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Our tips for managing anxiety

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This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme is anxiety and we are joining the Mental Health Foundation in raising awareness and further understanding of anxiety and how to manage anxious thoughts.

Anxiety is a natural response to stressful situations. But it can become a mental health problem if it impacts your ability to live your life as fully as you want to. 

We asked our staff to share with us their tips for relieving anxiety:

The things that really help me with my anxiety are simple grounding exercises or a short body scan meditation. I also find jogging (although I hate it) really helps, alongside listening to music, journaling and just talking to my friends. Anything that brings me back to the present moment instead of letting my thoughts run away with themselves – Sam

I have been struggling with anxiety and feeling low recently and discovered that attending Zumba really helps. It is a really fun exercise class, that always seems to cheer me up and leaves me feeling happy and energised – Lisa

I find putting my phone away for a few hours eases my anxious thoughts as I find it helps me be more present. I am also a fan of a sensory grounding technique:

5 things you can see
4 things you can hear
3 things you can feel
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste

This can be done anywhere…in bed…on a bus…in an exam. Do it whilst taking some calming deep breaths and allowing your shoulder to relax.

Another top tip for anxiety is to imagine you have a magnet on your back and stick it to the back of your chair. Take some long deeps breaths slowly. This helps to open up your chest and get more oxygen into your lungs as we tend to scrunch up if we are anxious, causing breathing to become shallower – Kathryn

Things that help me with my anxiety are some deep belly breathing and stretching my arms and neck to help ground me. If I have more than a few minutes, I’ll take my dog out for a quick walk – she’s always full of energy and it helps me put things in perspective when I see how enthusiastic she is about everything and how simple her pleasures are! – Fi

Things which help me with my anxiety are telling myself that this is temporary and I’m not in any danger when I have physical symptoms – which works surprisingly well. Also always remembering that one bad thing doesn’t make everything else bad – it is too easy to slip into a negative mindset. Plus sleep, playing piano, gardening and baking! – David

I have struggled with anxiety for most of my adult life and at times has really taken the shine off things I have been too worried about to enjoy. I am getting better at noticing the things that trigger anxiety to makes changes to stop it getting worse. Hypnotherapy has really helped but just talking to people who understand and can validate how I feel is the most important way I cope, as well as being calmed by nature especially water, walking or exercising and being grateful for something each day – Laura

You might feel so overwhelmed with fear that you want to just hide, possibly curled up under your duvet. And sometimes that’s all you can do. But sometimes it’s worth trying to make yourself do normal, everyday things. Maybe just doing some of the washing up, or going shopping. Anxiety is a monster that wants you to think that there’s nothing else apart from it. But doing ordinary things can help to remind you that’s not true. Sometimes you’ll try all sorts of hints and tips and nothing works (including the one above!). If that happens, it’s not your fault: don’t add guilt to everything else! – Giles

The thing I do if I am feeling anxious is to listen to very specific relaxing music that has positive memories for me. I will sit quietly for the duration of the song and try to empty my mind from all other thoughts, just for those 3 or 4 minute. Or I try to get outside, changing the scene and going somewhere green and quiet can help when I am feeling overwhelmed – Clare

I find the ‘Calm’ app great. Daily meditations and specific bedtime stories or meditations – Gemma

For me, exercise/movement is key. I was never especially active until I started running and going to the gym to help manage my anxiety whilst at university and it was such a game changer. I find exercise is a good outlet for any anxious energy I experience, helps engage my mind in something positive instead of focusing on anxious thoughts, and boosts my mood by providing a sense of satisfaction when I feel like I’ve achieved something (no matter how small). I like to mix up the type exercise I do but prioritise moving my body regularly, and usually with some uplifting music for extra mood-boosting points – Emily

Since turning 40 last year, I had a realisation that a lot of my anxiety centres around not doing enough (well, anything at all to be honest) to look after my own wellbeing needs. I constantly worry about whether my children’s, elderly relatives and everyone else I encounter needs are being met.  Now I have started to do activities that are just for me again, helping to keep me present (at least for a short period!). I’d always been a very active person on sports teams up until my early 20’s, so in April this year, 28 years after I last wore roller skates, I bought a pre-loved pair and started learning to skate again. I’ve actually learnt more tricks now than in my early teens! Kay
Read Kay’s full story here

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