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We all like standing out at certain points in our life. There’s something satisfying about being recognized when something good happens or we get embraced for being unique. But deeply ingrained in human behavior is also a desire to be accepted on common ground and have others relate to us. The security and strength we find in fitting in is something we seek by nature and unfortunately that’s especially true when it comes to negatives.
We live in a world populated by billions of living beings, but at the same time we’re born into the world being obsessed with ourselves and seldom grow completely out of putting ourselves as first priority. With that mindset it can be easy to frame our daily experiences in a bubble and forget that there are billions of people around us living their lives. For most, being alone in a victory is no problem but in comparison when we are having a negative experience seemingly alone it can be a completely different experience. It can get dramatic and while we frame it in a bubble we forget to look outside ourselves and gain true perspective.
I’m personally no stranger to bad things happening. I’ve always had pretty poor luck in the health department and a lot of it hit me hard and fast. What helped me start changing my perspective was when my mother told me to consider that everyone has something. That’s not meant to be a depressing thing really. It’s more of a way to ground yourself during tough times. When you think about the issues you’re having in a sort of concentrated state it can make the problem seem bigger than it actually is or give you a little too much room to ruminate on it and inflate it to an unrealistic proportion.
When I really thought about it from that different perspective, I realized what it truly meant was that every person has personal struggles they’re coping with on a daily basis. Some of them might be worse off then you and some might be close to being in the same boat as you. It made me stop and realize that it wasn’t all about me and I wasn’t the only person in the world dealing with a difficult situation. It made it somehow lighter to realize the world wasn’t just hammering down on me while everyone else was fine and it forced me to leave the personal bubble I was in.
When we really think about solving a problem or moving on from a rut,it adds weight and intensity when we come from a mindset of fighting alone. Realizing you aren’t alone in struggling with life helps you reach a point where you can breathe and recover. It’s encouraging because it helps you realize you aren’t alone and there is a way out. So the first step to overcoming your heavy burden may just be realizing others are carrying burdens and making life happen around you. Don’t consider it mass misery but rather find the solidarity and strength in the human race’s ability to make it and make it work for you.
When bad things happen it makes perfect sense to be a little down about it. Finding positives in a negative situation is a challenge for a lot of us and no amount of intelligence,strength, or resources can change that fact. Once you gain perspective you will be initially left with a still existing problem and an unclear idea of how to address it. But improving your outlook is a really a perspective flip away.
People who are successful in life don’t get that way out of denial. They get through with a sense of realism and determination. Turning negatives into positives is a choice and an effort. It’s not something that will come overnight or easily. It’s something you have to want,commit to, and work toward. Any negative experience we have can also be translated into a chance to learn and grow. Instead of being depressed about being ill you gain strength finding new ways to live well and meet your goals. Instead of seeing debt as the end of the world you can look at it as a chance to learn a better way to handle your money so when you work your way out of that hole it doesn’t happen again. Instead of seeing an ended relationship as an emotional crisis you can see it as an opportunity to reassess your relationship goals and the person you find most ideal.
When we try to seek value in our negative experiences it changes the perspective of the situation as a whole. It will still be hard and it will still take time and patience to recover but it means when you do recover you come out with thicker skin and a fresh outlook.
When we have problems it is instinctual to seek information and answers. But what really matters is where we’re seeking those answers. We live in a world with a lot of technology readily available so it is very common to turn to a thing before a person when we need to accomplish something. But your biggest downfall when dealing with a problem may be asking Google instead of a human being.
The people around you are dealing with things just like you are and a lot of them have possibly been through things and learned things that you can benefit from. The value in how a person finds solutions is that the human mind isn’t controlled by a programmed algorithm. Humans can listen and advise in a dynamic and emotional manner. They can truly engage you and that makes a big difference. A machine can’t process an experience like a person, so relying on it to advise you on personal problems can result in a lot of disappointment.
But asking for help can be a challenge for a lot of people. We live in a society that stresses success and independence so having to humble yourself and ask for advice can be a tough pill to swallow. Key to becoming an adult is getting to a point where you realize you can’t be a one-man band. There’s absolutely no shame in needing help from others and the amount of wisdom languishing around you while you cradle your personal pride in your arms is worth a lot more than getting it done without reaching out for help.
Next time you have a tough situation to turn around, don’t Google it and don’t ask Siri. Once you learn to recognize that there are billions of rich resources of wisdom and experience co-existing around you,you can begin appreciating the strength and support that can be found in actually engaging other people and turn your problems around in a much more timely and satisfying manner.
We’ve all heard the saying that misery loves company and that can be a very real situation when we’re dealing with problems. The tendency to want to vent isn’t really the difficult part but what we often don’t do as readily is get the full experience of sharing our thoughts and problems with another person. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with venting our problems but what we want to avoid is transferring our problems and not using the experience to work toward a solution.
Much like when we talk at and not to a person, we instinctively vent our problems in a manner that is self-serving. We want to complain and we want to spread how bad we feel but we don’t always stop to let the other person weigh in or give advice. If no exchange occurs than you are in fact not having a conversation and that’s demeaning to the other person. All it really accomplishes is spreading the negative emotions and you walk away still having a a problem.
One of the things to consider next time you want to vent is how bad it feels to not be listened to. Doing a wrongful act toward another person won’t make you feel better or solve your problem. Instead, try to adopt a new approach. If you’re going through a tough time, don’t just dump on another human being as your first instinct. Carefully consider who to talk to and make an effort to engage the person. It’s not all about you. That person is also investing their time and energy to listen to you so make sure you convey your appreciation and respect for that.
If the person offers advice, the polite and mature thing is to listen to it. Consider it and do what you want with it later but for the time being you need to respect the person enough to listen and be open-minded. Real conversations foster growth and learning so you might be surprised how venting in the midst of real dialogue can actually improve how you feel and possibly get you closer to a resolution.
Misery and company don’t have to go together. Learning to see the positives in our negative experiences and growing from them can make your next ordeal not the end of the world. Likewise, accepting that you aren’t the only one suffering in the world and respecting the battles the people around you are fighting can give you the right perspective to stop spreading misery and start sharing wisdom. One of the greatest things we can do as people is be there for each other so next time you’re frustrated at how bad luck is singling you out,try broadening that horizon and finding strength in the human experience before you rush to drag someone down with you.
Have you ever been called weird? Have you ever called another thing or person weird? The dictionary defines weird as being of strange or extraordinary character but how often do we question the other perspective. How often do we think about what it really means to be normal?
It seems like we live in a world where it appears relatively easy and natural to point out what we deem abnormal so you would think we have a pretty solid idea of what normal is. The dictionary defines normal as conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern. So what is the standard for normal? Is there a standard for normal? While we can all agree that normalcy is a valid state of affairs I think it would be impossible to get matching answers on what defines a person or thing as normal.
But like most words, normal does mean what it means. Likewise and still in line with words, that meaning is also dynamically interpreted person to person. In the same sense that we all think differently, we all build our own standards for normal over time. Those standards are built on a basis of life experiences,environment, and opinion. But this is only one part of looking at what the true meaning of normalcy is.
When we think about normal we need to consider there are two varieties of normal. There’s a subjective normal and an objective normal. Objectively there are a number of things most people can agree are normal or abnormal. These situations are ones based on laws,economic standards,verified facts, or the base nature of something. For instance, if you’re on a two lane highway and someone is driving the opposite direction of the one specified for a lane it is abnormal because a concrete law is in place. If a woman goes into a men’s room it’s abnormal because the door and basic social practice tells us which restroom is appropriate.
But what about subjective normal? Not every situation is fully governed by something concrete and that’s where we substitute our personal definition of normal to fill the gap. Our personal sense of normal changes based on where we are, who we’re with, and even smaller factors like weather or what day it is. In other words, our scale for what rates as normal constantly evolves to suit our immediate circumstances. An example of this would be what you consider normal in your home environment and around more intimate company is completely unique from what you see as normal in your workplace and around colleagues.
