Part 04:  Tools for Prevention and Management

Tools for Prevention and Management Banner

While it is not possible to completely remove stress and anxiety from our lives, there are things we can put into practice that will help us prevent unnecessary stress and anxiety, or at least make it possible to manage them and the symptoms that arise.

Identifying Triggers Banner

When it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety, whether we are talking about prevention or management, our first step is to identify the things that cause us to feel stressed or anxious.  These causes can be quite varied, some are obvious and others may not be obvious at all.  Each individual person perceives and responds to things in different ways.  What might feel overwhelming to you, may not feel overwhelming to another person.

For this reason, triggers for stress and anxiety can be put into three broad categories.  These include:

  • Control
  • Inaction
  • Pressure

 

Control – The sensation of a lack of control over circumstances, events, other people, and our lives in general is a very common trigger for many people.  As human beings we naturally want to feel a sense of stability and safety.  Any time we are facing situations where that stability or safety is interrupted and it’s beyond our ability to control, we become very unsettled, frustrated, fearful, and insecure.

Inaction – Procrastination is frequently attributed to creating unnecessary stress in our lives.  For some, however, procrastination creates the stress they need to push themselves to accomplish certain tasks that initially seem impossible.  Without that stress, they may never achieve success.  For the rest of us, our lack of desire to engage with, take on, attend, or pursue something may actually be the result of stress and anxiety.  Meaning, inaction can both be a trigger for stress and anxiety, and also be a consequence of stress and anxiety.

Pressure – Any time we experience a sense of urgency or expectation, we can accumulate ever increasing levels of stress and anxiety.  This pressure may be due to any number of circumstances, particularly in regards to performance.  Perhaps we have people counting on us to accomplish a task in a timely manner, or they have expectations for high performance and a quality outcome.

In some situations, we may experience all three of these categories.  We may face circumstances where we convince ourselves of, and feel as though, we have no control over the situation, but we may be under a lot of pressure to act anyway.  Whether the pressure to perform is being put on us from others or we place it on ourselves, it can create such overwhelming and debilitating stress or anxiety that we become inactive and unable to do anything at all.

Prevention and Management Strategies Banner

Research has shown that there are various methods for preventing chronic levels of stress and anxiety from accumulating, and methods for managing it if we do find ourselves suffering from them.

Strategies

1.    Eat nutritious & portioned foods 7.  Pursue enjoyable or laugh-inducing experiences
2.    Limit caffeine & alcohol consumption 8.  Celebrate accomplishments
3.    Get sufficient sleep 9.  Journal for self-awareness
4.    Exercise 10. Take breaks from social media
5.    Practice mindfulness 11. Develop physical social connections
6.    Set aside personal time 12. Speak with physician about prescription medication

How to Help Someone Else Banner

Julia Kristina, a registered clinical counselor with a Master’s in Psychology, outlines some best practices for communicating with and assisting someone struggling with anxiety.

  1. Let them know they can talk to you about what they are dealing with
  2. Let them know they can contact you whenever they need to
  3. Do not induce guilt trips or give them ultimatums
  4. Establish social boundaries between you and them
  5. Do not assume you know what they need
  6. Things not to say:
    • Just think positive
    • Let it go or get over it
    • It’s all in your head
  7. Things you should say:
    • I am here for you and support you
    • It’s okay to feel the way you do
  8. Give praise when they do things despite their anxiety
  9. Point out their strengths to remove shame over their anxiety

Managing Stress and Anxiety in the Workplace Banner

With a stronger focus on maintaining mental health wellness in the workplace, strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety at the office have been clearly defined.  Here are some recommended best practices for organizations and supervisory staff:

  • Implement health and safety policies and practices
  • Learn to recognize signs of distress
  • Educate on topics such as psychoactive substances and mental health conditions
  • Share information and resources for self-care and symptom management
  • Involve team members in practices that support a healthy work-life balance
  • Provide access to career development opportunities
  • Recognize and reward the contributions of employees

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