The Apocalypse of the Mind

Surviving the Apocalypse will probably be the most stressful thing you ever do. Considering that many of us (your fair writer included) already have mental health issues when we live in a developed country with clean water, regular food access, and life-saving medicine, what on earth are we to do when everything is on fire and the zombies are at the gate?
Well, the standard advice for managing mental health issues is even more important when everyone you love has died in front of you.

Talk about it:

Reach out to whatever community you have around you, whether that be your fellow mutants, your pet radioactive cats, or actual people (lucky!). Talk about your feelings, good and bad, and work out ways to manage them – together. A therapist or counsellor would be excellent, but since they’re all dead consider drawing a face on a sack of live rats and talking to that instead.

Eat healthy:

Alright, so you’re probably pretty limited on your diet right now, but do your best. Don’t just eat the canned beans – add some freeze-dried fruit and some mysterious green stuff from the cave walls to your diet, too. Your brain needs a balanced diet!

Try journalling:

There’s nothing like twenty pages of ‘Kill them all’ to express your feelings of furious, broken rage. If you don’t have paper, write it on walls in the blood of your enemies. Bonus: It scares off FUTURE enemies!

Get some exercise: 

Death fights in the cage will increase your adrenaline and help your poor tormented mind pump out serotonin. Plus, the rush that comes with surviving another day might block out all those terrible memories for an hour or two.

Don’t be ashamed to try medication:

Ok, so you might not have access to a psychiatrist or even a GP any more, but that glowing stuff that grows by the wasted river has to have some kind of effect, right? Right?

Meditation works wonders:

Block out the noise of screaming and gunfire and take deep breaths, imagining yourself in a peaceful natural scene that no longer exists anywhere.

Learn to self-soothe:

Lying under a bed with your fingers in your ears chanting ‘everything’s fine, everything’s fine’ might not be the healthiest activity but whatever keeps you going.

Practice self-care:

Self care means taking the time to look after your body, mind, and spirit. Whether it’s organising all your weapons by most kills, going to regular machine-god sacrifices,  or decorating your trophy skulls, be sure to set aside some time and avoid burnout.
 
We hope this helps you with your deteriorating mental state and keeps you alive and with it enough to grimly and stubbornly claw your way through another day.
(please note, this is not actual advice for mental health conditions. Please see your doctor if you feel like you may be depressed, anxious or otherwise mentally unwell. If you are considering suicide, reach out to someone on this list of crisis aids. This article is a work of humor)

How to Trick People Into Liking You…

People are fairly simple creatures who are easily tricked because of their addiction to patterns and basic context cues. People want to trust you, like you, not need to kill you. Heck, you could be an asset to their team if you turn out to be someone they can trust, let their guard down around, and learn to lean on.
We see characters like Daryl on The Walking Dead become fan favorites both in and outside of the show while still being kind of dickish. That’s because in fiction people aren’t real. In fiction, people can’t have all the minutia that actual human relationships are based on.
In reality we dislike people because of their minutia and, surprise, it’s that same bit of detail that makes us either likable or leave-able.

So what are the little things we can do to trick people into liking us?

1. Ask them questions about themselves and their feelings the LISTEN to their responses.

Most people listen to respond rather than listening to understand. Think about it the next time you observe a conversation. The person who isn’t speaking hears something they think they know about and have a response poised and ready on the tip of their tongue. They’ve officially stopped listening to understand the other persons point and are just waiting for a break so they can respond.
This is rude and selfish. If you’re telling someone about your dearly departed grandmother and you see their eyebrows raise up and their mouth do that “O” shape where  they clearly have something to say about hospice facilities while you’re still talking about… Well it doesn’t matter now because clearly your audience doesn’t care.
Don’t show people you don’t care about what they’re saying by listening to respond rather than to understand. Sit, Listen, and take time to process what you’ve heard. Then respond. Keep in mind, sometimes the best response is just agreement or acknowledgement. “I hear you.” “That’s the worst.” “I can’t believe that.” “I’m so sorry you had to experience that.”

