Allison is the first to admit that she was “more high-strung” than most growing up. That being said, she never once considered herself to be an anxious person. But that all changed when she left home for the first time to attend college.
“It was a big change for me,” Allison relates. “Being away from home, having to figure out life alone and away from my family… I had a really hard time and began struggling with severe panic attacks, stress, and anxiety.”
She fought through the stress for her first year before choosing to return home and commute to campus instead. This change proved fruitful for a worn-out Allison, who took comfort in rediscovering the prayers and routines of her childhood.
“When I came back, my mom and I started praying the Rosary, specifically the joyful mysteries,” she reveals.
“The joyful mysteries focus a lot on Jesus and His mom, which resonated with me because my mom was one of the main people I turned to during that difficult time.”
Having been raised in a supportive family herself, Allison found peace in contemplating the Holy Family and their faith-filled response to the stressors of life.
“It brought back memories of my own childhood, of growing up knowing that I had people there to help me when times got tough.”
In the years that followed, Allison returned to her contemplation of the joyful mysteries time and time again, until she eventually reached a point where she found herself able to successfully manage stress. Crediting this transformation in large part to her devotion to the Rosary, Allison felt inspired to share her technique with others, which led her to pen her first self-published devotional, Breathe Deeply: The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary as Invitations to Peace.
“I wanted to guide readers deep into the joyful mysteries, and to do that, I’ve included short prayers for overcoming anxiety that can be said on each bead of the Rosary, because that’s what mom and I did.”
In addition to prayer, Allison also made sure to include practical strategies and activities for overcoming anxiety at the end of each decade of the Rosary.
“I’m more of an introvert,” she reveals. “And I found that I would feel far more stress when I was at home alone than when I forced myself to volunteer or spend time with friends. Those kinds of activities really helped to bring me out of that anxious place.”
Allison admits that it can be challenging to do such things while in a state of anxiety, but points to the second mystery, The Visitation, as an example for us to follow.
“Mary and Elizabeth were both dealing with their own struggles, but they were able to help each other.”
“Sometimes you might think, ‘I’m a stressful person, what can I really contribute?’ But even within your own struggles, you can help others.”
Allison hopes to do just that through her devotional. Quick on the heels of that aim comes another – that readers gain a new appreciation for the struggles experienced by Our Lady during her earthly life.
“In the past, I used to think that Mary was picture-perfect,” Allison begins. “And yes, she did trust in the Lord at all times. But she also did that in the face of a lot of unknowns and a lot of stress. The Bible even says that she searched for Jesus in the Temple anxiously.”
As a result, Allison has come to believe whole-heartedly that Mary, “can definitely be an advocate for people working through stress and anxiety.”
Above all, however, Allison’s biggest wish for her devotional is that it extend to readers the same kind of peace and healing that she’s experienced while praying the Rosary.
“My main hope is that, even if somebody doesn’t have a diagnosis of anxiety, even if they’re just dealing with worry in general, this devotional will bring them peace and comfort.”
With a shy smile and an unintentional pun, Allison concludes,
“That would definitely be a win in my book.”
Breathe Deeply is available for purchase as a paperback or kindle e-book