Coping Skills, Life

How to modify dances when your body is in pain or works differently

I love dancing and have been dancing for most of my life. It started getting painful to dance in fall of 2019. Then in March 2020 when school went online, I moved back home, and the semester’s performance was cancelled, I stopped dancing altogether. I didn’t dance for many months and tried to take it really easy on my body. I danced a little bit with my sister occasionally last November and December. And now, I am back at school (still online, but I’m living on campus), and I’m in two dances this semester for the dance group I’m in.

(there is more backstory to this than I originally intended; feel free to skip to the how-to part if that’s what you’re looking for!)

I love dancing, but it is still painful. 😦 I had a dance teacher once who was very accepting and understanding of everyone and encouraged us to just “modify” the moves to best suit us. However, I didn’t know how to modify them! So I ended up just doing what everyone else was doing and hurting myself.

I felt a lot of peer pressure when dance classes/rehearsals were in person because everyone, especially the choreographer, was watching. I felt bad if I didn’t do a move or sat down for a bit. Some people were nice, but others were not. Plus the choreographer normally has a vision for how they want their dance to look, and I felt pressure to meet their vision and expectations. And I want to be able to move that way. If someone does a really pretty, fun, powerful, or graceful move, I want to be able to move that way, too! And sometimes I can’t.

This makes me really sad. I am getting sad writing this. I think I am grieving the loss of this ability a bit. Dancing used to be one of few consistently good things throughout my life (another one is nature), and now it’s not anymore. It’s hard and painful, which makes it less enjoyable, and it probably won’t get better with just “hard work” or “practice” or “getting used to it.”

Today (right before this, which is why I am writing this), I had a rehearsal. I like my choreographer. She is kind and understanding. I told her that I have health issues and will be taking it easy on my body and may need to stop and stretch often. So she’s aware of that. And the group of people is great. Many of them are seniors, like me, and I’ve been in dances with them before. And my choreographer lives right above me, so I can hear her floor squeaking as she dances, even though we’re all on zoom, so that’s cool. It makes me feel connected to her. And I like the song we’re dancing to, and I like the dance. The dance is gentle (no sharp/forceful movements) and somewhat slow, which is good for my body.

But even with all those good things, I didn’t have a good rehearsal because of my (stupid) body. Things were fine until we did two step pivots, and then my feet (like, the bones in the balls of my feet) felt awful. It did not feel good, it did not feel right. I got really anxious (note: I had pain first, then anxiety. The pain was not caused by the anxiety at all.) and couldn’t get away from the feeling that “something is wrong, something is wrong.” I turned off my video and sat on the floor and hugged my knees and kinda dissociated.

I think part of me was scared that this will lead to several more days of pain, because that has happened before. And last fall (2019), it seemed like all my physical issues started (or at least got a lot worse) after a dance class where I felt similar uncomfortable feelings. The day after that bad dance class, I skipped my actual classes because it was too painful to walk to them. (thanks to zoom, that’s not an issue now, haha) So, I don’t want that to happen again. Especially since I’ve been feeling better in general recently.

I think I pushed myself too much today. I had already done two physically strenuous things today before this dance class. I’m aware of Spoon Theory, but I think I have to actually use it and ~radically accept~ that I am someone who could be helped by it. I had already used up my spoons, and it was too much for my body.

So then after I cried/dissociated for a bit, I tried to do things to make it better, and I kinda massaged my feet (didn’t help much) and then got up and ate some candy lol for self soothe. And then (and I am proud of this), I messaged in the zoom chat that my feet were not having it today and that I was going to do the rest sitting down. And I turned my camera back on! And I followed along with the arm parts! My arms weren’t feeling great, either, though, so I guess my whole body has had enough for today. My hands are actually not feeling great as I type this, either. I think I’m just too cold. It’s too cold in here. My joints are not good when it’s cold.

Anyway, that’s all the story/preamble. That was longer than I expected. This is fresh on my mind and, I guess, kinda emotional. Anyway.

Now that I have been dancing in modified ways more, I feel like I actually know how to modify dances now. So I will share those tips. πŸ™‚ The same general strategies could probably be applied to other group exercise classes, or really any exercise routine you’re following that’s not something you came up with for your body.