But the real magic and what truly constitutes as your normal is the unique way those two aspects mingle. Like the right and left hemispheres of the human brain running in harmony, our definition of normal is a unique intermingling of our objective and subjective standards, resulting in our unique and one-of-a-kind viewpoint of normal. So next time you move to point out something abnormal in your environment,stop and think. It may seem perfectly natural to judge something we consider out of place but in perspective it can be a lot more interesting and accurate to look at it as just a different variation of normal.
So maybe you can accept that normal isn’t a completely concrete standard but the next question is whether it’s good or bad to be normal. If you go by the idea that everyone’s normal is a little different, what that really means is that what we’d consider here is conformity and not normalcy. Conformity is basically what happens when we adjust ourselves to fit someone else’s normal or a more objective situation.
Depending on the situation, a little bit of conformity isn’t a completely bad thing. There will be situations like working,group social events, or even major life events where the better option is to consider at least partial conformity. But there will also be situations where it’s better to trust your sense of normal and not try to shape yourself to someone else’s. How are you supposed to know when to do that?
The answer is really kind of grey. It has a lot to do with the particular circumstance but also some dependency on the concepts of right and wrong. Sometimes when we observe something as abnormal or disagree with it, it’s because it actually is something we have a logical reason to reject. For instance, let’s look at a funeral. There are a number of ways to grieve and in some ways we can’t say they’re right or wrong. You can definitely question them or find them right or wrong but at the end of the day this might be an area where there’s no difference in whether you conform or do what’s natural to you. But there are some objectively wrong things to do at the same type of event such as showing up in your birthday suit,talking ill of the dead, or not showing some basic condolences to the family.
Really the decision to either go with your normal or try to blend into someone else’s will be up to you and probably a partial decision more than a full one. It’s unhealthy in a sense to ever completely change yourself according to someone else’s standards. You should think,form opinions, and be your own person but temper it with a little conforming when necessary. Being normal doesn’t have to mean not being you. It just means you do you by a few slightly different guidelines when the situation calls for it.Understanding that sometimes we need to fly our freak flag a little lower for the best success in a situation can be a great sign of maturity and also shows that we’re acknowledging the people around us.
Understanding the true nature of what it is to be normal might really make you wonder if it’s actually possible to be normal. If you think in terms of something being a variation of normal as opposed to abnormal then there are billions of defining standards of normal just co-existing in the world. My idea of normal isn’t your idea of normal and both of our normals are different from a third person’s normal.
I think whether or not a person can truly be normal is a question you can’t truly answer because to some degree what’s normal is that we’re all a little strange in a way. I actually sort of prefer that way of thinking. When I think about other people in that sense it makes it much easier for me to accept them for who they are as opposed to trying to squeeze them into a mold made from just my personal standards. It’s a strange thing to consider, but every time we jump to labels or judging something based on our own personal measuring stick we disrespect the world and people around us a little and possibly miss out on an enriching or engaging experience.
When I think about individual people as not part of a grouping but rather as a group of weirdos I feel more like I want to appreciate each of those people for who they are. So is it possible to be normal? I personally don’t think so and I frankly kind of like that. The less we worry about deciding if something is normal, the more we can appreciate that the world is full of unique people and experiences that offer something for us to discover.
So what is normal? At the end of the day there may not actually be a true sense of normalcy because each of us ultimately forms our own perceptions of what constitutes as normal. So while we can definitely define it as a word, it’s important and a bit surreal when you realize that your normal might be someone else’s weird. Perhaps as people the better alternative is to not judge or point out something we find abnormal but rather to take a step back and appreciate someone else’s normal. The more we open our minds to the new and different things around us, the more we can learn to appreciate that we’re all a little weird in a way and that’s just fine.
Character design can be a frustrating process. Developing a good character means having the right tools to help you create a good concept. Part of any character concept, no matter what that character is being created for,is that you need to visualize your character at some point. But whether your concept is going to be hand-drawn or generated in its final incarnation,a character generator can be a great tool to have on hand.
There have been a ton of times where I just don’t find the right visuals from stock references and can’t quite get it on paper in drawing without a starting point. That’s where a character generator can really shine. Before we talk about the actual generators let’s discuss why you might actually want to consider using one if you never have before.
All the programs on my list are my picks for certain reasons but in general a generator that will allow you to truly design and customize a character to at least 60%-80% of the vision in your head is good and if you can get better than that it’s definitely a keeper.
A generator worth your time will have….
I will rate each generator on my list based on this criteria so you have a better idea of which one might work for you.
Now before we get to the list I just want to be clear that this is just my list and my opinion so don’t feel discouraged if something you know of or believe to be better isn’t on the list. I would definitely encourage you to take a look around and explore the generators that are out there.If one of the ones on my list isn’t your cup of tea, keep in mind that there’s a big internet world out there and use the article as a starting point to get you inspired.
It should surprise no one that this one tops my list. I use E-pic every day to do daily characters for my patrons and I actually just really enjoy the program. It is by far one of the best and most intuitive generators I’ve ever used and you can make gorgeous characters with it. It is readily available on Steam or on their website at http://www.epicgenerator.net and features a ton of great packs,a user interface that is attractive but not intrusive, and a simple way to save and load characters. You can make a nice wide range of characters with it and it is still actively getting content with the added bonus of a really interesting and easy to learn developer package if you want to try your hand at making something for it.
E-pic Character Generator is definitely a great tool that I think anyone can enjoy. It has a lot to offer and even with the strange pricing model is affordable and easy to pick up,learn, and create a ton of characters with. If you just want a casual,affordable and non-complicated way to visualize a character I would highly recommend this. It gives you 3D quality with 2D technology.
The Character Creator is an add-on for Reallusion’s I-clone, a 3D animation program. The goal is that it adds functionality and value to the program by allowing you to create a highly customized model for use in your 3D pipeline. While it is expensive, it is an excellent program and worth shelling out for as part of a 3D design process or to make some high-quality anatomical reference models. You can check this one out at https://www.reallusion.com/character-creator.
The Character Creator is a true investment if you want to improve a 3D pipeline and if you can afford it would definitely be worth looking into as a possible tool for creating character references. While it’s not a casual user’s tool, it’s a true pioneer into the resources available to 3D artists and is definitely viable for making a nice anatomical reference from an artist’s standpoint. I think the main thing bogging it down is that it is definitely resource intensive and expensive so if you want it, do the trial first to be sure and make sure your computer is up to the task.
Autodesk is a familiar industry name to many. They’ve produced a notable line of various creative softwares and cemented themselves as one of the big boys when it comes to making creative people productive. The Character Generator is one of their cloud-based services and is meant to aid in quick creation of rigged character models for a 3D pipeline.
This character generator is great for a quick visualization of most basic characters and an affordable alternative for a 3D pipeline if you can’t afford Iclone to get the Character Creator Add-on.I would definitely recommend trying it out,even just to get a nice anatomical reference for a character. It’s great for creating a starting point but still needs some tweaks to be a true design asset.
Daz3D is a well established and praised alternative to its more expensive counterparts in the 3D software market. It has an impressive content market and a somewhat different pricing model wherein the program itself is free but the content does still cost money but it is also one of the easier 3D programs to use in terms of learning curve.
Daz3D is not only a great character design tool but a great way to break into using 3D programs with it’s learning curve. If you’re interested in 3D design and want something to make a nice 3D character reference I would highly reccommend Daz3D.
Mixamo has never been a big name in 3D design but cemented themselves and became more known once they were acquired by Adobe. They mainly specialize in custom characters but also have tools that make things like rigging and animating characters much more accessible to people.
The reason it is so low on my list isn’t due to the program itself but more the cloud approach which I’m not a fan of, especially the Adobe Creative Cloud but don’t let that discourage you from giving this one a look. It’s a nice little program with an easy learning curve and a decent set of features if you just want to dip very lightly into 3D character design without delving into something as huge as Daz or Poser. What I would suggest for less headaches is getting it through Steam. You’ll still need an Adobe ID but the Creative Cloud installer is a bit annoying to deal with.
