Anxieties are at an all-time high as a second official national lockdown commences. Mental health needs to be addressed and taboos surrounding it need to be removed.
If you are suffering from a mental health issue you are not alone, and your emotions and feelings are valid. Did you know 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year (statistic from nopanic.org.uk).
For this reason, we want to share our tips on dealing with anxiety in some helpful and working tips!
- 7-11 breathing but with a twist. Breathe in for 7 seconds and breathe out for 11, however, it does not end there. Close your eyes and visualise a word that connects you to a safe place. For example, if that word is peace envision the physical word and what it means to you and try visualising how you feel around it. Once you have done this open your eyes and you will feel less anxious and able to go on with your day.
- Anxiety has a really bad habit of showing up when you are about to sleep. Something you should try doing is listing things you are grateful for that happened to you that day as you lay in bed. In lockdown this can be the smallest thing such as: I am grateful I did my laundry today, so I do not have to do it tomorrow, or that I am grateful that I have friends who I can reach out to in this time etc. Remind yourself you are safe and not alone.
- When you are having an anxiety attack it is so easy to spiral, but something that may help ground you is the 4 senses check. First and foremost, breathe before you carry on, slow yourself down by taking big deep breaths. After this name 5 things you can see around you, name 5 things that are you can touch from where you are, name the smells around you and finally name the things you can hear (could be traffic from outside, or the washing machine, literally anything). This technique helps you to regain control of your surroundings and escape the anxiety you are or were feeling.
- You are your biggest critic. Something that helps reduce anxiety is writing down all the things that are making you anxious in that moment and that are making you spiral, and then when you are in a rational headspace responding to those anxieties. Then if you are ever in the same anxious mind again you are able to see how you responded when feeling happy. Listening to your own advice is the best thing to use to heal.
- Speaking to a friend/ family member always helps. If you do not have a proper support system around you, here are the numbers and names of a few organisations that can help you: Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774, Mind: 0300 123 3393, YoungMinds: 0808 802 5544, Refuge: 0808 200 0247.
- Cutting out caffeine and alcohol can decrease anxiety as these substances tend to trigger panic attacks. Replacing these products with a healthier alternative such as water and smoothies will help reduce anxiety and stress.
- Fact-check your thoughts. A lot of the time anxiety leads you to jump to the worst conclusions. Ask yourself if the scenarios you have invented are actually possible and try to not rethink your fears. Remind yourself you are safe and will be ok.
To re-emphasise YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Reach out if you need help. There are many charities and resources available for you to use if you are feeling unsafe! We know it seems like this pandemic is not going to end but it will. You have gotten through it once and you can again.
Make sure to express yourself in a healthy and safe way and not take it out on yourself!
Written by Erica Raimondi and Aarti Agarwal