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Need Help Managing The End Of The Year Stress?

It’s both an exciting time of the year with holidays approaching and a stressful time of the year with all you are trying to accomplish. Add on some crazy weather issues and that further complicates things. So, how can you better manage everything and keep your sanity?

Reality Check. First, recognize that you won’t get it all done exactly as you imagined, and let yourself say “that’s okay.” We often have extremely high expectations for what we think we can accomplish during this time of the year. Perhaps we need to make our goals a little more realistic. That doesn’t mean you have to drop your enthusiasm; just do a reality check. See how much time is left and what is actually manageable. Readjust your goals to be more realistic.

Change others’ expectations. In addition to altering your own expectations, talk to your colleagues or supervisors to see if you can make some changes in their expectations for what can be accomplished at the end of the year. Chances are they are feeling just as stressed. Do you really need all those meetings at this time? Can the timelines for some projects be extended? Even if you are only able to change a few things, this can have a powerful impact on reducing your stress and maybe even theirs.

Chunk it into bits. One of the biggest stressors we face is the size of what we have to accomplish – whether it is finishing up work projects, getting all of our presents ready in advance, or cleaning our entire house for holiday company. Sometimes just viewing these massive lists we have created can be overwhelming.

If possible, break those large projects into smaller ones. Sometimes we only have 30 minutes here or there and we think we can’t get our big project done then. Which is true – we can’t. But, if we can break it into parts, we might get some of the smaller parts done during those shorter time periods. That can still help us feel a sense of accomplishment, and that we are not being overwhelmed.

Don’t forget your own self-care. We have the tendency to put all of our projects and others ahead of us during the end of the year mad rush to get it all done. Don’t do this. Make sure you still find time to exercise, get plenty of sleep, and engage in some activities for your own sanity (e.g., mindfulness, meditation, prayer, etc.). You need to keep up your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well being during this time, probably more than at any other time of the year.  Try to do something fun each day – this gives you added joy.

Take advantage of forced slow times. Maybe you are stuck in traffic on the highway or circling a parking lot to find a spot at the shopping mall or waiting in a long line at a store, or on hold on the phone. These are forced slow downs imposed on you. Instead of giving in to the temptation to get angry and frustrated, use these opportunities to do other things.

Each year, we know these things are going to occur, and yet we always seem surprised and frustrated by their existence (as if they just popped up). Be prepared. Bring other things to do while waiting in line or on the phone or as you are circling the parking lot. Maybe listening to relaxing music is just the thing that can keep your blood pressure from rising even higher.

Volunteer. It may seem counterintuitive to volunteer when we have so much on our own plates. But, this is the season to volunteer and help those less fortunate than us. While we may be very busy, sometimes just taking a little time to give back to others helps us to put things into perspective and remember how much we do have. It also helps us to remember the “reason for the season.”

The end of the year comes with celebrating various holidays and welcoming in a brand new year. It should be a time of joy and yet; it often comes with the stress of having too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. Following some of these tips might just help you get your energy back and enjoy this holiday time and ringing in the New Year!

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I am the Helen and William O’Toole Dean of the Villanova School of Business (VSB), and serve as the chief executive, academic and fiscal officer. VSB has more than 150 faculty and staff and 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in VSB’s top-ranked programs. I am a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist with more than 25 years of experience consulting with private- and public-sector organizations. I wrote a weekly career coach column and answered reader questions in a monthly online chat for The Washington Post. I have served as an executive coach for several decades and developed the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Programs for UMD’s Executive M.B.A. program and the Executive M.B.A. at the University of Tennessee. I earned my Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Akron, Ohio and my B.A. in psychology from Loyola University in Maryland.

Source: Need Help Managing The End Of The Year Stress?

