As Featured on News Cult: How to Boost Your Mood

Our mood is perpetually bad. We hate everything, and with good reason. But, we’re stuck here, so we may as well try not to be miserable 24/7. Enter: mood boosting. A technique we use to delude ourselves into feeling a little less bad for a little while. Here’s how to do it.

Sleep

I find that sleep is the solution to every problem. Got too much to do? Sleep. Sick? Sleep. You’re unlovable? Sleep. Throw. in. the. to. wel. You’ll be less cranky the more you sleep. Mostly because you’ll have to spend less minutes in the day facing the sad pathetic reality that is your life and the terrible people who surround you. #here’stobeingunconscious

Change up your routine

You know what puts you in a bad mood? The same old bullshit drudgery of the day-to-day. So do something different. I don’t care if that means buying a different scent of deodorant (“powder” is only “fresh” for so long you feel me?), taking off on an unplanned road trip in the middle of your workday, or telling your company’s receptionist to blow you—just give yourself a jolt of newness. Something to upset the status quo and pointlessness that you live alldayeveryday.

Take a bath

Baths are such refuge—a place to escape physical & mental distress. Baths are like safe zones, where nothing exists—everything just vanishes and you become weightless. It’s really too bad you ever have to get out. I hate to make the womb reference, but I’m gonna go there—we can fuck with the womb. It’s when we leave it that everything goes south. #it’salldownhillfromthere #oruphill? #becausedownhilliseasy #uphilliswhattakeseffort #eventhoughupisgenerallythedirectionassociatedwithpositivity #butlikeforrealcansomebodyclarifythatsaying

Listen to music, watch TV or a movie

Good music is king. Or watch a funny TV show. Live in someone else’s world for a while. #areyounoticingapattern #ifyou’renotgoingtoletusdoheroinwe’regoingtoneedothermeansofescape

….. Exercise?

I mean…. because.. science? Ugh it’s so hard to try to act like I believe in exercise. Frankly I don’t care if it produces good end results. Like, the journey isn’t worth it for real. Fuck endorphins, man, all you need is Skittles and chocolate milk.

Do something just purely for fun

Do something that’s not stressful, but just plain hedonistic. Whether that’s riding a roller coaster, coloring with your BAMF metallic colored pencils, playing Cards Against Humanity, having not-terrible sex (#istheresuchathing), eating something delicious, skydiving, looking at pictures of tween Drake for 3 hours, starting a Twitter war with Deborah Messing, or reading Hillary Clinton’s emails, just revel in it.

Medication

I’m not a pill-pusher, but life is hard enough—add to that serious mood swings or depression, and then it’s just like BYE. If medication actually helps you, go for it. Plus, you’ll become BFFs with your pharmacist—NO ONE will experience your ups and downs quite like him. #andnoonewillknowhowmanyyeastinfectionsyougetquitelikehim #that’struefriendship

Volunteer

Doing good makes you feel good. Also being around those less fortunate than you snaps you out of your privileged malaise. Or, if you want to do bourg-y volunteering, then hang with some puppies. If puppies don’t boost your mood then you should probably just kill yourself.

Go outside

Get some fresh air, or, if you’re in a place like LA, inhale the disgustingly polluted and toxic smog that surrounds you! Rain or shine, just soak it in, take some deep breaths, and remember that you can always leave wherever or whatever is putting you in a bad mood and get back to nature. That is, until climate change destroys it, the sun explodes and engulfs us, and we all burn to a crisp.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/9-things-will-really-boost-mood/

As Featured on News Cult: How to Get Over Writer’s Block

As I write this, I have writer’s block. I thought a good way to get over it would be to write a piece about how to get over it. Not sure that’s logical, but I figured it’s enough of a cyclical tactic that it’s bound to work eventually. So, that said, in real time, here’s how to get over writer’s block.