How to modify dances

  1. Do smaller movements. Don’t lean as far. Don’t take as big a step. Take a tiny jump. Don’t lift your leg as high. Do one spin instead of two. Don’t turn your head as far. Don’t lift your arm as high. This is probably the biggest thing!!
  2. And, if you can, do slower movements.
  3. On turns, spot! Spotting is when you look at something with your eyes, keep your eyes focused on it as you turn, and then flip your head around quickly and find the same place. This is something that can be learned and is often taught, but it’s easy to forget to do! Spotting takes more work but makes me way less dizzy and nauseous. I just have to focus on focusing on something, haha.
  4. If a move goes down to the floor and back up quickly, don’t go all the way down to the floor. Stay on your knees or feet partially. Don’t untuck your toes. This makes it less of a sudden movement (aka less pain) and makes me less nauseous.
  5. Practice doing things slowly and in a controlled manner before attempting to do them full-out. Make sure you know how you will move and which muscles you will use and how you will support your body before trying to do something up to speed.
  6. Similarly, if there’s a new, complicated, or quick move, break it down into bits and practice each part. It’s okay to not have it on the first day and to gradually learn it and put the pieces together over several weeks. Maybe those muscles will even get stronger or more used to it over time.
  7. Walk (just take steps) instead of doing a move to get from one place to another.
  8. Focus more on other things that make a dance “look” good. Be aware of your facial expressions and try to look at the audience / the camera when appropriate. Add emotion to the dance. Make sure you’re in time with the music. If it’s a tap dance, make sure the sounds you’re making are at the right times, even if you’re making the sounds with different steps.
  9. If you can’t do the leg part, just do the arms, and vice versa. Or just do the head. Whatever feels comfortable for you in that moment. You can sit down if you want, on the ground or in a chair. If you’re in a spinny chair, you can use that to help you move, too! Or if you have a wheelchair, you can use that to move around (I don’t actually know much about wheelchairs, sorry, but I do know that there are actually some dance classes specifically for wheelchair users that just do dances from the waist up!).
  10. Skip moves that you can’t modify at all. But you don’t just have to stand still (or sit still). You can sway to the beat of the music and focus on your facial expressions. Even just listening to the music can be helpful so that you hear how the counts go and when each move happens. If you can’t do any of that, that’s okay, too! It’s better to not do it than to get hurt! It’s okay to take a full-on break like I did and take some time to take care of yourself! It’s probably better for you in the long-term!

Ballet-specific

  1. Probably the most common modification is to change 5th position to 3rd position. So, instead of putting your heal touching your other foot’s big toe, only put it in the middle of that foot. Or even less.
  2. Similarly, don’t turn out as much if your knees hurt.
  3. Don’t lift your legs as high, don’t lean back so far, etc.
  4. Don’t try to fully do moves if you don’t know them or aren’t used to them. Ballet often uses muscles that the rest of everyday life doesn’t use. It takes time to build these muscles. It’s better to do an incomplete version of the move than to hurt yourself. As your muscles get stronger, you may be able to do more of it.
  5. Some ballet teachers (in my experience and what I know from other people and things I’ve read) can be more particular and harsh than teachers of other types of dance. Not every ballet teacher is like this, but some are. It’s okay to leave the class and find a different teacher if you want to. This goes for all the dances, too, but in ballet there is an emphasis on doing moves in a specific way that there isn’t an emphasis on in, say, modern dance. Modern is much more “make the move your own, let it come from your heart.”

Tap-specific

  1. As I said above, make it sound good. Most people are probably watching your arms and face, not your feet, anyway. If you can move your arms and make facial expressions comfortably, then focus more on those things.
  2. Take steps instead of doing flaps. This will sound the same and is less foot movement.