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Sign up for our WellCast newsletter for more of the love, lolz and happy! http://goo.gl/GTLhb Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A.? Most people have experienced mild workplace stress at some point in their careers, and it’s not doing them any favors. Stress contributes to higher blood pressure and lower self esteem. This week we’ve got a three-step system to combating office stress and keeping you healthy and sane. Check out some other awesome episodes of WellCast: 1. Coming Out http://goo.gl/amysN 2. Coping With Grief http://goo.gl/aD4OH 3. How to Break the Ice http://goo.gl/CmS8O 4. Dealing With Rejection http://goo.gl/f3Pw5 5. Party Survival Guide for Introverts http://goo.gl/WYZVe ABOUT WELLCAST: In this twice-a-week show, we explore the physical, mental and emotional paths to wellness. With an emphasis on education, the show addresses both the latest trends and long-standing practices of wellness—everything from the efficacy of the gratitude experiment to the importance of sunshine and vitamin D. Follow along as your host, Kate, guides you through a bi-weekly journaling exercises that helps you apply what you’ve learned. The ultimate goal: one year, one show, one journal, one collective journey to wellness. Like us on Facebook! http://goo.gl/0DHVJ Follow us on Twitter! http://goo.gl/Ylcv6 Find us on Google+ http://goo.gl/ylCVT Follow us on Tumblr! http://goo.gl/Ds3TB Follow us on Instagram! http://goo.gl/q3IUC Follow us on Pinterest! http://goo.gl/lNhu2

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How Busyness Leads To Bad Decisions

PHJCG6 Silhouette of a man in the end of tunnel. Image shot 03/2018. Exact date unknown.

When we’re under pressure our mental bandwidth narrows – and that means we focus on the wrong tasks. So what’s the remedy for unproductive ‘tunnelling’? Let’s see if this sounds familiar: You churn through the day at work under deadline pressure, racing to meetings, dashing off emails, feeling busy, purposeful and a little breathless. Yet as the end of the traditional workday draws near, you realise with a sinking feeling that you haven’t even begun the big project you meant to tackle that day.

So you bring work home, or decide not to and can’t stop feeling guilty about it. Either way, your work is spilling over into the rest of your life, stealing time and mental bandwidth away from family or rest or fun, and leaving you feeling exhausted and a little resentful. You resolve that tomorrow will be different. But come morning, you inevitably find yourself back on the treadmill of busyness.

That’s a pattern Antonia Violante has seen a lot at workplaces she’s been studying in the United States for a project on work-life balance. Behavioural scientists and researchers like her call it “tunnelling”. When we’re stressed and feeling pressed for time, Violante explains, our attention and cognitive bandwidth narrow as if we’re in a tunnel. It can sometimes be a good thing, helping us hyper-focus on our most important work.

When we’re stressed and feeling pressed for time…our attention and cognitive bandwidth narrow as if we’re in a tunnel

But tunnelling has a dark side. When we get caught up in a time scarcity trap of busyness, a panicked firefighting mode, we might only have the capacity to focus on the most immediate, often low-value tasks right in front of us rather than the big project or the long-range strategic thinking that would help keep us out of the tunnel in the first place. “We see people end up tunnelling on the wrong thing,” she says.

Why email offers false rewards

Email certainly falls under that category. To Violante, a senior associate at ideas42, a non-profit firm with offices across the US and in New Delhi that uses behavioural science to solve real-world problems, email is the perfect addictive “attention slot machine”. Our brains are wired for novelty, so we actually love being interrupted with every random ping and ding of a new message. And humans enjoy feeling busy and productive. Combine time scarcity with that pull of novelty and our busyness craving and it’s easy to see how we end up focusing our time and attention on whatever’s right in front of us, which, these days, is email.

casino

Email pings feed our brains’ craving for busyness, like an “attention slot machine”, causing us to tunnel on unimportant, menial tasks (Credit: Getty Images)

Busy-loving humans have such an aversion to idleness, in fact, that one study found people preferred giving themselves electric shocks rather than have nothing to do. “So it’s easy to be swept up trying to keep on top of your email inbox,” Violante says. “It allows us to be busy, which feels good. But it leads to a false reward.” Like mistaking busyness for productivity. To get out of that particular busyness tunnel, Violante suggests experimenting with checking mail on a schedule.

