How To Go From Worry & Chaos To Calm

Petris Lapis
By Petris Lapis

Being busy and overwhelmed has become a badge to wear with honour. In the words of Dr Brene Brown, ‘exhaustion has become a status symbol’. Our conversations go like this, ‘How are you?’ ‘Busy, you wouldn’t believe how busy we are.’ ‘You think you’re busy! Let me tell you… ‘ Fortunately, there are things you can do to move from worry to calm despite the chaos around you.

Start Your Day Strategically

So you are more controlled and less ‘reactive’:

  1. Set your intention at the start of each day so you focus on what you want to achieve rather than spending your day reacting to things.
  2. Set strong boundaries and keep them. Decide when you need interruption free time and where the boundary between work and home lies and stick to it.
  3. Clean up your ‘to do’ list. Get rid of things that don’t need to be done (or you are never going to do) and prioritise what is left.

Work With Your Brain

Your brain has evolved to do two things that are great for survival but annoying in the workplace.

  1. Notice and respond to changes around you (so you don’t become a predator’s breakfast). This means you are easily distracted by emails, text messages, conversations etc. You can do simple things to help yourself like put your mobile phone on silent or in a drawer, turn off the email alert or close your door.
  2. It rewards you with dopamine each time you do something (so you keep moving looking for food and shelter). This is why it feels so good to multi-task, to interrupt yourself to check emails, messages, social media etc. To overcome this tendency, you can use a technique called ‘Pomodoro’ time where you set yourself an alarm for 15 minutes time and allow yourself a quick distraction (change of task) only after the alarm goes off.

How To Go From Worry To Calm

When worry takes over and you don’t know how you are going to get to the end of the day ….

  1. Stop: Seriously stop what you’re doing (the rushing, the internal chatter about the serious situation you are in etc) and breathe … several times in and out. Pause and take stock of what is really going on. Get out of panic and back into control.
  2. Prioritise: Do it like a pro. Act as if you were in the emergency department of a hospital. What needs your attention immediately and what can wait? What is just a head cold? Outsource what you can and tackle the important stuff.
  3. Act: Take action calmly, purposefully and in the direction of your choosing. Turn worry into ‘what you can do’.


Content and references are the author’s own work and may not reflect the views of A Country Practice Accountants Group.