Put pen to paper

I hate to say it, but forcing yourself to do it is the only way you’ll get any sort of momentum. I’m pretty sure Nike’s slogan was a product of writer’s block. Even if what you write is complete shit, still make yourself start there. In my experience, it’s not as easy as just sitting down and forcing yourself to write one time and then you’re off to the races—you may have to do this several times until you start feeling like you’re making any progress and that it won’t always be such a battle. So start slow—maybe just jot down a few words today. Tomorrow, a sentence. Wednesday, a paragraph. Etc. And that way, too, if and when you fail, it will at least be a slow burn instead of a miraculous flame-out. #welikeourfailurelikewelikeourgeneralexistence #unnoticed

Stop being a perfectionist

I think part of writer’s block is fear that your product will be terrible. But if you just accept that it will be terrible, or at least less than perfect, you’ll free yourself of pressure to meet a certain standard, and then can write with abandon. No one’s perfect—not even people who claim to be. So don’t let your misguided aspirations/delusions of perfection stop you from expressing yourself—the Catholic church(/actually really any religion) sure doesn’t!

Cry about it

Yes, your creative dry spell is majorly heart-wrenching. So just let it out. Will you ever be able to write again? It’s impossible to say. Have you lost your vision forever? Probably. Are you less insightful, witty, and original than you thought? 100%. You have every reason to weep. And while you should probably just end it all now because clearly you’re going nowhere, also consider getting over it. #buildthatbridge #thenburnit #afteryougetoverit #becauseifyouburnitbeforeyougetoverityouwon’tbeabletogetoverit #butyou’reallclearafteryougetoverit #burnbabyburn #bernbabybern #BernieSanders2016 #seewhatIdidthere  

Realize that writer’s block is mostly composed of your laziness

Sure, it’s more glamorous to say that our muse has left us, but really, we’re mainly just too lazy to do the hard work that is writing. I don’t think anyone knows why anyone writes, because it’s really just hard. Overall, the process is agonizing. So it makes sense that sometimes we feel like watching 9 hours of shitty reality TV back-to-back instead. We don’t need to term that “writer’s block”—we can just be honest with ourselves. And also not feel ashamed for it—everyone needs and wants breaks. To be allowed, that instinct doesn’t have to be manipulated into some version of martyrdom.

Focus on what you’d enjoy writing about

And do that. Maybe you’re having writer’s block on a subject that you don’t particularly care about. Makes sense. So if you can switch to something you give 2 shits about (at least—aim for 2-4 shits given), your block may dissolve. I know this is easier said than done, especially if you’re writing on assignment. But try to find creative ways to make whatever you’re writing about more appealing to you so that the process of writing about it will be less painful. One way to accomplish this is to look at every piece of writing as a learning opportunity; everything you write requires some knowledge on your part, and that may mean you have to do some learning before you can write with authority. And learning new things is great—mainly because then when someone says something ignorant, you can shut them the fuck down with complete peace of mind. #writingisyourweapon

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/worst-get-writers-block/

As Featured on News Cult: How to Get Over Being a People Pleaser

Even though we hate people, we still feel the need to please them. Because we are painfully self-aware, self-conscious, and apologetic, for no good reason. Except oh wait I can think of one—we live in a society that condemns assertiveness, save for self-important, over-compensational, egomaniacal men (although don’t get me wrong—P’s OS come in all genders). But just because we’re decent, humble human beings, doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our own well-being or sense of self. I, for one, am sick of giving people preferential treatment ahead of myself, especially because most of them don’t deserve it and wouldn’t do the same for me. So if you’re with me, here’s how to get over being a people pleaser.

Nip it in the bud

The next time you find yourself about to bend over backwards for someone, just shut. it. down. I don’t care if you’re literally bending over backwards—pick that shit up—or if you’re mid-sentence: “Sure, I guess we could go to that restaurant…” Just stop talking and turn it around: “… Actually no. That place is really expensive, awful, and I’m not going there at 10 PM on a Monday because they didn’t have any other reservations. That’s three hours past my bedtime and frankly anywhere that ‘trendy’ can blow me. And the horse I rode in on.” If it helps, carry around a spray bottle and spritz yourself in the face every time you start pleasing people (that sounds uncomfortably sexual but you know what I mean)—use pepper spray if you have to. Breaking yourself of this habit is going to take discipline, and if that means severe measures, so be it.

