Mental Health Awareness Week - How I cope with Anxiety
I wanted to write this blog post to honour this very important week. Although this campaign started in 2001, it hasn't been until the past couple of years that I've seen a real shift in people's reaction to it. Mental health is now a topic of daily public discussion - on the news, in podcasts, on social media, the list goes on. I'm glad we're starting to see progress in the destigmatisation of these issues and it makes me feel hopeful for our future generations' minds.
It seems there is still some way to go though (which is evident, as part of me is slightly nervous to share my experience in case I'm seen as weaker in some way). However, I do know that's not the case and the more we speak up about it the better, as sharing our own experiences helps others feel they aren't alone and shows that it is normal to have fluctuations in our mental state. If someone hasn't suffered themselves, it's highly likely they know someone who has.
Throughout the last decade, I have struggled on-and-off with bouts of bad anxiety, and throughout the pandemic I experienced it more intensely than ever. Anxiety can manifest itself in so many way for different people. For me, my symptoms are mainly excessive worrying / ruminating thoughts and hyper-vigilance. It can be so lonely and scary in the midst of these feelings but I am incredibly lucky to have a great support network around me, who have been there for me on those darker days to get me back on track.
I'm happy to say I am truly starting to find real ways to cope with these bouts and that I'm now in a really positive headspace. To get to this point I have sought out many resources including my GP, CBT courses etc. but the following coping mechanisms have stuck with me and truly help me in my day-to-day life.
My coping mechanisms
- Using F.E.A.R as an acronym - false evidence appearing real
- 95% of the things I worry about, never happen
- Don't take things too personally
- Don't try and fight it, allow it to come and go
- What you focus on, you create more of
My parting messages are these - you are not alone and you are not defined by your mental health issue. It is just a small part of you among many, many other wonderful things that make you, you. It's brave and empowering to be vulnerable so keep wearing your heart on your sleeve, and spreading the word that talking things out is always best.
NOTE: I am not a mental health professional / do not have any health care experience, I am purely sharing what's worked for me. If you feel you need professional help, please reach out to your GP or use a charity service such as Mind.