Don’t let stress get the best of you

Everyone experiences stress, especially at this time of year. With the holidays moving quickly behind us, oftentimes leaving debt and sometimes disappointment in its wake. And the new year ahead of us, with hope and promise but also fear of change and concern about the unknown.

Sometimes stress can be motivating and positive, like taking on a new promotion  or starting a new spin class. Other times, stress can be overwhelming and contribute to symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Did you know?

Statistically, medical doctors have significantly higher rates of divorce, substance use and depression than reported in the general population. This is thought to be correlated with the demands of their profession. Physicians are often required to put aside their own physical and emotional needs to help address the needs of others.

Amy Barnhorst, MD, recently shared in Psychology Today that there are many programs being used to better support physicians and promote healthy coping.

At Family Service of Roanoke Valley, Carilion Clinic pediatric residents regularly attend If These Walls Could Talk as part of their advocacy rotation. They told us there is a required mental wellness component to their orientation and they are encouraged to seek counseling to deal with the stress of the job. Way to go Carilion!

What about you?

There is no “one-size fits all” model that addresses the needs of everyone. Dr. Barnhorst said she sometimes engages in behavior she can’t professionally endorse, like taking naps or scrolling through a number of memes to share humorous ones with her family. She finds it valuable because it contributes to her personal well-being.

Wellness is not simply attending a yoga retreat or signing up for a weekly gym class. It’s taking care of your own needs before the needs of others. There are times when mediocrity instead of perfectionism is preferred and doing what brings joy is a priority.

Wellness involves embracing imperfections and sometimes slacking off and doing the things that are really important.

Spending time with friends and family may be more important than having all the laundry put away. By focusing on creating wellness, everyone reaps the benefits, as we feel healthier and are better able to do the things that we need to do, both in our work and in our personal lives.

What about change?

Wellness can also be important in helping cope with change. Positive life changes, such as moving, having a child or retiring, can increase stress levels almost as much as painful life changes. Diane Barth, LCSW, outlined some suggestions in Psychology Today about how we may be able to better cope with change.

  • Connect with the people who support you and talk about what you are going through. By sharing your anxieties with others, you can decrease stress.
  • Remember why you decided to make a change in the first place. Helping remind yourself what your goals are can help promote cognitive growth and make taking on the challenges of change worth it. 
  • Give yourself credit for being brave enough to take on and work through a transition – transitions are hard! The more we challenge ourselves to take on change, the more likely we are to help build the emotional and intellectual tools that we will need to help us through the next one.
  • Soothe yourself and allow yourself to focus on your needs and help yourself feel calmer.

Addressing wellness and changing patterns can help us experience stress in a positive way. The better we are to ourselves, the better we can be to others. When we are willing to share our anxieties about change, we can better connect with others who understand our experiences and may be able to help us through them.

For Help:  

If you or someone you know might be struggling, utilize EAP benefits to seek services from highly qualified, licensed professionals.

If someone you know is experiencing difficulty, let them know they are not alone and you are willing to assist them with finding the help they need.  Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone is powerful in helping others seek the help they need.

If you or someone you know needs immediate mental health assistance, you can access a local crisis program, such as Carilion’s CONNECT (540-981-8181), go to the nearest emergency room or call 911. Remember, it’s better to get help for yourself or someone else if needed. Getting help is better than the alternative.

Family Service of Roanoke Valley and Psychological Health Roanoke have qualified and experienced clinicians available to help you and your family. Psychological Health Roanoke provides EAP benefit services to Family Service employees, including a monthly newsletter with timely tips like this.