Stress and anxiety aren't always bad, a recent presentation by the American Psychological Association has found. Despite the fact both can reach unhealthy levels at times, they have been revealed to often play a helpful, not harmful, role in our lives.
According to Lisa Damour, PhD, a private-practice psychologist, stress not only results from bad events (for instance, firing someone) but can also be a result of something good (onboarding a new staff). Thus, she shares, stress has become a norm in our daily lives and, having moderate levels of stress can indeed improve one's resilience when faced with challenges.
Similarly, while anxiety has often gotten a bad reputation for being 'harmful', it can be used positively if viewed as helpful or protective. For instance, a feeling of anxiousness could alert someone of a potential threat in time for them to overcome it.
That said, while both stress and anxiety could be looked at with positive lenses, Damour emphasised the need for anyone suffering from either issue to take the necessary measures to address them early.
She said: "Anyone feeling overwhelmed by stress should, if possible, take measures to reduce his or her stress and/or seek help from a trained professional to learn stress management strategies. For the management of anxiety, some people find relief through workbooks that help them to evaluate and challenge their own irrational thoughts.
"If that approach isn’t successful, or preferred, a trained professional should be consulted."
At the workplace, HR should look out for signs of high stress levels and anxiety in staff, and implement effective measures to tackle these.