In general

  1. Let your choreographer or teacher know ahead of time if you think you’ll be doing things differently or taking breaks. For me at least, this makes it much easier and less shameful to do things differently or take those breaks when I need to because they’re already aware.
  2. On zoom, turn off your camera if you want to.
  3. Stretch a lot before and after, and anytime in between, if it helps you.
  4. Maybe dance in a warm room? Since it’s cold, I’m wondering if this would help me. Maybe I should wear a long-sleeved shirt instead of a t-shirt.
  5. Make the floor comfortable to dance on, and make sure you’re wearing the right gear. If you’re in your own space, like I am now, put an extra blanket on top of the floor to make it comfier to dance on. A yoga mat or towel could be good, too. Wear socks to make your feet move more smoothly over the floor. Or wear ballet, tap, jazz, etc. shoes that are meant for the type of dance you’re doing. Make sure they’re the right size and fit comfortably and are tightened properly in the right places (the tightening should be so that the shoe supports your foot properly, not so that it hurts. If it hurts then don’t do it).
  6. If you have long hair, tie it back. When my hair is flailing all around, it makes me more dizzy.
  7. And if it hurts to wear it in a ponytail, braid it loosely. A braid pulls on my head less and is much more comfortable and still keeps it out of my face.
  8. Make sure you’re prepared to dance by eating enough food and drinking enough water throughout the day.
  9. Quit dances or classes if you need to and it’s too much for your body, or the teacher/choreographer isn’t nice to you. Do what’s best for you! You may be able to find a better teacher/choreographer or class. Or you can dance on your own. Or make your own dance group!
  10. Find dance options that are best for you. Like I said, this dance that I’m in is gentle and slow. Fast dances or sharp movements are not good for me. Hip hop, tap, and ballet are overall much more painful for me than these sort-of-modern dances I’m in now. I think that dances where you stay upright like line dances / social dance (square dancing, contra dancing, etc) or TikTok dances might also be better for me, but I haven’t tried those recently.
  11. If it is hard for you to do things differently or take breaks, try to bring yourself back to self compassion and radical acceptance. I want what’s best for me in the long term. It might feel better (less shameful) to push myself harder now, but I will feel much worse later. I’m the only one that has to live in my body with the consequences. I have to listen to my body and trust myself. And I have to accept (not deny) that pushing myself too far can make me hurt, even if everyone else seems to be doing it easily and painlessly.

So those are my tips so far! If anyone has ideas for how to modify a pivot, let me know. Maybe if I step with my whole foot instead of the balls of my feet, it’ll be better? I don’t know. I think I will also wear warmer clothes next time. And make more of an effort to stretch. I realized I had to go to the bathroom during our stretching time, so I didn’t stretch much. It would have been better if I had gone to the bathroom before the rehearsal started. So, that goes along with making sure I’m prepared to dance.

Does your body hurt when you move? Have you modified things so that they don’t hurt (or hurt less)?

Life, Positives

Life goes on, even in a pandemic… Recent accomplishments and updates

Though I’ve been cooped up at home since mid-March, life hasn’t stopped! I’ve made some “accomplishments” posts in the past (Dec 2019, Aug. 2019, DecΒ 2018, etc) but this one will include some negative things that have happened, too, because they are important life updates. I’ll do the negative ones first so that it’ll end on a happy note.

  • I’m doing school online from home this fall, and I’m pretty sad about that. I miss my friends, and I miss seeing them in person. I feel lonely. Zoom and FaceTime don’t always cut it.
  • I’ve had some bad experiences with my health that were kinda re-traumatizing. My mental health has gotten worse as a result, and I have new symptoms. (but things are getting better at the moment!) I’ve also discovered the term “medical trauma,” meaning trauma as a result of medical things like surgery or being in the hospital. This explains why I’m still struggling with the things that happened in the hospital after I was in a bad car accident 6 years ago, even though I’ve talked about the accident itself extensively in therapy (through Prolonged Exposure). Here are some resources I found on medical trauma: info, good article, story. If you know of any others, I’d love to see them.
  • I was supposed to kinda be doing an internship this summer, and I…kinda didn’t… 😦 I’m not totally sure how it happened. I guess I was busy dealing with my health. That took up a lot of time and energy. And I felt a lot of shame for not knowing things, so I didn’t ask for help, so I was stuck and procrastinating hard. I feel very ashamed of how I acted and the fact that I just didn’t do the work. I had an opportunity and I blew it. I also feel guilty, angry at myself, and sad.
  • I’m not going to try to list all the bad things because that doesn’t feel like a useful thing to do. These are the main ones, I think. Now, on to the positives! πŸ™‚

