The list to avoid includes smoking, over/under eating, alcoholism, excessive TV, and anger. Not my habits, so I search for stress relievers. Suggested remedies include deep breathing, a soothing bath, lighting a candle, drinking warm tea, and listening to music. I’ve tried these, sometimes incorporating the full list, with no results. The only stress reliever that works for me is reading.
I’ve ridden with attorney Mickey Haller, Michael Connelly’s protagonist, who prefers to work from the back seat of one of his three Lincolns rather than an office. I sigh with relief that I have a designated writing area at home. I’ve sat in an imaginary courtroom intrigued by David Sloane, Robert Dugoni’s protagonist, who unleashed last-minute legalese surprises that would have given me double-time heart problems if I were his client. I’ve peeked over the shoulder of Patricia Cornwell’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta while she performed an autopsy looking for cause of death, something I’d never face in real life. I’ve traipsed a fictional college following Professor Sophie Knowles as her author Camille Minichino (a/k/a Ada Madison) drops clues to find the perp without the graphic blood and guts.
Mystery solved, I close the book, drain my teacup, and resume my volunteer work―stress free.