Since I started working on a book of essays last fall, I’ve spent far too many hours despairing over the lack of progress that I make on my manuscript some weeks. In hopes of lowering my levels of self-loathing, I recently began a morning practice of reciting positive self-affirmations. It sounds more formal than it is; basically I just read a list of seven mantras before I kick off my writing for the day. (Note: I stole all seven of them from the back cover of this self-help book, which I haven’t actually bothered reading.) Stating a few simple things out loud, such as “I am wired to win!” and “I got this,” seems to steer me away from negative thinking, even on the days when — let’s be honest — maybe I don’t got this.
But here’s what I do got: this week’s links.
The Weirdness Of Workplace Wellness
In this article, writer Josh Hall takes a deep(ish) look at wellbeing programs in the modern Millennial workplace. Hall discusses how “wellbeing perks,” an increasingly common offering at startups, lull employees into complicity and blur the lines between their work lives and personal lives. Just a fair warning: After reading this, you may no longer be able to see the nap pods and free yoga classes at work through rose-tinted lenses. [The Baffler]
A Heavy Blanket For Heavy Times
One of my favorite young writers, Jia Tolentino, reports on the “Gravity Blanket,” a weighted blanket that went gangbusters last year on Kickstarter. Weighted blankets have been used for decades in occupational therapy, mainly to help children manage symptoms of anxiety associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other sensory processing disorders. But the 25-pound Gravity blanket introduced the product into the mainstream. Like so many of us in this troubling era, Tolentino found herself struggling with anxiety-induced insomnia. So she took the Gravity Blanket home (although her boyfriend had to lift it over her body). The result? Her experience might make you consider buying your own, as long as you can get on board with the weighty price tag and the idea of lying nearly immobile underneath your comforter. [The New Yorker]
This week, writing-and-editing prodigy Edith Zimmerman released a long, narrative comic about the process of getting sober on Medium’s genre-bending “Spiralbound” vertical. According to Zimmerman, white wine was quickly becoming her closest friend and go-to hobbyhorse. And in this comic, which I’m inclined to classify as a graphic memoir, she explores how giving up alcohol has altered her current life and perceptions of the future. This piece is authentic, personal, and specific enough to become deeply engaging. It might also inspire you to pick up your colored pencils. [Medium]
“Just Right” At Any Weight
My first reaction upon seeing the headline “More Fitness, Less Fatness” was to question whether we really need another article about America’s weight problem. Yet, this piece takes an interesting angle. It highlights the growing percentage of overweight people who view their current weight as “just right,” even though their doctors would likely recommend a more aggressive diet-and-exercise routine. The story would benefit from a deeper look at the larger topic — has the body-acceptance movement lead to some negative consequences, for instance? But it’s nonetheless good fodder for a discussion about weight and health and bodies in America, as the comments section makes clear. [The New York Times]
Journaling As Therapy
In this piece, a writer assesses the role journaling plays in her life. For her, and presumably others, jotting down thoughts and experiences leads to a release of anxiety — even if it’s only temporary. But what happens when you combine your “dear diary” habit with weekly, real-life therapy appointments? Given that many mental health professionals encourage patients to keep a daily journal in addition to attending sessions, this topic feels relevant. [Science of Us]
The Rags-To-Riches Story Of Spam
A number of foods that originated as budget-friendly diet staples have recently made comebacks as “comfort foods.” For instance, polenta, oxtail, chicken wings, instant ramen, and, as Korean-American writer Euny Hong celebrates here, Spam, are all experiencing a culinary revival. Spam, the tin-packaged and addictively salty pork product, was introduced to the Korean peninsula during the war, and is now regularly incorporated in hearty stews or rolled up in rice and seaweed. As Hong says, “No one who hates you will fry you some Spam.” [Lenny Letter]