Anxiety and Depression Week Upcoming ~ Top Tips
Apr 28, 2021
The pandemic has caused some unbelievable statistics in all areas of our lives, and among them is this: anxiety management classes increased by 4000% in 2020. Americans clearly are struggling with worry.
This week marks the end of the annual, national Stress Awareness Month. Additionally, the first 7 days of May mark National Anxiety and Depression Week.
There can hardly be a better time, whether you’re a business owner, or hold a leadership position in any organization, to take a moment to think carefully about your operation and the people who make it up.
‘Summertime’ Not Always Easy Time
“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” is how the classic Gershwin song starts. Yet … nowadays a whole bunch of things can greatly increase a person’s anxiety, even this time of year when the weather warms and more people try to take breaks from work.
Tax season is now stretched into mid-May … ongoing pandemic uncertainty lingers … summer vacations are coming and there are many worries about air travel … high gas prices, etc. The list goes on and on. Remember all this if you see an employee struggling. Yes it’s a cliche, but appropriate nonetheless: We’re all in this together.
People as a Top Asset for Business
Most business professionals understand that personnel is usually the biggest single cost of any business. This is also true for most nonprofit organizations, and certainly for every government agency. As such, one would assume that people are considered a top asset for any operation.
However, sadly, it’s not always true. In honor of Stress Awareness Month and National Anxiety and Depression Week, following is an explanation of the commemorative periods, followed by some tips to help your workers deal with today’s stress points as best as possible.
About these Awareness Periods
What is Stress Awareness Month
Stress Awareness Month was started in 1992, as a 30-day period for health care professionals nationwide to focus on increasing public awareness about causes and cures for what officials call a “modern stress epidemic.”
This cooperative effort of governmental, health care, and nonprofit organizations educates about the dangers of stress in our lives. During the month they also try to prove coping strategies that many people have found effective.
Every April, these health care pros also try to address misconceptions about stress, and promote modern advancements in stress treatment. During the month, you will see organized public forums, community events, or discussion groups focused on stress awareness.
What is National Anxiety and Depression Week
Each early May, National Anxiety and Depression Week is designated to raise awareness of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. It also is a period where mental health professionals hope to erase stigmas long associated with mental illness.
Over 18 percent of American adults are affected by anxiety disorders. Sadly, just about a third of people with anxiety disorders get treatment ~ even though medical experts will acknowledge that anxiety is a treatable condition. This commemorative week is designed to boost the number of people suffering from these conditions who seek and receive treatment.
What’s alarming (or even sad, depending on your view) is that these stigmas can cause people struggling with treatable conditions to avoid seeking help. It is pretty well established that serious anxiety and depression, left untreated, can lead to much bigger problems like self-medicating with alcohol or drugs.
A good way to explain the importance of Anxiety and Depression Week can be found here: “Learning more about depression and anxiety is important for everyone from bosses to family members of an affected individual, and those who may have one of these conditions need to know that asking for help is the right thing to do.”
Top Tips to Deal with Anxiety
Failing to address anxiety, especially in the workplace, can actually lead to or exacerbate depression. And both are conditions that can negatively impact production, among other problems for companies.
That said, helping employees to avoid or reduce stress and anxiety does not have to be a grand, expensive ordeal. Following are small tips that can provide considerable dividends toward a happier, healthier workforce.
5 Tips to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
All too often, leaders in the workplace or other situations where people must work together are unaware of pretty simple suggestions to help someone better manage stress and anxiety. Many stress-relief ideas that work, like walking more, or jotting some paragraphs into a journal each night, can make a world of difference.
Here are 5 tips to reduce stress and anxiety levels, and hopefully improve a person’s well-being overall:
Regular exercise is probably the best course of action a person can take to address stress. The potential benefits are significant:
- Release of endorphins. These chemicals boost moods and are even known to dull pain. Regular exercise means more in your body.
- Fighting cortisol. Among what are known as “stress hormones” in our bodies, too much cortisol is a bad thing; exercise can reduce their levels in the long haul.
- Sleep better. Exercise helps regulate chemicals mentioned above. Along with making your body tired, being active helps improve sleep. Getting enough healthy sleep each night is very important for managing stress, and our health generally.
- Improved self-esteem. We feel better when we look better ~ and consistent exercise makes that happen.
Think about a program that could be arranged to encourage employees to exercise more. Perhaps some kind of a contest, or extending paid break periods a bit to allow walking around the block during business hours. The overall impact to employee health and morale could be worth the investment.
