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Tackling Anxiety – Mental Health Awareness Week

Written by: Andrew Cowie, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

It's Mental Health Awareness Week this week and the national campaign is turning the spotlight on one of the biggest problems facing the UK today – anxiety.

Adult and children hands holding paper brain and heart, brain stroke, world heart day, world mental health day,

In my previous Brainz Magazine article, Stress – How to Beat this 21st Century Epidemic, I highlighted how anxiety was the most common problem I see manifested among my clients at Phoenix Coaching & Therapy. Now the Mental Health Foundation is throwing its weight behind the cause by making anxiety the theme of its annual campaign, which this year runs from the 15th to the 21st of May.


The Burnout Trap


I’m no stranger to stress myself having suffered from severe burnout in my previous occupation as a journalist. It happened over a decade ago during a bleak and depressing period for the newspaper publishing industry. Sales were plummeting due to the advent of digital media, while advertising revenue was plunging due to the recession. Our company responded by implementing swingeing job cuts which resulted in a significant increase in my workload.


I was working ever-longer hours and under constant threat of further job losses and I became jammed in the fight-or-flight mode with my body pumping out adrenaline around the clock until its reserves were completely exhausted. I began to suffer panic attacks, chest pains, dizzy spells and loss of all sensation in the arms and legs. On numerous occasions I thought I must surely be suffering a heart attack.


The best thing I ever did was admit I needed help. My GP signed me off work, providing me with the breathing space I needed to recover and re-evaluate my life. I was referred to a psychologist and embarked on a course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which made me appreciate the full extent to which my thoughts had been influencing my emotions and behaviour. Whilst the threats I’d been facing were very real, I came to understand how my condition had been exacerbated by over-thinking, ruminating endlessly over the past and fretting over a hypothetical future which might never happen. By learning to monitor my thoughts, I was gradually able to take greater control of them, with corresponding benefits for my physical state.


Anxiety Triggers


Anxiety is a perfectly normal emotion in all of us but can become a mental health problem when it gets out of control, like it did with me. Many things can trigger anxiety, including exam pressures, work stress, financial pressures, starting a new job or losing one, or other major life events. In a recent survey carried out by the Mental Health Foundation, a quarter of adults said they felt so anxious that it stopped them from doing the things they wanted to do some or all of the time.


A spokesperson for the foundation said, “Focussing 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 prevent it from becoming a problem. At the same time, we will keep up the pressure to demand change – making sure that improving mental health is a key priority for the government and society as a whole.”


Mental Health Awareness Week is an ideal time for us all to think about mental health, tackle stigma, and find out how we can create a society that prevents mental health problems from developing and protects out mental wellbeing.


Wear It Green Day


There are multiple ways that people can get involved in the campaign including Wear It Green Day on Thursday 18th May, when people will be encouraged to wear green at their workplace, school or in the community to show their support for mental health. By taking part in Wear It Green Day, you can help to raise funds to support the Mental Health Foundation in its vital research and in delivering programmes to communities.


Skydive Challenge


Adrenaline junkies are also being encouraged to participate in a fundraising skydive to help improve prevention and treatment for the one in six people affected by mental health problems every week. The foundation has partnered with skydiving provider Skyline which has locations at airfields across the UK to offer people the opportunity to jump from 10,000 feet at more than 100mph to raise both money and awareness for the cause.


For further details of the range of events and initiatives being staged as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, including how your firm can get involved as a corporate partner, visit the foundation’s website.


Helping people to overcome stress and anxiety is at the absolute forefront of the work we do at Phoenix Coaching & Therapy where we use a vast spectrum of different tools and techniques to give clients the coping resources they require. These include meditation and mindfulness, hypnosis, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Integral Eye-Movement Therapy (IEMT) and sound therapy, all of which we’ve found to be powerfully effective in not just alleviating stress but also empowering people to go on and live the best and most fulfilling lives possible.


Call to Action


Noticing and adapting our breathing is the first step to relaxation. I always tell my clients: “If you get your breathing right, everything else will follow, but until you learn to breathe properly, you’re going nowhere”.


When we’re tense or anxious we tend to breathe shallowly and quickly from the chest. Hyperventilation occurs when there is an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body. By learning how to manage our breathing we can re-balance the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

  • STEP 1: Breathe out

  • STEP 2: Breathe in slowly to the count of four

  • STEP 3: Hold your breath for the count of four

  • STEP 4: Breathe out slowly to the count of four

Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. As you breathe in, the hand on your stomach should be pushed out while the hand on your chest should not move. As you breathe out, your stomach should pull in. Your chest should not move. To help, breathe in through your nose, purse your lips and breathe out slowly through your mouth.


If you’d like to know more about the significant range of services we offer for tackling stress and anxiety, visit Phoenix Coaching & Therapy or contact us at info@phoenixcoaching.co.uk for details. We also have a vast range of resources available to download from our online store.


For more info, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and visit my website!


 

Andrew Cowie, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Andrew Cowie is a transformational life coach, psychotherapist, and author dedicated to helping people overcome adversity and achieve their full potential. He came to the world of therapy after a 20-year career in newspaper journalism was brought to an abrupt end by severe burnout. In the course of his own recovery, he was introduced to meditation, mindfulness, hypnotherapy, yoga, martial arts, and NLP. He went on to retrain some of the world's leading spiritual and personal development teachers to become an expert in these fields. Andrew has since dedicated his life to passing on this knowledge, synthesizing the various disciplines into one overarching system blending ancient spiritual practices with the latest cutting-edge techniques from the field of modern psychology. He is the owner of Phoenix Coaching & Therapy and the founder of its associated 'magical training school' The Ancient and Mystical Hermetic Order of the Phoenix (AMHOP). His debut book Rise Like a Phoenix was published in 2021 and is described as a manual for personal regeneration. Andrew works with clients worldwide and is passionate about mental health and exploring the latent potential of the human mind.

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