Day 588: How to reduce anxiety

#1: Tell yourself  “It doesn’t matter.”

“It doesn’t matter” is something my 16-year-old son, Aaron, has said to me, when I:

  • had brightly colored food stuck in my front teeth,
  • was running a few minutes late,
  • couldn’t decide what to wear,
  • forgot to tell somebody something,
  • thought I looked terrible,
  • didn’t get enough sleep,
  • said “the wrong thing,”
  • couldn’t find something,
  • made a mistake, or
  • otherwise thought I had screwed something up.

As with anything, “it doesn’t matter” can be overdone.  That is, “it doesn’t matter” — said too much and too often — could be a sign of

  • depression,
  • anger, or
  • adolescence

… but I personally find that phrase an effective anxiety-reducer. This works especially well if I imagine my son’s voice saying it, in my head.

#2:  Freak yourself out by misplacing or losing something, so you can feel relief when the situation is resolved.

In four days, Aaron and I are flying to Edinburgh, Scotland. Regular readers of this blog might remember that I tend to experience some anxiety before traveling.

Yesterday, minutes before Aaron’s final appearance in a local production of “Assassins,” I realized that

something I absolutely needed for the trip

was gone.  My only credit card with an international chip was missing from my wallet.

My first thoughts were

Arrrgh!  You put that friggin’ credit card in your pocket last evening, when you were taking that nice walk with Michael, after Aaron’s show yesterday.

My second thoughts were

What is the matter with you?  You KNOW that when you do that, you lose track of the card and then you catastrophize and think the worst when you can’t find it.  WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF? Isn’t your life INTERESTING ENOUGH, without adding drama like this, especially during stressful times?

My third thought was

It doesn’t matter.  I will find the credit card at home. Or, if I can’t, there is time to order a new one, before we leave for Scotland.

As a result, I was able to let go of enough anxiety to focus on my son on stage, acting and singing as John Wilkes Booth, in a musical written by one of my heroes, Stephen Sondheim.




Then, after the show was over, I went home and found my credit card, within moments.

#3: Set a priority or two, and stick to it.

When many things seem simultaneously important, I can get overwhelmed and anxious.  To cope with this, it helps to have a short list of non-negotiable priorities.

For example, when I write a blog post, it’s very important to me to

  1. give credit to others and
  2. be respectful of personal boundaries, regarding somebody else being included in a post.


  1. I want to tell you that all three photographs shown in this post, so far, were taken by Kathy Tarantola, professional photographer, on the 8/8/14 opening night performance of the Arlington Children’s Theater production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins,” and
  2. my son (with the dyed-brown hair and moustache) approved all three of those photos for use in my blog.

I’m realizing, now, that I haven’t cleared the use of these photos with the other excellent actors appearing in them. It helps me to remember, right now, that if they object, I can always fix that later.

#4:  Do something,  just because you like to.

While it’s not one of my top two priorities, I also like to include photos I have personally taken, in my blog posts.

And I did take some photos of Aaron this weekend, in his triumphant “Assassins” appearances.   But I haven’t cleared using them here, with Aaron.

However, I could show you these photos I took, this weekend:


IMG_7882 IMG_7886 IMG_7891 IMG_7889 IMG_7892  IMG_7895 IMG_7902 IMG_7911 IMG_7918

And, finally, because I would like a photo of Aaron in “Assassins” to show up as the featured image of this post,  I’m going to end with the fourth photo taken by Kathy Tarantola that Aaron approved:

IMG_4572 (2)

Thanks to my son, to Kathy Tarantola, to the town of Arlington (and its surrounding environs),  to people who do their best dealing with anxiety, to those who dare boldly, to wild childs and butterflies, to any other people or organizations who made this post possible, and to you — of course! — for all that you bring here, today.

© Kathy Tarantola Photography, 2014

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

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32 thoughts on “Day 588: How to reduce anxiety

  1. Bravo to your son! And nice job putting your c/c anxiety on the back burner so you could enjoy the show. That’s not easy to do.

  2. Cheers to your sone on his performance! My son says “don’t worry about it” to me all of the time. My response is usually “I wish I could.” Now I think I will give his wisdom some more insight. Today is a new day!
    The pictures are great! I especially love the wild child.

  3. I LOVED the performance! Aaron especially, but the entire cast was AMAZING!

  4. Love this post and everything it says, and reveals, and inspires.

    And congratulations to Aaron!

    And what a wonderful trip it will be for the two of you.

    and… I too have misplaced a credit card. I know it’s in a pocket — I just don’t know which one, so am using your tips to relax and believe…. it will be found. And if it’s not… I’ll cancel it and get a new one! 🙂

    • Whatever happens with your credit card, Louise, I wanted to make sure you noticed the credit I gave you in this post. When I took the photo of the license plate I thought of you, and I also was thinking of you in the Thank You’s, at the end of the post. Can you see that shout-out, now?

      • Ann — you are such a beautiful heart. When I read this morning, I was smiling at your story and connecting to the lost credit card and completely missed the Dare Boldl y and the dare boldly! But what’s even funnier is I looked at the car and license plate and noticed the Massacheusetts (I know — I misspelled it) plate and thought how similar it is to Alberta’s — and how the car is just like my youngest daughters! haha – sometimes, I am so focused on what I am focused on I don’t see what else I can see!

        thank you for the call out Ann — it is beautiful and heart-warming and truly inspiring! hugs

  5. So wonderful that your son approved sharing the photos from Assassins!
    Glad you found your cc. Replacing it can be a hassle.
    I bet that you are now super excited about your trip. The day is fast approaching…
    Nice curls on the wild child photo kid. 🙂

    • Nice comment, RoSy. Yes , the day is fast approaching for the trip. And I am going to follow your bet and focus on being super excited. Wonderful!

  6. This post is so full of wisdom Ann … and Aaron’s performance!
    All around very special 🙂
    Val x

  7. Wonderful photos, useful tips — wonderful, useful post!

  8. You have made me want to see the play. I think “It doesn’t matter” will become my new mantra.

  9. Great Pictures! Nothing like seeing him up on stage! 😉

  10. Still laughing (Freak yourself out by misplacing or losing something, so you can feel relief when the situation is resolved.)

  11. You got a great vibe going when it doesn’t really matter, Ann. Of course, it does! Aaron looked great in the play. The Wild Child looked awesome under that store sign. Boldly is a bold vanity plate. And you have your international card. All is well in Annville. Good thing because I’m reading you so late today, too late to be of much help otherwise …

    • It’s never too late for a Mark comment to be helpful, in many ways. Thanks for the good vibes and the great thoughts.

  12. amusez798387

    Was that a Monarch butterfly in the flowers? I haven’t seen one in two years. (there was the milkweed die off last year.) I keep watching my Budlia, butterfly bush, and have not seen any. Ann you were lucky to see one or at least it looks like one.

  13. My son travels to Europe tomorrow for six weeks. Today he looked at his credit card and it expires in two weeks. Hmmm. What to do? He is twenty eight. He will have to work it out himself. ….

    • That’s a great response, Elizabeth. I’m learning to step back and let my son work things out on his own, as he gets older. Wonderful to see you, as always.

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