Decrease Anxiety while Helping Others

Decrease Anxiety while Helping Others

Step outside stress tornados to promote wellbeing

Anxiety, like a contagion, moves rapidly from person to person to person. Without a calming presence, it intensifies creating stress tornados that are hard to settle down. A family member demands attention, colleagues share frustrations, and a new appointment requires changing three other obligations. Even our most virtuous efforts helping others are challenged by pressures coming from various directions. How does anxiety influence your life? Can you see its movement through your family or team?

Despite attempts to promote calm, stress finds a way to creep in. Anxiety has a permanent place in our world and makes many of us shudder. However, anxiety comes from basic survival instincts and can be a positive force stimulating performance and change. Stress becomes problematic when levels are chronically high, decreasing resilience and sustainability. The good news is we can create calm keeping stress at healthy levels.

As we choose to decrease the pull of anxiety tornados, we promote life balance for ourselves and everyone around us. Integrate daily activities to promote calm and perspective. Implement activities to create inner calm such as walk your dog, play with a child, or meditate. Apply some of the following perceptual changes to really increase calm and tap into the positive forces of anxiety.

  1. Guide decisions and responses with key values, virtues, and purpose. Awareness of what is important increases our ability to respond in ways we feel good about even when anxieties are high. Anxiety can send us into automatic responses that are not always helpful. Take a deep breath and pair with a calming word to slow down your emotional reaction. Remember core values and purpose to promote thoughtful responses rather than reacting emotionally to others’ expectations or anxiety.
  1. See anxiety’s possibilities. We change the power of stress by perceiving it differently. Rather than seeing anxiety as always being a negative, look for the positives to create a force for good. What can help bring about healthy change? What can you let go of?
  1. Make the distinction between your emotions and those of others. Caring about others does not require us to take on their emotional journeys. We create calm and care more effectively when choosing not to take on other people’s emotions. This is true whether we are dealing with a confrontational family member, unhappy friend, or someone grieving a loss. Use resources, such as counselors, to get an objective perspective when you feel caught up in emotional storms making it difficult to differentiate.
  1. Choose perspective. Intentionally promote a positive outlook rather than fall into a negative norm. We are responsible for our own emotions, perceptions, and responses and can choose a way of being. Cultivate attitudes of gratitude, joy, and hope. Such ways of seeing the world do not just happen, but need to be fostered daily. How do you want others to remember you? Create reminders such as a gratitude alert to remind you of the presence you want to bring into the world.
  1. Defuse emotional triggers. When we figure out what creates higher emotional responses, we can do things to make it harder for others to push our triggers. Establish a helpful response to increase self-regulation. For example, prepare a statement you can use to calm yourself when your heart rate starts to speed up.
  1. Allow others to be responsible for their own emotions, perspectives, and wellbeing. This is probably one of the most difficult strategies for us helpers. We can care about others, but making sure they are happy is not our responsibility. When we try taking on other people’s responsibilities, we increase anxiety and decrease effectiveness for everyone involved.

As we walk in a highly anxious world, stress will frequently make its presence known. Helping others during difficult times often presents a variety of pressures pushing us in different directions. We cannot eliminate anxiety, but we can influence how much it determines our journey through efforts to see and experience pressures differently. As we do so, we create a calm that radiates into the world reducing anxiety in families and teams.

karen Schuder ProfileKaren Schuder, EdD, MDiv, MAM, has extensive experience promoting resilience and role sustainability through public speaking and coaching. Years of helping people during traumatic times, leading organizations, and working globally inform her work with people in personal and professional helping roles. Karen offers life-changing concepts and practical strategies with an enjoyable, interactive approach. Check out Resilient and Sustainable Caring: Your Guide to Thrive While Helping Others. Learn more about how to foster a purpose driven culture characterized by resilience, positivity, and decreased anxiety at



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