Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, an annual event organised by the Mental Health Foundation, a leading UK charity for mental health. Their goal is to encourage everyone to think about mental health, tackle stigma, and find out how we can create a society that prevents mental health problems from developing.
This year, the theme is Anxiety. Anxiety is a normal emotion in us all, but sometimes it can get out of control and become a problem.
The 2023 Champion Health Workplace Health Report found that within the workplace 60% experience at least mild symptoms of anxiety.
At Airwalk Reply, the mental wellbeing of our employees is important to us, so we are using this week to help improve our understanding of anxiety and share advice on how to manage it.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal emotion, it is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. It is something that we are all likely to have experienced at some point in out lives.
Anxiety can however become a problem if it starts to impact your ability to go about your day-to-day life or hinders you from doing activities you want or need to do. Anxiety may become a problem if:
- Feels excessive, like it comes up for no reason or comes up when the problem or situation has been resolved
- Is much stronger than you'd expect—for example, you feel a lot of anxiety over a small issue
- Is unrealistic/irrational —your worries or fears focus on situations or outcomes that are unlikely to ever come true (or involve many hypothetical situations)
- Is a lasting pattern—the same things or situations bring up a lot of anxiety every time
- Is preventing you from completing an activity you want/need to do
To find out more about the different types of anxiety, Here to Help have written a helpful article to summarise and explain: Anxiety Disorders | Here to Help
For more advice around the symptoms of anxiety, Mind have produced the following article: Anxiety signs and symptoms - Mind
What can we do to help manage our anxiety?
Dealing with anxiety can be hard but there are some things we can do to manage these tough feelings:
- Focus on Breathing - When you’re having anxious thoughts try focusing on your breathing, concentrating on the feeling of your body as you breathe in and out. It can help you control the thought.
- Change of Scenery – Where possible, take yourself out of the situation and to a new environment. For example, if you’re in the office, take 10 minutes to go to another room or take a breather outside.
- Get Moving - Exercise is a good way of dealing with anxiety. Remember, activity doesn’t have to be vigorous; try some gentle stretches, yoga, or go for a short walk.
- Challenge your thoughts - When you catch yourself ruminating try to write down the thought and to challenge it. Is what you’re worrying about likely to happen? Are you being realistic? Have you had similar thoughts which have not turned into reality?
- Connect with people and talk about how you feel - Anxiety can feel very lonely. Connecting with other people can help a lot. They may be able to offer support and advice to help resolve a situation.
- Make use of available services – There are plenty of organisations and charities available who can assist on a wide range of topics from financial advice, physical and mental well-being, housing, family and childcare etc.
- Sleep - It is easy to feel anxious and overwhelmed when you are tired- try to get a good nights sleep regularly.
What can we do to help others with anxiety?
"Be kind, be non-judgemental. Let us know it will pass, let us know you are there” advice from Mind.
- Don’t be dismissive - we might dismiss or invalidate it as someone “just worrying” or “just being stressed”. These common phrases can be harmful. Take the time to listen to someone dealing with anxiety, try to sympathise with them.
- Listen - let them know that they can talk to you about it openly, without any fear of judgment. It's very important that they know that you're there to lend them an ear, and that you aren't going to judge them or change the way you think/feel about them based on anything they say.
- Improve your understanding of Anxiety- Reading up on anxiety and the different symptoms can help you get a good understanding of what they are going through. This in turn can help you to empathise with their experience and identify times when they may need more support.
- Don’t put pressure on them – It is imperative that you don’t force the person to go to places or enter scenarios that they are extremely anxious about.
What is Airwalk Reply doing this week to help our employees?
- Sharing articles and advice: Throughout the week, we will be sharing useful articles and resources on Anxiety with our employees. This will help raise awareness for what anxiety is, how they can get help as well as help others. Below are some articles you may wish to share within your organisation:
Why anxiety is the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 | Mental Health Foundation
Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 - Mental Health UK (mentalhealth-uk.org)
What can we do to cope with feelings of anxiety? | Mental Health Foundation
Anxiety and panic attacks - Mind
Self Care, Anxiety, Depression, Coping Strategies | On My Mind | Anna Freud Centre
Secondary School Anxiety Guidance Handout
- Company Resources– As well as sharing external articles and available support. We will be reminding our colleagues about the opportunities and resources they have available to them, for example our Employee Assistance Programme and access to 24/7 advice lines.
- Airwalk Allies: An employee-led thought leadership group that run monthly company-wide sessions to discuss sensitive topics. These sessions create a safe space to explore the topic, share experiences and advice. In May, they will be discussing Financial Worries.
Airwalk Reply is officially one of UK’s Best 2023 Workplaces™ for Wellbeing! Read more.