Living in the year 2016 means you’re essentially a foot soldier with the intelligence network of a five star general. It’s not shocking mental illness is on the rise...it would be more shocking if it wasn’t. Since I’m the self titled queen of pet hypotheses, I actually think the skyrocketing number of introverts is more due to globalization exhaustion than true introvertedness i.e. Modern culture would turn even Pollyanna into a bone sapped Zoloft loving introvert. (but more on that later…)
One answer is to unplug entirely. And if you’re having problems actually coping with day to day life, then this may be what you need to do. No judgement.
But if you’re like me and grew up in The Village, or if you just have a more nuanced view in general and don’t feel the need to do a modern incarnation of a benedictine monk, then here are some battle tested survival tips taken from so many random sources this will be scientific credibility at its finest.
1. Take two magnesium and drink 16 oz of water.
Magnesium helps your brain chemistry and at the very least, the physical act of putting something into your mouth and and guzzling fluids has a placebo effect of letting your mental state rebalance itself.
2. Take a really hot or really cold shower.
This suggestion came from a fellow writer who read it from another writer in regards to creativity. I think it’s because it turns on the part of your brain that feels like it’s doing something (slightly) dangerous. And anytime you get a rush of brain chemicals, you have the chance to piggy back other emotions like ambition, creativity and drive onto it.
3. Eat some icecream.
Don’t follow this advice actually...I don’t want to be responsible for diabetes. But research shows that mood patterns are closely related to food patterns. Hangry is really a thing. There’s real biological evidence for the whole binge watching TV while eating junk food, it’s a self preservation instinct...It just so happens that going out and killing a tiger and then passing out in front of the fire is a little better for your pancreas and heart.
.4. Read the book of Ecclesiastes.
Seriously. This has been one of my go to anxiety buster since I was a teenager. There is something freeing about the relevancy of something someone wrote thousands of years ago that directly addresses humanity today. It makes you feel both big and small and releases the burden of feeling like you’re the only one who sees the world going to hell in a handbasket.
5. Write poetry and then burn it.
I’m pretty sure every great composer and painter of the Classical and Romantic era did this. Embrace your angst and pour it out through a real pen with a real piece of paper and then burn it with a real match with that real sulfur smell wafting up through your real nostrils (safely of course, and probably not around children). As a wise friend once said “we’re not gnostics. We are physical beings with real bodies, so do real things.” (I’m paraphrasing). The more cyberspacey we get, the more disconnected we get, and as someone whose reading list is ninety percent ebook, I should take my own medicine. There’s also something specific about poetry that engages and turns on particular parts of your brain. Please though, in your poetry burning, don’t actually burn other people’s books literally or figuratively. This isn’t the 15th century.
6. Roll a cask of sour ale through your neighborhood.
Ok, so maybe this one is a little difficult to do. But the endorphins from the muscle expenditure combined with the mild alcohol and probiotics at the end are a winning combo. In all seriousness, hard physical work and sunshine are part of the reason your grandparents were likely happier and healthier than you so if you find yourself overwhelmed with the sadness and enormity of life, then put on those suspenders and boots and go dig a ditch.
What not to do…
For all of the analytical logical types out there. Don’t give yourself a concussion bashing your head against the table when you see lamenting and bleeding heart syndrome going around like food poisoning at a wedding with bad tacos. By all means use your superior higher reasoning skills to tear apart and discuss what ballistics were used, the credibility of the witnesses and the evidence of various camera angles, but don’t be surprised when you get shamed for that.
For all of the big picture socially intuitive types out there. I get it. You can’t turn your brain off. You see pain, suffering, hunger and injustices and you see all of the connecting threads which just makes it even more difficult to process. You feel helpless, like the only thing you can do is use a few trending hashtag and plead with people in eloquently written status updates. The problem is, it often makes me feel more empty and worse and it comes across like mom nagging at anyone who disagrees. So maybe borrow angst from the other side of the emotional spectrum and try #5.