Coping with Anxiety: Are You Surviving or Thriving?

It is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK from May 8th – 14th 2017. The theme for the campaign this year is not just about whether you are coping with anxiety, but assessing whether you are ‘Surviving or Thriving?’ It is designed to show how good mental health is about more than just the absence of a mental health problem.

We all know that we have periods in life when we are less able to cope with the day-to-day stresses and strains of life. This could be due to external events, or just our own frame of mind, but means that we feel less resilient and less able to cope. This is completely normal. But how do you know what are natural worries and occasional stress or when you are suffering from anxiety or deeper depression that could be doing you harm?

Mental Health in the UK

The statistics about the prevalence of mental health problems are quite shocking. The Mental Health Foundation, the organisation behind Mental Health Awareness Week, reports a range of different sources of research that show:

  • Mixed anxiety and depression are the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis
  • 4 – 10% of people in England will experience depression in their lifetime.
  • The poorer and more disadvantaged are disproportionately affected by common mental health problems and their adverse consequences
  • Mixed anxiety and depression has been estimated to cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain
  • One in six adults in England has had a common mental disorder (October 2016).

According to the Mental Health Foundation, we can all take steps to look after our mental health to help cope better with the demands of life.

Practical Guide On Looking After Your Mental Health

In addition to learning more about coping with anxiety, you can access a series of helpful guides on how to look after your wellbeing from the website. These include a Guide on how to look after your mental health, which you can buy as a printed booklet or just download.

The Guide suggests easy ways to talk to friends about how you are feeling, or to open a conversation with someone you care for who you think may be suffering.  It also gives realistic tips and resources for coping with anxiety better and helping to improve your emotional health including:

  1. Talking about your feelings, recognising that it isn’t a sign of weakness to say that you are struggling to cope
  2. Keeping active in a way you enjoy to keep your brain and body healthy and happy
  3. Eating well to ensure your brain has the mix of nutrients it needs to function well
  4. Being sensible about your drinking, and making sure that you don’t start to become dependent on alcohol
  5. Keeping in touch with friends and family who will make you feel included and cared for
  6. Asking for help if you think things are going wrong, either from a support group or professional such as a counsellor, or seeking practical help for dealing with problems such as debt or addiction
  7. Taking a break from whatever stresses you out and finding some ‘me time’
  8. Doing something you’re good at to boost your self-esteem
  9. Accepting who you are. Celebrating the good and accepting the not-so-good elements of your personality
  10. Caring for others.

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