“I need to write. It keeps me focused for long enough to complete thoughts. To let each train of thought run to its conclusion and let a new one begin. It keeps me thinking. I’m afraid that if I stop writing I’ll stop thinking and start feeling.” ― Carrie Fisher, The Princess Diarist
“I need to write. It keeps me focused for long enough to complete thoughts. To let each train of thought run to its conclusion and let a new one begin. It keeps me thinking. I’m afraid that if I stop writing I’ll stop thinking and start feeling.”
― Carrie Fisher, The Princess Diarist

What’s In My Cup: Earl Grey (Davids Tea) with a little soy milk

As I write this I still feel wary about doing so. Like there will be some kind of negative response to being open about anxiety and such, though that did not (at of the time I am writing this) happen with the last time (the first time) I spoke about it. If you are interested in reading it, and have not read it yet, you can find my letter to my anxiety here.

I think something important to talk about, for me at least, is how I work to calm myself down when I start feeling anxious. Hopefully, I can talk myself down long enough until things pass, although things can become overwhelming at times.

So here we go.

The Tassels

For as long as I can remember, I have had some kind of attachment to tassels. When I was little, my blanket had them. Now, I buy tassels from the fabric store. I have them with me just about all the time, normally in my purse or pocket, unless they are in my hands. It seems odd, I know, but hear me out. I do not know why, but the feeling of the tassels between my fingers is instantly calming. Sometimes I run them through my fingers absentmindedly, but if I ever feel overwhelming panic coming on…instant calming strategy. The only issue is if I cannot find them exactly when I need them.

Reading

You know, reading is very effective if I am looking to forget about something for a little while. All I need to do is find a good book and curl up with it. Sometimes even revisiting my favourite reads is helpful. The comfort of something familiar, right? I often turn to the Harry Potter series or The Lord of the Rings, which are at the top of my all-time favourites list. Reading, unlike some of the other things on this list, is not a crisis measure. It is simply something I love to do, and as such has a good effect on my mood.

Writing

Another comfort mechanism for me, of course, is writing. Whether it is blog posts or a novel (which I swear I am working on, life just gets in the way sometimes), writing is definitely a release. I would tell you more about the genres I like to write in, or what works the best, but a lot of that would require spoilers and I would like to hold out hope I will end up publishing novels in the future.

Tea

Tea is perhaps the ultimate comfort beverage. You may argue that hot chocolate would work well, and this is true, however it can also result in guilt since there is a lot of sugar involved. Tea, on the other hand, does not have this. It can, of course, if you put lots of sugar in your tea, but I personally put nothing in it for the majority of the time. I will occasionally put a splash of soy milk in my tea, like I did today, or some honey if I am sick. Apart from this, I just drink it straight. It is a great way to calm and focus on simple things. Who doesn’t love a hot beverage, after all? Isn’t that what you give people who are upset? My favourite blend is Earl’s Valentine from DavidsTea, though I am running out of my stash. Right now, that means it is relegated as “bringing out the big guns.” I love classic Earl Grey as well, but fingers crossed I get my wish for Valentine’s Day. (Update: I did.)

Family and Friends

How could I not put my loved ones on this list? I call my parents just about every day, even if it is to talk about nothing in particular. I also have friends who offer amazing support, particularly my three closest friends, even if sometimes they do not realize it. Simply talking to the people I care about helps me. Even if I do not feel bad at the time, the talk often provides me with fuel I can use when I am feeling bad to help reign myself in.

Music

I cannot work without something playing in the background. Sometimes this is a television show or movie, if I have seen it before, but more often than not I am listening to music. The result is I have a huge music library. It is a great way to keep myself focused on the work. Music also helps me keep my thoughts from spiraling out of control, particularly if I am able to create a story for myself. Recently, I have discovered that violin music (like Vitamin String Quartet and Lindsey Stirling) is particularly good at calming me down if I need to focus or am feeling anxious.

Celebrity

I do not mean this one in a way that I am obsessed with celebrities. I would not stalk them for an autograph, nor do I mind about who they may or may not be dating. They are real people, just like you and me. They simply happen to live their lives in the public eye. No, a lot of the time their characters are the ones who play the biggest role for me. It could be that I identify with a particular character, which can often make me feel better or provide me with a new perspective. It is hard to see things clearly when you are in the middle of it, right? A new perspective may be all I need.

Sometimes it is more than just their characters, though this is a rare occurrence for me. It could be that the celebrity is open about their experiences or fights for something in a way that connects. This, for instance, is part of why I really love Carrie Fisher. Yes, her role as Princess Leia is amazing and does have an influence (a strong woman, right?), but her story as a real human is more to me than that.

In my opinion, the celebrities who really show they care about their fans are the best and have the most positive effect. I have one specific personal example, though I am sure there are many others, depending on the person. I have a picture on my wall I got at FanExpo Canada. It is of me, my friend Emma, and John Barrowman. Shortly after they took that picture, Emma and I went to wait in John’s autograph line. We had a few good conversations with other people in line, and got to witness something really great just before we got to meet John properly. You can read more about this experience on my post The 21st Century Is When Everything Changes.

This can explain a little more about how much he cares about his fans. I know this because of that day, plus because of the picture on my wall. He personalized the autograph with my name and included “love you” on it. I know the love is meant for all his fans, because if you follow him at all you know he does care. But you know, sometimes when I am not having a good day, when I am anxious, feeling down, I can struggle to believe that people care about me. I may not even believe my friends do! I often hear “they are obligated to care” when a situation arises. However, I have looked at that photo and autograph a few times and felt calmer. For that, I am grateful. I do not fully know why it works, but it does for me. That’s what matters.

 

What calms you down when things get out of hand? I want to hear from all of you, regardless of your specific situation. Do you share any of the same methods as me? What is your favourite thing to do when you are down? And, just in case you need it right now, I want you to know…you are awesome.

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