stress and anxiety management

Stress & Anxiety Management

“According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 13 people globally suffer from anxiety.  Stress and anxiety can be prevalent among both adults as well as children and teens.  Education and management tools are imperative when you or someone you love is suffering from stress and anxiety.”

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.  Anxiety is produced from psychological and biological reaction to stress in the environment. A certain amount of stress is normal. We all experience stress. However, when worry becomes excessive, and interferes with daily life, anxiety is the ending result.  Somatic signs of anxiety include the following – sweating palms, dizziness, shortness of breath, muscle aches, insomnia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, difficulty concentrating, and tachycardia.

  • Situational Anxiety is anxiety that results from specific events.
  • Generalized Anxiety is anxiety that is less likely to be triggered by consistent situations/environments. The Source of anxiety is more likely to fluctuate over time.  As a result, generalized anxiety may be more difficult to treat.
  • Panic Attacks are anxiety that occurs with a sudden burst of intensity, which usually persist for ten minutes or less. Includes at least four of the following symptoms- Palpitations/pounding heart/accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling/shaking, sensations of shortness of breath/smothering, feelings of choking, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or abdominal stress, feeling dizzy or faint, chills or heat sensations, paresthesia (numbness or tingling), derealization (feelings of unreality), fear of losing control or dying.
  • Situational Anxiety
    • Exposure – Gradually creating more exposure to situations/environments that cause stress. Avoidance of anxiety provoking events are more likely to reinforce fear.
    • Breathing techniques and guided imagery
  • Generalized Anxiety
    • Worry awareness training – Everyone experiences stress, it is important to assess the degree in which it interferes with daily life. Excessive stress and worrying is categorized as anxiety.
    • Explore the “cycle of worry” – Recording episodes of worry, defining the safety-seeking behaviors, exposure to stressful situations, address problem solving and orientation, and deep breathing exercises/guided imagery.
  • Panic Attacks
    • Challenge the perception of panic attacks as dangerous or unbearable
    • Identify triggers and create situational exposure.
    • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
    • Grounding techniques to divert the mind away from stressful, anxiety-provoking thoughts.

 “Micromanagement and the intention of parenting the “Perfect Child” are common causes of stress and anxiety in children.  It is important as a parent to actively listen and spend quality time with your child to help minimize stress.”

Successful Management Techniques for Children Prone to Anxiety
    • Address situational anxiety. Do not “protect” them from it.
    • Challenge the fear
    • Have honest conversations about their anxiety.
    • Model good stress management for your child.
    • Have technology free time. Social media is a common cause of stress in children.

Focusing on the Relationship Instead of Control

    • Let your child learn from their mistakes.
    • Allow your child to open up to you. Don’t “freak out” if they share information that you disagree with. (Example: Someone brings beer to a party, but your child did not drink).  Praise your child for not giving in to peer pressure.  Try to talk about these situations in advance before they happen. Trying to control this situation will result in your child “shutting down.”
    • Make a safety contract. In the event they use it, adhere to your word. (Example: Call me if you ever need a ride, don’t get in the car with someone who’s been drinking.) If and when the scenario occurs, do not yell at your teen for calling you.
    • Remind teens they have their own path to follow. Grades are only one component of their academic career.  Hobbies and outside interests are important.  Who are they? Respect them as individuals.
  1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Try turning the channel to a funny television show to lighten the mood, or pick up and read that exciting book that you haven’t had the time to delve in to.
  2. Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  3. Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy that take your mind off all the craziness going on.
  4. Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. It doesn’t even have to be in person! Talk to a friend or family member over the phone or through video chat. Just being able to hear their voice will help reduce some stress and anxiety.

Information sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When you, as parents and caregivers, deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, you can provide the best support for your children. You can be more reassuring to your children if you are better prepared and know what to look for in terms of stress and anxiety.

Children and teens respond to stress in many different ways. Some common changes to watch for include:

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
  • Poor school performance or avoiding school
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
  • There are many things you can do to support your child

Other tips:

  1. Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  2. Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  3. Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  4. Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  5. Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

Information sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For more information and education on our Stress & Anxiety Management program, please call our center at (908)-237-0465.