Mental health awareness week is an annual campaign that aims to raise awareness of issues surrounding mental health. This year’s theme – Anxiety, tackles the impact of it on our mental health and the practical steps we can take to address it.
Anxiety is a normal emotion in us all, but sometimes it can get out of control and become a mental health problem.
Lots of things can lead to feelings of anxiety, including exam pressures, relationships, starting a new job (or losing one) or other big life events. We can also get anxious when it comes to things to do with money and not being able to meet our basic needs, like heating our home or buying food. But anxiety can be made easier to manage.
Focusing on anxiety for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week will increase people’s awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem. At the same time, we will keep up the pressure to demand change – making sure that improving mental health is a key priority for the government and society as a whole.
The Mental Health Foundation has selected anxiety as this year’s theme.
We all feel anxious from time to time. Anxiety is a natural response to the uncertain world around us. For example, in the current cost-of-living crisis, more than a third of adults feel anxious about their financial situation. But it’s important that we recognise and respond when we feel anxious, so that our anxiety doesn’t become overwhelming.
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.
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 too, while others find mindfulness useful.
Exercise is a good way of dealing with anxiety.
Remember, activity doesn’t have to be vigorous; try some gentle stretches, yoga, or seated exercises. Or just go for a walk. Going for a run, swimming, or taking part in a fitness class can give you something else to think about. It needs a bit of concentration, so takes your mind of the anxious thoughts. Any amount of exercise will help.
Sometimes it helps to give yourself a certain time of day to be your ‘worry time’. It could be half an hour first thing in the morning for to sit with your worries and write them down in your diary. When that’s out of the way, you can move on with the rest of your day. This can help you take control and stop anxiety getting in the way of what you want to do.
Anxiety can lead us to think about things over and over again in our brain. This is called ‘rumination’ and it’s not helpful. When you catch yourself ruminating 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.
A common cause of anxiety is money. If you’re worried about not being able to pay bills, are struggling to repay debt, or aren’t sure if you
can cover your family’s living costs, seek help. 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.
We know that spending time in nature has a positive impact on our mental health. It can help us feel calmer and less stressed. This can be as simple as tending some flowers in a window box or going for a walk in the woods. Any amount of time doing this is good for us, but to really get the benefit, try to spend a significant period of time – maybe an hour or longer – when you can really connect with nature and immerse yourself.
Anxiety can feel very lonely. Connecting with other people can help a lot. 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. Sometimes saying what’s worrying you out loud can take away its power over you.
If anxious thoughts keep you awake, write them down in your diary. If sleep is still not coming, get up and have a drink (nothing with caffeine!) and wait until you’re feeling more tired before going back to bed. Keeping a note in your diary of your sleep patterns, what time you went to bed, what you ate, how often you woke up etc can help you work out a routine that will help you get better quality sleep.
It’s important that we don’t turn to unhealthy foods or drinks as a way to cope as they will do more damage in the longer term. Similarly, we should avoid smoking or taking recreational drugs. 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.
At Cavendish Homecare, we understand the importance of mental health. Our transparent, honest, and holistic approach means we constantly deliver high-quality care to all our patients. With over 30 years of delivering care to patients suffering from Mental Health illnesses, our wealth of experience has enables us to draw on extensive knowledge to support and treat your individual needs.
As a volunteer at North London Action for the Homeless, Misha stands out for her exceptional ability to connect with people through active listening and meaningful dialogue. With seven years of invaluable experience as a Team Leader and Key Worker for adults with diverse learning disabilities, including cerebral palsy, dementia, Down syndrome, and brain injuries, Misha brings extensive experience and a deep understanding of caring for individuals with unique needs.
Now a pivotal member of the operations team at Cavendish Homecare, Misha actively supports Nurse Managers and the Bookings team in delivering high-quality care. She has demonstrated outstanding commitment to supporting charity partner Cruse Bereavement through events such as the Virtual TCS London Marathon and Light up the Night.