Understanding worry: Prepare, don’t panic

Understanding worry: Prepare, don’t panic

Amidst the uncertainty and the ever-changing health landscape in our country, you may find yourself in varied response states. You may be thinking ahead, anticipating future negative outcomes. In other words, worrying.

Some worry is normal and can be useful because it can help you effectively prepare for what lies ahead. However, your worries can be fueled and exacerbated by societal influences, especially the barrage of 24/7 news reports.

Worrying too much, though can lead to a prolonged, heightened alert status, staying preoccupied and fixated – often resulting in our thoughts becoming our reality.

Pauline Krutilla, director of the Employee Assistance Program at Advocate Aurora Health offers some coping tips for individuals who may feel worried or panicked:

  • Practicing mindfulness can be extremely helpful. Mindfulness means paying attention in the present, without judgement. When we observe our thoughts, choices and behaviors more objectively, we can manage them more effectively.
  • Problem solving and effective planning can be productive. Worrying is not. Try periodically checking in with your work, travel, personal and family commitments and prepare accordingly, to ease any unnecessary worry.
  • Staying informed while remaining calm during a widespread crisis is key. Setting specific times to check news updates might be advisable. Tuning in to other topics of conversation, activities and attention will help mitigate the tendency to worry too much about things we can’t control. When something like a global health crisis hits, you need good, solid data, not false or exaggerated information. You can find some good ones here.

We know that people react differently to stressful situations. How someone personally responds can depend on his or her background, personal circumstances, and the community in which someone lives. The CDC says that those who respond more strongly to stress during a crisis may find themselves with:

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating at work
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

Some workers have an added resource that can help called an Employee Assistance Program. Tapping into the EAP allows covered employees to confidentially connect with a trusted person about their concerns, especially if they are being consumed by worry and stress.

EAP is a voluntary benefit employers can offer their employees to support their behavioral health and well-being. EAP is centered around addressing issues such as stress, grief, family problems, psychological disorders and alcohol and substance abuse. Employee assistance programs are intended to provide employees with the right resources to help resolve whatever issue they may be encountering.

An EAP can offer assistance whenever a problem:

  • Occupies too much of your time
  • Interferes with normal activities
  • Persists for more than two or three weeks

An EAP may offer counseling on many different concerns, including:

  • Alcohol/drug abuse
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Balancing work and family
  • Caring for aging parents
  • Child/Family concerns
  • Divorce
  • Financial pressures
  • Relationship issues
  • Workplace stresses

To find out how you can access your employer’s EAP, check your company’s benefits enrollment guide or portal to find what specific services are offered to you as an employee.

If you are an Advocate Aurora Health employee and need assistance, contact the Advocate Aurora Employee Assistance Program. For team members working in Wisconsin, call 800-236-3231. For those in Illinois, call 800-775-0304.

If you are an employer, who doesn’t currently offer EAP, and is looking to add this service for your employees, visit Advocate Aurora’s Employer Solutions to learn more.

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About the Author

Liz Fitzgerald
Liz Fitzgerald

Liz Fitzgerald, health enews contributor, is an integrated marketing coordinator at Advocate Aurora Health.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communication from Marquette University.  Outside of work, Liz has a goal of visiting all U.S. national parks.