"Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad." Proverbs 12:25.
The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2023, held 15-21 May, focused on anxiety.
In highlighting the topic, Mental Health Foundation's website article*1 states:
"Focusing on anxiety for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week will increase people's awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem."
So how bigan issue is anxiety?
Mental Health UK data reveals that in the UK, over 8 million people are experiencing an anxiety disorder at any one time.*2
In a commentary on this aspect of wellbeing, Mental Health UK*3 explains:
"It's normal to feel anxious sometimes. It's how we respond to feeling threatened, under pressure or stressed: for example, if we have an exam, job interview or doctor's appointment.
"Anxiety isn't necessarily a bad thing. It can spur us on, help us stay alert, make us aware of risks and motivate us to solve problems.
"However, anxiety can be a problem if it affects your ability to live your life. If your anxiety is ongoing, intense, hard to control or out of proportion to your situation, it can be a sign of a mental health problem."
The Bible provides many scriptures of assurance for troubled minds. Proverbs 12:25 is one of my favourites. The New Living Translation version states: "Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up."
The potency of this scripture became a reality recently when our family experienced multiple bad news and challenges during the week of 15-21 May. We found solace through 'encouraging words' from Bible verses and the dedicated prayers of intercessors.
Emotional support and counselling
Many agencies provide support for individuals struggling with anxiety. Access the following website for more information: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/get-help
Christian counselling is another source of significant help, which many people have found beneficial. Agencies such as Cornerstone Counselling Service is one example: https://www.ccscounselling.org.uk/
Explaining interventions that help individuals cope with anxiety, Mental Health Foundation*4 lists the following:
- Focus on your breathing. Breathing exercises can assist with anxious thoughts as it helps to calm a racing mind.
- Get moving. Exercise positively impacts our mental wellbeing and is an excellent distraction for anxiety. Read more at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/physical-activity-and-mental-health.
- Keep a diary.Writing down our feelings about what is happening in our life helps us identify what may trigger our anxiety.
- Challenge your thoughts.Ask yourself – Is what you're worrying about likely to happen? Are you being realistic? Have you had similar thoughts which have not turned into reality? These challenging questions can assist in preventing anxious thoughts from overwhelming you.
- Get support for money worries. Organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau or StepChange can signpost you to relevant help for financial concerns and provide practical advice. For additional information, access: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/articles/three-ways-look-after-your-mental-health-during-cost-living-crisis& https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/cost-of-living/getting-support
- Spend time in nature. Natural environments have a positive impact on our mental health. It can help us feel calmer and less stressed. Significant periods of an hour or more outdoors yield more incredible benefits. Read: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/publications/thriving-nature
- Connect with people and talk about how you feel. Spend time with trusted friends who encourage you. Connect with people through activities that create engagement and support.
- Try to get some good quality sleep. Take note of your sleep pattern and establish a healthy routine to improve your sleep. You can find some valuable tips at: https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-health-issues/sleep/
- Try to eat a healthy diet. Feeling anxious might cause some people to revert to junk food or 'comfort eating', negatively impacting health. A nutritious diet aids mental wellbeing. See: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/diet-and-mental-health
Reflections on Mental Health Awareness Week
Speaking with several individuals about the theme for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week, some respondents echoed their approval of the relevance and timely nature of the focus. Here are a few reviews:
"This year's theme on anxiety has never come at a better time. I found the website information informative and relevant for what I was currently experiencing." RJ.
"Mental Health Awareness week this year has been very helpful, as I suffer from anxiety. The practical advice has given me a lot of tools to help me move forward, despite the stress. I am feeling a bit more hopeful." CD.
"During the pandemic, I realised that my anxiety levels were getting out of control, but I was too scared to get help. However, someone sent me the link to Mental Health Foundation's information on anxiety last week. I have now taken the step to sign up for support." LP.
For more information on UK Anxiety Statistics, visit: https://championhealth.co.uk/insights/anxiety-statistics/