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Pop! Goes the Worry

From our Zen Guide

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How I Found My Zen

Pop! Goes the Worry

Zen on the Cheap …

From our Zen Guide

Illustration by Jason Schneider

Got a zit? Scab? Ingrown hair? Wart? Callus? If it grows on a human body, I desperately want to watch someone pop, pick, tweeze, scrape, or clip it. Not because of some overly fastidious sense of hygiene. Rather, doing so ignites a soothing, crackling bonfire of brain chemicals that makes me feel like I’ve just downed an Ativan. It’s gross. But God, does it help me sleep.

I discovered this odd effect right around the time that the Southern California dermatologist known as Dr. Pimple Popper (real name: Sandra Lee) became a YouTube (and eventual TLC) star. Her 5.7 million subscribers, known as “popaholics,” compare her soothing aura to the joy of Bob Ross and leave comments like “Does anyone else watch these videos to delay a mental breakdown?”

I wouldn’t go quite that far. But having a free, easily available, nonaddictive tool to lull me toward dreamland is indescribably helpful, even if I have no idea how it actually works. My best guess is that I’m feeling a wash of whatever endorphins monkeys get as a reward for picking insects off each other. Sure, I seem disgusting in the big city, but I’d fit right in on the savanna.

So would my mom. I recently introduced her to a medical YouTube channel called Wound Care Window. As we watched a doctor carefully trim callused skin that had been hiding a diabetic ulcer, I murmured, “I would love to do that.”

“Me too,” Mom murmured back. “What’s wrong with us?” But we were too calm to care.

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