Reader’s Digest and my Worrying Mind

My wife makes fun of me as I pick up the latest issue of Reader’s Digest.

“You’re so old.”

“But I like Reader’s Digest.”

“Yeah, that makes you old.”

I think about this claim as I adjust my glasses.

“And those silver rimmed glasses make you look old.”

I worry about looking old. I worry about getting old. I worry about my life. I worry about my wife. Is she going through menopause? I worry about getting cancer. I worry about fake news. I worry about the amount of trash piling up in our country. I worry about earwax. What’s earwax for anyway? I wonder why I worry and how to stop.

Making the Beast Beautiful

The title of the book catches my attention: First, We Make the Beast Beautiful

Someone might look at the inside cover photo of the author, Sarah Wilson, and say, “It’s hard to believe someone who looks like this has so many issues.”

With an autoimmune disease and mental health challenges, Wilson has some issues.

But instead of seeing her issues as negative and detrimental, Wilson has come to discover that her so-called afflictions are helpful during her spiritual journey.

And maybe that’s why her photo radiates beauty.

She makes the beast beautiful and helps others see its beauty.

In the Pit

My friend tells me a story that goes something like this.

There’s a guy trapped in a dark, deep pit covered in the stuff that gets flung at Tim Hortons.

He calls for help.

A guy passes the pit but doesn’t hear him. Another person hears but ignores. Another person tries to help but is unsuccessful.

Finally, another guy jumps in the pit.

“You idiot! What are you doing? Now there’s two of us down here.”

“You’re right,” the guy answers. “But I’ve been here before. And I know the way out.”

I recently returned to the pit.
I didn’t want to go.

I knew it would be hard.
I knew it would be uncomfortable.
I knew it would be painful.

I recently returned to the pit.
I didn’t want to go.
But I did.

I had to.

And I will go back again.
Even though I don’t want to.
Because there are people down there.

I tell them
I’ve been here before.
And I know the way out.

Three Strategies for Coping with Anxiety

Before I met my soulmate, I must have scared off many potential partners with the number of self-help books on my bookshelf.

As I’m helping students deal with test anxiety as the semester winds down, I decided to grab a book off my shelf for some guidance.

Book by Edmund Bourne and Lorna Garano.
Cover of the book Coping with Anxiety. Photo by M. Fleming

In Coping with Anxiety: 10 Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear, & Worry, the authors surprisingly write about coping with anxiety and unexpectedly offer ten simple ways to relieve anxiety, fear, and worry.

I’d like to highlight three simple strategies outlined in the book.

First, I should note that I’m not trying to simplify the complex nature of anxiety, and I’m certainly not trying to minimize or discount the suffering of those who experience extreme anxiety or have anxiety-related disorders.

Here are the three strategies:

Meditate and relax. I recently purchased some guided meditations and relaxation music from iTunes, and I was amazed at how beneficial it was to my well-being.

Challenge your thinking. Recognize your anxiety-producing thoughts and challenge them. For example, the authors of Coping with Anxiety provide a strategy for challenging catastrophic thinking: identify it, question it, and replace it with a more realistic thought.

Simplify your life. Experts say that a great strategy to decrease stress is to simplify your life. I agree. Less clutter, less stress. I would add fish. More fish, less stress. I miss my pet fish.