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How to turn your worry into action

How to turn your worry into action


by Niamh Ennis
17th Jun 2024

To worry about everything may feel like the only way to prepare and protect yourself, but it ultimately solves nothing and can in fact be detrimental to both your mental and physical wellbeing.

Recently I was having a medical procedure and the surgeon, while answering one of my many questions, said to me ‘I’m guessing you worry a lot about everything’. Without missing a beat, I replied ‘Only things I have no control over.’ Apart from being a little impressed with myself at my speedy and definite response, I realised it was in fact true. I consider myself a seasoned lifer, I’ve had my fair share of challenging experiences and have always managed to navigate my way through them. I’m definitely very solutions-focused and when faced with any tricky situation I can be relied upon to come up with a workable strategy to solve most issues.

However, when it comes to medical matters, either for me (or my dog), I find I spiral easily into a pit of worry. I catastrophise and overthink every outcome. This I believe is easily explained. For one, my experience has not been positive when it comes to those close to me and their health, and secondly, I know with full certainty that there is nothing I can do but surrender to the expertise of others and this is where it gets a little trickier, even for me!

Why worry?

Worrying is a natural human response. It’s Your brain’s way of trying to anticipate and prepare for potential threats. However, when worry becomes excessive, it can become counterproductive, paralysing, and ultimately solve nothing. Here’s why:

The paradox of worry

For many of us worry often begins with a desire to control the uncontrollable. You imagine every possible outcome; you think it will prepare you for the worst. But in reality, worrying doesn’t change the future; if anything, it only robs the present of its peace.

Example: Think about a business mentor who’s about to launch her new programme. She worries about whether it will be successful, if people will sign up, or if technical issues will arise. While some level of preparation is always essential and recommended, obsessively worrying about every potential problem simply won’t change the outcome. Instead, it can lead to burnout and anxiety and have the very opposite effect on her business.

The illusion of productivity

Worrying can often feel like you’re being proactive – you feel you’re doing something. It gives an albeit false illusion of control and problem-solving. But in truth, it often keeps you stuck in a loop of “what ifs” without moving towards any concrete action or doing anything constructive.

Example: A wellness consultant constantly worries about the economy affecting her business. She spends hours reading every article about economic downturns yet doesn’t take any actionable steps to mitigate the risks in her business. Instead of looking to identify possible solutions her worry creates a false sense of productivity and leaves her business vulnerable to real threats.

Emotional and physical toll

Extreme or chronic worrying can really take a significant toll on both mental and physical health. It can lead to multiple stress-related conditions such as headaches, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Mentally, it can cause anxiety, lead to depression, and a general feeling of being overwhelmed by absolutely everything.

Example: A creative entrepreneur, who is always anxious about meeting client expectations, might find herself not getting enough sleep, feeling constantly fatigued, and really struggling with focus and concentration. This cycle diminishes her creativity and productivity, ultimately affecting her business’s success – and on it goes.

Steps for shifting from worry to action

Identify the worry: The first step is to recognise and acknowledge your worry. What exactly is it you are worried about? Is it something you can control or influence? If not, it’s crucial to let it go.

Take actionable steps: For worries within your control, try and break them down into small, actionable steps. Instead of worrying about your business failing, focus on what you can do to attract new clients or improve your services, right now. What’s your next best step?

Mindset: Engaging in a daily practice to manage your mindset such as journaling, getting out into nature, yoga, art etc can really help connect you to yourself, and ground you in the present moment, reducing the tendency to ruminate on possible future uncertainties.

Seek support: Sometimes, talking through your worries with a mentor, coach, or therapist can really provide you with clarity and perspective. They can often help you distinguish between rational concerns and irrational fears. Find someone you trust and respect.

Focus on solutions, not problems: Shift your mindset from dwelling on problems to finding solutions. This proactive approach not only alleviates worry but also empowers you to take control of your situation. Focus on what you have rather than what’s missing! Instead of worrying endlessly about a project’s success, a coach can focus on helping you create a detailed plan, setting realistic goals for you, and providing support in a safe environment. This shift from worry to action leads to tangible results and ultimately a real sense of accomplishment.

Worrying about everything may feel like the only way to prepare and protect yourself, but it ultimately solves nothing and can in fact be detrimental to both your mental and physical wellbeing. By recognising the limitations of worry and adopting a much more proactive approach, you can free yourself from the cycle of anxiety and focus on what truly matters to you. Remember, your goal should always be about progress, not perfection. Embrace the uncertainty, expect it, have a plan as to what to do with it, and then trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way, because you can.

Niamh Ennis is a leading Transformation Coach & Business Mentor who through her private practice, programmes, workshops, and podcast has helped thousands of women to find clarity and confidence to create a life and business that they love. She’s an accredited Leadership & Executive Coach and Lead Coach in  The IMAGE Business Club. You’ll find Niamh on Instagram @1niamhennis and niamhennis.com.