The focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is on anxiety.
A survey by the mental health foundation found 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 the time. Six in ten adults feel this way, at least some of the time”. Symptoms of anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways; Physically, Psychologically and Behaviourally.
Like most ailments related to mental health, anxiety exists on a continuum. You might feel anxious about a looming deadline, an exam, what you said to someone, what someone thinks of you and so on, everyone experiences anxiety at some point and in some way. Anxiety is a response to the changing environment we are in, and in some ways, it’s part of life’s ups and downs and will pass. However, for some people, these thought processes or behaviours remain, repeat, and threaten to cause overwhelm.
So, what are some good tips if you want to get day-to-day anxiety under control?
- Breath work – Focusing on your breath, breathing in slowly through your nose for 4 counts, holding for 7 and with a pursed lip, and breathing out for 8 counts. Repeat the cycle about 4 times.
- Movement in nature – Outdoor Tai Chi classes, Pilates, Yoga, and simply a walk in the woods, all help to calm a racing mind and have beneficial effects on heart rate and blood pressure.
- Be aware of your thoughts and challenge them – Quite often we can identify our own thinking distortions, this is sometimes by ourselves or in conversation with others. An example of thinking distortions can be, jumping to negative conclusions even though there are no definite facts that support your conclusion, or ‘Catastrophising’ by magnifying a mistake and giving weight to the worst possible outcome, however unlikely that is. If you catch these thoughts happening, challenge them by trying to think of evidence when you’ve had similar thoughts before, and they have not turned into reality.
Many companies want to help their people with mental health challenges and there is a raft of practical things companies can do to support their employees:
- Develop a focus on wellbeing and mental health, through developing a policy or setting up a team or champions to focus on educating and supporting others through the policy.
- Maintain links to organisations and helplines that can provide professional support, such as Mind or Anxiety UK
- Offer an Employee Assistance Programme, which offers access to counsellors and the gold standard for assisting with anxiety, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Offer managers training on how to have meaningful conversations, to spot and support those who are suffering from anxiety.
For more help on any of these areas covered, contact the KCA team to discuss