Mental Health Awareness Week 2023
The Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week is happening this week (15th to the 21st May 2023) and this year’s theme is Anxiety. Their hope is to kickstart a nationwide conversation about anxiety, encourage people to talk about their experiences and to share any helpful ideas about how they manage anxiety.
Anxiety is something everyone can experience from time to time and it can be triggered by any event or situation you may feel worried about. Anxiety is a normal feeling we get in response to a worry. Sometimes though, these anxious feelings can get out of control and become more of a problem if we don’t know how to cope with them. Dealing with anxiety can be extremely difficult, and sometimes debilitating.
How anxiety might feel
Every person feels anxiety differently but some of the most common experiences are:
- feeling on edge or panicky
- feeling lightheaded, dizzy or nauseous
- having trouble concentrating and/or trouble sleeping
- heart palpitations (a noticeably stronger, faster heartbeat)
- wobbly legs or pins and needles in your extremities (hands, feet etc.)
It’s important to know that there are tools and help available to help you cope and manage these feelings.
Our tips to help anxiety
We've put together a list of some of the things we do to help us cope with anxious feelings and wanted to share them with you.
The most important tip is to find what works best for you.
We wanted to explain a little bit about why these tips help us so we’ve expanded on this below:
- Mindfulness, meditation and breathwork all help to cultivate peace and relaxation in the body. It also helps you to feel more connected to yourself through breath, thought and sensation. Here's an example of a gentle breathwork practice
- Place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach and feel the sensation of rising and falling as you breathe
- Becoming aware of your anxious thoughts can reduce the impact of these thoughts on your life and help create more balanced, neutral thoughts. Affirmations are also helpful to reinforce positive mindsets. We like:
- “I accept and love myself”
- “I will take one step at a time”
- “I am strong and I can handle this”
- Singing and dancing releases happy hormones and can make you feel happier. Not only that, singing involves filling your lungs with air and regulating breathing which can be really helpful to soothe anxiety symptoms. Whether you decide to sing alone or in a group (this doubles up the benefits, as social connection can be a really helpful tool too!) and whether you’re an amazing singer or not, it can be really helpful.
- Grounding exercises aim to take you from the negative emotional state to a more neutral present state. We like the following exercises:
- Taking deep belly breaths and focusing on the exhale can help release tension and bring you to the present.
- The 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Notice 5 things you see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.
- Self massage can help ground you in your body and keep you in the present
- Seeing friends can help feelings of loneliness and help distract your mind from anxious feelings. Talking about how you’re feeling can also feel relieving and your friend may have tips and tools to help too. Social connection can help improve sleep, wellbeing and quality of life.
- Taking a bath can help reduce tension in your body and help you relax. It can be even more relaxing by using aromatherapy oils, bath salts and other nice toiletries, lavender, rosemary and geranium may help ease symptoms.
- Movement or exercise releases endorphins, your body’s feel good and relaxation chemical, and distracts your brain. Moving also decreases tension in the body and increases your heart rate and this can boost serotonin, another feel good hormone. Exercise also activates the parts of your brain responsible for reacting to threats making it more resilient to stress. Any movement is valid, do whatever is available to you. Meet yourself where you are.
- Being outside in nature can improve your mood and help you feel more relaxed. Being out in nature doesn’t need to involve long hikes. Being out in the sunshine, short walks and gardening can all help improve your anxiety. Some parts of Scotland now can even prescribe nature to patients experiencing anxiety, depression and stress! You may also connect more with your community which can also improve symptoms of anxiety.
- Improving the quality of your sleep can help ease symptoms. One way to improve sleep quality is to develop a sleep routine to make going to sleep less daunting. This could involve optimising sleep times, avoiding caffeine and alcohol and creating a pre-bed ritual (perhaps lowering the lights, turning off devices and making a warm drink). There’s also evidence that getting some sunlight in the morning can improve sleep quality in the evenings. You could also incorporate some meditation and breathwork before bed too - there’s loads of free videos on Youtube you could try!
The Mental Health Foundation also shares some ways of coping with anxiety here.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Sexual violence causes people significant trauma and distress. If you have been affected by any form of sexual violence, no matter when it happened, you do not have to cope with this on your own.
At Moray Rape Crisis, we offer free, confidential and non-judgemental emotional support. These sessions can take place either face-to-face, online or by phone.
We support people of any gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religious and cultural background regardless of someone’s immigration status and we are fully inclusive of trans survivors.
We listen, we believe, and we treat everyone with respect.
HOW TO REFER TO US
You can contact us for support for yourself or for someone else in your family or someone you know, ask a parent, friend, agency, GP or college to refer you. Our referral form is in English, Polish & Easy Read and you can download it here in English, Polish & Easy Read.
Moray Rape Crisis is a confidential service that is independent from social services, the police, and other official agencies. We will not tell you what to do or judge your actions.
Our normal office hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
- Call: 01343 550 407
- Email: email@example.com
OTHER USEFUL CONTACTS
You can also contact the Rape Crisis Scotland National Helpline, each day from 5pm to midnight:
More information in Polish about the Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline can be found here.
If something has happened recently, you can contact the Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS). This is an NHS service for anyone aged 16 and over which can offer healthcare and support after an assault. If you are unsure whether you want to report to the police, the SARCS service may be able to arrange for you to have a forensic medical examination without reporting to the police. You can self-refer by phoning 0800 148 88 88 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). You can find out more information at www.nhsinform.scot/sarcs More information in Polish can be found here.
- Challenging unhelpful thoughts - Reframing unhelpful thoughts - Self-help CBT techniques - Every Mind Matters - NHS
- Singing & Anxiety - The world's most accessible stress reliever - BBC Future
- Exercise & Anxiety - Can exercise help treat anxiety? - Harvard Health
- Nature & Anxiety - How nature benefits mental health - Mind & Doctors in Scotland can now prescribe nature to their patients - Big Think
- Sleep & Anxiety - What Is Sleep Hygiene?