Note: Ask Cody is a regular opinion feature that Cody Keith Charles writes for The Lawrence Times. Community Voices pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.
Read previous editions of Ask Cody here.
Q: Dear Cody, I am dealing with anxiety. What are your tips (beyond medication) to help with anxiety?
A: From my experience with both depression and anxiety, I have a few rituals that help ease the pains. Again, it is from my experience, so these rituals may not work for you. However, maybe, you can tweak some of them to fit your lifestyle.
It’s high time we start questioning, as a community, why marijuana is criminalized.
But let’s stay on topic …
Pay attention to the type of strain you purchase. All strains have different healing effects. Some are good for depression, anxiety, depression and anxiety, sleep, energy, reflection, relieving pain and arousal. Use the strains accordingly. Some strains can calm the mind down and some calm the body down which both helps with processing trauma and engaging the process of healing. Be careful, like any substance, drug, or medicine, use marijuana responsibly. If marijuana is too much for you in whatever ways, perhaps try CBD oil.
Either way, let’s move past the stigma and start feeling better … and doing better.
- I don’t love exercise; however, it is quite helpful in stabilizing my mood and giving my brain a break. I’m more of a walk on a trail with my dog kinda gurl. Granted, Monét (my dog) really just pulls me around everywhere, but we’re still getting out of the house and moving. More than exercise, having a reason to leave my home every day continues to be a great relief for both my anxiety and depression.
- Try escaping, but create a reentry plan. Reread your favorite books, watch your favorite movies or marathon seasons upon seasons of your favorite TV shows. And put your favorite albums back into rotation. Transport yourself to another world, even if it’s only 10-15 minutes a day. Allow your brain, heart and feet to take a break.
Rest. I’m also holding that rest is typically for the privileged.
Try not to focus on production; instead, focus on quality of time. Remind yourself that you are not alive to produce or scrape around for resources — these are all rules of white supremacy. Yes, white people, white supremacy is bad for your anxiety too; moreover, your general wellness. Find your ways to successfully re-enter this splendid life, as escape is not a replacement for living. For me, I love having strategically planned meetings, a video call with a colleague that gives me good energy, journaling my highs and lows or grabbing coffee with a friend. All of these activities help me to softly reenter a sometimes difficult reality.
- I have nervous hands and fidget a lot. I don’t sew, knit or draw. However, I was gifted a Nintendo Switch earlier this year, and it has helped me wind down in the evening. I mostly play old school Nintendo and Super Nintendo games while watching “The Circle” on Netflix. And that’s a quality Saturday night in my life.
Fun fact: I can beat the first Mario game in 11 minutes. Yep, it’s true, and I’m sure a bit sexy to someone out there. <sigh>
It makes sense that our mental health is suffering within this system, as it (the system) thrives on production and competition which leaves very little time for rest. All of this in the midst of a global pandemic.
Our bodies can only do so much. And it gives us hints when something is off; specifically, when we’re living out of alignment for extended periods of time.
Like my good friend Lele says, “Listen to your body, heaux.”
– Cody Keith Charles (all pronouns) is the Founder and Executive Director of Haus of McCoy, a queer and trans community center in Lawrence, Kansas. Moreover, Cody is a writer, facilitator, cultural critic and dreamer who critiques pop culture at the intersection of liberation. Cody enjoys trash TV, spending time with beautiful queer people and loving on their dog, Monét.