The theme of Mental Health Awareness week 2023 is anxiety. Anxiety has many physical, psychological, and behavioural symptoms, such as, dizziness and headaches, dry mouth, tightening of the chest, sweating excessively, a sickness feeling and shaking, feeling panicked and frightened, a feeling of things speeding up and feeling detached, avoiding doing things alone, avoiding busy places, under or over-eating. These are some of the symptoms which can be experienced through anxiety. Anxiety is a natural response in our bodies known as the flight, fight or freeze response, which was needed to warn us of any life-threatening dangers when we were cave dwellers. Our brains have not changed much since then and this response is no longer needed as much in our daily lives today, as we do not have the same dangers as we did back then. This response is now used for everyday stressors which we can see as life-threatening. If this anxiety is not dealt with properly, it can build-up over time and leave us with anxiety disorders. Anxiety can be categorised by worrying about future events, things that will probably never happen yet sometimes we believe they will.
According to Mental Health UK over 8 million people in the UK experience an anxiety disorder at any one time. A report by Champion Health (2023) found 60% of employees experience anxiety with only 10% seeking mental health support. There are many reasons why someone would not seek support for their mental health, including a lack of help-seeking behaviours and the stigma of having mental health problems, as well as a fear of the unknown, making changes and a fear of being judged. There is also the problem of people not knowing that they are experiencing anxiety and therefore cannot ask for help.
There are many ways to manage anxiety including learning about anxiety, having a good sleep routine, not having too much sugary food and drinks as well as caffeine, meditation, exercise, breathing exercises and therapy.