I have gotten better at talking. For a while I was feeling insecure about how I talk, and I was having trouble communicating what I meant in a clear way. I felt like my main experience having real conversations (not small talk) was in therapy places. I think I’m fairly good at using “I” statements and validating people, but I don’t have as much experience talking in academic or professional settings, and I want to get better at this. The past few months, I’ve been part of a book club with my friends where we also talk about politics, the news, and controversial/sensitive topics. I feel like I can have a real conversation now, even about tricky topics. I can acknowledge when I don’t know enough about something. I can say why I think something and how I came to that conclusion. I can participate in a group discussion without needing to be called on, and without interrupting, or on the flip side, staying silent. I can disagree with people without it becoming an argument. My family did not teach me how to do this; if people disagree in my family, it’s always an argument. I am proud of the progress I have made with this, and I feel better about my abilities.

I’ve also gotten better at sending emails. I started sending the weekly email for my sustainability club when there was no one else to send it, and I’ve gotten so much better at it. It also doesn’t stress me out anymore at all. It’s just something that needs to be done. Sometimes I even look forward to it, and I write it ahead of time and use the schedule-send feature.

I’ve gotten better at singing. I was so insecure about my singing for so long. My brother is a “good singer” and has been in a cappella and chorus groups in school. He generally criticizes me when I sing for being off-key. But it turns out that, like many things, singing is a skill that I can improve at if I practice. So, I need to sing “badly” for a bit in order to get the experience I need to improve. Also, people don’t magically know how to sing songs just after listening to them (at least not most people, I’m guessing). People practice hitting the notes and transitioning between the notes for a long time before they’re able to sing it like it sounds in the song. I just needed some practice. My sister and I are putting on a musical we’ve created from a combination of two other musicals, and I’ve gotten a lot of practice singing for that. Singing is really fun, and I’m really glad I get to be in a musical. πŸ™‚

I have also been in two Zoom musicals! One thing I wanted to do in college was be in a musical again, since I was in a musical my senior year of high school and loved it. With school online, I thought I wouldn’t get to fulfill that dream, but I’ve had the opportunity to be in these two musicals with a new club that formed when schools went online. It’s pretty cool!

My relationship with my brother is improving. We are closer now. We get along, joke around, and sometimes have meaningful conversations!

I took a summer class and gained a new perspective on animals and their behavior.

I’m reading The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, and it’s amazing, and has similarly changed my perspective on trees. Forests create clouds and are the main reason why rain can fall inland, far from bodies of water! Pine groves make the air around them germ-free! Trees can care for their young and help out sick trees by sending sugar through their roots! Trees can warn each other about attacks from pests! I highly recommend this book. It’s so cool.

As a result of the renewed Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve learned a lot more about racism today and in the past, anti-racism, police and criminal justice, housing inequalities, etc. I’ve also thought a lot about my own privileges and gotten better at accepting them. I read Trevor Noah’s book Born a Crime (I read the version adapted for young readers), and it was really useful for understanding apartheid in South Africa and making comparisons to the US. It’s all told through stories, which made it easy for me to read. There are some descriptions of violence, injury, abuse, and of course lots of injustice, so be aware if you read it.

And yes, I am reading again! I haven’t read much in recent years because of eye problems, concentration problems, and because I’m often triggered by what I read. But I feel like I can read again! Wow! πŸ™‚ Reading the short stories with my friends has been good and helpful, too.

I got accepted to grad school?!? My school has a program where current students can apply to the masters program at the school. It’s an easier method of applying and getting in (basically everyone who meets a certain GPA cut-off gets in), so I feel like I got in “through the back door,” which makes me feel invalid, but it’s still real and great that I’m accepted! Before, I wasn’t planning on going to grad school, but because they lowered the GPA cut-off (so that I made the new cut-off) because of the pandemic, and because it may be hard to get a job after graduation with the current economy/unemployment rate/job market, it’s looking like I probably will go to grad school. So this is a change in my life plans, but it’s not a bad change. I’m also more interested in using mechanical engineering (my major) for bio-medical things… the pandemic has shown me that there is a need for mechanical engineers to design medical devices. So now I’m imagining different careers for myself. These aren’t bad changes, but they are major changes to what I imagine the next few years of my life will look like.

