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Managing Anxiety Amid a Pandemic

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By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

It’s only natural for people to be on edge when news of a pandemic hits. While, for many, this can call for an increase in sanitary measures and caution, focusing excessively on anything is never a good thing. Widespread media coverage can easily cause fear and stress in anyone, so it is important to maintain levelheadedness. There are many ways to combat anxiety amid an outbreak.

First, ensure you are mindful of your exposure to the news. The media tends to bring about an increased amount of fear and negativity. Stay informed on the situation, but make sure you are consuming trusted news sources without bingeing on every single news report. Too much news exposure can make the threat appear worse than it is instead of containing it (Degges-White).

When too much focus is placed on the future, our present selves suffer. Especially if you have kids, managing your own anxiety can help immensely in reducing their fears. Children can easily pick up on signs of distress. Normalizing their fears and reassuring them that you can handle the issue can help ease their fears (Moukaddam). Educating your children on hygiene, proper preventative measures, and the spread of germs is crucial during these times.

Getting news of disease outbreaks is never a pleasant experience. Issues like these are not always the most straightforward situations to handle. Controlling your media intake and reassuring yourself and your family is imperative to handling stress and anxiety. Above all else, stay calm and take care of yourself!


References

Degges-White, Suzanne. “COVID-19 Anxiety: Control Your Controllables.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 5 Mar. 2020, www.psychologytoday.com/ie/blog/lifetime-connections/202003/covid-19-anxiety-control-your-controllables.

Moukaddam, Nidal. “Fears, Outbreaks, and Pandemics: Lessons Learned.” Psychiatric Times, 15 Nov. 2019, www.psychiatrictimes.com/anxiety/fears-outbreaks-and-pandemics-lessons-learned.

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How to Minimize Stress and Master the Holidays

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By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

It goes without saying that the holidays are a busy time. In addition to typical daily life, there’s partying, traveling, spending, socializing, and the list goes on. Many would say the chaos of it all is worth it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to minimize the stress and relax. Whether it means reducing or increasing one’s social interactions, there are ways to feel fulfilled rather than drained by the time New Year’s comes around.

Firstly, what exactly are your sources of holiday stress? One source may be simpler than you’d think: doing too much. Yes, it’s obvious, but let me explain. Naturally, when met with a rather exciting or interesting activity, we often opt to participate in it. While doing good and fun things are, well, good and fun, having too many good things going on can lead to stress and a lack of time to decompress.

Another stressor may be the overwhelming obligations and the temptation to overindulge, such as excessive eating, drinking, and spending. Too much of any of these things could lead to debt, weight gain, or embarrassing memories.

Furthermore, balancing alone time with together time becomes significantly more difficult for many during the holidays. Family time is a wonderful thing, but being around others for too long without proper rest takes some of the enjoyment out of being with loved ones.

On the other side are those who are not with family during the holidays. While many are getting together with those they love, some might become more aware of their loneliness and feel left out.

During this time of year, symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may occur. While it can come on subtly with the season’s transition from fall to winter, more time spent indoors because of colder weather brings out this form of depression, invoking seemingly sudden bursts of unhappiness and/or stress.

Despite these concerns, there are still ways to be on top of one’s mental health during this time of year. Here are some useful tricks for mastering the holidays, stress-free:

Keep a Journal

Keep a journal, or at least write things down, an age-old trick to maintain healthy stress levels. Keeping track of finances, plans, and obligations is a surefire way to stop stress dead in its tracks.

Remain Disciplined

Remaining disciplined is key to mastering holiday overindulgence. Remind yourself not to have eggnog and cookies with every meal. This saves us from guilty feelings later on. There is nothing wrong with saying “no” to tentative plans or an extra drink. Staying fit and leaving space for alone time is worth it in the long run.

Balance is Key

Being burnt out halfway through December sucks, even if it means sacrificing potential plans with friends and family. They can wait for another day. No one is fun to be around when they are tired or stressed. Besides, spending a day during the holidays to curl up with a warm blanket and a book is a fun idea in itself.


References

Scott, Elizabeth. “How to Manage the Inevitable Holiday Season Stress.” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 24 June 2019, www.verywellmind.com/understanding-and-managing-holiday-stress-3145230.

“6 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress.” Healthline, Healthline, www.healthline.com/health/holiday-stress#tips.

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Ways to Overcome Procrastination You Won’t Want to Put Off

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By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

Procrastination is a problem dealt with daily by people of all ages. It can be said that many of us have been through at least one period when we did not manage our time well. Recent studies have shown that roughly 20 percent of adults in the U.S. are chronic procrastinators (Cherry).

There are many reasons why the number is high, but also just as many ways to help us manage our time more effectively, which we’ll explore below.

Deeper mental health issues may contribute to poor time management. Depression, ADHD, OCD, and chronic stress are all capable of worsening procrastination (Wiebe). These issues can work to shift the focus onto other tasks and activities, leaving important “to-dos” for a later time, which may or may not ever come.

Developing good time management skills has more benefits than the obvious boost in productivity. Cutting down on procrastination has also been shown to reduce stress significantly and can improve our overall quality of life (Mayberry).

Depending on the situation, talking with a therapist, or just taking a mental break, can reduce symptoms, such as stress and procrastination.

It is far easier to accomplish the tasks at hand with a clear mind. Keeping a planner or list of priorities, as well as evaluating our time usage, can help us stay organized and motivated (Mayberry).

Finally finishing a seemingly endless or daunting task typically gives us a great sense of relief and satisfaction. When time is well-spent and the “to-do list” shrinks, we experience fewer stressful thoughts that can put us on edge.

Putting into practice these time management skills can help us not only to finish tasks efficiently, but help us live a happier life.


References

Cherry, Kendra. “Psychology Behind Why We Wait Until the Last Minute to Do Things.” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 30 June 2019, www.verywellmind.com/the-psychology-of-procrastination-2795944.

Mayberry, Matt. “Time Management Is Really Life Management.” Entrepreneur, Entrepreneur Media, Inc., 13 Feb. 2015, www.entrepreneur.com/article/242855.

Wiebe, Jamie. “Struggle with Time Management? Here’s What It Says About Your Mental Health…” Talkspace, Talkspace, 3 Oct. 2018, www.talkspace.com/blog/time-management-mental-health/.

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