As we come to the end of Mental Health Awareness week which this year focuses on Anxiety, I would like to share some tips and ideas I have found helpful. Credit to Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health UK, Respect Mental Health and rethink Mental Illness for many of these tips.
Anxiety is a normal emotion in us all, but sometimes it can get out of control and become a mental health problem. Anxiety can be triggered by various things such as relationships, a new job, family, or other big life events. Money can also be a trigger especially with the rise in the cost of living and being able to meet basis needs like food and heating your home.
There are many things we can do to cope with the feelings of anxiety. After consulting some of the Mental Health websites/Linkedin postings, the following are some of the top ones they recommend.
1. Focus on your breathing
When you’re having anxious thoughts, try focusing on your breathing, concentrating on the feeling of your body as you breathe in and out. It can help you control the thought.
4-7-8 breathing technique
Close your mouth and quietly breath in through your nose, counting to four in your head. Hold your breath and count to seven. Breathe out through your mouth, making a whoosh sound while counting to eight. Repeat three more times for a total of four breath cycles.
Some people find relaxation exercises work. Others find mindfulness useful.
How to be mindful in your daily life?
Notice everyday things like the air moving past you as you move, the taste, smell, and textures of the food you eat.
Pick a regular time – such as your morning commute or evening walk – to be more aware of the sensations caused by the world around you. The Smell of the trees, plants, and the air around you.
If you sit quietly for a few moments, you will probably notice thoughts drifting through your mind. Instead of engaging with them, simply observe them and let them go
2. Get moving
Exercise is a good way of dealing with anxiety.
The Activity you chose does not have to be vigorous, try some gentle stretches, yoga Pilates, or seated exercises, or just go for a walk. If you fancy something more vigorous, try going for a run, swimming, or taking part in a fitness class,as this can give you something else to think about. Any kind of exercise will help.
3. Keep a diary
It’s important that we don’t try to ignore our worries and how we are feeling. It’s worth taking the time to keep a record of what’s happening in your life and how it’s affecting you. It can help you understand what is triggering your feelings of anxiety. Knowing this can help you better prepare for and manage situations that may cause anxiety.
4. Challenge your thoughts
Anxiety can lead us to think about things repeatedly in our brain. They can become obsessive which is not helpful. When you catch yourselfdoing this, try to write down the thought and to challenge it. Is what you’re worrying about likely to happen? Are you being realistic? Have you had similar thoughts which have not turned into reality? This can make it easier to challenge the thoughts and stop them from overwhelming you.
5. Get support for money worries
A common cause of anxiety is money. If you’re worried about not being able to pay bills, heat your house or buy food to eat. Make sure you are claiming all the government supports that you’re entitled to. You can also speak to an organisation such as Citizens Advice or StepChange. For further information visit this link: Getting Support with Cost of Living
6. Spend time in nature
Spending time in nature has a positive impact on our mental health. It can help us feel calmer and less stressed. Any amount of time doing this is good for us, but to really get the benefit, try to spend maybe an hour or Take in the trees around you and the plants as well as the smell of the air.
7. Connect with people and talk about how you feel
Anxiety can make you feel very lonely and can be very tiring. Spend time with friends or meet other people through activities such as volunteering, sport or social clubs, or peer support groups. If you’re able to talk to people about how you feel, it can help to reduce your anxiety.
8. Try to get some quality sleep or rest
Suffering from Anxiety can make you feel very tired as well. Which is why resting and having a good night’s sleep is important. However, it can also be hard when your head is full of worries but there are some things that can help.
Write down your worries in a diary
Get up and have a non- caffeine drink and wait till you start to feel sleepy before going back to bed.
Try reading a book as a distraction.
9. Try to eat a healthy diet
Anxiety can make some of us reach for something unhealthy like a sugary snack, junk food or alcohol.
Eating healthy food regularly helps us to regulate our blood sugar and gives us the energy we need to live well. Remember caffeine in coffee, tea and fizzy drinks can affect your mood and cause sleep problems so it’s best to have these in moderation and not too close to bedtime.
Further information and support
If your feelings of anxiety are not going away and are having an impact on your day to day life and its becoming harder to cope, seek support. Speak to your GP or healthcare professional about the support available in your area or contact a helpline service.
Helpline services below may assist you,.
· Mindfulness www.mentalhealth.org.uk/mindful
· Cost of Livingwww.mentalhealth.org.uk/cost-of-living-support
· Helpline serviceswww.mentalhealth.org.uk/get-help