I would love to be a Morrie Schwartz-type of person (I’ve recently rekindled my love of reading, and I just couldn’t help myself from making reference to Tuesdays With Morrie - my current novel that has me bawling every page. I’ve been quite a mess.) You know those who are content and never get caught up in the trivial occurences of our daily lives. The people who spend most of their day living in the moment, without worry for the future. I mean, how nice would that be? When I was younger it was so easy to separate myself from life when it got as hectic as it could in the fifth grade, but recently, with a mix of the stress of school, my future, and teen angst, I’ve found it quite hard to take a step back. If I’m honest, I just feel overwhelmed. Who doesn’t? It’s not ever a feeling that will 100% disappear and that’s cool, but for those days when I need a break from the stress and frustration, here’s what I do.
Turn up the tunes I wish I could say that I have musical talent, but the closest I have to any sort of talent is the talent to listen to songs upon songs upon songs for eternity. I. Love. Music. There seems to be something for everyone for every occasion. Whenever I need to take a step back, I like to listen to throwbacks and sing-alongs like Taylor Swift and the Black Eyed Peas. Perfect for shaking out any negative feelings.
Just breathe Whenever I find myself frustrated about having to wear my brace or stressed about the piles of work I have, I close my eyes and just take a few deep breaths. As cliche as it is, I really do think that a good ol’ breathing exercise can transform your attitude.
Go Outside Being pent up inside when you are stressed is a disaster waiting to happen. Somehow, when I’m upset, I become almost claustrophobic, so taking a few minutes to walk outside seem to really help me clear my mind.
Life can get crazy - from scoliosis to school to extracurriculars - so taking a step back is often a great way to relieve stress. Hopefully these tips help you! And in hard times, remember we’re bent, not broken! :)
Sometimes life throws some seriously sucky curveballs in our direction (i.e. scoliosis) and it can be hard to handle tough times. But, being a Positive Patty, I’ve been trying to take advice from my tote bag, who says (yes, she talks) “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. So, when frustrated, I try to remember these 5 things.
Look at the bigger picture Whether you are sick of having an extra inch added around your torso like a bulletproof vest, or you are sick of all of the trips to the hospital and the x-rays, it is important to remember the bigger picture. What will be the finishing line? Whether you have surgery or a brace, keep in mind that everything will be ok.
Distract yourself I am one of those people that lets small things consume their thoughts. It can be hard to focus on anything but your frustrations. So, sometimes, you just need a good distraction. I love to read...if I could read all day, I would. There’s something so nostalgic and transformative about reading a good book. If you aren’t a vivacious reader, watching a light hearted tv show like Friends or Ellen can lift your spirits, too.
Don’t bottle it up Trying to push your frustration down into a non-existent box will just backfire (hence, the “non-existence”). I always picture one of those cartoons where the character’s face turns bright red and steam pours out of his ears. When you’re frustrated, talk about it - with other patients, your doctor, or your family. I love being able to write for this blog, because it helps me to cope with me scoliosis. Sometimes, you just need a good ol’ scream. That doesn’t mean going out into public yelling like a madman, but I’ve found that when I’m alone and upset, just getting it out of your system can really help.
Remember, we are a community The most frustrating thing for me growing up was when someone, whether that was my parents, or my friends, would tell me “It’s ok. I know what it feels like.” One of those ripping-my-hair-out-of-my-head moments. But, for the people in your life who don’t know what your going through, there are people in your life that do. There are so many amazing instagram accounts and scoliosis blogs about other patients, and many of them are welcoming and willing to communicate one-on-one. And, of course, my DM, inbox, and blog contact page are always open if you need someone to chat with!
Exercise it out Exercising is a great way to get negativity out of your system. Whether it is something high intensity like running, or something soothing like yoga, focusing only on the actions you are taking during a workout can relieve stress.
There are going to be days when positivity is just not possible, and that’s ok. But, always remember that there is always something you can do to help you cope with whatever negativity you’re feeling. Remember, we’re bent, not broken! :)
Things are often easier said than done, and sometimes, when you just feel like thinking about everything that’s going wrong, no amount of positive quotes can make you feel better. While this state of mind (anyone else just start belting New York State of Mind? It’s impossible for me not to when I hear that phrase) can be hard to avoid, I try not to get to that place at all. In the past couple of years, I’ve focused on trying to change my lifestyle in small, simple ways that will make me a happier, better human being. So, here are my top tips for keeping that frown upside down.
Take it slow Stress builds up, and when it feels like the whole world is throwing curve balls at you, it can be easy to drop everything. A few years ago, when my scoliosis was progressing rapidly (despite my wearing the brace 23/7), I was a mess. I had practically given up hope and knew that surgery was in the picture. I would find excuses not to wear my brace, and I let my frustrations consume me. Sometimes, you just need a breather and time to take everything in.
Find an outlet I have been so lucky to have found this community where I can write about my feelings and know that you guys will understand me. Whenever I’m going through something emotionally exhausting, I write. Whether it’s on a napkin in a small cafe (as J.K. Rowling did with the best series of all time) or on a computer in my school library while I’m in the “bathroom”, writing has become something that I can’t live without. Everyone has a different outlet...before discovered writing, it was swimming and art for me, and those are still outlets. Something like swimming would help me put my frustrations on the back burner, and art, similarly to writing, just let me get my chaotic brain out on paper. You just need to find what works best for you.
Breathe Ah, air. What a nice thing it is to have. And quite underrated, too. Sometimes, when the sky is falling and you find out Vader is Luke’s dad and Snape just died and Fixer Upper is going to end after this season, you just gotta breathe. It’s simple, but actually more effective than you might think. I recently found an app called Calm that has an awesome tool called Breathe. You basically just click on it and it tells you when to breathe in and out to steady your breathing. It sounds like one of those crazy hippie things that would never work, but it has helped me to just take a break.
Make a good start I have a twin sized bed that is definitely too small for me, so I can’t necessarily wake up on one side of the bed or the other, which is good, I guess, because I can just say that I woke up on the right side of the bed every morning. Unfortunately, I have recently discovered the power of caffeine, and I get withdrawal every morning I don’t have some sort of coffee...although I am trying to do the whole healthy tea/lemon water thing...I’ll keep you updated on how that goes. I used to be a morning person, but as the late nights turned later with the mountains of homework that greet me every night, I’ve fallen into the habit of going to be late. As summer is coming up, I’ve made myself a promise to start going to bed early and waking up early, because I’ve found that waking up early sets me up for a good day. Getting into a routine, having a good breakfast, and reading a little bit always boosts my mood in the morning, and trickles into the entire day. If you have a good start, you are more likely to have a good end.
It can be hard to just turn your life around on a whim, but changing small things is definitely more doable. Hopefully these small changes will help you cope with your scoliosis or any other negativity in your life. And of course, my number one tip is to remember, we’re bent, not broken! :)