Variations/Song and Dance – Andrew Lloyd Webber
Bits and Pieces

Reading and Stress

I don’t react well to stress. My body tells me in some way that things aren’t going well. For years, all my stress would concentrate on one part of my body. If I’d injured something or overdone it, all my stress would go to that part, and I’d end up with an aching knee, or back or shoulder. Then, for a while, I did headaches. Fortunately those don’t happen as often anymore. But the stress outlets have become stranger.


About three years ago, we were attending a new church, the kids were busy with lots of activities, and my husband was traveling two or three weeks out of every month. I had lots of driving to do, and that’s where my stress went. I started getting very dizzy, and it eventually got so bad that the motion of walking across the yard made me feel like I was spinning. I had a hard time driving the eight minutes from here to the grocery store.

Fortunately, I had a lot of help. Friends from the neighborhood and fellow homeschoolers would take my kids to activities or pick things up from the store for me. My mother came over for a few days to help out with the driving. And we stayed home a lot for a while.


It took a long time to find out what caused this. I had eye exams, two EKG’s – one with a treadmill test, and numerous doctors’ appointments. I did find things online which helped – such as keeping a window cracked in the car so that I could hear the wind going by, sucking on lifesavers, and having a cold bottle of water to drink. Eventually, it went away, but I am still thankful that I can get in the car and drive places without getting dizzy (and sometimes, when I’m really stressed, I can feel it starting, and I know that I have to slow down my activities).


Last year, when doing research on his own, unrelenting headaches, my husband came across a description of this. The website said that it is due to muscles that never relax – and which then can cause dizziness or headaches.


The last two months, my stress reaction has gone to reading. Except for the reading I do for work, I haven’t been able to focus. First books went, then magazine articles, and, last weekend, I couldn’t even focus on reading weblogs. I knew something was wrong! And reading is one of my greatest pleasures so it’s very sad when I can’t focus on it.


Well, I figured out what I was stressed about, which always helps, and I’ve also started a new habit. I’m getting up a little earlier in the morning to have time to read. Usually my reading is done late in the afternoon or late in the day when I’m already tired. Now, I’m just taking 15 or 20 minutes in the morning to read. I read fast so that actually can get me a few chapters further. We have a comfortable chair that gets the rising sun in the bedroom so I sit there for my reading.

The first few books that I brought up were: Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, by Dava Sobel (recommended by my daughter and older son), The Truth of Catholicism, by George Weigel (it got buried under other books this fall and I never finished it), and Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden, by Diane Ackerman. I started with the garden book, which I really have been enjoying.


(And, in that spirit, I’m adding Bookish Gardener to my links. You’ve got to like someone who has Bach cantatas on their car tune list!)


The comments to this entry are closed.