That idea, which Violante herself has adopted, is based on research that found smokers given a smoking schedule had greater success quitting than through other methods. The reason, researchers surmised, is that a schedule not only gave people practice and confidence in not smoking, but also broke the link between habitual smoking cues and actually lighting up. A similar idea holds true for email: a 2015 study found that people who check their email on a schedule felt happier and less stressed out than those who checked constantly – which many of us do, spending about five hours a day nosing about our inboxes.

It’s not about having, literally, zero emails in your inbox, but having no ambiguity about what’s in there and having a plan for what’s most important to respond to – Antonia Violante

Violante also suggests that teams set communication protocols for when a response is expected and agree to send emails out only during work hours. To preserve mental bandwidth, she recommends an email mindset shift. “It’s not about having, literally, zero emails in your inbox, but having no ambiguity about what’s in there and having a plan for what’s most important to respond to,” she explains. Though she recognises it’s not easy. “Even behavioural scientists have addiction problems with email.”

How scarcity shrinks mental bandwidth

The concepts of scarcity and tunnelling were first described in behavioural science research on poverty. Anandi Mani, a professor of behavioural economics at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford, and her colleagues wanted to understand what led poor people to make bad choices with their money, such as borrowing at high interest rates or playing the lotto, that can keep them trapped in poverty.

They studied sugar cane farmers in India, and gave them cognitive tests both when the farmers were flush with money right after harvest and when, months later, money was scarce. The researchers found that scarcity itself created such a tax on mental bandwidth that the farmers’ IQ tests dropped 13 points between flush and scarce times.

sugar cane farmers

A research study on sugar cane farmers found that time scarcity creates such a tax on mental bandwidth, it can even temporarily lower IQ (Credit: Getty Images)

“There is a direct parallel between scarcity of money and scarcity of time,” Mani says. “With money, we do what’s urgent – we pay this bill, we try to make the budget work, even when we know it’s more important to take time to be a good parent or talk to your mom. At work, it’s the same. We get captured by whatever’s in front of our face, and we don’t give ourselves the space or introspection to think about what might be more meaningful to do.”

To step out of the time scarcity tunnel, Mani suggests first becoming aware of how you may be trapped in busyness. If you can, you might try smoothing your workload or spreading it out over time, much like research on how income smoothing helps those with money scarcity better weather financial volatility and keep from falling into episodic poverty. Then work with others to create and enforce group norms around taking breaks – at work, during the week, at the weekend.

If you can, you might try smoothing your workload or spreading it out over time

“The old rules – you don’t work on the Sabbath – creating forced slack in our schedules, has real value,” Mani says. She herself is experimenting with 15 minutes of meditation every morning. “It’s making me more aware during the day,” she says. “Honestly, this is a topic which pushes me to a lot of soul searching.”

Plan your time with greater care

Anuj Shah, a professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago, says scarcity creates its own mindset. His research, in which participants played online games and were either “rich” or “poor” in the number of guesses or attempts allowed, was surprising. Those who were “poor” were actually much more accurate or careful with their resources. But because scarcity narrowed their bandwidth, they were so focused on the current round, they were unable to strategise about the future and made disastrous choices, like borrowing at exorbitant rates, that wound up costing them dearly.

art gallery

We can avoid the scarcity trap if we treat our schedules like a spacious art gallery, rather than an overflowing pantry (Credit: Alamy)

So to keep from tunnelling on the wrong thing or neglecting important tasks that seem less urgent at the moment but will pay greater dividends in the long run, Shah says, people need to recognise that time and bandwidth are limited resources and begin to think of choices around them as trade-offs.

For instance, he says, when we look at our calendar six months from now, it often appears wide open and free of all commitments. So we can overcommit ourselves, which can lead to more time scarcity and tunnelling in the future. “But we know that in six months, that week is going to look a lot like this week, which is usually pretty busy,” Shah says. “So you need to think – how would I fit this in this week? What would I have to give up to do it? We need to realise that slack in the future is an illusion.” It’s a practice he follows as well.

