May is #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth. Ever since COVID’s inception in March 2020, I have been sharing daily tips and strategies on how to improve our overall mental health, self-care and well-being.
Today’s tip is the RULE OF 3. If you’re struggling with anxiety or worry, this exercise is simple. And when I was teetering on burnout 22 years ago, it was a strategy that my therapist recommended.
It is a strategy I still use today.
It goes like this:
When you’re feeling stressed, you visualize a tree with 3 branches. And you allow yourself to devote energy worrying about only three things at any given time. You assign one worry to each branch. After the tree is full, that’s it, my friends! No additional worries are allowed to take over your mental space.
If there’s a 4th or 9th worry that come to mind, release them. You are only giving yourself mental space and permission for 3 today. So maybe it’s: a work deadline, financial worry, and concern over your child. You’re done.
At first, I thought the rule was too simple to actually be helpful, having to narrow down my concerns each day to just 3. But what it does by forcing you to think about what is stressing you, is it makes you realize that some worries are very solvable. Once you are able to name what’s worrying you, you may be able to start devising a plan. While other worries might be completely out of your control. ESPECIALLY during these times we are still living through.
I found this strategy very helpful when worry was taking up a lot of my day.
So, the next time you feel anxious, think, “Does it make my tree of three?” And if not, see if you can let it go…
Happy Mindful Monday,