Beating anxiety in Mental Health Awareness Week

This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week (12-18 May) is anxiety, one of the leading causes of mental ill-health in the world.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Mike Smith, AFG Clinical Director shares some of his top tips to help reduce anxiety.

Top tips to cope with anxiety

Mike Smith

Mike Smith

1. Aromatherapy
Essential oils are used to treat stress-induced ailments, respiratory problems, digestive disorders and allergies. Aromatherapy is also just a good, quick way to unwind.

2. Break the cycle
Cognitive = how we think
Behaviour = how we act

By changing how we think or act we can reduce the level of anxiety we experience.

3. Try colour therapy
This technique is based on ancient beliefs that colours have their own characteristics. It uses light and colour to provide an alternative therapy for healing physical and emotional problems. Different colours are used to treat different physical and emotional problems; blue and green work on reducing stress. Each session consists of a specially formulated and timed series of colour display panels. You don’t even have to stare at the screen (the stress treatment lasts 45 minutes) as most sessions are based on ‘passive participation’.

4. Exercise
Physiologically exercise reduces stress and uses the energy in anxiety. Find the exercise that suits you and approach it assertively.

5. Bach flower remedies
Bach flower remedies don’t treat physical complaints directly; instead they treat negative emotional states and the symptoms of stress. They come as a liquid (from good chemists and health food shops). To take them, dilute two drops of each remedy that you need into a 30ml dropper bottle, top up with mineral water, and take four drops four times a day. Rescue Remedy is the only ready-mixed remedy you can buy off the shelf.

6. Divert yourself

  • Sing
  • Imagine a relaxing scene
  • Focus on things around you
  • Be mindful
  • Prayer
  • Repetitive tasks
  • Clean
  • What else?

7. Use distraction techniques

  • Act!
  • Hold your breath or take deep breaths into a paper bag
  • Count backwards in 7 from 100
  • Chew something/snap rubber band
  • Call a friend/watch tv

8. Get off the thought escalator

Stress can be escalated i.e. we just keep going up. De-escalate yourself by controlling your anxious thoughts.

9. Set yourself targets

  • Make a list of anxious situations you tend to avoid
  • Expose yourself to them systematically
  • Affirm

10. Sleep

What can I do to help me sleep?

  • Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea, coca cola, tobacco, for at least 2 hours before you plan to go to bed.
  • Have a warm drink like milk or hot chocolate before retiring to bed.
  • Avoid large meals before going to bed.
  • Take some time to rest and wind down.
  • If you find that techniques like listening to music, reading or having a bath makes you feel tired – practice them before bed.
  • Make sure you are warm and comfortable.
  • If worrying thoughts are preventing you from sleeping, try writing the thoughts down and leaving the piece of paper in a drawer to attend to the next day (if necessary).

Join the conversation

How do you manage your anxiety? Share your top tips with us by emailing marketing& or visiting our Facebook page ‘AFG Support.’