I have some that I kept off the list because they either were too niche,too hard to get,unfamiliar to me, or they were just not quite there yet to where I could justify putting them in the top 5.
Character Artist 3 is an add-on to ProFantasy’s Campaign Cartographer program. My primary reason for this one not making the main list is that it’s an add-on and a very niche one. It mainly can be used to make fantasy characters typical to a tabletop campaign which is the main focus audience of Campaign Cartographer. I did want to at least mention it though as it is a neat little add-on and worth checking out if you want something simple to make some classic fantasy characters for a project or RPG campaign. You can check this one out at http://profantasy.com under the product add-ons.
There are a few reasons MakeHuman is down in honorable mentions. I initially didn’t add it to my first preview of this article to patrons because it wasn’t a program on my radar. I know it exists and I hear good things about it but I’ve never used it. I may in the future and I played with it just a little for the purpose of grading it in this article. I also realized not including it on this list and considering its popularity would prompt at least one comment on why it wasn’t on the list.If I was a little more familiar with this program it may have possibly replaced Fuse on the list to be quite honest. It gave me that good of a first impression.
I like that MakeHuman has an active community and good following. I also like that it’s free with what seems to be a very easy learning curve. Beyond that it has a nice looking interface,a lot of options for customization and is a great entry-level 3D program that’s worth checking out. It gets some major bonus points for the aging system and the quality of the models seems to check most of the boxes for me. If anything, looking into it for the article has definitely caught my interest and I’ll be giving it a much more in-depth look in the future.Out of the 3D ones I looked into for the article I liked this one the best in terms of just being able to jump right into the design process because of the nicely designed and non-intrusive interface. Also, it ran really smoothly the entire time I played around with the options and went from tab to tab. I would definitely recommend giving MakeHuman a try even after just playing with the program briefly.
Character Creator is a work in progress that looks really promising,has a great looking interface and is really intuitive to use. It’s currently being developed by Frederic Guimont. You can check it out for free at http://charactercreator.org and it’s a design tool that focuses on character creation using simple and scaleable SVG graphics. The one thing that kept me from putting it on the main list is that it is indeed in quite an alpha state at this point and doesn’t have a lot of available parts and options just yet but it’s definitely worth checking out.
Heromachine is one of the veterans of character building applications and despite it’s comic book art facade you can make a nice variation of characters in it. While it’s not a full on character generator in comparison to some of the other list items it runs great,has a nice iconic art style to its elements, and still has an active fan base to this day as well as a lot of nostalgia value to many.For a flash application it’s really a powerhouse with its allowance for recoloring,layering, and the ton of features and parts it has in its library. You can use Heromachine for free at http://heromachine.com or buy the iconic version 2 of it to use as a desktop application for just $9.95.
The Sailor Senshi Maker is niche and not a full fledged character generator which is why I didn’t put it on the main list. It is,however, a marvel in terms of what can be done with a flash game concept. It not only has a gorgeous tributary art style and nostalgic feel for an older anime fan but really allows you to create a truly unique senshi. In addition to a huge library of parts and beautiful responsive interface you can layer,customize,and even add an animal or male companion to your senshi. It’s just a really fun and worth checking out experience whether you’re a Sailor Moon fan or not. You can play it on Doll Divine at http://www.dolldivine.com/sailor-moon-senshi-maker.php and you can also check out Drachea’s Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DracheaRannak/ to support the game’s artist.
While dress up game sites can be a dime a dozen, if you find the right ones and really give the games a chance you can find some that are really gems and might help you piece together a visual for a character. Some of my favorites are Doll Divine, Missangest Games,Azalea’s Dolls,Rinmaru Games, Candy’s World,Stardoll, Roiworld, and Elouai. Sifting through the crap can really be worth it on some of these sites because you might find something to help end your creative block on a character reference. I will actually be doing on on the top 5 dress up sites at some point as well so keep an eye out for that.
This one didn’t make the list because it is in fact not sold anymore. I had trouble finding a safe looking copy of the trial to get a screenshot for it and while I remember the trial I used years ago fairly well it wasn’t enough to fairly grade it. If I ever find a decent version of the program and packs I promise I’ll revisit this and do a proper product review.It is a little hard to get your hands on Quidam now but it was basically a very unrecognized competitor in the battle of 3D programs that boasted a library of high quality and easy to customize characters. It does actually deliver for the most part. It doesn’t have the biggest library or the nicest models but it is very easy to use and does produce a basic and okay looking 3D character with some notable room for customization options for what it was. If you can find it or acquire it somehow it’s worth playing with and checking out. It won’t be as high quality a solution as some of the other programs listed but if you’re a geek about obscure software or character design it’s fun to play with at least once.
So that’s it for this article but I would encourage you to take some time to explore the world of character generators when you get a chance.Next time you have some problems visualizing a character, don’t forget that the right character generator can be the answer to your problems and a great way to get ideas as well as a lot of fun.
There are a lot of activities that have negatives to them but very often sleep isn’t considered one of those. Naps are considered a break for many of us or a chance to refresh. Sleep is something we do to recharge and when we do it correctly we’re told it’s a necessary part of a healthy routine. But what about when sleep isn’t something we look forward to? What happens when sleep becomes something we resent and lying down becomes part of a punishment? Today we’re going to explore when sleep goes from being a refreshing activity to becoming part of the invisible prison that is chronic illness.
Millions of people suffer daily with conditions that can’t be seen by the naked eye or even sometimes fully understood by the medical community. As human beings, we are heavily conditioned to be more convinced when we can see proof of something. Because of this a lot of medical conditions just don’t get the attention or consideration they need. Even while statistically quite a few people are suffering from them, the conditions don’t have overt or visible signs to them. This makes them harder to diagnosis and even harder to explain to others.
So what are these invisible conditions? You might be surprised how many things fall into being invisible. Mental illness commonly falls into being invisible but also things like autoimmune,blood,and intellectual based disorders. These are things a lot of people suffer with that don’t have very obvious visible markers. Because of how much stress humans put on seeing to believe it makes conditions with no physical markers,tangible symptoms,or obviously visible treatment methods harder to understand and relate to.
I’ve personally dealt with this sort of issue most of my life because a lot of my medical problems are ones that you can’t necessarily see. They’re conditions that affect my blood,my nerves, and my brain but they have no outward physical manifestation or just not ones as noticeable as a physical injury or deformity. I will never have a physical scar,need a cast,or develop any alarming symptoms that will stand out but I’m definitely and very seriously ill. Unfortunately, I suffer silently most of the time like a lot of people because I know most of my medical conditions won’t be taken seriously. They aren’t things people can see and as a result they won’t take me as seriously and possibly not even be able to relate to what’s going on with me.
But what’s even harder to convey is the cardinal source of frustration with chronic illness and that’s the gradual resentment you gain for lying down. For some, it can be difficult to comprehend what the difference between being sick and being sickly. A relatively healthy person will definitely have a sick day here and there but they’ll get over it. When you’re sickly it’s a completely different scenario. Being sickly means you are in effect always sick. Functioning and accomplishing tasks becomes a determination of how sick you are and not whether you’re healthy or sick. I’m personally always sick to some degree whether it’s pain,gastrointestinal,respiratory or otherwise. It’s very hard for me to remember when I wasn’t feeling at least a little sick in some way.
However, for a lot of us suffering chronic illness you have a much lower quality of life and a much more antagonistic relationship to your bed. A lot of invisible conditions have fatigue,anxiety,or pain as a bedfellow and as a result many people dealing with chronic illness sleep or at the very least are in bed a lot. This isn’t always a choice. You might be lying down because of an invisible emotional or mental issue. You might be too stiff and in pain to even leave your bed. You might just be too physically weak and sickly to get up. Whatever the reason, chronic illness usually means you see your bed a lot and it can become a deceptively comfortable prison over time. I know personally there are a lot of times I don’t want to lie down but I don’t have a lot of choice in the matter because I’m just not well enough to be up and moving around.
