Do you want to know the truth? Taking care of yourself ensures you can take care of others. In reality, blowing off your own health only hurts the ones around you.
Worst of all, it hurts your writing.
So, in this episode of All Things Writing, we are going to talk about what it takes to take care of you so that you can take care of business.
Mentioned in the show this week are quite a few links, so, here you go!
Link to Heidi's article
Want to know more about floating... and the magic peace and quite can bring?
Think you could be a Highly Sensitive Person? Take the test, you may find out a lot more about yourself than you expected.
As always, thank you for listening. If you like what I am doing and want to support me, head on over to my Patreon page and see what else I have out there for content. CLICK HERE
Welcome to this episode of all things writing where we talk about writing, writers, issues surrounding writers, what happens to the socks when you put them in the dryer, the lockness monster, and of course, how to keep from accidently deleting your manuscript when you have been writing for hours, forgot to save, and turned the computer off. Okay, maybe we don’t talk about some of those things, but the first few things were true.
If I could have a ginormous party to thank all of you who listen to the show regularly, I would and then have a ginormous cake delivered. On that cake would say something like, “Thank you for making all things writing a success, and thank you for 2,000 downloads.”
You are going to say, but Bryan, we just celebrated 1500 downloads. And you would be right, but since the show is gaining steam it was quicker to reach this next milestone. I anticipate we will keep gaining new heights. So I want to thank each and every one of you for tuning into the show.
In reality, I had little to do with it, I have to thank my guests and you guys, the listeners.
What to discuss this episode? Well, I was asking myself that exact question the other day and I came across an idea that I think is near and dear to our hearts as writers.
It is the issue of being an introvert in an extroverts world. Which is something we are going to take a look at, never solve, but something we will take a look at.
But, before we do that. Let’s take a look at the leader boards and see who is in the top spots this week and who lost their lofty positions to new champions.
This week I am going to give you the top 6 because I found it interesting.
Maple Grove, Minnesota
Vancouver, British Columbia
3 way tie San Jose, California, Toronto, Ontario, Novato, California
And then Frankfurt am Main, Hesse in the fifth place this week, at least as of the recording of this episode.
I have a joke for you all today. There was the very first international conference of introverts international. Over 5000 people attended. Two men, will call them Gus and Tom, attended as they were excited for one of the panels. Special guest speaker was scheduled to give the keynote address. The keynote speaker was the only living extroverted introvert in the world. At a mixer before the keynote address Gus turned to Tom and said, “Hey, how do we know which person is the keynote speaker?”
Tom looked through the audience and said, “Oh, there she is.”
Gus said, “yes, but how did you know?”
Tom said, “that’s easy, I just look to the audience for the only person who was looking down at other people’s shoes.”
Yes, I know my jokes kind of lame, but what can I say, I am a dad Joke kinda guy.
I know you’re gonna find this hard to believe but an overwhelming majority of writers claim to be introverts. I’m one of those weirdos that is actually a bit of an extrovert within my limits. I do hit points when I overdo it and there’s usually some serious consequences that go along with it.
I was talking to a good friend who is really into writing poetry and while she talks a lot about going into herself to find the words to put on the page, I often point out that aside from her cat, she generally is not seen by other human beings.
I am being a bit dramatic here. I am sure she goes out with friends all the time, but think about it. We, as writers, tend to stay to ourselves and live inside of our heads. If you have ever watched the show Scrubs, you see Dr. Dorian always inside of his own head and I think that is a lot of what we do going through life. Not terribly healthy if you ask me.
So, I pulled out some interesting bits of information from the interwebs to talk about. From the website, Introvert, Dear, I pulled out 6 Ways to calm our minds as introverts. While I am going to skip a few of them, I am going to gravitate toward the suggestions that particularly apply to my poor introvert friends who are stuck in their houses.
The author, Heidi Borst, who is not only an introvert, but a fellow Highly Sensitive Person, hits on some of my key ones.
For example, I cannot stress enough the importance of getting outside
As I moved through a lot of my life, I was an avid runner for part of it. These days, my fibromyalgia has other plans for me, but I do what I can. I truly believe that it brings new life to your brain.
Heidi says it is her number one go-to when clearing her head is physical activity. Even something as short as a walk around the block can do wonders for your mental attitude. While she has been an avid runner for over 20 years, she likens the run to a mental redemption.