Shah’s colleague Sendhil Mullainathan suggests thinking about our schedules as less like a pantry that we cram anything and everything into, and more like an art gallery where we intentionally decide what is most important and how to arrange it so that everything fits. He recommends setting alerts to help us remember what’s important when we start to fall into the scarcity trap.

“Once we’re short on time, we’re already in a bad situation,” Shah says. “But if we learn to manage the time beforehand, we can keep that from happening in the future.”

Author image

By: Brigid Schulte

Brigid Schulte is a journalist, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when No One has the Time, and director of the Better Life Lab at New America

Source: How busyness leads to bad decisions

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If you suffer from anxiety, it could be messing with your decision-making! Here’s how. Follow Amy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/astVintageSpace Read More: Anxious people more apt to make bad decisions amid uncertainty http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03… “Highly anxious people have more trouble deciding how best to handle life’s uncertainties. They may even catastrophize, interpreting, say, a lovers’ tiff as a doomed relationship or a workplace change as a career threat.” What Anxiety Does to Your Brain and What You Can Do About It http://articles.mercola.com/sites/art… “Anxiety is a natural, normal response to potential threats, which puts your body into a heightened state of awareness.” Anxiety and the Brain: An Introduction http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/anx… “It should come as little surprise that your brain is the source of your anxiety.” Decision-Making http://www.brainfacts.org/sensing-thi… “Decisions. Decisions. Each day you make thousands of them. Many – what to eat for breakfast or what to wear to a friend’s party – have few, if any, long-lasting consequences. Others – whether to stay in school or look for work – can have a huge impact on the direction of your life.” ____________________ DNews is dedicated to satisfying your curiosity and to bringing you mind-bending stories & perspectives you won’t find anywhere else! New videos twice daily. Watch More DNews on TestTube http://testtube.com/dnews Subscribe now! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_c… DNews on Twitter http://twitter.com/dnews Trace Dominguez on Twitter https://twitter.com/tracedominguez Julia Wilde on Twitter https://twitter.com/julia_sci DNews on Facebook https://facebook.com/DiscoveryNews DNews on Google+ http://gplus.to/dnews Discovery News http://discoverynews.com Download the TestTube App: http://testu.be/1ndmmMq

Smartphones Have Led to a Spike in Head and Neck Injuries As People Walk, Drive, Text and Play Games

The number of people who have injured their necks or heads while using using cell phones has spiked over the past two decades, with a sharp increase following the release of the iPhone, research has revealed.

Most people got hurt because they were distracted by their cell phones, and while in the home according, to the study published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

The researchers used the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database on emergency room visits from approximately 100 U.S. hospitals to carry out the study.

Of the 2,501 incidents occurring between January 1998 and December 2017, 37.6 percent involved patients aged between 13 to 29-years-old, with pre-teens most at risk. Of the total, 55 percent were female, 38.8 percent white.

The majority of patients hurt their head, followed by the face, including the eye and nose area, and lastly the neck. Lacerations were the most common injury, followed by contusions or abrasions and internal organ injuries—mostly traumatic brain injuries. For instance, some were hit in the face, or were harmed when batteries exploded. Some suffered concussion.

Head and neck injuries related to phones were relatively rare up until 2007, when rates shot up following the release of the Apple iPhone, followed by a much steeper rise to a peak in 2016, the researchers found.

Based on the 2,501 cases, the team estimated a total of 76,043 such injuries likely occurred across the U.S. between 1998 and 2017. Of those, an estimated 14,150 involved people who were distracted. That included 90 playing Pokémon Go.

A further 7,240 people were driving, 1,022 texting, and 5,080 patients were walking and using a smartphone.

Around 96 percent of Americans own a cell phone, according to the researchers.

Despina Stavrinos, associate professor of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who did not work on the study told Newsweek she wasn’t surprised by the findings “given how pervasive cell phones are in our everyday lives.”

She said as the numbers were taken from a database on medical settings, the findings could be an underestimate of the problem.

