Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety
This week is mental health awareness week, and the focus this year is on anxiety.
Anxiety is a condition that affects almost 30% of young people aged 16-29, and although the rate of anxiety has fallen since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, they still aren’t back to pre 2020 levels.
We spoke to Dr Ghosh to get his top tips for dealing with anxiety, what you can do to reduce anxious feelings, and when to seek medical help.
Feelings of anxiety are common, and everyone will feel anxious from time to time. This may be in the run up to a big event, such as an exam, driving test, or important presentation at work. However, if you feel your anxiety may be getting on top of you, here are 5 things Dr Ghosh recommends to calm yourself down, and stop your anxiety affecting your day to day life.
1. Breathing Exercises
Nervousness can often cause your body to release adrenaline - the fight or flight hormone. This will cause your breathing to get shallow, which will spike your stress levels.
Breathing exercises are a great way to take back control over your stress levels. Try breathing in for 10 seconds, then out for 10 seconds, 10 times. Do this before you go to sleep, or whenever you feel a bout of anxiousness coming on and you need some instant relief.
Getting your heart rate up is a great way to reduce anxiety, as it both helps the body clear out adrenaline and releases endorphins, which are great for your mood.
This doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon, or pump iron like Arnie whenever you feel stressed. Something short and intense to raise your heart rate like running up your stairs or doing a few jumping jacks will do the job.
3. Get Out Into Nature
Nothing will calm your nerves quite like getting out into nature. Nature is full of interesting fractal shapes, like leaves and snowflakes, which are much more calming to the human mind than the blocky shapes and straight edges of urban environments.
Nature is also much less busy than the hustle and bustle of traffic and people that you’ll find in towns and cities, giving your brain much less to worry about and focus on, letting you switch off and calm down.
4. Plan To Distract Yourself
Sitting and ruminating on your thoughts is only going to heighten your anxiety, so don’t give yourself the option. Make sure you get out and keep busy, so you don’t get the chance to dwell on any negative feelings.
One way you can do this is to make some plans, like catching up with that friend you haven’t seen in a while. Or you can take up a relaxing new hobby that engages your brain and forces you to focus on something else, like learning an instrument or knitting.
5. Eat The Right Foods
You’ll have heard a million times that cutting out alcohol and junk food will improve your anxiety, but it’s much more helpful to focus on what you can and should eat, rather than what you shouldn’t.
Magnesium rich foods like leafy greens, nuts and legumes will do wonders for your mood. Also look out for foods with a high zinc content like oysters, cashews and egg yolks. They’re fantastic for regulating your hormones.
When To Seek Medical Advice
It can be hard to know when you should seek medical help for your anxiety, and when you should try and deal with it yourself. Dr Ghosh advises you seek professional help when your anxiety stops you doing normal things, such as eating or sleeping normally, or if you’re getting regular headaches.
If these symptoms persist for more than 4 weeks, or past the big event that could be making you anxious (such as the exam, driving test or important presentation) then you should see a doctor.
If you have more serious symptoms, such as severe insomnia or suicidal thoughts, seek medical help immediately.
What Medical Help Is Available To Me?
There are many options available to you if your anxiety is stopping you from going about your day to day life. Your first point of call would be to see your GP. They can best provide advice and guide you to the other options you have available.
Talkative Therapy with a councillor can be another excellent way to calm your nerves and take back control over your anxiety. Psychotherapists such as our own Stephen Garvey can help you talk about your feelings, and bring clarity to your thoughts, and help you better understand and conquer your troubles.
Alternative medicines are an up and coming way of dealing with anxiety. Many of these are prescription only, so will require a consultation with your GP to see if they may are appropriate, but they may be an option to help ease symptoms of anxiousness and help you get on with your daily life.
Finally, if your symptoms are reoccurring and you feel you have exhausted all options, you may want to be referred to an outside, specialist clinic. Here at Ghosh Medical, we can refer patients to a number of clinics, including Ibiza Calm, one of the leading Mental Health and Addiction treatment centres in Europe and pioneers of the cutting edge TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) treatments, which use magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to greatly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Now You Have A Better Understanding Of Anxiety
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of anxiety, and what it’s like to live suffering with it. Mental Health is a serious epidemic which affects approximately 1 in 4 Brits each year.
Thankfully, you don’t have to suffer alone. You can pursue any of the treatments listed above, or if in need of immediate relief, call Samaritans on 116 123, CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or text SHOUT to 85258 to access the Crisis Text Line.