Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

Cllr John Spence standing outside County Hall.How many of us know someone who is struggling with anxiety? Anxiety can result in many different symptoms and anxious feelings can stem from lots of different experiences. It might a result of the pandemic. After so long spent in lockdown, it’s understandable that many people may still feel anxious about leaving the house. Some parents and carers might also feel anxious supporting their child with their own mental health. Lots of things can make us anxious and the cause is often in addition to the pressures of daily life – something we know can be stressful as it is.

This Mental Health Awareness Week is an important chance us to take a moment to check in with ourselves. It’s important that we regularly take the time to recognise how are we feeling – not just in the moment, but generally. We need to know when things feel ok and manageable, and understand when we need to take a step back and seek help. With the demands of daily life, taking the time to reflect can often be something that we neglect to do. And yet, it is as important to our overall health and wellbeing as eating well and staying active.

Anxiety is a normal human response to situations where we feel worried about something, even if it hasn’t happened yet. It can result in symptoms such as muscle aches, feeling sick, irritability and trouble sleeping. However, for some people, anxiety can show itself in other, even more severe ways and impact how they live their lives. This might include avoiding specific situations or experiencing panic attacks. These can be extremely detrimental and lead to an ongoing cycle of anxious feelings. Anxiety can be influenced by a lot of different factors too, such as age. The way we manage anxiety will also differ from person to person.

If you are feeling anxious and you need some help to manage it, it's important to find what works for you. It is also important to address the cause of anxiety as well as the symptoms. Sometimes, you might not always be aware of the specific cause and there might even be more than one. The good news is there are things you can do yourself to better understand how you're feeling. There are also people that can help you if you would prefer.

Keeping a diary of what you are doing and how you are feeling is a good way of tracking common situations that are making you anxious. You can then put things in place to manage them. Similarly, activities like mindfulness and meditation also work well for some people. They give your brain the chance to focus on something other than what is making you feel anxious. Techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are also great for helping you to manage anxiety. CBT will empower you to work through problems in new ways and build resilience. By doing this, we will be better able to cope with challenging situations in the future.

If the things you have tried yourself haven’t worked and anxiety is affecting your everyday life, it is important to seek help. Find the support that is right for you. If you notice that someone in your life may also be struggling, please do encourage them to seek help.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, let’s all take make an effort to be kind to ourselves and those around us – you never know what someone might be going through.

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