“A significant portion of the injuries were to children and adolescents, suggesting parents play an important role in educating their children on safe phone practices. Policy and behavioral interventions should continue to consider ways to prevent cell phone use in transportation settings,” said Stavrinos.

“Most of the injuries in this study occurred at home; however, a smaller yet significant portion occurred in traffic environments. Distracted walking, bicycling, and driving are common and extremely dangerous activities among youth that increases their risk of injury,” said Stavrinos, who co-authored a paper on that topic.

“Cell phones offer many advantages, but also pose risks if they are not used properly. This is definitely the case when it comes to using phones while driving or walking.”

By

Source: Smartphones Have Led to a Spike in Head and Neck Injuries As People Walk, Drive, Text and Play Games

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Bending and staring down at our phones for several hours, increases the stress on our neck and spine, leading to neck and back pain. Experts refer to this condition as text neck and it can eventually lead to serious consequences. Also, at night, when we stare at our smartphones, the light emitted from their screens makes our brain think that it is still daytime. So, our brain does not produce the sleep hormone melatonin, causing us to stay awake for long hours and thus, disturbing our circadian rhythm which regulates our every day bodily functions. This can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, etc. An interesting fact is that smartphone addiction has given rise to a new phobia called Nomophobia, short for no mobile phone phobia. It is basically the fear or anxiety of being without our phone.

8 Simple Steps to Relieve Stress

Stress is never good for you or your health. But with almost 54% of the Americans, stress has become part of their lives. It can be stress from work, family or could be of dealing with financial issues. Whatever the cause of stress, it isn’t good for your health.

Here are 8 simple steps to relieve stress from your everyday life.

Understand the Source of Stress

When it comes to stress, it’s surprising that most people don’t even realize they are stressed. Common indications of stress include tense muscles, clenched jaws, and hands or a feeling of cramps in your stomach. Other telling symptoms are frustrations and anger.

Whenever you feel stressed, find out the reason for your stress. One of the most common stress factors includes financial problems. Enlist help. Talk to a financial advisor. They will help you guide you out of your financial situation. For instance, they will guide you on how to deal with debt collectors effectively.

Other sources of stress could be your workplace or family issues. Find out how you can deal with them. Don’t leave everything to time. Try to find solutions for your issues. This will help you use your energy is a positive way, which can also be a great stress buster.

Practice Deep Breathing Techniques

When you are stressed, your body starts releasing stress hormones. When you feel an increase in heart beat and your breathing get quicker, sit down and practice deep breathing. Deep breathing activates your nervous system which in turn will help your body to relax.

Start by focusing on your breathing. Take a deep breath. Breathe through your nose. Fill up your lungs with air. Slowly release the breath through your mouth. Practice for 10x times. Bring down your breathing rate. Feel your body relaxing.

Exercise

One reason for the increase in stress for many people is the decrease in physical activity. Your body needs physical stress, to give the brain some rest to relieve itself of all the mental stress.

When you exercise, your body releases hormones called endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain killers and help your body in combating stress. The release of these hormones also improves your sleep quality, thus improving mood and reducing stress.

Some forms of exercise you can try out are walking, running, yoga, dancing, swimming etc.

Use Your Senses

Sensory experience can help you deal with stress is an effective manner. When you employ the use of your five senses, you become more aware of your surroundings which help you relieve stress in a calming manner. Here’s how you can employ the use each of each sense to relieve stress:

Sight: Close your eyes and imagine your happy place. It could be your childhood home or just a beautiful place you went to recently. Another way to use your sight is to go outdoors. Go to a park or a scenic place. Talk a walk around. You can also put flowers in your home to enlighten it.

Hearing: Listen to some calming, good music. You can also turn on some background classical music to help you relax.

Smell: Light candles or burn essential oils. Some good calming scents you can try are Lavender, Germanium, Neroli, Rose, and Sandalwood.

Touch: Relax your muscles and body with a good massage. Get a professional masseur to unknot the tensions in your muscles. Give your spouse or partner a good kiss. Hug your children closely. Taking a warm bath or resting under a warm blanket will also do the trick.

