As someone who frequently suffers from anxiety, the fact that I titled this week’s blog post the way I did is a bit funny.

I have a bad habit of letting my mind go to extremes: a habit that I’ve been working on. I can take comfort in the fact that I’m not the only one who gets this way.

In fact, part of the reason why I felt compelled to write about this topic is because of this little guy.

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Before you start saying to yourself “what the H is that?” – let me back up a bit.

When I was in high school, sophomore year I believe, I was invited and picked to be a part of a People to People Teen Delegation that traveled to the United Kingdom & Ireland for three weeks back in 2000.

As part of that trip, we went to a variety of places during our time abroad – many places that I would love to one day return to. One place that we visited was Jerpoint Glass Studio in the lovely countryside of Kilkenny, Ireland.

(Image courtesy of Jerpoint Glass Studio via their website - http://www.jerpointglass.com/)
(Image courtesy of Jerpoint Glass Studio via their website – http://www.jerpointglass.com/)

Now, I have a NOTORIOUSLY bad memory, but I remember this place being really cool – we learned about glass blowing, and each of us went home with a Worry Monk.

Look familiar?

Now, back to the topic of anxiety. Worry Monks, a variation of the more common worry stones (also known as palm stones), date back centuries. The roots of these stones & gemstones can be traced back to ancient Greece, Ireland, and even Native America.

The use of worry stones is a pretty common self-soothing practice that gained popularity in the 1970’s when worry stones became all the rage. Part of their popularity comes from the fact that they are small, unassuming, and can easily be hidden away in a pocket to be used at any time when anxiety decides to rear its ugly head.

Healthier than nail-biting, scratching, lip-biting and more, worry stones offer a discrete way to self-soothe.

So, how does it work? All you have to do is place the stone between your thumb and index finger. Rubbing the stone using your thumb in slow, continuous motions activates nerves located in the base of your thumb that naturally releases endorphins. And we remember how Elle Woods famously described endorphins, right?

 

TL;DR – rubbing the stone can make you calm and relaxed. Cool, right?

Well, in my quest to learn more about my little Worry Monk (I had to Google him), as they state on their packaging, the faces are based off of the monk statues at Jerpoint Cistercian Abbey – founded in 1160. As they state on their website:

Jerpoint Abbey is one of the most complete Irish Cistercian monasteries.  The church, dating mainly from c. 1160-1200 is still relatively intact and its fifteenth-century crossing tower dominates the surrounding landscape… The reconstructed fourteenth- or fifteenth-century sculptured cloister arcade is unique in the context of Cistercian cloister arcades for its rich array of quirky sculptures.

Can you see the resemblance?

(Image courtesy of Monastic Ireland - http://www.monastic.ie/history/jerpoint-cistercian-abbey/)
(Image courtesy of Monastic Ireland – http://www.monastic.ie/history/jerpoint-cistercian-abbey/)

I’m thankful I have my little Worry Monk – I don’t use him often, but it’s nice to have him around (I keep him in my purse) in case the need arises.

What ways do you self-soothe when anxiety gets to be too much? I know some people really enjoy using Headspace (I have it installed on my phone, but haven’t actually used it yet), and another site I’ve visited in the past is Pixel Thoughts.

Whatever method you use when the worrying gets to be a bit too much, I hope it helps you. And if nothing else, you can always order your very own Worry Monk – I mentioned that they’re an Irish good luck charm, didn’t I?

Until next time,

L

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