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 on the show.

Last year, on an elimination episode of MasterChef Australia, you might have heard that judge Jock Zonfrillo was spotted 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. It made headlines in the news.

“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.

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.

Now, the restaurateur has just released his own collection of hand-crafted worry beads.

Zonfrillo’s Caim worry beads

Zonfrillo has announced that his signature worry beads will now be available to purchase through his new label, Caim, a Scottish Gaelic word that refers to ‘an invisible circle of protection that you draw around your body with your hand, to remind you of being safe and loved, even in the darkest times’.

The collection does not come cheap. Prices range from $295 – $495 and the current styles are limited edition.

However, the beads are designed and handmade by Zonfrillo himself and are available in three styles – single colour, multi-colour and signature timber.

The beads have been sourced from all over the world, encompassing a variety of all-natural materials that include; jade, sea sediment jasper, natural blue amazonite and Ŋaraka (fish vertebrae) from the Northern Territory.

Whilst no two sets of beads will be the same, each style is finished with the final bead of a skull.

“Skulls to me represent a sense of adventure without restraint. There was an old saying in Scotland; Why join the navy when you can be a pirate? And as someone who doesn’t do well with authority, I’ve always been able to relate to that. I guess it’s my subtle way of breaking the rules.”

In line with Jock’s transparency of his own mental health struggles, Caim is a proud supporter of Beyond Blue and will be donating $5 from every set of worry beads to the 24/7 online support service.

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.”