Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety
1 in 4 people will be affected by their mental health during their lifetime. This is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year’s focus is on Anxiety. This article will focus on Anxiety, what it is, what causes it and some practical strategies to cope with it.
Anxiety is a common emotional experience that is characterized by feelings of unease, worry, and fear. While anxiety can be a normal and healthy response to certain situations, excessive or chronic anxiety can be detrimental to one’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a mental health condition characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry or anxiety about various aspects of life. People with GAD often experience chronic and persistent anxiety that is not necessarily focused on any specific event or situation. This excessive worry is disproportionate to the actual circumstances and is difficult to control.
Causes of Anxiety:
There are several causes of anxiety, including genetics, environmental factors, and life experiences. For instance, individuals who have a family history of anxiety disorders are more likely to develop anxiety themselves. Environmental factors, such as stress at work or home, can also trigger anxiety symptoms. Additionally, traumatic life experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or loss, can lead to anxiety disorders.
Strategies to Deal with Anxiety:
Fortunately, there are various strategies that one can use to manage and cope with anxiety. These strategies include exercise, mindfulness, and other relaxation techniques.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals that reduce stress and promote feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Moreover, regular exercise can improve one’s overall physical health, which in turn can reduce anxiety levels.
There are many different types of exercise that can be helpful for managing anxiety, such as cardio, strength training, and yoga. Cardio exercises, such as running, cycling, and swimming, can help burn off excess energy and reduce tension. Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting and resistance training, can help improve one’s physical strength and reduce stress. Yoga, on the other hand, is a form of exercise that combines physical movement with deep breathing and relaxation techniques, making it an excellent way to reduce anxiety levels.
Mindfulness is another effective strategy for managing anxiety. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment and becoming aware of one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, individuals can learn to accept their thoughts and feelings without becoming overwhelmed by them.
There are several mindfulness techniques that one can use to manage anxiety, such as meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation. Meditation involves focusing one’s attention on a specific object, such as the breath, and letting go of distracting thoughts. Deep breathing involves taking slow, deep breaths from the diaphragm, which can help reduce tension and promote relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing various muscle groups in the body, which can help release tension and promote relaxation.
Other Relaxation Techniques:
In addition to exercise and mindfulness, there are several other relaxation techniques that can be helpful for managing anxiety. These techniques include:
- Listening to calming music
- Taking a warm bath or shower
- Engaging in a hobby, such as painting or reading
- Spending time in nature
- Getting a massage or practicing self-massage
- Engaging in aromatherapy with essential oils
There are also unhealthy mechanisms for coping with anxiety, which while providing a temporary relief can create additional problems down the line. These include Substance Abuse, Avoidance, Self-Isolation, Excessive Control, Gambling, Overeating or Undereating, Excessive Screen Time, and in more extreme situations Self-harm.
Anxiety is a common emotional experience that can have a negative impact on one’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. However, there are various strategies that one can use to manage and cope with anxiety. These strategies include exercise, mindfulness, and other relaxation techniques. By incorporating these strategies into one’s daily routine, individuals can reduce anxiety levels and improve their overall quality of life.
If you have concerns about your or other’s mental health, please reach out to one of these organisations, speak to friends or family, or make an appointment to see your GP.