5 Minutes to Stress Relief: How to Release Fear, Worry, and Doubt… Instantly by Lauren E. Miller

Too many sticky notes? Yeah, I agree

You should know that this book has a low rating on goodreads and I can understand why. Lauren E. Miller is overly Christian-centric and repetitive. She uses herself as a sterling example so often I roll my eyes. She can also be preachy and unsympathetic. So why did I give 5 Minutes to Stress Relief four stars and thus, bumped up its rating? Because whether despite or because of her tough love approach (so reminiscent of my mother whenever I’m suffering depressive/anxious episodes), I found a lot of the sentiments expressed useful.

Also, it’s most likely that you’re reading self-help books in the first place to rectify something you’re doing wrong. I tried to read with an open mind throughout and focused mainly on 5 Minutes to Stress Relief’s positive aspects.

2016 has been good to me so far. Depression and anxiety attacks are fewer and farther between. In fact, this is the longest I’ve ever been without a depressive episode. I want to keep it that way. I’ve been taking care of myself as best as I can. I’m also taking this “bright” time to catch up on what to do the next time I get depressed/anxious. When I’m actually in trouble, I can’t even get out of bed – let alone find ways to help myself. 5 Minutes to Stress Relief was the first of my many unread self-help books to get some attention.

5 Minutes to Stress Relief isn’t revolutionary. It’s more of a basic refresher. That’s fine though. Stressed-out people don’t have the mental capacity to execute forty yoga steps to a balanced inner life. Basic is best. In fact, the focal chapter of 5 Minutes to Stress Relief: “Quick Stress Relief Tips That You Can Do in Less Than Five Minutes!” wasn’t that useful to me. I already know deep breathing and daily walks help ease the problems. I’m not interested in Miller’s tapping method or thymus thumps. Although I suspect I will try jumping around and stretching more.

What I liked most about 5 Minutes to Stress Relief was its abstractions. A lot of key statements were what I learned from some hard experiences. I have half a mind to write down these statements in index cards and reread them every time the “black dog” starts sniffing.

Well, writing them down in a blog post counts, right?

  • “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27)
  • “I have moved through challenges in my past, and I am willing to trust that I can do it again.”
  • “Guilt will keep you stuck.”
  • “Anxiety comes when the options involved in your decisions conflict with the order of your priorities.”
  • “Inner anxiety is caused when your body is where it is, and your mind is in the future or in the past. Be here now.”

Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s the theoretical that won me over. I am an academic person, after all. But more likely, I already know these assertions from experience. I just need to be reminded of them frequently and often – especially when I’m inside the black hole trying to claw myself out.

If 5 Minutes to Stress Relief was a novel, my succinct review would be: fundamentally flawed but I forgive it because it’s genuine and rings true.


Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

Jane, the Fox and Me

Translated from French by Cristelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou

At this point, I’ve read three of Groundwood Books’ graphic novels for children. Organized by reading order and incidentally, from least to most adored: A Year without Mom by Dasha Tolstikova, Harvey by Herve Bouchard and Janice Nadeau, and now, Jane, the Fox and Me. I’m sensing a pattern here: the artwork is always superlative, the stories quiet, gentle, and tender. So quiet, gentle, and tender are they – that all of them are a tad forgettable.

That’s not to say that Groundwood Books choose stinkers. Far from it. These are good graphic novels with some excellent qualities. To me personally, they just don’t have that special something that would push me to rate them higher. And in fact, I respect Groundwood Books for choosing subdued atmosphere over dramatic bombast. One of the elements I appreciate from these graphic novels is how precisely they capture a child’s innocence/self-centeredness. Political havoc in A Year without Mom matters not to little Dasha. She’s more concerned about her first crush and how her school friends treat her. A parent’s death is unreal to the titular protagonist of Harvey – he spends the night thinking of an old movie he once saw.

