This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and with this year's theme being 'anxiety', we've outlined seven tips to help you manage your anxiety.
Feeling nervous or anxious is a normal emotion in us all, you may feel worried about an upcoming exam or starting a new job but sometimes anxiety can get out of control and become a mental health problem. There are many triggers that can lead to feelings of anxiety such as exam pressures, starting or losing a job, relationships or other big life events. You may also get anxious when it comes to finances and not being able to meet basic needs like heating your home, buying food or being able to afford transportation.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems and a recent survery carried out by the Mental Health Foundation highlighted that a quarter of adults said they felt so anxious that it stopped them from doing the things they want to do some or all of them time - with six in ten adults feeling this way at least some of the time. But, anxiety can be made easier to manage.
We've highlighted seven tips that can help you manage your anxiety:
1. Focus on your breathing
If you are having an anxious thought, focusing on your breathing and concentrating on the feeling of your body as you breathe in & out can help control the throught.
4-7-8 Breathing Technique
One method that can be beneficial is the 4-7-8 breathing technique. It involves closing your mouth, breathing in through your nose and counting to four in your head; holding your breath and counting to seven and then breathing out while counting to eight - it's most effective when repeated for a total of four breath cycles.
2. Get moving
A good way to help manage your anxiety is to exercise. This doesn't need to be vigourous and could be a ten-minute walk or some gentle stretches. Any form & amount of exercise can help as it requires a level of concentration that will take your mind off of your anxious thoughts.
3. Keep note
Dedicating time in your day to jot down how you're feeling can help you understand what triggers your anxiety. Whether you spend time writing a journal or make use of apps that track your moods and keep a few notes, it is all benefical and can help pinpoint events that cause you to be more anxious.
4. Challenge your thoughts
Rumination is when we think about things over and over again in our brain. When you feel yourself 'ruminating' try to write down the thought and challenge it. A few questions to consider within this are 'is what you're worrying about likely to happen?', 'are you being realistic?' and 'have you had similar thoughts which have not turned into reality?'. This process can make it easier to challenge your thoughts and stop them from overwhelming you.
5. Try to eat a healthy diet
When your feeling anxious, it is normal to reach for sugary snacks, 'junk' food or alcohol. However, it is important to eat healthier foods regulalry as it helps us to regulate our blood sugat and gives us the energy we need to live well. It's key to bare in mind that caffience in coffee, tea and fizzy drinks can affect your mood & cause sleep problems - so it is important to have these in moderation.
6. Try to get good quality sleep or rest
If you're feeling anxious, it can be difficult to get to sleep but there are ways that can help you manage this. If anxious thoughts are keeping you awake, write them down. If sleep is still a struggle, get up and have a drink and then wait until you are feeling more tired before going back to bed. Make sure to keep a note of your sleep patterns, what time you went to bed, what you ate and how oftne you woke up etc, as this can help you understand what routine works well for you.
7. Connect with people and talk about how you feel
Living with anxiety can feel lonely. Its important to connect with those around you and talk about how you're feeling - saying what is making you anxious out loud can help reduce the power it has over you.
If you are struggling with anxiety or your mental health, there is plenty of support on offer and the team at USWSU is on hand to offer advice where appropriate and signpost you in the right direction. Further support can be found via https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/get-help