There is this old wife’s tale out there that your braincells slowly die over time after your 18th birthday and they don’t come back. Actually, Dr. Amar Sahay, a neuroscientist with Massachusetts General Hospital said that everyone has the capacity to develop new cells that can help enhance cognitive functions. Studies have shown that a training regime can help grow new cells. And, physical activity can also help to spur along the birth of new brain cells.
As a bonus, it helps reduces stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety which we can sometimes build ourselves as we go through lives being introverts.
Also on her list was to Have a pet, or make time with your friends pets. Yes, I know, believe me I know, that pets can be a pain in the butt sometimes. However, I will tell you that our family dog routinely gets me out of the house whether I like it or not. And sometimes I really don’t want to.
I get the double whammy of not only sometimes needing my downtime, but the physical pain which comes with my disability. No, sometimes moving is not something I will readily do. I am not the least bit sorry to tell you there are human beings I would not cross the street for, but would readily cross the street to get a little petting time with a Labrador or a golden.
Our current staff dog, Chloe, loves nothing more than to fall asleep on my lap in the afternoon. Short of this, you can volunteer at an animal shelter or walk an elderly neighbors dog.
Especially during the pandemic lockdown, spending time alone is something we have had to learn to tolerate. Many of us, especially those who live alone, soon realized that although we were introverts, that little human interaction we had was really important to our well being. Sadly, we never know what we were missing until it was gone.
The good people at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point out that pets can be hugely beneficial to a pet owner. Some of the benefits they cite are increased fitness, lowering stress, and a general feeling of happiness.
A few years ago I saw a documentary on a Scottish nursing home where they raised chickens as part of the programming for the residents. While this sounds like a crazy idea, what they found was that the people, even alzheimers patients, showed a big improvement in their general well-being and feelings of purpose. While I don’t recommend you turn that second bedroom into a coop, a pet, can really be beneficial to an introvert who needs a reason to get out and associate with the world.
I also think it is fair to point out here that those of us with day jobs likely do have some of that human interaction, but depending on your job, that still may be something that you are doing very much by yourself. Or the opposite could be true, maybe it is so ill suited for you that you end up wanting to commit murder by the time you get home, but I digress.
The next on her list is something that I highly suggest. Practice mindful meditation. I know it sounds like something you need to go away to a camp for weird kids to learn but hear me out here. Mindful meditation can really reduce stress and help clear the head from whatever you have going on. I started doing it to help deal with the depression that comes with chronic pain. Yes, news flash, if you have chronic pain, you have depression. It is like an extra scoop of topping on a really lousy Sunday.
There are some great books out there you can buy which discuss mindfulness meditiation, how to get started, and great ways to setting it into your routine. I personally prefer short stints throughout the day when I need a break and a little more clarity into what I am doing.
As a highly sensitive person, I am forever stuck it this mode of taking on all of the energy around me. Often it is way too much to handle and being able to spend even a few minutes in meditation helps bring me back around to the headspace I need to be in to get the rest of my day done.
Heidi also mentions in her article, which I will post the link to below, the value of spending time in nature. There is something rejuvenating about fresh air, the smell of the earth under foot, trees, and water. There is a reason that places like new York have central park, Berlin Germany has the Tier Garten, and we have… well, most of Virginia. We like being outside.
Make time for yourself to go for a walk. This is where the little puppy friends can come in. Believe me, there is no way our Chloe will let me forget to take her out in the morning she will remind me.
Nature, as Heidi points out in her article, is a great stress reliever. It can also give you a great boost in energy, promote better sleep, and help improve memory.
HSPs, like many of us in the writing community are, whether we admit it or not, really benefit form the trees and water around us as we walk. I don’t want to sound all hippy on you, but water will help pull some of the pent up energy out of us.
This is why so many people love the sound of water falling or water running over rapids. Science has found and supported the idea that nature helps us remove some of the pent up pressure that’s unavoidable in modern life. This is the same pressure that we build up as HSPs and have a really hard time getting rid of.
Yes, I know, many of you are introverts. I get it, I really do. But listen, getting outside is really an important thing to keep yourself from getting batty. Try some of these techniques and others that I didn’t include here and it could really have a beneficial impact on our lives.
Check it out in the link in the show notes. It is worth the time and you may find a new favorite website.
