Friday, 4 May 2018

Anxiety and Mental Health with Tammy Benwell

1 in 5 Canadians are affected by mental illness in their lifetime. Some people live with stress and anxiety on a daily basis, while others may be faced with it during challenging times in their lives.  Regardless of the reason, it is essential to develop some positive coping techniques.  As a therapist who often works with clients struggling with stress and anxiety, here are some of my suggestions for managing your stress and/or anxiety on a daily basis:

1.     Sleep – practicing good sleeping habits is essential.  Establishing an evening routine, and going to bed at the same time every night will help start your next day positively. Of course this isn’t always possible, but attempting to incorporate this routine into your evening, even a few times during the week, is beneficial.

2.     Exercise – exercise is essential for reducing stress hormones.  It also helps us with getting a better night’s sleep.

3.     Reduce caffeine intake – yes, I know that this can be one of our many survival techniques, however, caffeine in high doses can actually increase our stress levels.

4.     Write – I know that some people don’t enjoy journaling, however, if you are constantly ruminating on the same thought, it might be helpful to jot some ideas/thoughts on a piece of paper to get it out of the feedback loop occurring in your brain.

5.     Chewing gum – I know, right . . . it seems silly. However, it actually increases blood flow to the brain, which can be helpful in stressful situations.

6.     Socializing – prioritize spending time with people who make us feel good such as our friends, family, or people who we share a common interest with.

7.     Saying no – we have been taught that saying no is a bad thing . . . have you ever heard anyone justify a “yes” response?  Never!  But when we say no, we often feel the need to explain our reasoning. NO is an answer all in itself, and saying it when you need to is very important. Try it, you just might like it!

8.     Practice mindfulness – this can be in the form of a yoga class, meditation class, or independently.  If you are like me, you may prefer to practice mindfulness simply during your everyday activities by focusing on specific tasks or surroundings, what do you smell, taste, hear, or see?

9.     Deep Breathing – practicing deep breathing can help us to find peace in highly stressful situations. The shallow breaths that we are used to taking can be overwhelming, whereas deep breathing assists with relaxation.

10.  Healthy Eating – maintaining a healthy diet is a crucial component to managing stress, when we eat unhealthy foods we often feel lethargic and have little energy to invest in using our other coping skills.

Tammy Benwell is a Registered Social Worker who holds an undergraduate degree in Social Work from the University of Waterloo and Master’s degree in Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University. Her formal training focused on interventions for individuals, families, and groups, across various therapeutic orientations.
Ms. Benwell has been afforded extensive opportunities working in mental health, supporting clients with various mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and trauma. Tammy can assist individuals with relationship struggles, codependency, infidelity, separation and divorce, substance abuse, low self-esteem, family concerns, and life transitions. She has additional training in the areas of trauma counselling, and has been trained in EMDR through the Niagara Stress and Trauma Clinic.

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