April 16, 2021
Working Wildcats: Managing stress and maintaining a positive mindset in 2021
Human Capital Services features a Working Wildcats campaign article offering guidance and tips to help cope with ongoing stress and anxiety. Managing stress and maintaining a positive mindset may be difficult when emotions run high. To support a well-balanced lifestyle, research suggests that sustaining a positive outlook while adopting a healthy approach to managing stress and anxiety allows you and those around you become more resilient.
In the recent study "Stress in America 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis" conducted by The Harris Poll, close to 20% of the population indicated that they experienced increased stress levels in 2020 — many noting the pandemic and the issues facing America as significant sources of stress. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stress can cause a multitude of negative effects such as:
- Negative feelings and emotions: fear, anger, sadness, worry, etc.
- Changes in interests, engagement, appetite and energy.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Decreased attention and difficulty making decisions.
- Physical changes: headaches, body aches, stomach issues, etc.
- Worsening of mental health and chronic health conditions.
- Increased use of alcohol and other substances.
While living a life without stressful events is unrealistic, finding ways to cope with stress in a healthy manner is possible. Several resources and strategies are available to help manage stress and anxiety including:
- Limiting news and social media: A common strategy noted in articles from Thrive Global and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest limiting the time spent watching, reading or listening to news stories or scrolling through social media. Though keeping informed with current events is important, digesting too much bad news can trigger stress hormones to be released into your body producing negative effects, several of which are mentioned previously.
- Physical activity: Exercise is a popular strategy mentioned to help cope with stress and anxiety. According to Harvard Health Publishing, physical activity can reduce stress, however, it can also cause stress if chosen activities are not liked by the individual. To ensure a stress-free experience, choose a form of exercise you enjoy whether that's running, yoga, gardening or hiking in the woods. Selecting an enjoyed activity not only helps to recharge the mind and body, but it also provides ongoing motivation as future activities are planned.
- Organized skills: The power of organization cannot be overstated. Taking a few minutes to organize a desk, office or closet can greatly reduce stress caused by clutter and disorganization. Likewise, utilizing organizational skills can have a positive impact in reducing stress by scheduling time for oneself, creating helpful and healthy meal plans and thinking ahead for stressful dates — upcoming surgery, financial challenge, etc. Simply having a plan can reduce stressors that would otherwise wreak havoc on your health.
Additional strategies for managing stress and anxiety are writing in a diary or journal, connecting with others, or connecting with your community and/or spiritual organization. Finding the right strategy is dependent on the person and their personal preferences. As with any new program or change in routine, make time to evaluate each strategy to ensure continued success in stress management.
Maintaining a positive outlook and mindset is equally as important as identifying strategies to cope with stress. In fact, one of the benefits of positive thought is that it reduces stress levels. According to an article by Indeed Career Guide, "Positive Thinking in the Workplace: Benefits and Tips," positive thinkers approach challenges with determination rather than defeat and feel confident in their ability to conquer any obstacle. Beyond promoting a positive mindset and reducing stress, positive thinking has been linked with increased productivity and resiliency and opens your mind to acquiring new skills and abilities while also recognizing and seizing opportunities. Establishing a positive mindset goes hand-in-hand in supporting stress reduction strategies and overall health.
How are you managing stress and staying positive? HCS encourages you to take a picture and share your response on social media and use the #workingwildcats hashtag. As a reminder, these articles are archived on the HCS website.
Stress and anxiety can present many challenges and may cause overwhelming emotions. Human Capital Services reminds employees that the Employee Assistance Program offers a variety of resources including counseling and money management assistance. The Employee Assistance Program contact number is 1-888-275-1205 — select option 1.