I have mentioned it a couple of times, but I am what is referred to as a highly sensitive person. What is that? Are you one? You might be. The trait of being an introvert is actually pretty common among HSPs. Only a few of us are blessed to be the extroverted kind.
Well, maybe cursed, but I digress.
So, what is an HSP? So, I will stumble all over the words if I try to come up with them myself so I am going to read you from a psychology today entry. To make it easier, I will put the link in the who notes and you can check it out if this sounds like you.
Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP, is a term coined by psychologist Elaine Aron. According to Aron’s theory, HSPs are a subset of the population who are high in a personality trait known as sensory-processing sensitivity, or SPS. Those with high levels of SPS display increased emotional sensitivity, stronger reactivity to both external and internal stimuli—pain, hunger, light, and noise—and a complex inner life.
The article goes on to say that…
The concept has gained traction in the years since Aron conceived of it, particularly as more and more people began to self-identify as highly sensitive. Overall, about 15 to 20 percent of the population are thought to be highly sensitive.
HSPs are thought to be more disturbed than others by violence, tension, or feelings of being overwhelmed. They may, as a result, make concerted efforts to avoid situations in which such things are likely to occur. On the more positive end of the trait, high sensitivity is thought to be linked to higher levels of creativity, richer personal relationships, and a greater appreciation for beauty.
So, are you a highly sensitive person?
If you react strongly to criticism, become physically and emotionally overstimulated more easily than others do, and have a rich inner life, you may score highly in sensory processing sensitivity. You may also feel as if you have a higher capacity for empathy and are quite sensitive to others’ moods.
I know, at least for me, I get easily overwhelmed by lots of additional energy in a room. For example, I am not a fan of giant crowds. They exhaust me to the point that I need to shut out all of the external energy. The most horrible thing I can imagine is a rock concert, especially where it is open air and there are no seats.
I’m okay if the venue is relatively small and there are actual assigned seats where I know people will be facing forward.
This is in stark contrast to my brother who loves the chaos of it all. He enjoys the feeling of excitement and I can’t stand it. He just got back from a huge rock concert in Kentucky which was three days of rocking, drinking, and general mayhem. Not me. No way.
So, what do I do? Walks in the woods, and I also like to make an appointment to see my good friends at OmFloat out in Ashburn, VA. They have deprivation tanks where I can float in a bath of warm water infused with Epsom salts.
Are they the only place to go? Nope, they are not. But they are my local place so I just like to give a shout out to them whenever I can since I really do see value in 90 minutes of dark quiet, bathed on warm water. Sound good? Of course, it does, don’t be silly. My brother would hate it, but to me it is perfection. I will leave their link in the show notes for you as well.
What it all comes down to is your health. That is the number one priority you need to focus on. I mean, think about it this way, if you don’t take care of hour health then you can not only take care of those around you, but here is no way you can write.
Two months ago I got Ecoli. I won’t tell you the place that I got it from, but it was a poor decision on my part and I will admit that.
I will say that Ecoli is one of those things I will never wish on my worst enemy. That is just not right. I felt so horrible for so long. Took weeks to recover. But I can tell you that it really hurt my writing. I was not interested in writing a single world, sentence, or syllable. That was pretty bad.
When you are sick, you can’t write. That is just the way it is. So, taking care of yourself is kind of important in the grand scheme of things.
I want to appeal to you, my listeners, to help support the show. You can do that in a couple of different ways. First and foremost, you can hit that like button and follow the show like many others have done so. It really is helpful. It not only lets other people know you’ve enjoyed the content, but it also helps you by letting you know when something new comes out.
The second thing you can do is support the show. I have plenty of ongoing expenses around here to support the hosting of the show’s electrons out in the aether, new equipment, etc. So please send along a few dollars, I am not asking for much here, but if everyone who has listened to the show sent along a mere $2.50, the show would be funded well into 2022. So, if you like what you are hearing, please consider chipping in a little.
Next week we are off resting and chilling out a little. But, after that, I have a surprise for you and a first for the show. I have a guest who comes straight from the bright lights of Hollywood.
Most of all and most importantly, thank you for tuning into my humble little show. As I said, I am shocked and humbled that we have broken the 2,000 download mark and I am super excited to get to 3,000.
This is Bryan Nowak for All Things Writing, signing off.