But as is the case with most things, the first steps to improvement in our society for chronic illness sufferers is understanding. Next time you encounter a person who doesn’t look sick to you or you have a person close to you spending a lot of time in bed,take that first step to understand they may not be lazy. They might be sick. Taking that time to understand a new perspective and get the whole picture can be a big step toward understanding and possibly helping one of the many people in our world suffering silently.
Being positive can be a hard sell when you suffer from chronic illness. As opposed to that sense of relief when you get over a cold, the feeling of knowing you will wake up sick every day for the rest of your life can be a heavy burden to bear. It can come with it’s own sense of anxiety and depression as well as significantly lower your quality of life. Those of us who suffer with chronic illness still want to do things,go places, and enjoy life but are otherwise not equipped to fully do so. You feel limited because you are in a lot of ways limited.
But even more disappointing, when you already have that to deal with, is the limited acceptance you get from society. When we as a society discount an invisible condition we in turn discount the person suffering from it. It makes those people feel like lower class citizens not worth your consideration. It makes them feel guilty for being sick and afraid to open up to others. The feeling of not being welcomed or understood resonates and eventually builds negative feelings.
While there are certainly things the medical community can do to change this outlook and even things that person can do for themselves, the world they’re trying to be a part of needs to also become a little more considerate to close that circle. As people, we need to stop making other people feel ashamed to be who they are and when you suffer from chronic illness, your conditions do become part of the package. It’s not reasonable to expect a person dealing with chronic illness to separate themselves from their condition because it’s not something that they can make go away,control, or ignore.
When you have a medical condition that you know you’ll wake up with every day and essentially have until you die it can be near impossible to put it aside or not tailor parts of your life to it. You can definitely find silver lining but no amount of that silver lining will make you truly healthy. This makes getting out of bed that much harder because it becomes more difficult to see purpose in getting out of bed.
What can bring hope for those people is a world that makes more effort to understand and respect them. Learning as a society that chronic illness isn’t something people choose but is something that makes their live difficult can be a big step to making ourselves more open to really welcoming those people and understanding invisible conditions as a whole. No person suffering from chronic illness is expecting you to see their condition in the traditional sense of that word but rather that you make an effort to see them as a person and understand their experiences. In effect,we all have something and when it comes to being sick a person dealing with something you can’t see is still a person struggling and deserves as much of your time,compassion, and respect as a person with a cast or that flu that’s been spreading around the office.When we respect each other and reach out, we create hope and strengthen the base bond of humanity we should all have with each other.
Often when we have a person close to us in pain or peril we want to help but it can be hard to know what the right thing to do for them is. When someone we know is sick, a common first instinct is to think in terms that they’ll feel better soon or that the thing afflicting them is temporary but that’s not the case if the person is dealing with chronic illness. The sentiment to tell someone you hope they’ll feel better soon isn’t wrong. It’s a common sentiment in our society. But if the person is dealing with chronic illness it can be a short-sighted approach.
In the many steps our society needs to take in understanding chronic illness,we need to take efforts to understand the nature of it. When it’s chronic illness the person is dealing with, your first step is make a genuine effort to understand that it won’t go away. Understanding the impact it has when a person is always sick,in pain,anxious, or tired will give you the proper gravity of the situation. The person most likely already understands that gravity and isn’t expecting you to understand 100%. They already know kind sentiments won’t change them waking up sick. What you can do for the person is support them in other ways. If the person has a physical issue,offer to help them do some of the tasks that are challenging for them because of their pain. If it’s mental,learn to give them space and support for their anxiety or depression. If it’s an autoimmune condition,make an effort to learn about the condition and approach with an understanding the condition is unpredictable in nature. Making an effort to understand people is a huge step we don’t always take but when you take time to try to honestly and openly understand another person’s perspective it will leave an impact.
Don’t make unfair assumptions about the person but in the same strain don’t insult them by approaching with pity. The people who get up and live life with chronic illness aren’t weak or pitiful. It takes determination and strength to get out of bed when everything hurts or you’re riddled with anxiety. It takes grit to drag yourself through day-to-day tasks when your body feels like it has the integrity of a spaghetti noodle.It takes courage to step outside under the weight of social anxiety. Dealing with chronic illness isn’t something the people who have it want and usually not something they chose but it is something that makes them stronger people because you have to fight for the time and experiences you have. The most important thing you can do for the chronic illness sufferer in your life is respect them. Treat them like people,help them if they need it, but understand that at the core of that suffering is true strength. For every day that those of us who suffer with chronic illness are bedridden or lower in productivity, there’s a day where we’ve climbed mountains and made discoveries you can only encounter from seeing rock bottom first.
There are more things at play in our world than what we can see with our eyes. Next time you encounter a person dealing with chronic illness, take that step to keep this in mind and try to understand that even though you can’t feel their anxiety,relate to their sickness,or feel their pain that they have a condition that is just as real as any other medical condition. The more we learn to see with our hearts and not our eyes, the more silent sufferers can begin to find trust and support in the community around them and take steps to living a better life where they don’t have to suffer in silence or feel like less of a person.
We all have birthdays and as long as you don’t take the alternative route you will inevitably get old. Some ages are landmarks like when we can pursue driving at sixteen or get drunk legally at twenty-one but have you ever wondered why thirty gets such a bad reputation? Is it really meriting the level of stress and depression we associate to it? What does it really mean to be thirty?
Thirty is a number and one of the things that can give us perspective on what weight turning thirty really has can be accepting that. I’m honestly not sure why thirty is the magic number for instant crippling depression. Over time we’ve been given the impression by society that we need to have a certain list of things done by thirty but depending on who you are that can create a huge problem. We’re all different people with different circumstances,means, and goals so why do we get fixated as people on a boxed-in definition of success?
I think the idea that there are certain milestones in life we should strive for universally such as a fulfilling career,meaningful relationship,or financial and life independence. Those are definitely good things for people to want or strive for. The problem arises when we set the age of thirty for that line in the sand. It creates a lot of unnecessary and unreasonable stress. What is age really? It’s a measurement not of our quality of life or our value as a person but rather of the length of years our body has existed. What is a birthday? A birthday should be a celebration. All birthdays are celebrations of existence.
Let’s face it. The world can be kind of rough and living is an accomplishment. Birthdays should be celebrations that we made it and we’re going to keep trying to make it regardless of the circumstances. Life is beautiful and no matter what the number a birthday should be used to celebrate that,not institute an artificial milestone like liquor,driving,or commercial success. So whether you’re there,way past there, or getting there try to appreciate thirty for the number that is is and put more focus on life over numbers.
One of the huge things we all fall prey to that makes thirty so scary is being critical and comparing ourselves to others way too much. I know because I did it so often myself in my twenties and beyond. I was always comparing my job,possessions,or relationships to other people my age. I’ve only begun to learn as I start shaping into the adult I want to be that that’s never a fair measuring stick.
While there are some concrete and objective things about aging, a lot of it like life itself is surprisingly open-ended and subjective. Things like relationships,jobs,and especially things like happiness and success are not dated,time-sensitive,or age-specific. You can find your dream job at forty,fall in love at seventy,or even have a personal epiphany at sixty. The adventures and opportunities we find in life are not something limited to what numbers are on our birthday cake so the idea you have to be at a certain place in life by thirty is short-sighted and just plain wrong.
Personally speaking I would say I wasn’t anywhere close to focused and established in my twenties and going into my thirties I realized that it was fine I wasn’t where society told me I should be. It was fine because I was on my own path and experiencing life in a way that suited me. I realized I had to stop measuring my life by the measuring stick of other people’s successes.
Part of growing up and truly becoming an adult involves a lot of trial and error but the unfortunate truth is that no person exists in a bubble. We’re constantly distracted by standards set outside of ourselves and that can make it hard to accept who you are and just live your life in a way that works for you. Being able to stop using that faulty measuring system is something you learn and grow out of but if you haven’t gotten there by thirty it’s fine. We all reach different points of developing as people at different times in our lives. Sometimes life throws us a lot of curve balls and we don’t reach things right away. Everyone is different.
