted spirituality-based book is paced perfectly which ultimately leads to the shocking revelation that you have complete control of your annoying "inner roommate". Nope, I don't mean the person who you go half on rent and utilities, I'm talking about your constant internal dialogue.
"There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it"
It doesn't stop at acquiring self-awareness for Singer, he takes it a step further by showing you how to serve your annoying roommate an eviction notice.
"When a problem is disturbing you, don't ask, 'What should I do about it?' Ask, 'What part of me is being disturbed by this?'
Much like De Mello, Singer wants you to challenge your beliefs instead of suppressing negative feelings. You'll find that approaching problems that way helps resolve minor issues almost instantly. Now that you've shown negativity the door, you can choose which thoughts you want to engage with or let go of because:
"The truth is that most of life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside your control, regardless of what your mind says about it."
The Good Copy
Although Bird by Bird is partly a book geared toward improving writing skills, Lamott's advice can be used by anyone regardless of their chosen field. Especially because the author believes the best work comes from people who write for themselves. She gives practical advice that is often overlooked in a society that praises ambition at the risk of your mental health. There is absolutely nothing wrong with competing in a race to the top, but enjoying the journey would certainly make it more fulfilling spiritually and financially.
"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out."
Whether you might be anxious to pick up a new hobby or change careers, Lamott's best advice is simply to get started without worrying about how others might perceive your actions.
"Don't look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance."
The most badass thing about Karen Horney's studies is that she challenged Sigmund Freud's views on feminine psychology which she criticized for being wide off the mark. She directly responded to some of his most popular theories in her book aptly titled Feminine Psychology.
As a psychoanalyst whose career began in the early 1900s, Horney is not for the faint of heart. However, Neurosis and Human Growth break the human psyche down in layman's terms. This classic self-help book will leave your jaw on the floor.
"The neurotic, as long as he must adhere to his illusions about himself, cannot recognize limitations, the search for glory goes into the unlimited. Because the main goal is the attainment of glory, he becomes uninterested in the process of learning, of doing, or of gaining step by step — indeed, tends to scorn it. He does not want to climb a mountain; he wants to be on the peak. Hence he loses the sense of what evolution or growth means, even though he may talk about it. Because, finally, the creation of the idealized self is possible only at the expense of truth about himself, its actualization requires further distortions of truth, imagination being a willing servant to this end."
At times, some passages hit too close to home but also reminded me that the anxieties we deal with today are far from unique.
"It is naturally a sign of inner liberation when a patient can squarely recognize his difficulties and take them with a grain of humor. But some patients at the beginning of analysis make incessant jokes about themselves or exaggerate their difficulties in so dramatic a way that they will appear funny, while they are at the same time absurdly sensitive to any criticism. In these instances, humor is used to take the sting out of otherwise unbearable shame."
Her scientific but simple approach to self-analysis differs only in delivery from De Mello, Singer, and Lamott's, but the lesson is the same. It's always great to maintain a variety of resources for mental wellness, and self-analysis shouldn't be used in lieu of professional help. But take pride in knowing that you are the most valuable resource when it comes to overcoming any obstacle.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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