I had a trauma anniversary that wasn’t awful for the first time! πŸ™‚

I am developing a better understanding of my body. (note: this paragraph includes talk of bodily functions) I had severe abdominal pain earlier this summer (severe enough that I couldn’t stand for more than 10 seconds because it was so painful). After a stressful and frustrating process of getting seen by a doctor and getting things figured out, I had a CT scan, which showed a large ovarian cyst. It was surprising to me that there was actually something physically, visibly wrong inside of me. In the past, doctors have dismissed various pains as a result of my ~anxiety~. But this time, there was actually a clear explanation why I felt pain. It hurt when I peed because there was a physical mass pushing against my bladder. The idea that pain is caused by something being wrong in my body is new to me, and very validating. The CT scan also showed that I had several benign renal (kidney) cysts. Is that what’s hurting randomly in that part of my body?? Are there actual explanations for the things I’m feeling?? I’ve also looked at some diagrams of internal organs. In the past, I avoided looking at things like that because it upset and triggered me. But I’m okay with it now. I am learning where different organs are. My intestines are really long and snake all over! When I feel my intestine-area gurgling and moving around, it is actually moving things through my intestine! My pain happens for a reason. There are specific, physical things going on in my body that cause the pain.

I reconnected with a friend from high school that I hadn’t seen in a year. It feels really good to have that relationship back. πŸ™‚

I can still improve on things and make progress on things that are important to me, even though I’m at home almost all the time. My daily life looks different, but I’m still doing stuff and working towards my long-term goals. I can still have fulfilling experiences, new experiences, and happy times. πŸ™‚

Life

Odd things my body has done

Note: Contains talk of my body doing odd things! 

Sometimes bodies do weird things. Sometimes they’re symptoms of other problems, but sometimes they’re just harmless, passing experiences.

I often turn to google when I have a problem, and sometimes I can’t find people who have experienced the same thing, no matter how hard I look. But the things I feel are still valid, even if someone else hasn’t experienced them or written about them.

So, I am writing about some of (what I think are) the more unusual things I’ve experienced. Have these ever happened to you? Are they things that other people experience and just don’t talk about? Or are they commonly known and my googling just wasn’t thorough enough? Or are they rare? Or is it just me?

  • Once, I got so dissociated that I saw the room spin and change colors.
  • For maybe seven months, songs didn’t get stuck in my head. This was after I was in a bad car accident, and it’s possible that it was caused by my concussion, PTSD, depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, or some combination of those. I only noticed it when songs started getting stuck in my head again and I realized that it hadn’t happened in a long time.
  • About a year ago, I had a lot of pain along the skin of my legs every time I put on pants or leggings for about a month and a half. It happened with all fabrics, soaps, and lotions, both when I had shaved and when I hadn’t, etc. I didn’t have a rash, but when my legs touched something, I got painful, prickly tingles along my legs that sometimes spread to other parts of my body, along the skin on my back and chest, my neck, my face, scalp, and arms. The electrical prickles also made my legs jerk involuntarily when they get really bad. Anxiety and paying attention to it seemed to make them worse, and moving my legs seemed to make them better. Not wearing pants or leggings or anything touching my legs also made them better. I went to a doctor who said she didn’t know what was going on and referred me to a specialist, who I didn’t end up going to. And then a few weeks later, they went away. Since then, they have come back every now and then, but it’s not as bad anymore. It normally hurts after I take a shower, and I can make it better by wearing loose-fitting clothes like pajamas after and by distracting myself by reading a book or watching tv.
  • I broke my collar bone during a car accident. For a couple weeks after, before I had surgery, my pain would spike from a 2 or 3 to a 9 or 10 when I did something that moved my collar bone out of its broken location. When I have flashbacks, my collar bone hurts in the same sudden-spike-of-intense-pain way. If the pain were a musical note, it would be a sharp, loud, high-pitched note, like a “ping.” I feel like Harry Potter sometimes because I wake up from a nightmare with my (surgery) scar hurting.
  • Sometimes I pass out after exercising. I feel tired after a run and lie down to take a quick breather/nap, and then I wake up an hour later.
  • I once had my period for 5 weeks. I was bleeding continuously for five weeks. Sometimes it was heavier, and sometimes it was lighter. Eventually it stopped, thank goodness!
  • I used to have repeated nightmares that involved my family and me hurt and dying in our house. After doing prolonged exposure therapy and overcoming some parts of the trauma, I had a nightmare which started off similarly. But then I flew around in the air, fixed every disaster, and literally put out all the fires. I solved my nightmare without intending to specifically do that.