Use rage as your fuel

What I find particularly backwards is that, often, the people we feel the need to placate or appease the most are the people least deserving. For example, when someone is blowing their secondhand smoke in our face, we feel like we would be rude to ask them to stop, so we just breathe it in, even though they’re the rude ones for spreading their fumes. Or when someone is tailing us in traffic, we feel pressure to speed up and accommodate them, even though they can kiss our bumpers. So just let the rage that the intimidating person incites in you fuel your refusal to bow down, and, further, your insistence on standing up to them, telling them what’s what, and pulling the cigarette straight outta their ugly fucking mouth and sticking it right into their big fucking forehead. #WE’RENOTREADYTOMAKENICE #WE’RENOTREADYTOBACKDOWN #NEITHERARETHEDIXIECHICKS

Remember most people aren’t as accommodating

While you’re out there busting your ass to make everyone happy, they’re just looking out for #1. I mean really, how many people go out of their way to make sure all of your needs are met on a regular basis? What’s that, your loving boyfriend/girlfriend/life partner/mom does? Well how nice for you. But the rest of us are faced with constant disappointment in others on an unrelenting basis. So why bother? Quid pro quo, bro.

Know that people aren’t paying attention

As much as you think. You’re worried they’re as wrapped up in what’s going on as you, and that they’ll notice if you don’t go above and beyond to make their every wish come true, when, really, they’re thinking about how fat they do or do not (but do) look in that skirt. They probably wouldn’t even think twice if you didn’t add in that extra exclamation point at the end of your text message, or only had 3 instead of 4 gluten-free snack options for movie night, or decided to sit out clubbing because your pajamas sound more appealing. Trust that people are much more narcissistic than you give them credit for.

Know your worth

You are worthy, and are not obligated to chip away at yourself in order to make others happy or satisfied. You deserve your own attention, too. Now don’t go crazy, here—I’m not saying you should take care of your health by going to the gym or eating vegetables or anything ridiculous like that. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t put others before yourself. Unless they’re like your kid or something, in which case, it’s your fault they exist so don’t be an asshole.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/get-people-pleaser/

As Featured on News Cult: How to Deal with Your OCD

To my fellow sufferers of OCD: I am in the trenches with you. OCD is, on its surface, charming and endearing (“awww, how cute that everything on your desk has to be perfectly neat—parallel lines ONLY—or you’ll have a complete meltdown!”). But really, it’s awful. It’s a prison that keeps you trapped in an endless cycle of obsessive thoughts, compulsions, and rituals, for fear of something catastrophic. Of course everyone who has OCD experiences it differently, but over eight years of therapy and counting, I’ve found some effective ways of dealing with it that I think others may find helpful too. So if you’re struggling with OCD, here are some coping mechanisms you can try.

Exposure therapy

I’d recommend visiting a therapist who specializes in this, but the poor man’s DIY version is to simply exposure yourself to what you are afraid of without engaging in any compulsions. You start gradual and work your way up to more intense exposures. For example, say you fear that you will run over a child, so you won’t drive anywhere near where children are likely to be (i.e. schools, playgrounds, parks, etc.). The exposure would be to have sessions where you drive around while your therapist throws strollers at your car, and keep driving (but seriously—this is a thing). You may start with driving around for just 1 minute and work your way up to 10. Or start with 1 stroller and work your way up to 10. The theory is that the more you are exposed to what you fear, the less you will eventually fear it and need to engage in compulsive behavior in order to stop it from happening—because through exposure, you’ll see that your fear is exaggerated, and possibly even completely unrealistic, depending on the context. Of course there is not one right way of doing exposure therapy, and it can get fairly complicated and nuanced, depending on the case, but generally I think it’s beneficial and makes sense. (If  you decide to put your exposure practice to use in the real world, though, by, for example, deciding to drive by a school one day, and you actually do run over a child, you should probably just kill yourself).

Nip it in the bud

Literally force yourself to stop obsessing/engaging in your compulsion of choice. You have to just stop—you can’t try to reason yourself into stopping, because that, too, will lead to more obsessive thinking. Do whatever you have to do to snap out of it—punch yourself in the face (localize the pain!), get up and go do something (go to the grocery store—there is literally always something you need to pick up from the grocery store at any given point in time), turn on the news and distract yourself with the terrible state of affairs in the world, actually do some work at work, burst into song/laughter/tears/laughter-tears… Just get your mind onto a whole different track.

