Mental Health Awareness Week
The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week and the official theme is anxiety. Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event hosted by the Mental Health Foundation; an organisation whose aim is to work towards good mental health for all.
Anxiety can be crippling and be triggered by issues that we face every day; financial worries, job insecurity, peer pressure, exam stress, ill health and more. According to the Mental Health Foundation, anxiety is one of the most common health problems we can face. A recent survey carried out by the Foundation about anxiety, stress and hopelessness around personal finances revealed that they felt so anxious that it stopped them from doing the things they want to do some or all the time.
Anxiety is often the body trying to tell us something
Although it can sometimes feel overwhelming, feeling anxious is normal and we all experience anxiety from time to time. Like many of our emotions, anxiety is often our body trying to let us know that we need to do something; that we need to make a change. Feelings of anxiety let a small animal know that it needs to act fast if it’s to avoid being caught by a hungry predator, for example. At the slightest sound from a predator, its ears will prick up, the flight or fight response kicks in and its instinct will be to run and hide.
Often, when we feel anxious, we feel paralysed and our anxiety spirals. We get that familiar knot in our stomach; we find it hard to still our minds and it can become difficult to sleep. Thinking about what small change we might be able to make to quell our anxiety can make a difference. Sometimes it can be as simple letting a friend know how we feel.
How can counselling help?
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” — Fred Rogers
Counselling provides a safe non-judgemental space for us to share our worries with a qualified professional. A counsellor can help us explore the root cause of our anxiety and help us find coping strategies to manage our anxiety in the long term.
The Mental Health Foundation has some helpful tips on how to manage feelings of anxiety, including a simple breathing exercise and challenging our negative thoughts.
Some people find mindfulness helpful – you can read more about the benefits of mindfulness and how to incorporate it into your daily life here.
A listening ear
When we are feeling anxious, knowing that we have someone to talk to can make a difference; whether that be family, a friend or a counsellor. This year, Mental Health Awareness Week could give us the prompt that we sometimes need to pick up the phone to someone who is struggling with their anxiety and offer a listening ear. That could be all they need for now.