Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 runs from 15th – 21st May. This year’s Mental Health Awareness week focuses on anxiety, highlighting its prevalence and how it affects our personal and professional lives.
Over a million people are experiencing an anxiety disorder at any one time in the UK.
A 2023 report shows that nearly 1 million workers in the UK reported suffering from anxiety and its companion issues of stress and depression in the past year. It was also revealed that 17 million working days were lost in the UK to these issues in 2021/22.
Anxiety in the workplace is on the rise. This is hardly surprising considering the uncertainties of the past two years. Research shows that workers’ mental health continues to be impacted by the pandemic, with nearly a quarter of employees highlighting Covid as a factor in their increased anxiety. In addition to this, we face war in Europe, spiralling living costs and a potentially catastrophic environmental crisis. We face an epidemic of anxiety in the UK.
Anxiety is an issue that requires urgent attention. It is something that needs to be part of the national conversation. This is an opportunity to prepare a feature that would discuss anxiety, highlight how we can support ourselves and let people know that help is available.
Wellbeing Partners are workplace mental health specialists. They are a team of professionals has extensive experience in addressing and treating mental health issues in the workplace. Anxiety management is one of our specialities and we utilise therapists, counsellors and mindfulness teachers to help offer varied and empirically proven approaches for reducing anxiety.
Here are three tips to help people reduce day-to-day anxiety:
Learn to pause
This simple technique helps slow the spiralling thoughts and unpleasant emotions associated with anxiety. When one is anxious, ‘pause’ and say to yourself inwardly “this is a moment of anxiety”. Then begin to breathe slowly and deeply. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a moment, and then release the breath to the count of four. Doing this for a few moments triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, tamping down the stress response and reducing the feeling of anxiety.
Another ‘in-the-moment’ technique, grounding helps us refocus our attention at times of anxiety onto something that is less triggering. The easiest approach is to pay attention to physical sensations in the body. It could be the weight of the body felt in the back of the legs, the tingling of the fingertips, the feel of the hands as they rest on a surface or any of the myriad physical sensations available to us. Grounding our attention in these sensations is a bit like stepping off the anxiety treadmill, giving ourselves some much-needed mental space to calm ourselves.
A long-term technique for reducing anxiety is stepping up our exercise. Exercise has been shown to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety whilst boosting the production of positive neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. Resistance training is particularly effective in reducing anxiety, but any exercise is beneficial. Regular exercise helps build up the mental and physical resilience we need to support ourselves at times of anxiety.
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