Journaling has been effective for many people to alleviate the energy-draining effects of too much stress. This can be especially helpful at night before bedtime. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated, either. Just an entry on a single page, of a few paragraphs at a time, could suffice.
If there’s space remaining, perhaps write out what would be nice to accomplish the following day. For this helpful practice, all one needs is a journal book or notebook, and a pen (or pencil; some people prefer drawing in a journal, and that’s okay, too!).
For business managers, think of getting journals or notebooks inscribed with a slogan, image, or logo, as part of an overall employees’ mental health challenge.
This de-stressing practice might be dismissed by some as too new-age, or even hippy-ish. Yet, even doctors today acknowledge how meditation can help a person relax, and therefore improve well-being.
Try to encourage trying daily mediation, maybe for 15 to 30 minutes a day, whenever a person feels comfortable to do so. Trying it right before sleep could be helpful as a way to turn off all gadgets at that time, since it’s known that diddling on a mobile phone or staring at a computer screen late at night can negatively impact sleep.
There’s a medical reason for why we feel better after a good laugh. Laughter releases serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter that happens to be the target of common antidepressant medications. Think about that: there are scientific reasons why laughing is good for us.
It definitely helps reduce stress and anxiety. Aside from the brain chemicals, laughing helps to relax muscles, which loosens tension.
How can one practice this? Try focusing on spending time with friends or family members who either make you laugh, or seem to laugh themselves more than other people. Why is it so easy for them to laugh a lot? Discovering that alone might do wonders for trying to improve your well-being.
Laughter is being looked at more and more as a medicine for a variety of ailments. A hearty guffaw can improve everything from your heart health, to our immune systems (very important in today’s pandemic age), and much more.
Just planning ahead, even if just a little at a time, helps reduce or avoid stress. And it does not have to be complicated. Already mentioned was the importance of writing things out. People might be amazed to learn how that simple task ~ writing down what needs to be done, and prioritizing them ~ can do wonders to reduce stress daily.
Encourage employees to plan better for their personal lives. Think about ways to encourage killing procrastination, maybe by giving away day planners.
It is important now more than ever to plan ahead. Always hustling to “catch up” takes a toll on our body and mind. Try to address this by applying simple tips like using a good old-fashioned day planner (because many of us ignore phone app calendar notifications anyway!). This visual reminder of things to do, and then check off once accomplished, can be wonderful tools to organize the clutter in our daily lives today.
Beware of Languishing ~ a New Foe for 2021
Some health and well-being experts are saying that languishing might be a prominent emotion this year ~ if not the dominant feeling. Languishing can be described as the gap “between depression and flourishing.” Basically, the lack of well-being, always feeling like something is missing.
A recent New York Times article notes that this is the new, sort-of technical term for “feeling meh.” Yet, languishing doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s just a matter of being able to know yourself well enough to identify when you get caught up in it, and doing something to address it.
There’s so much going on in American life today that it’s too easy to become “indifferent to your indifference.” Practicing self-awareness, through tactics like meditation, can help avoid languishing and in turn make a person feel better.
Feel like you might be languishing? Do something to change your mindset. Grab and complete a crossword puzzle, go for a walk and focus on the birds and trees, do anything to shift your thinking away from the sometimes dull work life and toward the fact that life goes on in the world around us.
Employers can provide things for employees to reward themselves with “small wins” in daily routines ~ for taking walks, or brief mediation periods. Again, these tactics might be very much worth the investment.
Stress and Anxiety Trouble for Businesses
Once again, building and maintaining healthy morale among workers is extremely important for business operations. We explored this topic because Promo Key works with business owners to market what they do or provide. Ultimately this means improving success, and profitability.
A big part of that can (and will) depend on your people. After all, happy employees means a less stressful and more productive workplace ~ and better end results. Business owners or managers who acknowledge this, and expend the energy to address it, can gain a significant advantage over the competition.
Perhaps start with little actions or gestures to show employees that you care and are thinking about them, in ways beyond their work stations. There are other important things in their lives besides work.
It might be helpful to post slogans of the week, or month, in viewable places; or having funny (yet appropriate) work-related reminders around, perhaps in planned weeklong or month long efforts. Events like a comedy night or lunchtime challenge can be fun.
Not trying to toot our own horn, but here are some ideas to think about trying. Think about this: Reports show that about 70% of American adults feel stress or anxiety every day. And, an estimated 29% to 40% of us feel “extremely stressed at work.”
Those percentages alone should make business operators want to take action. There is nothing wrong with showing empathy toward your employees.
(for motivational posters)
And of course the ever-popular …