Reach out to someone

If you’re engaged with someone else, it’s a lot harder to be engaged with your OCD. So call someone—anyone. Your mom, your best friend, the girl who waxes you. Ask the Time Warner Cable customer service rep for their life story. Ask the Trader Joe’s cashier if they want to hang out (because they are literally the coolest people in the universe and you would be honored). Get into a conversation that will force you to interact outside of your own head, and be accountable to someone and something other than your own compulsive urges.

Exhaust yourself

Do something that will physically exhaust you so that you won’t even have the mental energy left to spend on your OCD. Run in place, mop your floors, exert any slight bit of bodily effort—anything that will tire you out quickly. This shouldn’t be hard to accomplish given that you are a member of the sloth species.

Have a fallback plan

If you have to spend time trying to figure out how to dig yourself out of your OCD spiral, it will take longer to do, which means risking spiraling further and further to the point of no return (and trust me, you do not want to get to the point of having to spend any time in a mental hospital—the food sucks). But if you have a plan of three things you can fall back on that can engage you immediately, every time your OCD starts to overwhelm you, relief will come quicker. For example, your plan of attack upon the onset of an OCD flare-up could be to either:

1. Make a really difficult recipe that will require a lot of focus and concentration (which you will inevitably fail at and have to try at least four more times before you get it right—BAM, time-suck initiated!)

-OR-

2. Hand-wash your car (and wax it too. AND clean the inside. This will take you forever because you don’t own a hose, haven’t cleaned your car since you got it… 9 years ago, and have no clue how to wax a car, despite having watched The Karate Kid).

-OR-

3. Do your coloring book. I don’t care how juvenile this may sound, because it’s the most relaxing, absorbing activity. CHILDREN: HANG ON TO YOUR YOUTH.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/actually-winning-battle-deal-ocd/

As Featured on News Cult: Self-Help Books: Let’s Discuss

But like we can all agree lol though right

We are in need of help; that’s been established. But the question is, what kind of help? Therapy? Alcohol? (Always) A Dr. Phil intervention? Or can we help someone help ourselves by way of self-help books? Honestly I’ve never felt like there’s been a discussion here–I’ve always LOL’d at self-help books and then moved on to my next self-destructive and/or self-loathing task. But I feel like several people I respect have used them in a non-ironic way and take them seriously, so maybe I need to take a step back and reevaluate. Oh god… they’re already getting to me.

But I mean seriously, aren’t self-help books a little cult-y? Like I feel like Tom Cruise walks around with a library bag full of them on the shoulder of his 2nd assistant, 24/7. And in between jumping on couches and denying his sexuality, he just has his 3rd assistant read them out loud to him. And he’s probably written them all, too; or had his 4th assistant ghost write them all. That’s the other thing–they seem self-indulgent to me. Who thinks they’re qualified enough to write a self-help book? Clearly, a narcissist. Who isn’t capable of maintaining a real profession in psychology or a related field. Self-help authors are like motivational speakers: they’re diet therapy. They’re the University of Phoenixes, the Kirkland Signatures, the You’d Think It’s Butter!’s.

But maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe self-help books really can be valuable and serve a purpose. I feel like the more desperate you are, the greater lengths you’ll go to. So if your life is falling apart, hell, you’ll try anything. Even if that means buying a book entitled Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson, M.D. (Aggressive move with the question mark-colon, Dr. Johnson–I daresay I commend you). And I guess I shouldn’t be judgy–like, whatever works for you. Why should I knock self-help books just because I think they’re cheesy, opportunistic, and absurd, if they improve people’s lives who don’t know any better?

But also, what if they’re not really helping people who think they’re being helped by them. Like what if they’re just training a bunch of sociopaths? Because let’s be real, people who are overly “spiritual” are just fucking weird and nobody wants to get stuck sitting next to them on the plane because then they’ll ask you if they can read you one of their tantric poem trilogies and you’ll be like “ok” because you won’t want to be rude but when it’s all over you’ll end up feeling like you’ve just had sex with Sting.