Jane, the Fox and Me similarly tells of a young child’s tribulations. Helene is not living in a war-torn country. She is not dealing with abusive parents. But she is struggling all the same. Girls who were once her friends are bullying her at school. Her mother, although loving, is too tired raising three children alone to notice. Helene finds solace in reading Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. She identifies with Jane, from her plainness to her mettle. But when Helene’s class leaves for a two-week nature camp, will Jane Eyre alone save her from the cruelty of other kids?

I’m not the first reviewer who has noticed that Helene’s world is drawn in black-and-white yet moments when she is recounting Jane Eyre are fully colored. A clever and beautiful touch, I think. Not to mention, long-term bibliophiles would relate – As a child, school is too mundane and gray to be real, fictional worlds were brighter and felt more corporeal to me.

So to conclude, I was mildly disappointed because I had heard such lovely things about Jane, the Fox and Me on booktube. Perhaps the hype ruined it for me even though there was nothing particularly wrong with Jane, the Fox and Me. Britt and Arsenault really captured Helene’s isolation and loneliness exceptionally well. You can really feel Helene and her perspective of the world.

Of course, the artwork is simply beautiful – I expect no less from anything Groundwood Books publish at this point. Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki is the final unread Groundwood graphic novel I own and I’m looking forward to it.

May Low-Buy Report


Shamelessly ripped off one of my favorite bloggers: auxiliarybeauty. Her low-buy progress reports are detailed here.

I’ve been excessively consumptive lately. April was the cruelest month to my wallet but it was my own fault. I was spending like mad and justified my extravagance with “because April is my birthday month.” But March’s spending was strangely overblown as well, although not as bad as April. Not to mention, the Big Bad Wolf caused me to spend more money than normal. It was time to hit the brakes. In May, post-Big Bad Wolf haul, I made a word doc with a discretionary budget and a reading material budget, detailing all my casual expenses.

Friends, I still went overbudget. My wallet still took a battering. I told myself not to be too harsh on myself since it was my first month budgeting. No negative thoughts of: but you used to have such great self-control! or Well, this is something else you’ve failed at. None of that. One of my resolutions this year was to be kinder to myself and I happen to be fulfilling that, at least.

Enough of my navel-gazing! You came here for a book haul and I intend to give it to you:

Clockwise from top left, May 2016’s edition of Maquia, May 7-13th edition of The Economist, Anne of Green Gables, and The Girl Who Played With Fire

Some details as to why I bought them:

After flirting with both Biteki and Maquia (two of the Big Three Japanese beauty magazines), I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer Maquia. Biteki may supply better sample freebies, but Maquia offers more and better beauty tutorials. After May’s edition, I have decided to impose a moratorium on Japanese beauty magazines for the next few months. I have quite enough and I have neither flicked through all of them nor tried a fraction of the tutorials.

Donald Trump is now the Republican candidate for POTUS. How the heck did that happen? I wanted to read some articles and think pieces last month… but never got to actually reading them. In fact, I have to issue an ultimatum on magazine purchases too: either I read them within the week or I don’t buy them. BBC News and Al Jazeera are always around for me to stay on top of current events.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is the May purchase I’m most excited for. I have never read Anne Shirley’s story as a child and was never really interested until a dear friend wrote: “orphan Anne and Southern Scarlett [of Gone with the Wind] could be close cousins: modern, willful, determined, feisty, passionate, equals in love with their other half.” Come on! Who doesn’t want to read about a character like that?

I’m currently reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and it’s a gripping read so far. I know I’m going to continue reading the series so it was fine to buy the second novel in the installment: The Girl who Played with Fire.

That’s it. Only four things but I’m glad that with reading materials, I didn’t go massively overbudget (other discretionary spending is another story).

Let me know if you’re read anything I’ve bought. Also, do you think being a blogger has made you more consumptive? It’s irresponsible to blame bloggers, since nobody is forcing me to make that purchase – but I can’t help but notice that the more blogs I read, the more I buy – books, beauty products, what have you. But I have better self-control than that. Here’s to less massive hauls!