Dysmorphia is the disconnect that you get between what you see and what you feel about yourself. Sometimes it’s seeing yourself as bigger or smaller than you actually are, for us however it is that disconnect between our true gender and our assigned sex at birth. It’s that feeling that makes you feel about a half step out of sync. It makes you feel like you are wearing a costume, a mask, that everyone takes at face value- but inside you feel extremely disconnected from that image. It can cause you to feel lost, depressed, angry, alone, anxiety. Basically, left unchecked- it can take over your life.
However, you don’t have to lie back and just accept it. It’s your body and you can fight back. These are just a few tips that can help to regain control over your mind and body. And just maybe, make you feel more confident and whole.
1. Watch your favorite TV Show. Escapism is important. Sometimes you have to just lose yourself in something. For me that usually means Mythbusters or Supernatural. Or watching Planet Dolan or Top5s videos on YouTube.
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2. Meditate to quiet your mind. Sure, it can get a bad rep, but meditation can be a very powerful tool for quieting and concentrating your mind. Start with short meditations until you feel like you can go further. Quieting the dyshporia can held you feel like less of a stranger in your body. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin.
3. Focus on what is around you, something external. There is a great quote I’ve seen passed around quite a bit, and it’s a great place to start.
Look around you and find
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you an smell
1 thing you can taste
— Blurrysafe2 (@Blurrysafe22) April 27, 2015
4. Concentrate on your breath, taking your time- inhaling through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathing is another important aspect of mental health (seriously). And there are apps and meditations that can help guide you towards healing breaths.
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5. Get up and move. Exercise releases endorphins, and focuses the mind. It’s perhaps one of the best ways to release frustration. Plus, you take control over your body.
6. Spend time with the animals. They will be happy to let you. They actually have programs where school kids go in and read books to the animals. If you can’t have an animal, please consider this. Dogs especially are wonderful companions and supporters, and they happen to be great listeners. (No offense to cat people, but there is a reason there are not many service cats.) Plus you are helping to ease stress for the dog and comfort them.
7. Go to the dollar store and buy a whole bunch of fake flowers and greenery. Work on making arrangements with them, and find something that is pleasing to you. You can create beauty even when your mind is scattered.
8. Pick up the phone. Talk to a friend or family member- someone who cares about you and supports you. Often, people won’t reach out because they know that you are going through something but don’t know what to say. Open up those lines of communication and make sure they feel welcome to do the same.
9. Fill your home/room with things that make you smile. It could be favorite pictures, pretty lights, candles and incense, flowers- anything. Make your home a refuge- not a prison cell. Home should be a sanctuary where you can come and relax.
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10. Leave the house. It can be so easy to let yourself become a shut-in and curl up on the couch for days on end. It takes some effort, but get up and get out. Feel the wind on your face. Take in the sounds of the world around you. People watch. Sit in the grass and do nothing. It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do.
11. Write a note to a friend. It’s so important to have real conversations with real friends. And connecting with a good friend is incredibly therapeutic. And no one writes actual handwritten letters anymore. The act alone is very therapeutic. But the gift of surprise you give a friend and making them feel special is priceless.
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12. Put together a feel-good playlist of music. Everyone should have this waiting and ready to go to work. Find the happiest most upbeat songs you know. Those songs that get your heart beating faster and make your feet move. Songs that make you smile. This probably isn’t the time for the slow acoustic numbers.
13. Watch something cheesy that makes you smile. Maybe something from your childhood. A little nostalgia is good for you.
14. Get lost in a book. Books are an amazing portal to other worlds. You can fly, visit other lands, travel through time, be a hero- you can be whoever you want to be. Or if you prefer non-fiction, spend some time learning new things. That’s never a waste of time.
15. Make something for someone else. Whether it is food, a craft, even just a card. Focus on someone who means something to you. It will help force you outside of your head and remember that there is a whole big world out there that isn’t part of the death grip your brain wants to hold on to. And it’s always nice to let a friend know you care.
16. Learn a craft. Ever wanted to weave, sew, knit, crochet, woodwork, put together models? This is a perfect time. “Idle hands are the tools of the devil.” Very true words there. If you keep your hands busy, it’s much harder for your mind to settle into that repetitive groove.
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17. Hug someone. Making physical contact is vital to human health. There are actual scientific studies that show how important tactile connection with others is. So find someone you care about and grab hold tight.
18. Go for a drive. For those of us a little older, you might have forgotten how liberating it felt to climb behind the wheel of your first car and just…drive. You finally had the freedom to go where and when you want. Take a cue from our younger friends and hit the open road. Even if it’s just an hour or so.
19. Change something. This is another thing that helps you regain control. It can be painting a wall, getting a tat or piercing, dying clothes, altering your clothes, getting a hair cut, new sheets on the bed. Remember that in the end- you control your life and your world. No one else.
20. On occasion, get spendy. We all have to keep to a budget. But it’s good to spend a little extra on yourself sometimes. Get the good beer or liquor. Buy the fancier meal. Get those higher threadcount sheets. Whatever it is, make yourself feel special.
21. Don’t answer the phone. Seriously. It can wait. Especially don’t answer calls that will stress you out even more. A good tip is to go on “do not disturb” mode on your phone. If you need to, all phones have the ability to add exceptions if you have someone that might actually get ahold of you. But honestly, when is it so urgent that you can’t take a little time being away from the phone. We used to do it all the time.
22. TREAT YO’ SELF. That’s right. Don’t deprive yourself. You can’t go crazy, but if you deprive yourself of any luxuries or anything at all then you are telling yourself that you aren’t important. So get a new shirt, buy that CD on iTunes, buy some nice perfume or cologne, or whatever it is. Every day, seek to give yourself a present. It doesn’t have to be purchased- it can be something you buy, or it can be taking a cat nap, taking off your shoes in the grass, taking a few minutes to sky gaze, helping yourself to desert. Treat yourself like you are worth it.
23. Get away from the electronics. Unplug. Read a book, do a puzzle, or just day dream. Engage in one of your hobbies. Do something that reconnects you to the physical.
24. Do something that makes you happy. Sounds simple right? Well, it is! We make excuses every day that keep us from doing things we enjoy and are that are good for us. I know I beat myself up if I try to take time for myself and just catch up on TV. And there’s always an excuse keeping me from the gym. So get rid of the excuses and just do something that will make you smile. If it’s putting on an outfit, dancing like a maniac, lighting a candle, cooking a meal, going for a walk, cleaning, or whatever. In the words of Shia LeBouf, “DO IT!”.
25. Consider James Gunn’s daily list of To-Do’s:
- Meditate for at least 10 minutes.
- Exercise for at least 20 minutes.
- Work on something productive for at least 3 hours.
- Get at least 10 minutes of sunlight.
- Have one real, honest conversation with a friend for at least 15 minutes.
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