Taste: Mindless eating can add inches to your waistline. That can also be a source of constant stress for most people. Whenever you eat, enjoy the entire experience. Take small bites and savor the flavor with each bite. Enjoy your favorite snack or meal. Give it time. Some stress relieving foods you can try out are dark chocolate, citrus foods and foods containing omega 3 fatty acids. You can also try drinking calming, herbal teas.

Unplug from the World

When most people feel stressed, they turn to media. They watch TV or scroll through their cell phones mindlessly. The idea is to switch off the stress by focusing on something else. But research concludes that the use of media including smart phones actually increases stress levels.

Unplug from the world and media. Even if you don’t feel stressed on a particular day, don’t let media entertain you. Turn off the TV for the rest of the day. Go without using the Wi-Fi on your cell phone for a day. Turn off your cell phone when you get home. If you can’t do it daily, do it at least three or four times in a week.

Get Together with Family and Friends

The right way to forget about your stress is by spending time with family and friends. Plan an outdoor picnic together. Laugh and smile together. Discuss your problems. Be each other’s support system. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

When you spend time with your loved ones, your body releases oxytocin. Oxytocin is a natural stress reliever. This is especially true for women and children.

Source: 8 Simple Steps to Relieve Stress

Stress Hormone” Cortisol Linked to Early Toll on Thinking Ability – Karen Weintraub

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The stresses of everyday life may start taking a toll on the brain in relatively early middle age, new research shows. The study of more than 2,000 people, most of them in their 40s, found those with the highest levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol performed worse on tests of memory, organization, visual perception and attention. Higher cortisol levels, measured in subjects’ blood, were also found to be associated with physical changes in the brain that are often seen as precursors to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to the study published Wednesday in Neurology………

Read more: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ldquo-stress-hormone-rdquo-cortisol-linked-to-early-toll-on-thinking-ability/

 

 

 

 

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What Stress, Change, And Isolation Do To Your Brain – Christine Comaford

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Change happens. Adversity happens. Conflict happens. Then your brain and body tries to cope with it. Your brain releases stress hormones, like cortisol, which then fire up excessive cell-signaling cytokines which alter your physiology. Suddenly your ability to regulate your behavior and emotions is compromised. Your ability to pay attention is compromised, your memory, learning, peace, happiness are all compromised. Why? Because all that change has caused your system to be overloaded with stress…….

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2018/10/20/what-stress-change-and-isolation-do-to-your-brain/#2f51c4481940

 

 

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Inherited Trauma Shapes Your Health – Olga Khazan

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Often when I complain to my therapist about how stressed out I am by a problem I’m having, she says a variation on the same thing: “Well, like all Ashkenazi, you have a lot of inter generational trauma. You know, because of everything that’s … happened.”The effects on longevity showed up for the sons of men who were imprisoned in 1863 and 1864, when conditions in POW camps were especially bad. Crowding was extreme—each man was said to have had a grave’s worth of square footage to himself—and deaths from diarrhea and scurvy were common…….

Read more: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/10/trauma-inherited-generations/573055/

 

 

 

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Anxiety: Why It’s Different From Stress – Peg Rosen

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There’s a math test tomorrow and 14-year-old Katherine should be studying. Instead she’s in bed. “I’m not taking the test! What happens if people see I can’t do it? What if I fail again?” she cries to her mom.

Anxiety is a sense of fear and worry. And it’s easy to understand why Katherine and other children with learning and attention issues are more likely to have anxiety than other children. Many have to work harder to keep up with their classmates. Other kids may bully them. Kids with learning and attention issues may not have the coping skills or maturity to handle these difficulties.

“When anxiety stops your child from functioning or enjoying life, it’s probably time to find help.”

But anxiety can be managed. The key is noticing the signs and providing the tools your child needs to keep worry in check.

Read on to learn how anxiety is different from stress—and what might cause anxiety in kids with learning and attention issues. You’ll also learn when to get help for your child’s anxiety.

