Anxiety is not new.
I’ve had anxiety since before the COVID-19 pandemic. I spent most of my late teen and young adult years investigating, quite obsessively, how to deal with my anxiety.
Over the past four years, I have spent countless hours “studying” how to live a good life — reading books on self-improvement, mental health, engaging in various forms of talk therapy and other healing modalities, learning skills like how to build a “mindfulness muscle.”
I even spent five days in silence at a meditation center.
I recognize that most of us just do not have the time and energy to spend on our anxiety management. …
I am tired. No, I’m really damn tired.
In the beginning, people were afraid. It is scary to be alone in our homes, by ourselves, isolating, to feel like we are cut off from our daily comforts and the outside world.
The truth is that while a lot of people have been sad, I silently said, “Oh, thank god. At least tomorrow, I can stay in bed.”
At first, I thought this made me a terrible person.
Why would I be happy about this mandatory isolation of our society?
And I take a moment to truly recognize the immense, unacceptable suffering, that this virus has caused all over the world. I do not wish to invalidate the very real nature of this illness and its effects on our communities. …
Recently, a friend reached out to me for advice around deciding on whether or not to get on SSRIs. They felt scared, imagining that they might be on medication for the rest of their lives.
Should I do it? Should I let a pill control my emotions and thoughts? They asked me.
Why do you want to take it? I asked.
And that’s when I knew.
I was instantly transported to the spring of 2016, a time when I suffered from mental health challenges that felt so unbearable, most days I could not get out of bed. …
Despite our world’s uncertainty, the sun still rises.
I have never felt more at home in my body than in the moments when the day is just about to begin.
The imagined smell of fresh-cut grass enters my nostrils, even if my surroundings look like gray and beige buildings, the sound of the occasional horn, a reminder of traffic in the streets. The sun is a terribly beautiful reminder of how stillness remains the ultimate form of waking up.
I can feel Life awakening, opening her eyes, even though our new lives of quarantine and isolation and silence, can sometimes appear lifeless, unmoving. …
“Here I am again,” I thought, clicking on the bright blue Zoom icon.
I have a habit of participating in non-traditional Jewish experiences, probably because my confusing upbringing has led me to prefer non-traditional everything (I’ll get to that later).
But of all my nontraditional Jewish holidays, dialing into a Zoom Seder at 7 AM from Vietnam, of all places, is not where I imagined my Passover this year.
This year, Passover was non-traditional for a lot of people, the barrier of a computer screen squeezed between any possibility of in-person hugs.
In other ways, though, barriers also lifted during this year’s Passover. This year, I got the chance to attend not just one, but two very beautiful, non-traditional Zoom Passover Seders, hosted by people in two different places. …
Last week, my Facebook feed flooded with former university peers sharing news that the University of Southern California (USC) will now offer free tuition to families who make less than $80,000 — a huge move that will allow thousands of students access to a university that has historically favored the wealthy.
However, upon reading this news, there was something slightly unsettling I felt that I could not quite put my finger on.
After some reflection, I realized that though this is “good” news, it comes almost immediately following a series of what felt like nonstop, front-page scandals, that have been occurring since I completed my undergraduate education from USC in 2017, just a few years ago. …
Working in the international development and NGO sector can be tolling.
My job requires me to develop an acute awareness of global economic inequalities and its drastic effects on health outcomes in the developing world.
That’s a nice way of saying, “I spend anywhere from 40–60 hours a week thinking about and analyzing immense suffering across our world, and attempting to make a difference in the lives of people who have been affected by some really messed up shit.”
In 2018, the UST 2015 Nonprofit Employee Engagement & Retention Report (from NGO Pulse) revealed on average, more than 20% of nonprofit supervisors and employees reported their staff as being “very often” stressed. …
After living for an extended period in three countries, sporadically taking time to travel as much as possible in between semi-permanent moves (including the cliche but necessary one-month-solo-trip-with-a-backpack-to-find-myself), I continue to come across the same story.
I don’t mean that everyone travels for the same reasons, but I do notice something after the small talk and after the wine bottles are empty. Many people are trying to get away from something. And travel is an amazing way to do that.
Travel makes us question our lives, forces us to become completely engaged with our senses, our bodies synced with the present moment. New sights and smells, stimulating conversations left and right, the happenstance stranger encounters, and the possibility of adventures and exciting risks we might not have taken had we remained in the comfort of our own homes. That’s what travel does. …
Years ago, when I first started practicing meditation, it was strictly a coping mechanism. Meditation was nothing more than a reaction to a terrifying realization that my anxiety has spun so out of control that I desperately needed to find a way to calm down.
As a yoga and meditation practitioner and teacher, I’ve come across countless people who are interested in meditation, but can’t seem to commit. It’s hard to keep the practice up.
And the reason for that, I believe, is because we have turned meditation into a tool, like journaling, exercising, and hanging out with friends. …
“In America,” she said, “the police will put me in jail for hitting you.”
“But in Vietnam,” she said, “it doesn’t matter.”
And with that, she hit my backside firmly, leaving red, rosy marks on my glutes. I heard the sound of another child, the neighbor’s kids, howling into the night like a wolf. The screams of children being hit by their parents, for many years, was what I thought of when I envisioned my mother’s home country.
What can we learn from a generation or culture that normalized hitting or spanking their children?
Let me first make clear that I am not talking about physical abuse. And I’m not going to pretend like I am an advocate for any form of hitting or spanking a child, regardless of the “level of pain,” but I would be lying if I said I didn’t learn something out of being hit by my parents, and by hearing the stories of those who shared my experience. …