Over the past few weeks ‘stress’ anxiety’ and ‘worry’ have been centre stage in a number of support conversations I have been having with people. These are personal, internal responses to specific situations and you would not expect me to offer a trite ‘one size fits all’ ‘solution’ here but I do hope that these observations from Oxford Prison and my mother are helpful.

A group of us were discussing stress and worry a week or so ago and a friend of mine was telling me of his recent visit to Oxford Prison, which is now a hotel and tourist attraction within the Oxford Castle complex. In the prison tour one comes across a ‘torture chamber’ and two tortures in particular fascinated my friend. One was a big, heavy turning handle, attached to nothing at all, which prisoners had to physically and pointlessly turn for a period of time. The other was a collection of large, heavy ball weights which prisoners had to pick up, carry a short distance, place down and repeat – again pointlessly.

It occurred to us that this is what we often allow ourselves to do when we allow things ‘to get on top of us’. We turn things over again and again in our minds and we carry heavy burdens on our shoulders without actually doing much about them whilst we are weighed down.

Then another one of my mother’s simple approaches to resolving life’s complexities came to mind and I could almost see her dealing with the Oxford Prison stones as we spoke. Here’s her solution, put my way:-

  1. When something is worrying you or stopping you moving forward you must address it.
    My mother says ‘pick it up’.
  2. It helps to analyse the situation – write stuff down, weigh up pros and cons, create options.
    My mother says ‘See it for what it is’.
  3. Then, if it something you can do something about, decide what you need to do and do it.
    My mother says ‘Deal with it because you can even if it is difficult’
  4. If it is something you can not affect or influence, resolve to put it behind you.
    My mother says ‘If you can’t deal with it throw it over your shoulder and walk on … but for God’s sake don’t carry it around with you’

I have found it useful to throw many things over my shoulder down the years!

I hope this observation helps you and, importantly, may help you help a friend or colleague who feels as though they are going through the mill at the moment.

Feel free to contact me to discuss how we can tailor a programme to your exact needs.