MindWell team member, Gillian, reminds everyone (and herself) about managing worry when you can’t control what’s happening in the world.
Is the news a bit full-on right now, or what?
I liked it better when it was about gold medals at last year’s Commonwealth Games and roaring/scoring Lionesses. But now we seem to be hearing about financial difficulties, climate issues, war, violence and illness. The list goes on…
And we’re limited in what we can do about it.
You might have seen a diagram, sometimes called the Circle of Control or Circle of Concern. Steven Covey wrote about it in The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.
Imagine a drawing of three circles, one inside another. The inner circle is for the things we can control. The next circle contains things that concern us and that we can influence. The outer circle represents things that affect us but that we can’t do much about. There’s a video with a simple version of the diagram on the Red Cross wellbeing support pages.
If I use that approach, I know I can control how much I spend at the supermarket this week.
I’m still worried about the price of bread, but I have control over where I shop and whether I buy the basic loaf or the fancy one. I can influence the store by complaining about the prices or spending my money elsewhere.
On the other hand, while I’m concerned about the price of wheat and international events affecting it, I can’t do much to change that – it’s outside my control.
Worry and anxiety don’t always see that rationale, though, do they?
It doesn’t matter what’s bothering us, if it’s a serious issue for us or a big worldwide problem – we can too easily find ourselves awake at 3 am or notice our stomach churning as we ruminate over the best course of action.
We all worry sometimes. There is a lot of pressure, news and stress in the world right now. But it’s more helpful to focus on what we can control, what concerns us, and what we can influence. And remember that there are some things we just can’t do anything about.
So, if you can find a way to let go of some of those worries, then great – do it! The big issues can wait for another day. Or you could try tackling them in a more positive way, such as through local activism or global movements. Check out the Leeds for Change website for more ideas.
Other things you might try…
We can also try different strategies to help us deal with the problems we can control:
- Our MindWell Anxiety and feeling worried pages have some useful resources and information – see Take control of worrying for tips and tools to help you manage worry.
- Our page Money worries and mental health has ideas and tools, tips for being kind to yourself and links to finding help or someone to talk to.
- Explore our MindWell service directory to help you find advice or support for issues affecting you.
- Parents, carers or those who work with younger people in Leeds can find advice and help for children and young people on MindMate.
But what about tips for managing stress and worry in the first place? We can turn off the news, slience alerts for news stories, avoid friends who like to scaremonger, be careful what we view on social media and keep informed but stay realistic about how much we need to know.
And keep talking – to friends, partners, family, colleagues, that bloke you play footy with, the parents at the school gates – whoever you know who’ll listen, be sympathetic and not add to your worries. We can all offer support and ask for it too.