9 Friday Evening Activities For Introverts

9 Friday Evening Activities For Introverts

You finally have time to catch up on the new episodes you missed this week. ​
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Well, you've finally made it. Your bed welcomes you back to your room as you plop on top of it. You've gotten a few texts from friends throughout the day asking you to go out with them tonight, but you truly just want an evening to yourself to recharge. This is what it's like being an introvert. But, however much we love our alone time, sometimes we still get serious FOMO when we feel like we have nothing to do. So, here are a few ideas for ways to spend your Friday nights.

1. Practice your favorite kind of self-care

Wash off the day, try out a soothing face-mask and condition the heck out of your hair. After all the craziness of the week, the best way to make yourself feel better is by taking the time to care for yourself.

2. Write in your journal

Reflect on the events of the week and the way that they made you feel. Writing these things down helps to organize your emotions and reduce anxiety.

3. Go for a walk

Whether you're in a busy city or a wide-open space, getting some physical activity in your day calms you down and clears your mind. Wandering around the city at sunset is one of my favorite ways to decompress.

4. Try your hand at some art

Expressing yourself in a creative way provides a new perspective and appreciation for the little things in life.

5. Do the chores you've been putting off all week

This may not seem like fun, but we all know they won't get done during the week. Once all the laundry has been washed and the floors are swept, you can really relax without having anything in the back of your mind.

6. Organize your room/ work area

You're going to be spending pretty much all of your time at your desk during the week, and there's no better feeling than coming home to a wonderfully organized room after a long day of school.

7. Get your favorite dinner

After a long week, you deserve to enjoy your favorite food. So throw a frozen pizza in the oven or splurge on takeout and savor precious your alone time.

8. Enjoy it while watching your favorite TV show

You finally have time to catch up on the new episodes you missed this week.

9. Put on your coziest pajamas and curl up in bed

Fuzzy pants and long sleeved tee shirts are the best way to recuperate after a busy week.

Let's enjoy our Friday nights!

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.

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Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi

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Standing Up For Ourselves When Others Pull Us Down Is Hard, But We Are Worth It

The journey will not be easy or linear, but we have what we need within ourselves to keep going.
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I know of few things I hate more than awkwardness and tension. I'll do anything to fight it. I put “lol" after very serious messages to make them seem less intense. I use humor to lighten the mood. I let things happen that aren't okay and make myself believe that it “wasn't a big deal."

Except do that for too long, and you'll really get screwed over. Do that for too long, and you'll forget that you are allowed to say no, that you're worth standing up for, that what happened was a big deal and it's okay to admit that.

One of Rupi Kaur's poems says “you pinned / my legs to / the ground / with your feet / and demanded / I stand up."

To say it like my fellow young people: what a mood.

We are allowed to stand up for our needs, even if they don't fit what's “socially acceptable" or done politically. We are allowed to change our minds and avoid time with people who hurt us. We are allowed to say no. One of my favorite quotes is “You can't pour from an empty cup."

But this isn't always easy. We can say no and people ignore it. We can say “I don't want to; that hurts me" and people may say to “put up with it" or make other excuses. We may feel the need to let our boundaries be broken for the sake of other aspects of our mental health that just can't fight anymore.

I understand that some people may fight their hatred of awkwardness and tension by pushing past their boundaries or asking others to do so. At many social functions -- like holidays with family, for example -- it can feel so much easier to try to make sure everyone shows up and “acts normal." Going out of your comfort zone can definitely be a healthy and beneficial thing, but asking others to do so in a way that asserts power and ignores their needs is where I draw the line.

Going forward when someone asks you to stop is definitely not okay. Consent is crucial in so many areas, have that be sharing a story, interacting with someone's body, or whatever else. I believe in the APA Code of Ethics: first, do no harm, and second, try to help. Listen to someone's needs, be with them at the moment, and help how you can.

In trying to work with people who push us, several effective communication strategies exist. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, contains a module called “Interpersonal Effectiveness" that lays out many of these strategies.

For example, DBT provides the acronym “DEAR MAN," a layout of guidelines that can help you obtain what you want. DBT also provides “GIVE" which entails how to keep a relationship and “FAST" on how to maintain self-respect. Many more acronyms, exercises, and information exist -- they're all over the Internet and can be found in bookstores.

But what happens if these don't seem to work? If people mow us over time and time again, if we're too young to truly have any power or means to fight back if we receive the message through these situations that we are unworthy and will continue to feel disrespected?

We fight for ourselves; we do our best. We believe that every step and victory is a big one. We do what we can. We reach out. We refuse to be hard on ourselves or blame ourselves when things don't go our way. We know we deserve the best and don't feel guilty for it.

This journey will not be linear. It will not be perfect, nor will it always feel positive and empowering. However, we will find ourselves stronger with each step. We will hold onto hope and give our time, attention, and love to those who deserve it. It may be awkward, and it may be filled with tension, but it will be worth it, I promise you.

In summary, a quote of Nisargadatta Maharaj:

"All you need is already within you, only you must approach yourself with reverence and love. Self-condemnation and self-distrust are grievous errors. Your constant flight from pain and search for pleasure is a sign of love you bear for yourself; all I plead with you is this: make love of yourself perfect. Deny yourself nothing -- glue your self infinity and eternity and discover that you do not need them; you are beyond."

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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