In the same sense you should never box yourself in. Age doesn’t stop you from living, It means you have more time to enjoy it. If you bridge thirty, don’t stop living and don’t settle. Age doesn’t bar you from new experiences,taking risks, or building relationships. Don’t limit your bucket list to the usual suspects and then call it a day. Maybe you found your dream job but you want to try owning your own small business. Maybe you missed out on ever going on a vacation climbing the ladder of success and you have that money you didn’t before to go on a cruise. Maybe the right person hasn’t come along yet but they still might. Your potential is present as long as you are so don’t think of thirty as a slowing point. Think of it as another year to take the world on.
Regardless of what age you’re approaching or leaving behind, remember that birthdays aren’t about the numbers on the cake but rather that you’ve been blessed with being alive to eat the cake. Thirty and every other age you’ll turn are just numbers but they should never dictate how you live life or see yourself as a person.
As people we have a lot of conversations in our day-to-day life. But how often do we really think about what we’re saying or how we’re saying it? It can be surprisingly easy to forget that communication is a skill and even easier to forget how much power and weight our words really have.
We have hundreds of conversations daily and it’s easy to not completely think about all of of them in the process. But our conversations are made up of words and words have impact, power, and weight. While obviously our tone,choice of words, and use of words are huge factors shaping the conversation and its outcome, are they what makes words powerful ingredients? The answer is surprisingly no.The thing that makes words what they are is their meaning. And let’s make no mistakes here. I don’t mean what we think they mean or what they mean to us personally but what they actually mean in dictionary definition.
Before words become a conversation element they really are just clusters of letters that have been recorded into a language and assigned meanings. Unfortunately, we live in a very strange world recently where younger generations have been a huge shaping factor in how we look at words. That is to say that in what they perceive as an act of originality newer generations have created and pushed for the adoption of a different attitude towards the art of language. Things like the actual dictionary meaning of a word,the pronunciation of a word, and even the usage of punctuation and grammar have been victims to a generation that believes them to be old-fashioned and obsolete. What ends up getting lost in the shuffle is the order that defined and built the English language. As a language it no longer really holds the same universality or clarity it used to.
This is an important thing to take note of because while we don’t think about it or even actively acknowledge it, abandoning long held standards in communication changes how we interpret vocal and written communication. English is actually one of the most difficult languages to learn and it’s mainly because native English speakers are constantly making arbitrary and usually pop culture based additions to it or improperly speaking it in day-to-day usage. This makes it near impossible to learn it on the fly or through observation and constantly breaks any perceived standards usually present in a language. The English language has more variations and slang to it than any other known language system.
But at the root of how we communicate is words and their meanings. There’s a rather accurate meme that used to go around with the guy from The Princess Bride captioned in some variation of “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” and it’s kind of sad how on the nose that observation is. Despite having a book specifically made for word meanings, I’ve spoken to numerous adults that simply have no idea what a lot of words they use mean. I’ve also spoken to a number of younger generation people who have the same issue.
But why is it an issue at all? Is it our education system? Are people trying to modernize the English language? Maybe they’re just lazy. If you ask me, it’s a little bit of all of that. On top of the issue of newer generations wanting to rebel and redefine communication standards we have a gradually devolving education system that as opposed to challenging students and raising the bar, has lowered it level by level to the degree kids are becoming lazy and disinterested teenagers who grow into under-educated adults with limited communication skills. But at the cornerstone is laziness.
We have so many conversations in so many forms and such a low sense of personal responsibility in modern society. As a result we tend to cut corners with communication whether it be by not taking the time to properly craft a sentence in something written or being vague or improper in what we say because we can’t be bothered to mentally form a proper statement and take time to think about what comes out of our mouths. We continually take for granted what it means to properly communicate with other people.
When we discount the meaning of words and the structure of the English language we fail to communicate in an effective and clear manner. This makes it much easier to be misunderstood and even easier to be offensive or just plain wrong in what we say. While your first instinct when someone points out a language error is probably to get defensive,perhaps the more accurate reaction would be to give it some thought. You may not actually be saying what you think you are on further review. But above all the cardinal errors we make in communication, make an effort to understand the meaning of the words you use. Knowing what words mean before we use them is the basis of good communication because once you understand the true meaning of a word, you can as a result use it properly and understand the context and of course the impact.
While the meaning and usage of words builds the foundation for our communication, there is a lot of accountability held by the content as a whole as well. We have limited time and a lot of conversations in the span of a day but have you ever taken the time to consider how much of it is filler? We consistently lower the value of our communications by weighing it down with filler conversation. While we may feel somewhat socially obligated to make small talk in an elevator or reply to every single text, is it truly adding to anything to the human experience?
One of the things I focus on as a writer is character dialogue. Extraneous character dialogue is one of the major factors that can ruin a good story. In the same sense when we don’t make efforts to think before we speak and trim the fat we weigh our daily conversations down and impact them negatively. All the people we’re interacting with are on the same borrowed time we are so coming to the table with a worthwhile interaction makes a big difference and reduces the odds of us saying things that leave negative impressions.
Impulsive speaking not only creates a bad impression but can also be dangerous,hurtful,or something we regret later on. Understanding that our conversations need to contain information that is accurate,organized,and worth the time of the other person will add instant value to your conversation.
But beyond substance we need to be responsibly honest. Lying in general is not a good practice and honesty is preferred but with that we need to be mindful of how honest we’re being and if it’s necessary. We’ve all heard the term TMI or at the very least seen the expression that goes with it. It means we’re being too honest and it’s not appropriate with that person or situation. When you’re considering honesty don’t think about it as doing it or not doing it but rather how much. Being honest is always a good policy but depending on factors like your relationship with the person or the social situation you may not have to be honest to a huge degree. For instance, your level of honesty with say your therapist or your mother should be different from your level of disclosure with a colleague or acquaintance.
Be real but be mindful as a good rule of thumb on how open is the right level for the circumstances. This will help you avoid TMI or being offensive. Keeping in mind that a conversation by the coffee machine doesn’t need to lead to you talking about your childhood or just remembering that most people will ask if there’s really more to the conversation can help you balance out your social interactions accordingly and have much less stress tied to them.
People who have a need to focus on communication for a living like orators and writers have to develop some appreciation for audience. That same sense of knowing your audience can also be a great trait to have when we want to create more quality interactions in our everyday lives. Having great content is only half of the equation if we don’t understand the people we’re trying to communicate with or have focus.
Understanding the interests of your audience or the person you’re talking to allows you to not only trim the fat of what you want to say accordingly but lets you know what content will actually be meaningful to that person. If the other person isn’t interested in the conversation than you move from talking to them to talking at them and that’s not a true conversation.
Making a practice of trying to gauge a person’s interest in a subject over our own interest in that subject can go a long way. It may seem fine or you may be bursting to talk about it but at the end of the day when we talk at people it makes us look rude and leaves a negative impact on the other person. It also doesn’t hurt to try to engage the people we interact with by trying to figure out their interests and goals for that interaction. Think about factors like the environment,circumstances, and the level of emotional investment. Make sure you understand the actual purpose of the interaction and don’t just inject your own. Simply focusing on the other person’s perspective can be a huge impact and lead to deeper and more meaningful interactions in a natural manner. It also forces us to stop and truly invest ourselves into the interaction as opposed to being stuck in our own mind and on our own goals. In general, we can all afford to take a vacation from ourselves so next time you interact with a person try truly engaging them and creating more meaningful interactions worth your time and theirs.
Just as we can talk at and not to a person we can hear and not listen. Active listening is key when it comes to truly having a conversation. It means we are not just hearing the noises accompanying the other person’s mouth moving but processing what they’re saying and forming an appropriate response based on that. Learning to be a good listener is not just respectful but over time will help us grow as people and truly tune in to the world around us.It allows us to truly comprehend the information being given to us and can even help us form more educated points of view on issues.Hearing is for noises but if we’re talking to another human being we need to listen.
