Anxiety is a fact of life, and it’s not always bad. A certain degree of worry helps us stay organized, anticipate challenges and avoid potential dangers. But when intense or incessant, these feelings can cause emotional, mental and physical harm, from high blood pressure to worsening health conditions. Anxiety can even become debilitating, especially if we experience life-changing events or unexpected medical issues.
For some people — like the patient and support services team at CARTI — guiding others through uncertainty and fear is literally in their job description. Ahead of Stress Awareness Month, we sat down with these pros for advice on alleviating anxiety, no matter the situations we may face.
What role do our support systems play in mitigating stress?
Research consistently shows that a strong support system helps us maintain our well-being. When we receive help from our networks — emotional, physical or otherwise — we experience anxiety-fighting benefits, such as an improved mood and enhanced sense of belonging. That’s why CARTI plans to expand our current offerings to include a variety of support groups and wellness workshops. These programs foster connections, allowing individuals to share feelings, concerns or resources with others facing similar situations. These relationships are crucial to managing stress.
In addition to building a support system, what other lifestyle habits are recommended to fight anxiety?
When life is overwhelming, it can feel difficult or even impossible to prioritize self-care, but it’s essential to do things that promote our mental and physical wellness. This may include working out, eating regular meals or sticking to a sleep schedule. For example, for some cancer patients and survivors, low-impact exercise like yoga is more than a way to keep their bodies moving, it’s a restoring way to protect their health. Self-care is different for everyone. We need to find what we enjoy.
We often hear about relaxation techniques, such as meditation. What strategies have you found the most effective?
Relaxation isn’t one-size-fits-all, and what works for one person may not yield the same results for another. We’ve seen firsthand how yoga reduces tension and stress. However, we’ve also seen the benefits of spiritual care, healing arts, massages and other offerings. As we tell our patients and their families, it may take exploring different options to find what techniques are most helpful.
If you need help, talk to your health care provider or a licensed mental health professional.