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worried employee

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another” – William James

‘Worrying’ is a form of anxiety as it kicks off the Fight or Flight response, catapulting the body into a state of high alert. It saps your energy and there is seldom a useful outcome. When I ask my delegates how many of them worry, usually around 60 percent acknowledge that it is a regular habit. They tell me that it winds them up, stops them sleeping, makes them overeat or smoke, makes them lose concentration, and only occasionally do they come up with a workable solution.

Worried, anxious people are less productive and more likely to experience presenteeism and absence, all of which is costly to organisations, large or small.

So it seems that worrying is a pointless exercise that damages your health and reduces your wellbeing and the bottom line of an organisation. It is like a chronic infection that you can’t clear. The good news is that once you recognise that you are doing it, this is the first step to reducing and even stopping this worthless behaviour pattern. Here are the key steps to reduce/stop the worry habit:

  1. Notice that you are ‘working’ a thought, repeating it over and over in your mind. Your internal language is full of “what if”, “perhaps,” “maybe” – all projections into the future which you have little or no control over
  2. Ask yourself the question…….what can I do about this situation?
  • If the answer is something which is within your power to do – DO IT!
  • If the answer is ‘nothing’ or I don’t know’, try the following mind game:

Take a few moments to calm your thoughts by taking a couple of deep abdominal breaths

Visualise a worry collector (like a sieve with a fine mesh) and trawl it through your mind collecting the worry thoughts that are nagging you.

Collect them all together and squeeze them up into a ball.

Place the ball into a waste box and leave it on a high shelf in a back room area.

Take a deep breath, breathing out angst and worry and breathe in air that is free from worries and makes you feel calm and peaceful.

Repeat as often as necessary!!


Ann McCracken is a Director of AMC2 and the vice president of the International Management Association (ISMA UK) – the professional body for stress management Practitioners.

She specialises in developing a positive and resilient working culture in organisations by introducing effective strategies in performance and wellbeing at all levels. The effectiveness of such a positive working culture is measured and assessed using AMC2 Corporate Diagnostic innovative surveys which include measurement of psychosocial factors, stress and wellbeing. Having initially trained as a scientist, she carried out research with DEFRA and consultancy in the NHS.

She spent 10 years in Education before retraining as a stress management practitioner in 1996. She is the author of Stress Gremlins©, regularly writes/broadcasts and is an external lecturer at Westminster University. She is also a Key Note/Motivational speaker/Conference Chair.

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