All I’m saying is that maybe people shouldn’t be in control of their own help. Maybe psychologists, and social workers, and drugs mental institutions exist for a reason. I mean when I hit rock bottom, I just eat a bunch of nachos and cry on my bathroom floor, so I don’t really get the need for self-help books. Besides the fact that they create jobs. Maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe they’re a government scheme, like prisons, to employ a bunch of hacks. In which case, we better watch out or the Mexicans are going to take over and start writing ALL the self-help books. Or, sorry–all the libros de autoayudas(?).

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/?p=69611

As Featured on News Cult: How to Survive Panic Attacks

The dreaded panic attack. Such a burden. As if we don’t have enough problems already. Like, we already have to shave our legs, pretend to work at work, and completely fail at navigating the painfully awkward dating scene–and now we have to be overcome by panic about it all, too!? A panic attack is like a bad boyfriend–it comes when it’s not the right time, stays too long, is driven by irrationality, and makes you feel like crap. But DON’T PANIC GUYS (self-five for that one! Yeahhhhhhh)–I have solutions. Whether you’re prone to completely paralyzing, disruptive panic attacks that stop you from functioning like a normal person in society (not that you ever really do), or more mild, less disabling bouts of anxiety, here’s how you survive them.

Breathe

It’s such a cliché, but it’s one for a reason, just like stereotypes–it’s TRUE. Focus on your breath–take one inhale and one exhale at a time. Imagine you’re breathing in the aroma of a freshly baked Funfetti cake, or the scent of coffee/salvation in the morning, or the smell of fear as your nemesis cowers in the face of your superiority and fabulousness.

Feel your feet on the ground

If there’s one thing panic does, it makes you feel like you aren’t solidly grounded. But you ARE–stand firmly and focus on the sensation of your feet rooted to the ground. You may feel completely thrown off, but the beauty is that the panic is in your head, and if you can squash it there, it can’t invade the rest of your body. Walk around if you have to–anything to prove to yourself that you’re here, now, and you’re not going anywhere–if only because you don’t weigh an insignificant amount, and as much as we wish we were light as a feather and could just float away like a balloon, we’re more like an anchor. Made of plutonium. The size of  Shaquille O’Neal.

Cry

Crying is the best–it’s such a release. Instead of trying to fight it, just let it out. I don’t care if you’re in the middle of a work presentation, or on an airplane, or in line at Starbucks–EXPRESS YOURSELF. Everyone can deal with it. Just wail. You literally feel like you’re dying, so get that overwhelming sensation out of your mind and body. Get it out, and eventually it will subside. And, bonus–if you happen to be in a public place, people will now think you’re extra psycho and will go even more out of their way than they already were to avoid you. #WINNING

Think of something funny

You’re going to find it hard to sustain your panic if you recall the time you ripped your pants sitting down at your desk first thing in the morning and had to spend the rest of the day walking backwards, or the time you spelled your own name wrong when submitting it to your college registrar for your diploma, or the time you showed up for a blind date and mistook the waiter for your guy, so when he came to your table to greet you, you stood up and hugged him.

Run in place

Similar to crying, this is a good way of expelling all the pent up energy that panic attacks entail. Plus, we never exercise, so we’re really killing two birds with one stone here. I’m really proud of our efficiency. It’s commendable, frankly.

Engage denial

Perhaps my favorite coping mechanism, denial is a proven, trusty, reliable fail-safe. Just start pretending that everything’s fine, and there’s no need to panic, and nothing is wrong. Take a page out of your parents’ book and act like there’s no problem that needs addressing and everything is perfect and everyone is happy and it’s Christmas goddammit so SMILE AND ACT LIKE YOU LOVE YOUR FAMILY. Talk yourself through the process out loud if you have to–“You are panicking–but don’t worry, there’s no need to. You didn’t completely just fuck up that assignment, your boss isn’t going to notice, your frenemy didn’t overhear you shit-talking her at lunch even though she was standing right behind you in line to order, you don’t have AIDS despite the fact that you slept with a questionable (at best) guy last night whose name you don’t remember but you feel like it definitely started with a ‘G,’ and you’re not sure you used a condom but, hey, it’s the 21st century–people do this all the time, right? and like ok, so you accidentally sent that confidential email about someone who was never supposed to see it to that person, but we’re all going to die one day anyways, so does it really matter?” 

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/?p=55440