Tuesday 19 May 2020

What to do with the worries we can't do anything about

I know there are many people with worries at the moment.  Our son Anthony is autistic and has ADHD and struggles with lots of things.  He suffers from anxiety.  I have my own difficulties in 'letting things go'.  It leads to further issues with sleep in our home and can have a general affect on how the boys cope daily.  They have less resilience and this puts us at greater risk of mental health issues, especially now.

Many of the worries that both I and my kids have, are around things we cannot currently do anything about.  A worry that an outcome will or won't happen in the future or a concern over something that has already happened that we are unable to change or do anything about.  We can't control when the kids will go back to school, and we can only minimise the risk of coronavirus.

I've only just learned to try and recognise worries and allow myself to 'park' them.  Put them aside for a period of time, knowing that I will return to them when I need to.  This could be for a few hours, days, months or even years.

Last year on a trip to a Forest Holidays cabin I took part in something called Forest Bathing, a kind of mindfulness technique, the art of bathing in the forest atmosphere is about taking the forest in through our senses.  And in the forest, to help clear our minds we found stones.

We've all heard of worry stones right? Well, instead of using a smooth worry stone to calm yourself, we simply told the stones our worries so the stone could hold them while we focussed on being in the forest.  One of the important things was that we put our stones down and would pick them back up again later.  There was something very reassuring about not 'letting go', just 'letting go for a while'.

My concerns and worries are important to me - it’s part of the reason I’m thinking about them all the time. But when I’m worried so much that it affects other parts of my life, I need to do something about it. My eldest in particular struggles with this. Worries and concerns can consume him at times and in addition the stress around this means he then can’t function. He can’t sleep because he’s worried, he can’t eat because he’s worried, he can’t do his home school work because he’s worried.

And I realised the same technique can be used to help him to.

When he can’t sleep because of his worries, his cuddly rabbit can hold them till the morning.

When he can’t eat because of his worries, he can put them in a bowl until he is finished.

When he can’t do his school work, he can put his worries into his school bag while he does his work and collect them when he’s finished.

And it seems easier for Anthony to put his worries down the more often he does it. By using items that are around him, he can know he can do it anywhere.  The only thing is that they are safe, so it’s no use for example putting worries into the sink - in case they get washed away. This would actually cause more stress as he is then worried about his initial concern and about the fact that his worries were nearly lost.

After I’d finished my Forest Bathing, I headed out of the forest and picked up my worry stone. I’ll be honest, it felt lighter.   It's like putting down the concerns down gave some time to gather the mental strength to pick them back up again and continue.  At least one thing I can worry about a little less is how my son is coping.  We've both got one more strategy to work with now to help us stress less in this time when so many things that concern us are out of our control.

Other links for places to keep or pass on kids worries:
 Worry Monster and book   


  1. This sounds like a really good way of dealing with worries and it's good it's working for you both. My daughter is a worrier, but of course just saying don't worry is no good to her. She's been doing some mindfulness meditation and that is helping as well. #KCACOLS

  2. What a great post. I just learnt about Forest Bathing. I really like the idea of the cuddly toy holding on to the worries until morning...great post. #KCACOLS (Will share on SM. I think parents would be interested)

  3. Love this. This is such a horrible time on so many levels, any kind of coping mechanism that can be found should be celebrated and shared #KCACOLS

  4. I really like this idea, it's such a hard time right now so having a way of 'parking' your worries is so lovely!

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time.

  5. It is tough but distraction can help X

  6. This is such a lovely idea. Now, if I can just escape from the house alone....!


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