Stephen Ministry to host virtual workshop on stress, anxiety

EDWARDSBURG — One local organization is hoping to help residents cope with stress and anxiety.

Southwest Michigan Stephen Ministry will host a virtual workshop titled “Developing Helpful Coping Strategies to Manage Stress and Anxiety” from 6:30 to 7:10 p.m. Thursday, May 27. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (269) 445-7425 or by emailing carol.swope@gmail.com.

“The goal is to give people some useful tips and tricks for dealing with the stress and anxiety in their life,” said Carol Swope, Edwardsburg-based ministry coordinator. “It’s meant to be a short introductory workshop. We will be talking about things like physical exercise, diet, lifestyle, mindfulness and things we can do to reduce our level of stress.”

Stephen Ministry is an international, lay-led program designed to help individuals through difficult times in their lives, such as grief, loss, illness, job loss, natural disasters and more. Swope said the May 27 workshop, which will be the first in a summer series of short sessions offered by Southwest Michigan Stephen Ministry to help build positive mental strategies for community residents, will be an extension of Stephen Ministry’s mission.

“We walk one-on-one with people to help them through difficult times in their lives,” Swope said. “Stress is a symptom [of difficult times].”

The workshop will focus on research-led strategies to cope with stress and anxiety, which Swope said have only increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The numbers are off the charts in terms of statistics of people dealing with not only depression, but stress and anxiety right now,” Swope said. “It was high even before the pandemic. It’s alarming the number of people dealing with stress and anxiety.’

According to the American Psychological Association, 67 percent of adults report they have experienced increased stress since the beginning of the pandemic. Outside of the pandemic, a 2019 study from the American Institute of Stress said that 83 percent of U.S. workers suffer from work-related stress, while a Gallup poll found that 55 percent of Americans are stressed during the day.

“May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we wanted to address something we see as an immediate need,” Swope said of why Stephen Ministry decided to host the virtual workshop. “I hope people will leave the workshop feeling encouraged and with some helpful stress relievers they can do at home.”

Swope said if anyone cannot attend the workshop on May 27, or if they seek further assistance after, they can always call Stephen Ministry’s confidential phone line at (269) 445-7425.

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