There is a wide breadth of human experience. There are and have been lots of people on this planet, and we have collectively experienced many, many things.

What odd things have you experienced?

Life

Me and my body

Note: includes talk of pain, bodily functions like going to the bathroom, and eating/not eating

My body and I don’t always get along. I’d like to think that it is all my body’s fault, that my body is the one causing me pain, but the truth is that I am not very nice to my body either.

A while ago I wrote a poem in my head that went something like this:

If my body was a person

If I was married to my body, I’d divorce it

If I lived with my body, I’d move out

If I could talk to my body, I’d beg and plead

If my body could listen, I’d DEARMAN it

My body causes me pain and unpleasant sensations, and I want to escape it. But I can’t just talk to it and plead with it to please be nicer to me, to not make me hurt, to give me a break just this once because I really need to get something important done right now… I can’t even ask it why it’s hurting me, what caused this, what I did wrong.

I am helpless and lost.

If my body was a person, I could communicate with it. Communication is a two-way street. Right now, my communication with my body only goes one way: from my body to me. It tells me “that hurts,” “don’t eat that, it’ll make you sick,” “bladder is full, please pee,” “stomach is empty, please eat,” “time to go to sleep,” “itch here,” and “now this hurts.”

I can’t say, “why does that hurt? what can I do to make it not hurt? what is wrong with this food? can you please give me a break this once?”

I find it really frustrating because I don’t know what’s wrong with my body or why it acts the way it does. It’s just the way it is. My body is part of me, but I have no control over it. It feels like it is not me. It feels like it makes decisions without me and has a mind of its own. Why do things keep happening? What is wrong? What is going on?!

I’ve been to a fair number of doctors, and no one seems to be able to find anything actually wrong with me. My blood tests show a healthy person. It makes me feel like I’m making it up or overreacting…

I may be overreacting at least a little. It’s a possibility. Pain is very connected to trauma in my mind and body. And connections to trauma can blow things out of proportion. But it’s definitely real and there. As I complained to someone after a doctor suggested it was just due to anxiety, “My knees don’t hurt when I’m anxious; they hurt when I walk down stairs.” There is definitely something going on in my body. I just don’t know what or why.

Maybe I’m assuming that all of my problems are connected when maybe they’re just a bunch of separate problems happening at similar times.

I am hesitant to share online what’s actually going on in my body because:

1) I am worried that people will tell me it’s just anxiety again, which feels really invalidating and upsets me, even if there’s a grain of truth to it;

2) I am worried people will say it’s not a big deal or it’s just normal stuff that I should be able to deal with… –> I can fact-check this. My friends know what’s going on, and they do not experience the same things I do. If similar things were happening to them, it would be more normal. But it’s not.

3) I am worried someone will tell me that it actually sounds like xyz real illness, and I don’t want to face that right now. I know that’s confusing/conflicting because I also want answers for sure. But it’s scary to consider that there might be something actually wrong. I’m very scared of that.

4) I don’t want to even tentatively put a label on it because I feel anticipatory shame around intruding on another group’s struggle if it’s not really my own. In wise mind, I don’t think this is good (I think it’s okay to say stuff even if I’m not sure because my experiences are real and valid), but… emotions… I will write a different post about diagnoses and validity and stuff at some point later because I have more to say about that.

Anyway. There is something going on. My body is not happy with me, and sometimes I don’t know why. (sometimes I do know why! I am making progress!)

