Here is Winston our ‘coach cat’ guarding my laptop.
This blog is about realistic versus middle of the night worries, and how to manage both kinds.
I asked Kristan (husband and also colleague at MindMeld) about what he was worried about. We both had a long list, which we compared. Some of these things were quite unrealistic (on my list anyway). I said to him, “What is the most useful thing to worry about to ensure business continuity?” I was surprised with his answer – “Don’t drop your cell phone down the toilet’, until he explained that this is one thing we could control. His reply got me thinking about ‘realistic worries’ and what we can do to decrease worrying by taking positive action.
If we can take action to decrease the likelihood of realistic worries coming true, then we are left with the ‘middle of the night worries’, which we can keep zapping with the coaching tools below.
I was already thinking about this blog when I received this photo from our friend Blair of his smashed laptop, so I know we are not alone.
Kristan and I agreed we needed to do something about lugging our phones with us everywhere, in terms of listening to audiobooks or watching Netflix while we are in the bath, or taking our cell phones with us into the bathroom.
If something happened to our cell phones we would be stuffed, and I don’t need the stress of having to manage insurance, and how to get a new one right at this minute, as well as bothering suppliers.
Notice what is realistic and deal with things that could likely happen.
One thing I know about myself is that if I am under stress, I can get clumsy because I am distracted. I decided to make a list of the three physical things that I need to take care of during lockdown so that I didn’t create extra worries on top of my middle of the night worries.
- Reading glasses. Do not place on the floor by the bed where I can stand on them in the morning. How would I see without my glasses?
- Jewellery especially rings. Take off and put away before I wash my hands while humming Star Trek theme for twenty-seconds. Do not leave rings of the edge of the sink to go down the plughole.
- Rinse dishes always before putting in the dishwasher, so that the filter doesn’t get blocked. Imagine trying to get your family to hand wash dishes during lockdown!
There are other worries that plague us and make us worry especially in the middle of the night.
Everyone is different and has there own unique situation of no one situation is the same, and while things may look great on the outside, things can be completely different on the inside. Lockdown situations are unique, with respect to work spaces, family members involved in essential services, being apart from family members, feeling rushed trying to learn business arrangements and online meeting platforms, and looking after children and vulnerable members of family. Middle of the night worries are different for everyone.
I used to name my worries ‘The Hooded Claw which was a line from a Frankie Goes to Hollywood song (1980’s, I know). This was until I realised through coaching, that working is a process, not a thing. I stopped giving worry a name and started to look for ways to undo the process.
Here is a photo of our window display of teddies for the neighbourhood children to spot on their walks.
Here are two ways to break middle of the night worries.
Worrying will always be with us, as it is a safety mechanism. The trick is to not let it rule your life, and find a way to give yourself some head space to take care of your loved ones, do some work, and even bring forth a bit of creativity.
- Tool One: Interrupting your middle the Night thoughts and worries.
This tool works to help you come back into your body by bringing awareness to your senses. You can still see some shapes, and hear some sounds when it dark. You can physically feel the pillow, or sheets.
Step 4 can seem unusual when you first try it. However, if you really ask yourself why you worry, you will find it is about keeping you safe. You can reassure your brain that you have got this.
- Tool Two: Schedule a meeting with yourself to worry (that’s not 3.00 a.m.)
This is known as the Worry WART Tool – Worrying within approved Rumination Time. [This was an affectionate name given to me as a child who worried a lot so I decided to make the name into an acronym to rewire my brain and bust worrying tendencies.]
If you have the MindMeld Courage Cards, you can find it in the Practical Courage Section. You can watch a little movie of how to use the tool here.
Here’s Kristan holding the Courage Card tool. It says: Identify a time to have a meeting with yourself during the day, so you can worry about the situation flat out for 30 Minutes (actually a shorter time works just as well). Then if you think about this issue outside your Worry WART time, all yourself you will give this issue your full attention later. This tricks your brain and frees up your thoughts for more useful tasks.
You are enough just as you are.
If your worry has been: ‘I should be more productive/creative/energised/up for this challenge’, then please stop ‘shoulding’ on yourself.
You are enough. You’ve got this. Be compassionate to yourself.
Brenda Ratcliff and Kristan Johnston, April 2020.