Overcome by pandemic worry? Here’s how to put an end to the stress
Many Canadians are experiencing higher than usual levels of stress and worry during the pandemic – from our own well-being, to that of our loved ones, to the economy. But a new book says that doesn’t have to be the case, and explains how you can control, if not end, the unnecessary angst.
Karen McGregor, author of The Tao of Influence: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs, due out in September, says not only does all this worry come at a high cost to our health, it’s a symptom of a bigger problem.
“First, worrying drastically suppresses your immune system. You could eat the world’s cleanest diet, but if you worry all the time, you’re basically saying, ‘No, thanks, organic veggies and fruit, I’m choosing the greasy burger joint down the street.’ That’s what the stress of worry does to our bodies.”
In addition, she says, worry is just another word for fear, which keeps us from being fully present. “When we’re not fully present, we’re disconnected from our primal power, which is love power, and that means we can’t be our healthiest and happiest selves and have a positive influence on those around us.”
Her book lays out a path – rooted in the ancient wisdom of the 4,000-yearold Tao Te Ching – for identifying and breaking the “power patterns” that undermine your influence, create dysfunctional relationships, and otherwise squelch your potential.
The bottom line: Even right now – especially right now – we need to break the bonds of worry and create a healthier, happier life.
She offers these tips:
First, understand why worry happens.
Worry is a mechanism of the mind that is designed to keep you exactly where you are. By mulling over a situation without a solution, you are not changing and not acting. This is the mind’s nature; its job is to keep you safe from perceived harm. While that can serve its purpose if we are in imminent danger, the reality is that it blocks us from creativity, productivity and following our dreams.
Tune into the channel you’ve been listening to for years.
Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings and see if you start to notice a pattern. At the heart of your worrying could be blame or judgment. It could be your need to be right or your need to be a victim to your circumstance by repeating the same story of injustice to anyone who will listen. It could be your need to withdraw from others and live out a pattern of withdrawal and entitlement in which the world owes you something.
Then… dismantle your channel.
Become more aware of how you worry. Does your victim power pattern take hold, or do you pull away from everyone?
Focus on solutions.
Each time you become aware of a worry-filled thought, ask yourself what you’re going to do about it. You can stay helpless by feeling overpowered by worry, or you can take action. At the very least, your action will help you feel less helpless, and at best it can help you shift into a healthier state of mind.
Create a new language.
Language is powerful, whether we are saying those words out loud to others or simply thinking them to ourselves. Replace your go-to “worry words” with words that empower and generate passion and enthusiasm. You are always influencing yourself and others, so get serious about using empowering, positive language.
“Worrying doesn’t fix what’s going on in the world; it only hurts you,” says McGregor. “We’re all facing challenges due to the pandemic, but we don’t have to let worry make them worse. Be gentle with yourself and start making healthier choices. You’ll immediately notice a shift in your outlook. That’s true now, and it will be true long after the pandemic is over.”