A few simple ways to finally stop yourself from worrying according to Isabelle Mercier.
Raise your hand if you’ve watched too much news lately.🙋🏽♀️ Raise your other hand if you’ve spent too much time on social media monitoring all of the craziness 2020 has given us.🙋🏽♀️ Has it caused you to worry? Be anxious?
Exhausting, isn’t it?
I feel the same as you. I recognize that much of the things regarding COVID19 (the novel Coronavirus) has caused a level of worry and anxiety in me that wasn’t previously there. Well, at least not at this level. But recognizing and naming it didn’t do much to lower my levels and increase my mental and physical well-being.
So, what CAN we do about it?
Get help, of course.
How do you get help, and from where?
Now there, good people, is the money question. I’m not sure about you, but I’m no psychologist. I’m not in the mental health or medical field, though as a teacher it certainly feels like it some days. With the Coronavirus having its raging party across the globe, I knew I had to do something. Something for me. Something for you, even. And like you, I first turned to Google. Here’s what I saw when I searched for answers:
- Pause. Breathe. Notice how you feel.
- Take breaks from COVID-19 content.
- Make time to sleep and exercise.
- Reach out and stay connected.
- Seek help if overwhelmed or unsafe.
It’s seemingly good advice, but I currently have no job, no insurance, and no resources to pay a mental health worker. So, what can be done?
The above tips offered by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) are actually good tips. They’re helpful in fact. But I wanted to add to that since many of the suggestions I do naturally (hello, looking at you breathing and sleeping).
Here’s what I found.
Isabelle Mercier-Turcotte, a native of Québec, Canada, is an entrepreneur and influencer. I came across a 20-minute TEDx Talk she did at Stanley Park in 2016 titled The Power of Zero Tolerance. Admittedly, the title first peaked my interest, but she had a few takeaways I thought were rather insightful. My summary of the Talk and a few of her key suggestions are below.
She first begins, as many TEDx speakers do, with a story. Her story begins with an incident with a bully when she was 9 years old, which she was worried about, and peaks with her mother giving her sage advice that, apparently, stuck with her:
“Don’t be afraid to speak your truth. If you can’t say no to what you don’t want. You will never have the time and the energy for what you do want?”
Isabelle takes this advice and applies it to her bully situation. Her worry seemed to dissipate as she took back her power and ownership of the situation. This, in her words, caused her world to not explode (remember she’s a 9 year old; they’re dramatic and social suicide is not what most of them want), but to “expand.” She goes on to explain further but her revelation that “what you tolerate, you worry about” and subsequent ways she, and a friend, deal with it, are golden.
For example, if you’ve had a long day, but your friend asks you to go with them to a concert, but you certainly don’t want to after a long day (let alone with Coronavirus cases spiking). You say yes, but you 100% mean no, you would be tolerating something that would cause you to worry.
Isabelle later names a multitude of percentages that state that 92% of what we worry about, really has no significance. Either we are worried about something that happened in the past (we can’t change that), or the future (it hasn’t even happened yet).
Here are her two —plus my one— suggestions.
1. Use the H.E.R.O. Acronym
H.E.R.O. Stands for Hush, Evaluate, Ritualize, Own.
Hush. To quiet yourself and determine what it is you really want, or what are you truly willing to not tolerate any longer. Put some boundaries. This seems similar to the CDCs “Pause.”
Evaluate. This is the what and who. That may be causing you worry, stress, and anxiety. These are the people with whom you may need to have a “difficult conversation,” according to Mercier-Turcotte.
Ritualize. Create and maintain good, healthy life habits that will allow you to push through all of the craziness that life can and, let’s face it, will toss at you. She quoted a statistic that said that checking your phone within one hour of waking up “has been proven to reduce your performance by 27%.” Though I believe this study is real, I haven’t been able to find the exact one she referenced.
Own. Take ownership over you, your life, and your life circumstances. You have the power to say “no” and perhaps gain a little peace of mind.
2. Break-up with Worry
Seriously, just break-up with it. Yes, I DO mean that literally and figuratively. Breaking up with worry will release a load off your shoulders. It will recenter you and give you mental clarity and peace of mind. To be honest, it’s just as easy as saying “stop” or “Pause” or “no” to whatever negative track your mind (or as many Christians say, the Enemy) is trying to go down. Stop it in its tracks. Disrupt that less than positive mental pattern (habit) in which you find yourself. It takes work, but most things do. You’ll be much happier for it.
3. Set a Date
Isabelle quipped about a cheeky friend of hers who actually sets a date with worry. Yes, you read that right a date. Basically, anytime worry rears its destructive head, her friend tells herself “pause” and that she can’t deal with it —the worry— at that moment, but that she can schedule to do so on a certain day of the week (Friday) at a certain time (between 10 and 10:30). Brilliant.
But does that actually work?
As you might imagine, when the appointed day and time comes, her friend sees that the things which she had worried about really weren’t that significant after all.
This TEDx Talk didn’t give any great new insights, but I personally thought it brought you back to the important basics: you. You’re in control of your life. Positive thinking and wishing and hoping alone aren’t going to cut it. You will have to actively engage in tried and true skills to readjust and “rewire” yourself to do these things. Once you do, however, I think you’ll see that not only were you worrying about things that may not be a thing in which you ought to be worried, but that your stress, worry, and anxiety levels can be controlled—and by you.
So, what’s eating you that you that you want to overcome?