Anxiety vs. Stress

Stress and anxiety are closely related but are not the same thing.

  • Stress is a natural and normal response to a challenge. Our heart pumps faster and our palms sweat as we get ready to act.
  • Stress can make us feel nervous, angry, frustrated—even anxious.
  • Stress can have a positive effect. For example it can “pump up” a child to study for a test.
  • Stress can also be overwhelming. Feeling stress every day for a long time can take a toll on your body and mind.
  • Anxiety makes a kid feel worried and afraid. “What if?” is a common phrase for anxious kids.
  • The anxious feeling is often out of proportion to the real or imagined “threat” (for example, a child crying in terror because she’s afraid to enter a birthday party).
  • Anxious children may expect that something bad will happen and not believe they’ll be able to handle it. (That bee’s going to sting me and I’m going to die!)
  • The bad feelings associated with anxiety can come from something specific, like algebra. Or anxiety can be a more general sense of uneasiness that affects much of everyday life.

Common Causes of Anxiety

Just about everyone feels anxiety at some point. But kids with learning and attention issues may have extra reasons for feeling worried and afraid. These include:

  • Anxiety about not being able to keep up: Kindergarten is often when children with learning and attentions issues first show signs of anxiety. They may notice they can’t do what their friends can do. As they go through grade school, their anxiety may get worse if the skill gap widens between them and their classmates. Kids with anxiety issues may just generally be hard on themselves.
  • Anxiety about feeling different: Much of childhood is about fitting in. Children with learning and attention issues may worry that someone will notice if they get extra time on tests. They may fear someone will see them in the resource room. Teenagers may fear the other kids will find out they take medication or see a therapist. Children with social skills issues may want to be part of things but are afraid of being rejected.
  • Anxiety about the future: Teens with learning and attention issues may fear what’s after high school. “If I can’t pass a math test, how will I ever take an SAT?” Or they may worry they won’t be able to live away from home. They may avoid dealing with these issues by not taking tests or refusing to talk about their plans after graduation.

When Anxiety Becomes an Issue

When anxiety stops a child from enjoying life, that child may have an “anxiety disorder.” The most common forms of anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder: Your child may seem “anxious by nature.” She’s worried about anything and everything. She fears someone will see her counting on her fingers. She won’t go in the backyard because there’s a beehive next door. She may have nightmares or trouble sleeping.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): People with OCD often follow unusual routines or rituals. They believe that doing this will stop bad things from happening. For example, your child might wash her hands every time she thinks about something she’s afraid of.
  • Panic disorder: Your child is often terrified when there’s no real danger. At these times, she may find her heart beats fast; she has chest pain and difficulty breathing and may feel nausea or even a fear that she’s dying. Your child worries about having another episode and may even change her behavior because she’s so fearful of having another panic attack.
  • Separation anxiety disorder: Fear of separating from a parent is a natural part of childhood. It is considered a disorder if your child can’t get past this stage, continues to cling, and can’t separate easily from you at school or elsewhere.
  • Social anxiety disorder: Your child may be fearful of social situations. If you force her to go on a playdate or to a party, she may cry or throw a tantrum. She may be very shy around strangers and avoid playing with classmates.
  • Phobias: Your child may be extremely afraid of a particular thing, such as bees, the dark, or doctors. Her phobia may prevent her from getting involved in activities and cause her to scream or act out in other ways.

When to Seek Help

When anxiety stops your child from functioning or enjoying life, it’s probably time to find help. Your school psychologist might suggest someone who specializes in helping children with learning and attention issues. The therapist can work with you and your child to manage the anxiety. He may also refer you to a physician if he thinks medication will help.

Children with learning and attention issues have reasons to feel anxious. That doesn’t mean their anxiety can’t be managed. Learn about signs of anxiety and stress so you can identify these feelings in your child. From there you can work with your child and possibly a therapist to keep her worries in check.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear.
  • Children with learning and attention issues often have anxiety about keeping up and fitting in with their peers.
  • When anxiety stops your child from enjoying life, it may be time to get outside help.

 

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