Welcome back to Couture & Construction, an uplifting podcast dedicated to the many different aspects of the luxury building industry. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Ashley Brown, APN, MSN, RN, joins us in episode twenty-two to talk about ways we can manage the stress of success. Many of our listeners are small business owners or employees working in the very busy industry of luxury building and design where plans can change on a dime. And, when our business is great and strong, opportunity abounds, but it comes with a price…the stress of success. Ashley helps us understand stress and anxiety and gives us some ideas to help navigate this issue.
“I think it is really hard to differentiate, sometimes, between stress and anxiety. Especially when our stress is consistent.“Ashley Brown
Stress is external and anxiety is internal
Stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably, but while anxiety is an internal feeling or internal thoughts, stress comes from external stressors. It is something that gets our attention and triggers to us something’s going on and we need to pay attention, and we all have different stressors. Developing the skills to manage stress at a young age can help us deal with stress as adults. By learning emotional communication at a young age we are better able to identify and understand our emotions later on. As adults, it’s important to find the balance of keeping things to ourselves but also being comfortable speaking about things we’re thinking and feeling.
“Anxiety is something that we’ve all experienced, most often in short bursts or short term,” says Ashley. We all have feelings of worry or anxiousness about timelines, deadlines, projects, etc, but it’s usually temporary, and most often that anxiety goes away. Anxiety is a type of way of thinking, and it can sometimes become overly negative. When you have persistent or overly negative thoughts that you feel you can no longer control, you may consider seeking help from a mental healthcare professional. In this case, cognitive behavioral therapy may be used to help change internal thoughts and dialogue.
In the luxury building and design industry, a lot of times we can quickly lose control with unexpected stumbling blocks. Ashley tells us, “we all have a sense of need for control. And, when we feel like we do have control, we feel less worried, less anxious, and less out of control ourselves. So we sense less stress and anxiety.” The need for control can become a problem that causes anxiety because we’re not able to be in control of everything, like our future or what happens every day. It’s helpful to have a sense of awareness that you’re not in control of things. If the need for control becomes obsessive, it can have negative influences in your life and be a sure sign of anxiety. Ashley gives us some advice to decrease anxiety: “We have to focus on the here and now, be appreciative of the here and now….if you get too overly focused on everything that’s ahead of you, you can easily get overwhelmed.” When tackling a goal, think about focusing on the small things to repair a problem or get back on track to meet your goal.
When contemplating methods to manage stress, no one approach works for every person. Coping skills are tailored to the individual and any coping skill can become unhealthy when we overdo it. While exercise may help one person relieve stress, reading a book may be helpful for another. Think about what helps you relax. It could be reading, being in nature, exercising, talking to someone you love and care about, etc. Several studies have shown that nature has positive effects on mental health and relaxation, and exposure to water can help decrease physical stress and increase positive endorphins. By human nature we seek attachment to other humans. It’s important to have someone we feel we can trust and speak to – a family member, friend, or a professional – to process our thoughts and feelings. Ashley says, “Sometimes we just need to talk about what we do, and understand what we’re going through is normal or typical or there’s changes to what our process is or our careers. But, that we share that human experience. It’s important.”
Lastly, it’s essential to plan mental health or self-care time. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others or perform well in your job. Have a day when you’re not focused on the same stressors over and over again – go for a walk, get a massage, go to the spa, have time to yourself, do whatever makes you relax.
Tune in to Episode 22 to hear more from Ashley and learn how to manage stress and anxiety.
More About our Guest
Ashley Brown, APN, MSN, RN, is a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner in Franklin, TN. Originally from NC, Ashley made her way to Nashville in 2003 to attend graduate school at Vanderbilt University where she received her degree. Ashley sees clients every day and helps them deal with their mental health by tailoring a stress/anxiety management program that works for each individual.