How to stop worrying about anything (including the Coronavirus)

A couple of weeks ago I arrived back from a business trip to Seoul, to an inbox filled with messages from worried friends, relatives and colleagues.

But as much as I appreciated everyone’s concerns, the overwhelming number of messages only exacerbated some existing anxieties.  Everywhere I went, people were (are) talking about the Coronavirus, its risks, impact and advancing – even the lady who usually cuts my hair texted me to ask me not to come in.

Sigh. If I wasn’t worried when I landed, I soon would be.

OK, so let’s deal with this.  Whether it’s Coronavirus or something else, worry is something we could all usefully do without. So how do you deal with worry?  And how can you stop worrying? 

Well, aside from reaching into the freezer for copious amounts of your favourite ice cream, or pouring yourself another glass wine, here are some simple ideas to help you stop worrying – whatever it is you may be worryied about:

Confront it

First thing to do in any worrying situation is to confront whatever it is you’re worrying about. How do you do that?  Clearly define what’s bothering you by writing down exactly what’s bothering in specific detail. That may sound silly but as you put pen to paper you’ll be able to focus your mind on what’s really worrying you, rather than what might be irrational or something you’re blowing out of proportion in your mind.

Corner it into perspective

Next thing to do is put whatever you’re worrying about in perspective. Case in point is the stock market which seems to have caught its own version of the flu. So just remember we’ve had downturns dating as far back 1637 caused by Tulip Mania and in recent times, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2015 and 2018 have all seen downturns that somehow sorted themselves out.

Limit news intake

If you’ve read or watched any major news lately you could be forgiven for thinking the world is about to end. Problem is, news runs 24/7 and headlines (particularly sensational ones) sell newspapers, build audiences and drive social media.  And whether or not your particularly worry is front and centre in the news, you’ll likely only make matters worse by adding more (bad) news clutter into your brain throughout the day. So if you want to check-in on what’s going on, do so just once a day, or ask a specific question to focus your news intake. Best ‘how-to’ clip I’ve seen on the Coronavirus for example, came from the BBC on how to self isolate.

Listen to experts

If your kitchen faucet springs a leak and you can’t solve the problem yourself, you’ll likely consult an expert. That could be a ‘how-to’ site you’re familiar with, your building superintendent if you live in a condo, or you might call a plumber.  So a sure way to stop worrying about something is call an expert, get the facts and resolve the issue. But take heed on the next point…

Avoid idiots

Back to the leaky faucet for a minute.  Ask a friend who knows nothing about d-i-y and they might tell you your house is about to fall down and let’s be clear here, that sort of input ain’t going to help ease your worry.  So try and avoid asking advice from people who aren’t um… experts.

If you’re really worried – act

If you’re really worried about something, stop worrying and start doing.  Pick up the phone, consult an expert, and get the problem solved – no matter how daunting a problem and solution might seem, it’s not going to get resolved by worrying about it. 

This too shall pass

While the Coronavirus unfortunately looks set to spread and get worse before things get better, and headlines seem bleak, the reality is that sooner or later this too shall pass and life will return to normal.

So, why worry?   

Well, because it’s human. But if you want to worry a little less, hopefully some of this helped. And as someone once said, “One day you’ll look back and realize that you worried too much about things that didn’t really matter.”

STEPHAN ARGENT

Stephan Argent is Founder and Principal at Listenmore Inc  offering confidential advisory to marketers looking for truly independent insight and advice they can’t find anywhere else. Read more like this on our blog Marketing Unscrewed / follow me @StephanArgent

Photo: Daniel Go
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