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Understanding Worry: Prepare, Don’t Panic (and remember your EAP)
The Good News
Some worry is normal and can be useful; it can help us effectively prepare for what lies ahead. However, our worries can be fueled and exacerbated by societal influences, especially the barrage of 24/7 news reports. Still, we must find a balance between effectively preparing, versus being consumed with excessive worry or panic.

The Not-so-Good News
Worrying, in a fixed state, can lead to a prolonged, heightened alert status, staying preoccupied and fixated – often resulting in our thoughts becoming our reality.

What May Help
If someone notices a consuming sense of worry or panic, here are some coping tips:

 
• 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. As we continue to work our way through the current health crisis, continue to monitor the Center for Disease Control (CDC.gov) and World Health Organization (who.int) websites for up-to-date, factual information.

Stress and Coping
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

When to Contact the EAP
During these stressful times, employers and employees are reminded that an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is an excellent resource. 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.

The 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

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

Want to learn more about mental health, wellbeing and employee resilience during COVID-19? Watch [FEA1] Advocate Aurora’s webinar: Mental Health in the Workplace, Amidst a Pandemic.

To look for a robust EAP for your organization, check out Advocate Aurora’s Employer Solutions. [FEA2] A solution customized to your company’s culture could also include employer clinics, wellness, occupational health, executive health programs and more.

Pauline Krutilla, Director of EAP at Advocate Aurora Health, is available to talk about what makes an effective EAP program and what every employer needs to know.
 
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