MasterChef has a passionate, loyal following. It also has a particularly eagle-eyed audience, as evidenced by its social media — particularly, private groups on Facebook that have popped up to discuss everything about the show (you can find a Facebook Group for almost anything these days). Not only will they discuss episodes, dishes, and evictions, they’ll also talk about the judges.
And one thing they’ve picked up on this year? That one of the judges on MasterChef, Jock Zonfrillo, often has a string of beads in his hand. And when one Facebook user asked why, people were very quick to inform them that no, they’re not prayer beads — they’re something called “worry beads”.
What are worry beads?
Worry beads, or as they’re known in Greece “komboloi”, date back thousands of years, according to Greek City Times. They were originally used by monks for prayer, but in modern times are used for a plethora of things — including a relaxing pastime, to guard against bad luck, or even as a tourist trinket.
Komboloi is also used as a self-soothing mechanism, and, as the name suggests, to manage stress.
Why does Jock Zonfrillo have worry beads?
After they appeared in his hand in an episode of MasterChef last year, and Zonfrillo received a “billion messages” about them, he took to Instagram to explain why he relies on worry beads.
In the video, which you can see here, the celebrity chef said that “When I’m feeling anxious or a little bit stressed” he uses the beads. The ones he uses in the show are “very special” to him, as they were given to him by the wife of a friend who had passed, food writer A.A. Gill.
How do you use worry beads?
Zonfrillo addressed that query in his video too. He says he flicks through the beads, one by one with his thumb — something he demonstrates on the Instagram post — and that the more anxious he gets, the faster he does it.
How can worry beads help?
Melbourne-based psychologist Briony Leo explained to Body + Soul that when someone is feeling stressed or anxious, “having something tactile or sensory to do helps to ground and focus them.”
Delving into it further, Leo said that worry beads do exactly that — “they give us something else to focus on and are a systematic, calming, soothing activity.
“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.”