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Everyday life can become so stressful that even the slightest things can set us off in a spin. Anxiety and depression have been listed as the two most common mental health problems faced by everyone at some point in their lives. Knowing this, what can we do to help ourselves and when is it right to seek help from our GP’s and seek out counselling?
The answer to these questions will differ from one person to the next because we are all unique and have different ways of coping with life. As a general rule most people visit their doctors in the first instance to discuss symptoms which can lead to taking prescribed medication like anti-depressants. Sometimes counselling is suggested but more often than not the first course of action is medication. Counselling can be sought via the NHS or privately.
In order to understand what causes us anxiety it is important to know the signs, symptoms and what we can do to alleviate personal stress levels and manage. According to MIND, the National Mental Health Charity the following are some common signs of anxiety:
- Losing interest in activities and tasks that were previously enjoyed
- Poor performance at work
- Feeling tense, uncertain and fearful of things
- Worries affect sleep, appetite and ability to concentrate
- Feeling powerless, out of control or overwhelmed by emotions
- Having panic attacks
- Feeling on edge, irritable and unable to relax
- Seeking reassurances from others, not trusting oneself
To cope with these feelings individuals may turn to vices such as smoking, drinking, or misusing drugs. Holding on in failing relationships and feeling unable to hold down a job. for some people anxiety can be so severe it takes over their lives causing frequent panic attacks. They may withdraw from society, develop other phobias, or begin having obsessive compulsive thoughts or behaviours like exsessive cleaning.
How can I help myself?
Facing your anxieties and addressing why you feel this way is the start of making a difference, looking at the reasons behind what led you to feeling this way and unpicking that fear and insecurity. The following are some ways of helping manage symptoms yourself:
- Relaxation and mindfulness techniques of breathing exercises. Mindfulness CD’s can be purchased to listen to and use when feeling stressed. Attend a class on Yoga, relaxation or mindfulness and learn about controlled breathing, deep breathes from the stomach in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Assertiveness training can help, maybe start a dancing, singing or drama class to encourage more social interaction and learn how to feel more confident, look up local classess in your area.
- Takes advantage of compimentary therapies such as massage, acupuncture, reflexology, herbalism and hypnotherapy. There are various modes of alternative therapies which can help to relax and stimulate you. Even simple things like lavender oils in the bath or drinking chamomile tea can act as a soothing experience.
- Use your freinds and family for support, make that call, go for a coffee and a chat and ask for what you need.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle, drink plenty of water, go for a jog or run, or even the gym where you can also use the sauna and steam room. Eat well, plenty of fruits and vegetables and try to cook from fresh avoiding packaged and processed foods where possible. Try to avoid stimulants like coffee, cigarettes and alcohol as these will impact on your ability to relax and may reduce the quality of your sleep.
- It is advisable to seek medical attention and visit your GP if symptoms persist long term as they may be able to support you with prescribed anti-depressants and referrals for counselling.
If you are feeling anxious and need further information and support the following are organisations that can help:
- No Panic: 0800 138 8889 nopanic.org.uk
- MIND infoline: 0300 123 3393 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Anxiety UK: 08444 775 774 anxietyuk.org.uk
- Samaritans 08457 909090 samaritans.org
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy: (BACP) 01455 883 300 itsgoodtotalk.org.uk