Dr Philip Hopley and Dr Tim Anstiss discuss the impact of anxiety and stress, and the steps you can take to combat them.

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Anxiety & Stress

Anxiety and feelings of stress are very common. They are normal and natural. Our brains evolved to help us survive, not to make us happy. Anxiety and stress are ways of letting us know that there is some possible danger present and we need to get ready and adapt.
Problems arise when these feeling go on for too long (e.g., weeks or months) or become too intense, for instance, panic attacks.
Too much anxiety and stress can also lead to other problems – like poor diet, sleep disturbance, too much alcohol, drug misuse and even depression. So it’s important to keep an (inner) eye on our anxiety and stress levels, take steps to keep things under control or bring them back under control if these feelings start interfering with our health, wellbeing or performance in one or more areas of life.
Here are some of our top tips for controlling and dealing with stress and anxiety:

  1. Look after yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthy food, limit your intake of alcohol, spend time in contact with nature, develop and maintain a hobby, etc. Maybe even cultivate some mindfulness, self-acceptance and self-compassion – treating yourself with kindness.
  2. Invest in friendships and relationships. Make contact with friends, and create time for them.
  3. Develop your own balanced set of healthy coping strategies. Emotion focussed coping strategies help us to deal with the emotion that arises, Problem focussed coping strategies help us take action on the problem causing our stress or difficulty
  4. Healthy emotion focussed coping strategies include: Talking with someone, exercise, listening to music, taking a break, increasing contact with nature, spending time relaxing with friends, doing some gardening, or baking, or some art, learning some relaxation strategies (progressive muscular relaxation, auto-hypnosis, etc.), developing your mindfulness skills (such as learning how to contact and stay in the present moment, bring your attention back to a particular point of focus, learning to notice and name your thoughts, gain some separation from your thoughts, learning to accept and make space for unwanted feelings rather than trying to avoid having them or blocking them out, learning to treat yourself with kindness and compassion)
  5. Problem focussed coping strategies include: Talking with people about the problem, being assertive (telling people what you want and don’t want, in a polite but confident manner), changing your behaviour which may be contributing to the problem, seeing a specialist (doctor, lawyer, financial adviser, marriage guidance expert, etc.)
  6. Talk with someone about what you are experiencing. Friends, more experienced colleagues you like and trust, family, the RPA, our colleagues at Cognacity

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