WOMAN ON THE VERGE: Giving up worrying is a breath of fresh air

April 3rd, 2022 6:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

Sr Stan is an advocate of taking time out of the day to ground ourselves with some deep breaths. I think herself, and former president Mary Robinson, always make perfect sense.

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I’m a natural born worrier. You name it and I’ll worry about it. But that’s all about to change as I’ve had a lightbulb moment and am ready for a new carefree existence (hopefully that’s not a load of old hot air!)

• I USUALLY love this time of year. The longer evenings, cherry blossoms starting to appear, the cows out in the fields, the windows thrown open, clothes on the line, Easter holidays not too far off, which means summer must be on its way, too. I always think April brings with it a nice feeling of optimism, but right now I think it’s kind of hard to get past that prevailing overall sense of doom and foreboding hanging over us all (or maybe just me?). There’s the seriously big stuff like what’s happening in Ukraine, global food insecurity, the energy crisis, and not forgetting of course the climate crisis. Then there’s the middle tier stuff such as the ongoing ducking and diving to dodge Covid, trying to decide if we could be bothered to switch mortgage provider or if I should plant potatoes. And then the low grade stuff, like have I left it too late to get a bikini body for summer 2022 (or even 2023?), what to watch on Netflix and what will I write about in this column (could someone start thinking ahead for next week?).

• I’ll admit to being an absolute terror for the worrying at the best of times. It’s an affliction, and if you don’t live with it, count your blessings. It’s exhausting and very time consuming, too. It’s like another full-time job. You’d be wrecked from it. Thank God I don’t come from an especially big family because I’d never get a thing done what with my need to keep tabs on everyone’s location, emotional status and general well-being. It’s also quite handy that I live next door to my mother because if she doesn’t answer the phone on the third ring I’m literally bounding over the ditch to see what’s wrong (usually nothing, until I frighten the life out of her by trying to break the door down). WhatsApp is also a godsend for messages such as: ‘Are you ok? Are you home? Are you nearly home? Text me when you’re home. Are you alive? Why aren’t you answering me? That’s it, I’m on my way.’

• Of course, try as I might not to, I seem to have passed on the habit to my six-year-old. She’s probably more of an over-thinker but I’m really trying to knock it out of her. I thought I was making progress until she asked me out of the blue last week: ‘Can we both go to heaven at the same time?’ Oh dear. I’ve clearly got a bit of work to do. And now as well as worried ,I’m feeling very guilty.

• I’ve always been blown away by friends who only feel the need to randomly check in with siblings and parents (I could literally tell you what my lot had for dinner). But after reading this week’s column from Linda Hamilton (see opposite page), where she points out that worrying isn’t the same as caring, I’ve had a bit of a lightbulb moment and I’m feeling really motivated to try to change my behaviour. Read it for yourself (when you’ve finished with me; you don’t want me worrying about losing readers do you?)

• I also heard a great interview the other day with Sr Stanislaus Kennedy where she was talking about the power of the breath to help centre yourself. There’s nothing too new there, but I feel Sr Stan comes across as such a rock of sense that if she believes in it, it’s got to be worth a try. I honestly wouldn’t feel the need to worry half as much if she was in charge of the country (and it would also be really reassuring if we could swap in former President Mary Robinson for Eamon Ryan as Minister for the Environment. Any chance?) Anyway, Sr Stan was saying how people don’t give themselves any time to just ‘be’, which is so true. I read an article lately encouraging us to do our pelvic floor exercises while we were in traffic. Give us a break. It’s like we always have to be switched on (and so does our pelvic floor. Besides if we do that, when are we supposed to tweeze our chin hairs?)

• So the advice is to breathe in for seven seconds, and out for four (or maybe it’s the other way around, with another breath inbetween? Better look it up in case you  hyperventilate), but it’s meant to be perfect antidote to worry, and distraction. I wonder could you do it while sea swimming for extra benefits? You’d be an unstoppable force then.

• Backtracking slightly, a bit of a first world problem I know but I had been worrying about what to wear when the sun came out there for a while. Thank the lord it’s got more seasonally cool again. Ne’er cast a clout til May is out and all the rest.

• And finally, I had to laugh when I heard Leo got Covid just as he was due to visit Cork. He must have been feeling left out what with all the attention Micheál was getting in Washington. You’d have to worry all the same.


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