Jock Zonfrillo explains his worry beads for managing stress and anxiety

The MasterChef Australia judge has come forward about his struggle with stress and anxiety after fans spotted him holding worry beads in a recent episode.

If you happened to tune into Sunday night’s elimination of MasterChef Australia, you would’ve noticed judge Jock Zonfrillo holding what appeared to be beads, while talking to fellow judges Andy Allen and Melissa Leong.

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And it turns out many others spotted the unusual accessory, too.

“Why is Jock holding beads constantly tonight? What is he signalling?” one person wrote on Twitter.

“Can someone confirm what kind of rosary/beads Jock is using?” another one asked.

In a response to the “billion messages” and questions from fans, Zonfrillo, who runs three-hatted restaurant Orana, posted a video on Instagram explaining what the beads are and where he got them from.

“These are worry beads,” he said, holding up the item. “I’ve got lots of different types of worry beads and when I’m feeling anxious or a little bit stressed, basically I worry. So I flick through them … and the more anxious … I get, the faster I do it.”

He explained that he has had worry beads in his pocket during every single MasterChef episode this season.

“Last night you saw them for the first time, weirdly,” Zonfrillo said.

He revealed the bracelet seen on Sunday’s episode belonged to food writer A.A Gill, who passed in 2016, and were given to Zonfrillo by Gill’s wife.

“They’re very special to me… I love them. They are always in my pocket,” the MasterChef judge added.

Do worry beads work? And how?

Do you struggle with stress and anxiety, or know someone who does? We asked Melbourne-based psychologist Briony Leo why, and how, worry beads actually work.

“Often if someone is feeling anxious, having something tactile or sensory to do helps to ground and focus them,” Leo says. “For some people, this might be stroking a pet or squeezing a stress ball. For others it might be something like worry beads. Often anxiety and stress get us ‘in our heads’ and we can find ourselves overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings – and we can forget that we have a whole lot of other senses that can help us shift away from that emotional state.”

Leo likens worry beads to colouring in or cooking.

“Worry beads are useful because they give us something else to focus on and are a systematic, calming, soothing activity – much like colouring in or cooking.

“Often these activities shift our attention away from our thoughts and feelings, and direct our awareness to something else. It doesn’t necessarily solve the source of the stress or anxiety, but it helps us to cope with it in a better way.”

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