I’m a reader – long-term, confirmed, committed – I simply cannot imagine how I would cope without it. For me, there’s no emotional strife which cannot be calmed by withdrawing into a book – or at least there hasn’t been to date. Why then, have I only managed to read 4 books since the UK went into lock-down.
One reason could be that as a long-time home worker, my weekday routine has been little altered. Unfortunately, the little it has altered, has left me with less spare time instead of more. A second reason is my self-imposed post-op regime of walking for 5 minutes once an hour. Normally, I would become engrossed in a book, and the hours would simply fly by. Now I’m on edge, waiting for my alarm to go off, or constantly looking up at the clock to check the time. Not a practice for relaxed reading. The third reason is that like many of us, I am suffering from heightened anxiety and depression. The latter I’m used to dealing with – reading and my intermittent depression are good bedfellows – but anxiety is another thing altogether. Depression and snuggling up under the bedclothes, or on the sofa with a blanket and a cuppa are normal, whereas anxiety keeps you on the edge, fidgety, unable to settle or concentrate.
Anxiety – especially at such a heightened level – is a new experience for many of us, so I cast about to see what my fellow readers were doing to solve the problem. Many are listening instead of reading, and I can see how this could be soothing, especially due to it’s connotations of childhood. As part of my bedtime routine, I use a guided meditation practice before listening to a sleep story. It’s rare that I have to listen to a second story, so I fear I’d be inclined to nod off if read to now. Other recommendations are to select lightweight reading matter, more escapist subject matter, a thriller or mystery story to grab attention.
I came to the conclusion the problem is I’m trying to read as normal – and nothing about now is normal. Two of the newest suggestions I’ve seen are to read children’s books – most specifically those you enjoyed in your childhood, or to re-read favourites. Having a massive To Be Read list, I’ve largely steered away from adding anything old to be re-read, especially as I’ve a fear that a much loved or admired old read will turn out to be disappointing the second time round – for this happened to me recently. So, I’ve trudged on … but I’ve now a vague hankering to try some Enid Blyton. Have I regressed …?
How are your anxiety levels? Are they preventing you doing what you love? Have you found new methods to soothe yourself?
© Debra Carey, 2020