Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders both in the UK and internationally. In the last week alone, one in six adults in the UK experienced anxiety or depression and one in ten British adults will experience a disabling anxiety disorder once in their life. Whilst anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders in the UK, it is one of the conditions that people wait longest to seek help for, in fact – those who suffer with anxiety aren’t likely to seek help for their mental health for at least ten years after symptoms begin.
Whether you are in treatment for your anxiety, or you’re waiting to start, there are a number of things you could be doing to help ease your symptoms and start improving your mental health. If you’re seeing a therapist speak to them about how you can help yourself, and your specific situation, even when you’re not in a session to combine with the following tips for staying on top of your anxiety and improving your mental health.
It is never selfish to take care of yourself – whether it be as simple as taking an extra five minutes in the shower with the door locked in the morning, or locking yourself away for a whole evening with a long bath and a film. Anxiety can take over many aspects of your life and decrease your self-worth, sometimes making you angry at yourself or embarrassed for your behaviour – taking time out to do the things that you enjoy can make a huge improvement to your overall mental health.
When you suffer with an anxiety attack, your body is thrown in fight or flight mode, it causes your heart to race and increases the blood flow to your limbs – studies have found that foods high in sugar can cease the production of the hormone which causes this effect. Don’t feel guilty for reaching for a sugary treat, such a bar of dark chocolate or the occasional cream cake, when you’re feeling anxious – however it is important not to let it become your crutch and only treat yourself on occasion.
Keep a Diary
A diary is a great way to help with many different mental health conditions – particularly anxiety. Using a diary to help empty your mind of your thoughts after a long day is a great way to relieve anxious thoughts and prevent your mind from going around for hours. Keeping note of your anxious episodes and what has triggered them can help you to prevent the same reaction to similar situations in the future – which your therapist will be able to help you with. Making daily or weekly to-do lists can help you keep on top of tasks that are sometimes pushed to the back of your mind by overwhelming stress or anxiety and prevent further problems down the road.
Lack of sleep can be detrimental to both our mental and physical health, and getting at least seven hours sleep every night can make a huge improvement to our overall wellbeing. Those suffering with anxiety often find getting a good nights’ sleep a problem, with anxious thoughts keeping them awake until the early hours. Avoiding televisions, computers and mobile phones for at least an hour before you sleep, and engaging in something relaxing such as reading a book or listening to a podcast could help you to fall asleep a lot faster. Many experts suggest getting to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day – even on weekends – is the easiest way to fall into a regular sleeping pattern and assist with insomnia.
Research has shown that only 30 minutes of exercise four times a week can make a positive impression on both your mental and physical health. Whilst joining the gym or running around your local park might seem like too much to deal with alongside your anxiety there are a number of activities you can engage in from the privacy of your own home. YouTube, celebrity fitness DVDs and Instagram fitness influencers all offer free and paid fitness workouts videos that can be completed at home with little to no equipment. Making small changes to your daily routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift or getting off the train a few stops early and walking the rest of the way will also help to improve your overall health.
There are many reasons people choose not to talk about their mental health problems – for many generations there has been a negative stigma around the subject causing many people to keep their experiences private. However, not talking to the people you love about your experiences can leave you feeling isolated and often worsen the symptoms of your mental health. Speaking to loved ones, colleagues and friends about what you’re going through can make them more understanding of your condition, offer you a support team and most importantly you can be honest about why you can make it to a certain event or why you showed up late.
Anxiety often begins as you enter your teenage years, however on average in the UK it takes those who suffer with anxiety between 10 and 20 years to seek help for their symptoms. Living with anxiety is extremely common, however many people’s symptoms often worsen over the years and seeking help with managing them is sometimes to only way to overcome the condition. If you have been diagnosed with anxiety, therapy can be a great way to help you learn to deal with panic attacks and general anxiety as well as helping you learn your triggers and how to react when they occur.
Anxiety needn’t be a lifelong problem, if you think you’re suffering with the symptoms speak to your local doctor or GP about your current situation and to develop a plan to get back on track. If you have been recently diagnosed with anxiety and are considering therapy, visit our site to learn more about online therapy and how it can help those suffering with a range of mental health conditions.