I can’t talk to my body and have it listen to my words, but I can take care of it and listen to what it needs. Sometimes I get really frustrated when my body seems to be asking so much of me. “But I just went to the bathroom. But I just ate. It was so much effort. Why do you need me to do it again? Why so soon?” Out of anger, I ignore my body’s needs. I don’t eat, and then my stomach hurts more. It cramps up and feels like it is collapsing in on itself. It hurts. The pain is my body’s way of telling me it needs food, more desperately than it did before. But if I am angry at my body, I don’t want to give it what it needs. I feel like it shouldn’t have those needs in the first place. This is not very nice. When I refuse to meet my body’s needs, I am not being kind to it.

Recently, I have tried more to have compassion for my body. My body is trying its best. It is trying to take care of me. If a baby was crying but didn’t have the language to tell me why it was upset, I wouldn’t get angry at the baby; I would try to take care of it. When I take care of my body, it is less upset at me. If I eat when I notice I’m hungry instead of waiting, I feel less pain later. If I stop to stretch in the middle of a walk when my hips start to hurt, my hips will stop hurting. It takes time and effort to take care of my body, but it makes me feel better later.

Coping Skills

Websites — anxiety symptoms, grounding, grief, student with mental illness

I’d like to share some websites I found recently that I really like and have found helpful. (to be clear, I’m not getting paid by these websites or anything; I have just found them helpful and want to share them in case they could be helpful to others, too)

Anxiety symptoms: Β This one lists a ton of symptoms associated with anxiety and describes what they feel like and what causes each symptom. I have struggled with identifying what I am feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally, describing it, and knowing when it is something worth worrying about or something harmless. This website helps by including lots of different ways people might describe a certain feeling or symptom.

For example, the “dizziness or lightheadedness” description includes feeling “off-balance, unsteady, that you might faint or pass out,” “difficulty placing your feet because your perception of the ground may seem wrong or incorrect,” feeling like “your legs may not support you,” and about 10 others. It notes the different ways dizziness can occur, like out of the blue, in waves, persistently, at varying intensities, etc. The page also offers possible anxiety-related causes of dizziness, like hyper- and hypoventilation, an active stress response, persistently elevated stress, and sleep deprivation and fatigue.

I think this is useful if you want to understand what is happening in your body or mind, learn more about anxiety in all its different forms, put a name to things, or to help with hypochondria and differentiate between illness and anxiety symptom. A list like this is something I’ve felt a need for in my life for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally found something like this.

(https://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-symptoms.shtml#symptomslist)

Grounding techniques for coping with flashback and distress:Β I think I’ve linked to this website before, but I really like it, so I’m sharing it again. It lists a lot of things you can do right now if you want to become more grounded. It’s easy to read, even if you’re in that flashback-y state and are having trouble concentrating. I had bookmarked this site a while ago, and I recently used it again when I really needed it because I had it conveniently bookmarked. It was helpful. If you think bookmarking this site could be helpful to you, too, then I recommend doing that! πŸ™‚

(https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/flashbacks.htm)

What’s your grief: This is basically a blog about grief with lots of niche topics that are written about in helpful ways. I hadn’t really dealt with grief, at least not debilitating grief, in my life before the recent deaths of my uncle and grandmother. This website helped me understand it, see how normal it is, think about how I’m grieving / going to grieve, and gave me some recommendations for movies about grief (Coco and Mary Poppins Returns, apparently! I’ll have to check them out! πŸ™‚ ).

(https://whatsyourgrief.com)

Saving your grades from a mental health crisisΒ (by Not Yet Hermione on Tumblr and rewritten in what I think is a more readable way on 7cups here): This is a guide on how to deal with school when you have a mental health crisis or near-crisis / rough time. It has helpful and realistic tips and things I didn’t think of, like asking to submit homework through email if you can’t make it to class to turn it in (something I could have used earlier this week but that didn’t occur to me) and making time for “I feel like crap” time in your schedule so that you don’t avoid your emotions and don’t just push through all the time. And the guide reminds you that your mental health is more important than school and has some encouraging things to say, which I kinda knew logically but are still nice to be reminded of.

(https://www.7cups.com/forum/StudentSupport_114/StudentMentalHealthSupport_1211/Savingyourgradesfromamentalhealthcrisis_193340/Β )