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Artist Suffering From Anxiety Shows What Mental Illnesses Would Look Like as Monsters

Artist Suffering From Anxiety Shows What Mental Illnesses Would Look Like as Monsters

Let’s be honest: mental illness is not a conversation topic people want to address. If someone gets cancer, undergoes a heart transplant, or falls sick with the flu, people see it, understand it, emphasize with it, and are compassionate. Yet when someone has a mental illness, people don’t “get it.”

Illustrator Toby Allen wishes to change that. From anxiety to bipolar disorder, Allen puts a face to these illnesses and shows the world just how tangible—and haunting—they can be.

Allen’s “Real Monsters” series is a collection of illustrations that anthropomorphize mental illnesses like depression, social anxiety disorder, and schizophrenia. He hopes his art will raise awareness to those who are unfamiliar with mental illness, and offer some relief and encouragement to those who are suffering.

“The project originated from imagining my own anxieties as monsters and finding it to be a cathartic and healing process to draw them,” Allen told The Huffington Post. “It made them feel weaker and I was able to look at my own anxiety in a comical way.”

Right click on any photo below to view large scale.

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    “I hope to draw attention to mental illnesses that often get ignored or aren’t taken as seriously as they should.”

    —Toby Allen

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          “I want to make people aware of how damaging these illnesses are and how much of a burden they can be to those who suffer from them.”

          —Toby Allen

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                “The project highlights conditions that some people may have never even heard of, so the work aims to raise awareness for these.”

                —Toby Allen

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                      “Yes, I have Anxiety. It affects me every day of my life and can be a real burden but I have learnt how to keep it mostly at bay.”

                      —Toby Allen

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                            “As for the other mental illnesses in the series, I either know someone who is personally effected by the illness or am very familiar with it because it is something that I find interesting to research.”

                            —Toby Allen

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                                    “I research each illness extensively to be able to create a design that works for most people. I try to research real life case studies and incorporate people’s first hand experience into each designI have a list of illnesses that I would like to tackle.”

                                    —Toby Allen

                                    Check Toby Allen’s page for new “Real Monsters” artwork and help share awareness.

                                    Featured photo credit: Anxiety/Toby Allen 2013 via zestydoesthings.tumblr.com

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                                    Last Updated on July 3, 2020

                                    30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

                                    30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

                                    In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

                                    1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

                                    Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

                                    2. Focus on your breath

                                    Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

                                    3. Get organized and purge old items

                                    A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

                                    4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

                                    Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

                                    5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

                                    Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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                                    6. Smile more

                                    Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

                                    7. Don’t worry about the future

                                    As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

                                    8. Eat real food

                                    The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

                                    9. Choose being happy over being right

                                    Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

                                    10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

                                    Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

                                    11. Make use of filtering features on social media

                                    You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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                                    12. Get comfortable with silence

                                    When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

                                    13. Listen to understand, not to respond

                                    So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

                                    14. Put your troubles in a bubble

                                    Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

                                    15. Speak more slowly

                                    Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

                                    16. Don’t procrastinate

                                    Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

                                    17. Buy a coloring book

                                    Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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                                    18. Prioritize yourself

                                    You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

                                    19. Forgive others

                                    Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

                                    20. Check your expectations

                                    Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

                                    21. Engage in active play

                                    Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

                                    22. Stop criticizing yourself

                                    The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

                                    23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

                                    Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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                                    24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

                                    Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

                                    25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

                                    Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

                                    26. Manage your money

                                    Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

                                    27. Stop trying to control everything

                                    Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

                                    28. Practice affirmations

                                    Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

                                    29. Get up before sunrise

                                    Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

                                    30. Be yourself

                                    Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

                                    Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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