There are a number of social interaction mistakes every one of us falls prey to here and there. On the same note there are things you should just avoid or not do at all no matter what the circumstance.
Taking these small steps can be a big improvement to your everyday interactions:
Life is busy but it doesn’t have to be so busy that we’re not getting the most out of our everyday interactions. Start talking to people instead of at them. Listen instead of just hearing. Most of all be real and start truly engaging others instead of settling for mediocre and easy interactions. Communication is a powerful tool that anyone can use to make the most of every day so let’s stop cutting corners and start truly engaging others and having real conversations.
Stress and hardship are things that affect all of us at some point and when that happens we all need a little help. Since I talked about therapies geared toward those on the spectrum last week, I thought it would be nice to follow-up this week to discuss some therapies we can all benefit from looking into when it comes to living a happier and healthier life.
Stress is everywhere and constant for a lot of us. It comes in many forms and from many sources and we all have different ways to deal with it. Some are healthy. Some aren’t so healthy. Some are expensive. But stress always comes back around for another round. Dealing with stress is an active fight but very often we’re putting ourselves at a disadvantage because we’re fighting with the same attack each time while our sources of stress are typically dynamic and unpredictable. Think about the things you do when you’re really stressed out. Maybe you smoke a cigarette,indulge in some junk food,or just roll into bed for a refresher nap. You might go try doing something enjoyable to distract yourself or you might buy yourself a little gift to cheer yourself up. Some of our most common go-to solutions for stress and depression are indulgent and ultimately just band-aids that usually add to the problem instead of fixing it.
Good stress management is a combination of treatment,prevention, and stress reduction. This means we not only relieve the stress but also do something beneficial for ourselves so we can resolve what’s stressing us out and know how to better handle it in the future and moving forward. So while it’s not a bad idea to treat yourself when you feel overwhelmed,it isn’t really benefiting you in the long run or even addressing what stressed you out in the first place. While there is no one solution to good stress management we can learn to do it better through a combination of methods instead of one extravagant band-aid action.
Today we’re going to look at some alternative ways you can tackle stress that will not only reduce your current stress but make you well-armed to handle stress in the future.
The most important step in stress relief is to identify what’s stressing you out and get it out of your system in a positive way that won’t damage you or cause regret later. Sometimes when we do indulgent things we can dig deeper holes by spending irresponsibly,having too much of something pleasurable, or burning bridges we’ll need later. Stress makes us lose our sense of rationality and leaves us vulnerable to doing things we’re better off not doing. It can be hard to identify stress though so your first step before going out and getting drunk,telling off another person, or buying something you don’t have the money for you need to take a moment and get grounded.
Before you act on how you feel take some time to be mindful. Get yourself focused and pinpoint what’s really burrowing under your skin. Before you pick up that band-aid,pick up a pen! And I don’t mean a device like a phone or computer but a pen. Reduce your distractions and eliminate the weight of the modern world for a little bit so you can really think. Modern distractions can actually add to your stress and make it harder to heal and calm yourself. When we have too many shiny distractions we have a hard time focusing on ourselves.
So go ahead and grab a pen and paper. You’ll find that these will be the best things to have in your arsenal for stress management.
But what can we do with these simple tools?
We’re obviously going to write! Real writing is sort of a lost art these days as we have so many shortcuts and devices but when we write about our life and feelings it’s a natural, effective, and affordable way to cleanse ourselves. You don’t have to be eloquent, grammatically proper,or even organized when you write to vent. Just let it flow in whatever form it will take onto the paper.
Keeping a journal or diary has been a practice for centuries by all walks of people. It is also a common method used in commercial therapy to help patients identify their feelings and behaviors. Journals can be a great and freeing thing for people as they are informal,accessible, and affordable as a method of stress relief therapy. It not only allows self-expression but leaves room for recollection later on so we can learn from our experiences and grow as people.
While there’s no right or wrong way to journal it works best when you…
Journals and diaries have the most benefit when they’re not shared with others. If you feel safe and okay sharing your journal it’s fine but it will be best utilized as something private for you and as a safe way to express your feelings without feeling additional anxiety and pressure from others. It’s not for everyone but if writing in your journal about your day or week makes you feel noticeably lighter it might be a great way to maintain good mental health vibes and work out your stresses. It’s something anyone can afford that you can easily customize to suit your needs.
Writing letters is something that has sunken into obscurity as more technologies replace traditional social interactions but letters can be one of the truest forms of expression when we truly embrace them. Before email existed, people communicated deep thoughts and feelings and even maintained relationships with a handwritten letter to another person. Letters lack the cold and mechanical feel of a text or email and have a better chance of pulling out our deeper thoughts and feelings. In the process we find a self-expression method that needs no emojis or explanations.
Like a journal, a common therapy method that even some health professionals stand by is to write a letter and not send it as a method to deal with stress,anxiety, and depression.
This method has a lot of benefits like…
Even though the letter is sort of fake and most likely won’t be really mailed to the person we addressed it to, the feelings in it are real and it can be a great alternative to situations where you’re dealing with a person who is too difficult to broach conversation with or isn’t around to have a conversation with. It allows you to express your feelings and lift the stress of that situation off your shoulders. It’s hard to reconcile with situations where we don’t get a chance to finish an interaction or settle something with another person and we can carry that around without realizing it and do a lot of damage to our quality of life and well-being.
It doesn’t even have to be related to an interaction with another person. Some therapists suggest and sometimes save lives by advising those with mental health issues write letters about just their feelings because seeing it on paper can be a way of the person getting those feelings out and sometimes getting rid of them completely. It can even be the push you need to realize you need to have a more substantial conversation with another person about something going on in your life.
We write lists for a lot of mundane things like our groceries,daily chores, or Christmas shopping but what if you made some more meaningful lists? Lists are one of the most basic forms of writing and getting information down but they can also be a great way to work through our tough times in life.
Here are some lists you can make that will not only help you deal with stress but make you think in better ways…
Lists are simple and quick ways we can identify stresses and reflect on ourselves. They don’t have to be eloquent or perfect and give us a glance at things in their most basic form. If you’re going through a tough or stressful time a list is an easy starting point to prioritizing your self-care and getting you on the road to mental wellness.
Once you identify stress you want to bring it down a little. Rewarding ourselves is a viable thing to do but only when we do it in a fashion that is beneficial. Anytime we over-indulge in pleasures,spend money we don’t have, or damage a relationship letting go on another person we hurt ourselves in the long run. Successful stress management means we bring our stress down in a way that doesn’t make the situation worse or cause personal damage or regret.
So for this step all you need is you. We’re going to discuss some things you can do to reduce your stress while actually rejuvenating yourself a little as opposed to causing more harm and applying a band-aid.
Mental health days are not just for those who have a diagnosed mental health issue. Mental health is something that matters for every person and we all need a mental health day sometimes. When I was going through DBT one of the things we talked about was something called turtling. Turtling involves taking a brief day or two to take a vacation from the world. That might involve just rest if you’re a person who lacks a healthy sleep schedule but should also involve mindfulness. Doing activities that are not indulgent but rather calming and introspective can help you shed stress and improve your mood in a way that is healthier for the long run. Things like drinking,shopping,or emotional transferal onto others may seem like things that are good at the time but we usually regret them later or do personal damage in the process but when we focus on healing ourselves we rejuvenate and heal with benefits and not harm. It can also be an opportunity to get a better understanding of a tough situation in your life so you can handle it better.
If you’re going through an especially stressful time the best thing you can do is take a day or two to stand back from the situation and give yourself some time to reflect and heal. We get bombarded with so much stimulus in our world today that we sometimes forget to just step back and take a moment to breathe and assess the situation but it can be just the thing you need to begin to sort out your worries and get back to really living.
