A Bad Reading Habit: Anxiety and Comfort in the Known

mirror by Paul Keller via Flickr

It’s no secret that I suffer from anxiety. It’s not something I talk about a lot, but those who know me, and any readers from Anxiety Ink, are well aware of the fact. It’s something I’ve struggled with most of my life though I don’t take any medication for it. I’ve learned to handle it myself for the most part.

This year, 2016, has been particularly stressful. I’m noticing that I’m falling into some bad habits in an effort to comfort myself. While comforting oneself is not a bad thing, my coping mechanisms are leading to some not-so-great outcomes.

One, I’m closing myself off. That’s never good. I’ve been using my job as an excuse; it’s extremely social and while I do get peopled-out fast, I’m using that as a fall back. It’s ok to be tired, it’s ok to not want to do stuff all of the time, but lately I haven’t wanted to do anything with anyone at all. My friend wanted me to have coffee with her last week and I almost had a panic attack because it was too close.

Now that I’ve acknowledged the pattern I can take steps to fix it. This isn’t the first time and is likely not the last.

Two, and this is the one that’s bothering me the most (which says a great deal about me), is that I’ve developed a terrible reading habit. Every once in a while, when I can’t decide what I want to read next, I pick a favourite book off my shelf. The book I select is always one I’ve read before, and what I like to do is flip through and do a cursory re-read. I also do this when I’m tired and don’t want to read a single chapter of my current book-in-progress (I’m a binger).

My intention is always to simply read a favourite scene of my already-read book before I go to sleep. However, I always end up reading basically the whole thing and stay up later than I would have just picking up my current read.

Months ago I decided I had to stop doing this because it was really cutting into my reading time. My goal was to read 68 books this year –I can’t get that done if I’m not reading new books. I did better with that reason in mind, then fell off the wagon after reading two particularly sad books. I just wanted to be in a safe book that wouldn’t tug on those threads.

Lately, I haven’t been diligent about picking up my current-reads, and not because I’m not enjoying them. I finally had to stare the problem right in the face after perusing my to-read list and seeing all the awesome books I want to read.

This habit of picking up “safe books” is yet another coping mechanism I’ve developed because my life is not without stress right now.

While this coping mechanism is not nearly as worrisome as the other, it stems from and leads to the same thing. I’m putting up walls and falling back into the known because I can’t seem to control things lately. With the books, it’s about me being afraid to pick up a new read because I don’t know what’s going to happen. Picking up ones I’ve read gives me complete and utter control of the experience because I can take away exactly what I want.

Same goes for me not wanting to go out and socialize. It’s two sides of the same problem.

I wish it was as easy as realizing what the issue is and telling myself to stop. I really do. Baby steps are required, but I’ll get there. I’ve already started a new book with a set completion date and I have coffee plans for Friday. As well as a couple of other social events for the month.

The big stressors are the things I actually need to deal with. I’m working on those, though much more slowly.

I have to ask, does anyone else suffer from this bad reading habit? I don’t actually reread the entire book, which would be one thing, I read the parts that will make me happy. It’s an odd and controlling experience I hadn’t really thought of until I stopped to write this blog post.


*featured image: mirror by Paul Keller via Flickr.

Getting Through My Spring Slump

Upon reading all the literature out there and watching the people around me, spring truly is the quintessential time for growth and new beginnings.

The days are longer, warmer. People are coming out of their winter hibernations to do all the stuff. There’s energy in the air.

What says spring more than daisies?

What says spring more than daisies?

And here’s about the time I admit that I seriously struggled to get through spring. Every year it’s the same thing: I start to feel heavy and exhausted as April rolls around, and I lose sight and motivation as far as my personal goals go all the way to June.

Every spring, without fail, this happens to me. It used to require my the-end-of-school-is-almost-here-just-keep-going mantra. Now there’s no school, no ending to be celebrated, no break to embrace. Just a continuous path of just-keep-going.

This spring has been particularly bad since I’ve had additional stressors and energy-sucks added on. I’m only now coming out of the fog and I am woefully behind everywhere I look.

I don’t know if it’s the longer hours of sunlight messing with my night owl tendencies

I don’t know if it’s the influx of allergens that make my body require more adjustment time.

I don’t know if it’s the increased activity since winter does tend to make me much more homebound, and hence more productive, whereas spring requires me to get myself out there.

I don’t know if it’s the increase in temperature –this May and June have been the hottest I have ever experienced. If they’re any indication of July and August I may be a puddle by the time September rolls around.

Perhaps it’s a mix of all of those factors and other entities I’ve yet to identify. All I know is that I need better coping strategies because losing three months of discipline and words is much worse now that I have less free time because of work and family.

Setting myself a reminder about my usual slump time as the spring season rolls around might be a good start for next year, but I’ll definitely need to do more to lessen the impact.

If anyone out there has any strategies now is the time to share them!