2. Be helpful when you can and give a brief reason when you can’t.

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit and do nothing or let someone take care of you. Sometimes it’s super rude even if you technically have nothing to do.
The worst thing you can say when you’re on a team or doing anything with other people is, “That’s not my job.” This one phrase is a sure way to make people side-eye you with utter, unabridged contempt. It’s worse than, “no” or “I don’t know how” or  even making an excuse that makes it clear that you don’t want it.
“That’s not my job” is somehow both dismissive, condescending, and mean. You’re rubbing it in that they still have work to do AND you’re not going to help; not because you can’t but because you just don’t want to.
It doesn’t hurt to help. If anything you gain skills and build a rapport with people through a shared struggle. And if you can’t help someone, don’t waste their time whining about all the things you have to do or how your arm hurts or whatever your real or fake reason is. They asked for help not a time suck. Again, this is selfish. This person is so busy or overwhelmed that they’ve humbled themself and asked for help.
Apologize with a sentence (not a run-on) explaining why you can’t. “Sorry, I’m in the middle of cooking these beans (they understand that the beans will burn if you leave them, you don’t need to explain).” “Sorry, I don’t know how to swim; maybe Joe does? (it’s great if you can offer an alternative; but don’t commit someone else to helping)”

3. Do what you say you’ll do.

The worst people are the people who can’t be relied on. People who can’t bother remembering to do things for others and are regularly letting people down.
It’s not just about being the kind of person that people can’t depend on, it’s about being the kind of person that makes life harder for other people. Your slack needs to be picked up or projects can’t be completed or children go hungry and die (in extreme cases).
The solution isn’t to shy away from responsibility, it’s to recognize that what you do or don’t do effects other people and get it done.

4. Try not to complain. If you must, follow up with your solution and plan.

Everyone hates their job. Everyone’s life is hard. Everyone’s body starts to fail after 25. Everyone could stand to lose a few pounds or tone up or eat better. Shut up and do something about it or just shut up.
Complaining gives people this great feeling of release because it’s good to get things off your chest– unless you’re the person listening to the complaints. Complaints are not communication. People who complain want sympathy not solutions which means there’s no real role for people who listen to complaints.
If you want advice, ask for advice. If you want to complain, get a diary or come ready with your own advice.
Like listening to understand, have conversations WITH people, not at people.

5. Mind your manners.

The weird thing about killing people with kindness it that they never seem to see it coming.  I had a roommate in college (who is alive and well to this day) who hated me– specifically she hated having a roommate. I went out of my way to pretend I didn’t notice.
I was nice to her and respectful of our space. I didn’t try to be her friend or invite her to parties. But I was kind to her friends and let her use my refrigerator and offered help when it was convenient or relevant. Eventually she and I genuinely got along swimmingly. I forgot she made me feel unwelcome and she forgot to make me feel unwelcome. The kindness ended up killing the animosity.
Being nice doesn’t cost you anything, doesn’t make you look bad, and doesn’t make life harder. Making the effort to mind your manners is not only basic decency but also the finishing touch you need to make your personality the kind that people are fond of.

So can you trick people into liking you?

Making a habit of all five of these things will guarantee more people will like you. Unfortunately these are not tricks. These are just things that people should do and other people will respond to.
You can fake them for a time, but eventually you’ll either grow to be a more likable person or your true colors will shine through and you’ll get a lot of side-eye and hear a lot of whispered conversations.
P.S.: Sorry if this headline tricked you into clicking. TLDR: some things don’t come naturally but you if you try them you might like the results.

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[PAX East '13] The Last of Us Features Happy Bricks and Echolocation.

I played The Last of Us demo at PAX East and felt all the feelings. Happy for a sweet band of misfits sticking together to make their way in this harsh new world. Confused by the MC Escher reminiscent environment that I couldn’t navigate because I could get lost in a cul-de-sac. Scared—no terrified—by the Clickers, cauliflower-faced creatures who use echolocation to ferret out their prey. Proud when I figured out how to distract them and escape. Finally, fun-stressed while I tried to fight off diseased humans from all angles.
It was vital to utilize stealth, cunning, speed, and puzzle-thinking to get through this scene so I can’t imagine what the game will hold. I’ve always thought of Naughty Dog as the story people with a good game keeping you in the seat but I think The Last of Us might have the story and game neck and neck for awesomest.
Now I’m a little worried I’ll miss some of the story because I’ll be so  engrossed in the game! Gah. My life is hard.
Check out the Last of Us Past East 2013 demo video:
Lucky me, I came away from the very stressful demo with a stress brick by the name of Happy Brock.

Happy Brock the stress brick!

Check out the official Naughty Dog write up on their blog.
[More about The Last of Us]

Quick Survival Tip: Avoid Stress

English: Effects of stress on the body.
English: Effects of stress on the body. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stress can have extremely damaging effects on the body if not properly managed or avoided. Survival situations are hard enough without adding the chaos caused by stress.
According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS) some of the more dangerous symptoms include: Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts, Difficulty in making decisions, Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed, Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness, Overreaction to petty annoyances, Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness, Increased anger, frustration, hostility.
If you know what causes you stress, plan for or avoid it. Some people need to feel that they are supported, in control, have something to look forward to, or just that they know what to do next.
Continue reading “Quick Survival Tip: Avoid Stress”