For some a spa can be a great way to indulge and refresh but that can be expensive. But in our fast-paced world it’s easy to take the spa in your home for granted. Instead of blasting in and out of your bathroom in your packed daily routine,set aside a day where you can do a bathroom routine that is an affordable at home spa experience. Instead of a shower take a nice relaxing bubble bath. Instead of going to the salon,wash your hair at home and give yourself a nice therapeutic scalp massage. Do what you do normally but just do it at a reasonable pace. If you don’t normally use lotion than try it. The action of applying a lotion is an affordable and multipurpose therapy that is not only massage but aromatherapy. Light a nice smelling candle and listen to some relaxing music while you do your bathroom routine to round out the experience and make it more relaxing. You can even read a book while you’re in there if you want to.
When we pamper ourselves and take care of ourselves it creates natural positive vibes and helps us relax and come back down to earth from our busy lives. The feeling of being clean is in itself a huge boost to our well-being. It’s also a great way to reward and rejuvenate at the same time that won’t hurt you or your wallet.
Some of the things that are the best things you can do to reduce stress in your life are easily accessible and won’t empty your wallet or values substantially. The human mind and body can be complicated but also simple at the same time. The best thing you can really do for yourself sometimes is live. Simple things are what positively feed the body. Instead of staying stuck in your house being stressed or depressed, go outside. Natural light is also a natural mood booster. Instead of an overpriced and distracting restaurant meal,have a creative and relaxing meal at home where you actually sit down and take the time to eat and enjoy your family and the people around you. Take a vacation from your technology and enjoy reading a book,doing a puzzle,or doing some kind of creative DIY project that makes you think in a fun way. Take advantage of some pet therapy either by taking time to really appreciate your own household pet or by volunteering at your local shelter.
We often think about extremes when we’re frustrated but when we take the time to appreciate all the simple pleasures around us it can be a huge benefit to our mental state and make us appreciate life that much more.
It’s easy to not notice when something in our home or daily environments is actually hurting and not helping. While we may not always consider things like lighting,colors,or where things are in a room it can affect us and our mood greatly.
You don’t really need to go full feng shui on your house or office but taking a moment to reassess your environment when you’re stressed or not feeling quite right can be a small but effective step. Small things like changing your lighting,painting the wall a fresh color,getting new curtains, or even getting new bedding can be a refreshing and affordable treat and a positive change. You can even just make some small steps to improve how the room smells,get a white noise machine to make it more peaceful,buy a painting at the home store or put some photos you like on the wall for positive visuals, or just rearrange the furniture a little. New perspectives are new opportunities when it comes to how you see your world and feel as a person.
It’s okay to treat yourself to a new item,indulgent treat, or luxury but where we make mistakes is when we over-indulge and use that as a distraction from reality. You can still treat yourself but instead of having too many drinks,buying something you don’t have money for, or doing something that only temporarily makes you feel good try rewarding yourself with a sense of reason and moderation. Understand your means and understand the aftermath of what you want to do. If either of those things are strained or potentially harmful then you want to scale back your reward item a little. If you want to buy something then find something small and within your budget to buy or see if you can curb the urge just by window shopping with a friend. If you want to pig out try getting a sundae after you’ve already had a good meal so you won’t over-stuff yourself with garbage. If you want to drink,limit it to one drink and don’t drink alone so you also get the benefit of a social experience.
The key to rewarding yourself is to do it in a way that won’t hurt you later and in a way that is just enough and within reason. Too much of a good thing can sometimes be just as bad as being stressed and depressed.
Once you come through a tough time you might be tempted to just jump right back into the fray. Instead of doing that, try taking time to address your coping skills so you can handle stress better moving forward. Make a note about new techniques you’ve learned and keep them going if they help you. Start practicing more mindful behaviors in your daily routines and make appreciating life an everyday thing. Continue taking better care of yourself to keep your health and happiness up.
The key to really dealing with stress is that we need to change as people sometimes, because if you keep doing what you’ve always done then you’ll keep getting the same results. Actively tackle the negative practices in your life so you can live better in a long-term way. Appreciate who you are and take good care of yourself all the time, not just when you’re overwhelmed. Loving yourself is key to coping in our busy modern world and the more you focus on living well, the less stress and hardship will break you when it does occur.
When it comes to coping, we should really all be in it together. While there are a lot of things we may experience due to being part of a specific group, it’s important to understand we’re all going through something or dealing with something and that it’s okay to need help. But just as our stresses grow and change, we can learn better ways to deal with it. Next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed try thinking outside the box on what might get your situation stabilized. You might be surprised at how easy and accessible peace of mind really is.
What does the word therapy mean to you? Well, in a practical sense, therapy can be an umbrella that doesn’t just cover actions but also things. A lot of medical conditions include therapy supplies that are things you buy and not things you do. Autism is no different in that aspect. Today we’re going to discuss some physical aids that are used in the treatment of an autism spectrum disorder.
Physical therapy aids can be a big benefit for a person on the spectrum. This is especially true since a lot of people on the spectrum physically manifest emotional responses and anxiety more than a typical person would. While many of us may not think too much about a stress ball, a blanket,or even see a point to paying more for a natural light desk lamp these things can be essentials for a person on the spectrum feeling right in their environment. Aids can not only help a person on the spectrum feel grounded but also alter their environment to help them deal with sensory input and reduce the chances of getting overloaded.
Even though therapy is a huge benefit to those on the spectrum, it can often be hard to obtain. While some therapy supplies can be relatively affordable,others are not and the majority of them are not covered by medical insurance and must be purchased out of pocket by the person. This could be because of the lack of solid resources on what helps for those on the spectrum but also because it is an invisible and sometimes confusing condition for even some medical professionals to grasp.
Adding to that confusion is that not all therapies will apply for each person on the spectrum. The types of therapy supplies needed will vary person to person as sensory issues do. While some people may have more issues with light or sound, some may also have issues with smell or textures. Some people on the spectrum have more issues feeling grounded in their environment then others and each person will stim a little differently than another person. The large range of needs and behaviors between people on the spectrum can make tackling therapy in general difficult but definitely creates a difference in what therapy supplies are considered vital.
Since most of the therapy items ideal for those on the spectrum are actually pretty ordinary it is often hard to prove them as a medical purchase because they appear to be normal items that a lot of people might buy.For instance, stress balls are considered almost an obligatory promotional item and not a therapy item and fidget toys are often seen as toys for children as opposed to a vital element to therapy. A lot of the therapy items I’ll cover are things you would at some point have a reason to buy as just a person and not necessarily as a therapy item.
Some people on the spectrum have a sensory sensitivity to smells in their environment. One of the simplest ways to curb this or at the very least turn it into more of a positive is to try aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is a very popular thing right now and can be expensive over time depending on how you go about it. What always worked best for me was actually a bracelet with aromatherapy discs you slid into part of it. I could take it wherever I went. It didn’t look anymore awkward than say an arm weight or sport accessory. The refills were even fairly affordable in comparison to a small bottle of essential oil. Aromatherapy can either be used to help distract away from other smells in the environment or it can be used just as aromatherapy where certain scents promote certain moods. Either way can greatly benefit a person on the spectrum and help them be comfortable in their environment. Other cheaper forms of aromatherapy can be scented candles or air fresheners.
We often don’t think about lights as being disruptive but some types of light can cause sensory issues for a person on the spectrum. The best type of lighting is one that mimics natural light as artificial lighting such as fluorescent lights can cause disturbances.Some people on the spectrum can see the flickering or hear the hum of the bulbs in a fluorescent light. For me personally it’s something like sitting under a flickering light and a beehive at the same time. The same natural lights that help for seasonal depression can be a great resource for a person on the spectrum to have. The bulbs are made to emit a more natural and usually warmer light that doesn’t distract or overwhelm.
Alternatively there are types of fluorescent lights that are less harsh to sit under,covers or filters that can be put over fluorescent lights to reduce the intensity, and lighting systems that allow for the person to dim or control the light brightness.Some situations may even be as a simple as a change to the bulb type you use or a new lampshade that filters and warms the light being emitted.
Fluorescent light has actually been proven to bother more than just people on the spectrum and even lower productivity in some cases but some people will only perceive it as a minor annoyance and not a meltdown. Natural light bulbs and the lamps can cost a bit more than a typical lamp. My natural light desklamp put me out close to $40.00 and I haven’t had to see the price tag on a new bulb just yet since they do last pretty well. But in the long run a few small lighting changes can make a world of difference for someone on the spectrum and be well worth the cost.
