The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety. We all know that feeling when we are unsettled and our minds are churning like a washing machine, but can’t quite put our finger on the reason. It’s a natural human emotion, and it can be useful to alert us to a problem or prompt us to make a change for the better.
However, ongoing anxiety with no specific trigger can grind away at our sense of self, affecting our relationships, career, and overall quality of life. It can also impact on our physical health, causing headaches, sleepless nights, digestive trouble, or high blood pressure.
If you find that anxiety is so crippling that it is interfering with your daily life, it’s best to seek some professional help. However, mild to moderate anxiety can be managed with some quick and easy techniques. We are all different so it might take a while to find what really works for you, but there is something out there to help!
You might have noticed that you subconsciously sigh when faced with a particularly frustrating or disappointing situation. This is the body’s way of triggering the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to restore calm after a stressful event. By deliberately practising this deep breathing, we can use it as a way of dialling down an anxiety attack.
It’s best to sit or lie down in a comfortable place first of all, and breathe slowly through the nose, allowing your belly to rise and fall each time you inhale and exhale. If it feels easier, breathe out through your mouth. Take six deep breaths in a row, filling your lungs with air and exhaling in a slow controlled manner.
Progressive muscle relaxation
When we are anxious, we tend to clench our muscles. You may catch yourself grinding your teeth with a tight jaw or sitting with rigid hunched shoulders. This can lead to back pain and headaches. When you notice yourself in this state, take a few moments to sit or lie down comfortably and close your eyes.
Gradually tense and then relax all your muscles one by one, starting with your face and jaw and working your way down to your toes. Feel the tension flowing from your body as you go along.
Finding an alternative outlet for your busy brain can help to distract you from anxiety and also put problems into perspective. Writing a journal, drawing, dancing—obviously we are all different so it’s a case of just finding something you enjoy. Don’t stress about the result; it’s about the process, not the end product.
It’s been said many times before, but there is growing evidence that spending time outside and particularly in green spaces such as gardens, parks, and woodlands, is good for our mental health. It helps to restore the natural rhythms of the mind and body, and also gives us the chance for a stress busting walk or run.
If you are looking for anxiety therapy in Kensington, please get in touch today.