The typical human brain will naturally filter out a good number of background noises but for a person on the spectrum it can be like living with super hearing. One of the big things that can help is white noise. White noise is a common factor in aiding those with sleep and anxiety problems but can also help a person on the spectrum tune out the more distracting noises around them.
While a quality white noise machine can cost $40+ you can buy some headphones on the cheap as an alternative and tune into a site called http://mynoise.net on your computer or phone. If you can afford it there are also hearing aids that are essentially in-ear white noise devices but for a cheap alternative you can buy a low end bluetooth earpiece and link it to white noise playing on your phone for an easy white noise solution that is mostly hands free and easily able to blend in when you venture out into the world. You can also get even simpler and get a fan. Fans are a natural provider of white noise and can be a great alternative if you need the white noise while you sleep and don’t want to be bogged down with having headphones in, but can’t afford a sound machine.
If you do invest in a white noise machine,go for one that has a range of sounds because everyone is a little different. There are nights I like the crackling campfire or the sound of rain but other nights I might prefer ocean waves or nature noises so try to find a quality one that will give you some options.
Some therapy items are to help for when a person on the spectrum has a high sensitivity to texture.They are typically things that encourage tactile input. The idea is that it can provide something that the person doesn’t mind touching as opposed to maybe a chalky desk or bothersome clothing fabric. Some of the textures on these types of supplies are smooth or soft as these are typically comforting to a person on the spectrum. An example would be that most fidget cubes have one side that appears to have nothing but it is actually meant to be a side for textural therapy purposes. For a person on the spectrum it usually doubles as a distraction from disruptive or unpleasant textures but also as a source of comfort and calming. The repetitive motion of rubbing the more pleasing texture can also coincide with how a person stims in some cases.
Fidget toys aren’t really toys in a traditional sense. They are small devices that twist,bend,or move in ways that accommodate a person fidgeting or stimming. They are typically made to assist those with anxiety and acute fidgeting issues but have a tendency get downgraded to being a novelty toy instead. The best example is a fidget spinner which took the world by storm and was given to quite a few kids to keep them busy. It was just as vigorously played up as being stupid and pointless when it lost popularity. Part of that was because people seemed largely unaware of who the target audience for fidget spinners and similar items are.
Fidget toys aren’t meant to be toys. They’re made to channel the anxiety and energy that can overwhelm anxiety sufferers and people on the spectrum. They are also meant to focus and calm. They aren’t designed to be a fad toy or something you use to do tricks on a Youtube video. Many items like stress balls and even a lot of physics toys fall into the category of being for this purpose as well. Fidget cubes are another popular one and can actually cost over $30.00 despite their tiny size. I would probably die from anxiety if I didn’t take my fidget cube everywhere with me though. With fidget toys it’s especially important for people to understand their purpose and that sometimes people aren’t playing with them at all but trying to positively channel something more serious.
If you’re trying to shop for a fidget toy it can be a little overwhelming. There are tons of types of them out there and it can be hard to tell which one will help you at first. Before you buy, think about how you stim. If you move your hands around more try something stretchy or moldable. Don’t use a regular novelty stressball though. Find a softer one or even one of the ones that looks sort of like a bunch of tiny balls in a ball. These ones are a little better and can stand up to intense squeezing and stretching without hurting your hand. Fidget cubes and spinners are sort of a staple but try to consider if you’re a spinner,button pusher,or switch clicker before dropping them into your cart. If you’re a pen clicker like me, a fidget cube will be your new best friend. If you like spinning things the fidget spinner might be your cup of tea. If you really get active hands there are are even these things that look sort of like strings but they’re made of a gel sort of substance and can be stretched,tied, and abused pretty badly without falling apart. Basically the key to finding a fidget toy that helps is understanding your habits and needs.
One of the issues some people on the spectrum have is feeling grounded in their environment. This is kind of a strange feeling to explain but sometimes due to a lack of pressure on the body you kind of feel like you’re floating no matter where you are. This creates a sort of disconnect for the person that can build anxiety. One of the therapies that remedies this is for the person to have a weighted item. When I say a weighted item I don’t mean a barbell or an exercise aid. Therapeutic weighted items for those on the spectrum are usually things that also help with touch therapy as they’re usually covered in a soft material such as minky fabric or fleece.
For kids it’s typical to find weighted stuffed animals and there are also weighted blankets you can get in various sizes or just simple weighted pads you can rest in your lap while you sit. The purpose is to put some pressure on the person’s body and make them feel calm or grounded. Weights vary and some people may need heavier or lighter weighted items than others. Weighted items can be a bit pricey though. My weighted blanket is just throw size and 5lbs but it cost about $150. A full weighted bedspread can be over $200.Even a weighted stuffed animal can be well more than you’d pay for multiple toys. The good news is that it does help. It’s not really about the expense or the person being finicky about blankets. It’s a good and simple solution that helps a person on the spectrum be more aware of their environment
Chewing is a behavior that is most commonly seen in children on the spectrum but can also be something an adult does. I know personally I only chew or bite in extreme situations of anxiety and the first thing I go for is unfortunately my own hand. I’ve actually bitten a few times to the point I nearly drew blood. That’s why things like chewing rings and similar aids exist. Biting is a destructive form of stimming and a type of self-harm at its root. The point of a chewing therapy aid is so the person can safely bite down on something that won’t injure them or their teeth. I think the biggest misconception for this form of stimming is that only kids do it though.
If you’re an adult with a biting issue ,it makes you a bit more embarrassed, but go for the chewing aid if you really need it. It’s better than injuring your body or hurting your teeth. If you see a child using one of these aids try to be understanding. They aren’t trying to hurt you or themselves. They’re just displaying a more extreme form of stimming that can be kept at bay with the right aid.
I love Amazon. You can get a lot of things on Amazon for great and usually lower than retail prices so it’s a great and reliable place to shop for any of the things mentioned in this article. One of the good things about these therapy items is that they are at their heart regular consumer items and not medical supplies so you can shop around and they are generally easy to find. Some things will still be a little high in price even on a site like Amazon but take your time and compare products if you need to get them for some autism therapy on a budget. If you can and depending on the item you could also consider that Amazon has a great return policy even on used items so you might be able to buy something used and in good condition but still have protection to return it if things don’t work out. This could be a viable option for an appliance therapy item like the sound machine or diffuser.
Another great benefit to using something online is that you don’t have to brave a retail store or feel a need to explain yourself to a cashier. Not having to go into a store and still getting what you need can be a big deal when you’re shopping with the limitations of sensory or interpersonal issues and the Amazon box will come discretely and securely to your door. If you have to write them off somehow or reimburse yourself from an HSA, you have a concrete transaction number and no fiddling with receipts to worry about.
Something that keeps a lot of people on the spectrum from getting the therapy supplies they need is the stigma. While some people may never notice the person is even utilizing a therapy tool,others might make a person feel bad or embarrassed about it which discourages some people from using therapy supplies that could change their whole outlook on life. If you recognize a loved one or co-worker is using some of these items and might be using them therapeutically,try to understand that they aren’t playing with toys and clutching a security blanket but trying to compensate for the sensory disturbances and improve their environment. Learning to see a situation from another person’s perspective might change things and it’s a sign of respect to that person. They might be a little different and need a little help but they’re just humans trying to live their lives like you at the end of the day. You might even find some new benefits in that item yourself if you keep an open mind.
In the same way a cane can add mobility for a physical disability, we need to take advantage of the idea that a tangible object can be part of the solution for a very intangible disorder. Understanding that there are items you can buy to help make an environment less disruptive for a person on the spectrum can make a huge difference and understanding what those items mean to the person using them is key. Everyone is dealing with something and a little different so learning to see a fidget spinner,stress ball,or scent diffuser in a different light can change your whole perspective and change the world of a person on the spectrum so they can truly enjoy it.