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Mental Health Awareness Week: Coping with feelings of anxiety

Date: 18 May 2023
Author: Councillor Piers Allen
Title: Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board

This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety. We’ll all likely understand what it feels like to experience anxiety – we may become worried, tense, or afraid, particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future.

Feeling anxious is a perfectly natural reaction to some situations. After all, the Collins Dictionary word of the year for 2022 was ‘permacrisis’. 

This word really sums up what it has been like to experience one upheaval after another over recent years, and we know that many people will have started to experience feelings of anxiety when they may not have before.

Anxiety is not all bad – it can help us to focus or take extra care when needed – but if it gets too much or goes on for a while, it can affect our daily lives. Some of the most common signs of anxiety are: 

  • Feeling tired, restless or irritable
  • Feeling shaky or trembly, dizzy or sweating more
  • Being unable to concentrate or make decisions
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Worrying about the past or future, or thinking something bad will happen
  • Headaches, tummy aches or muscle pain

The good news is though, there are simple practices that can help to manage anxiety successfully day to day. Here are some tips from our Public Health team:  

  • Understand your anxiety – Try keeping a diary of what you are doing and how you feel at different times. It may help you understand why you’re anxious and identify ways to manage or get rid of anxiety
  • Make time for worries – If anxiety or worry is taking over your day, try setting a daily 'worry time' to go through your concerns. Doing this at a set time every day can help you to focus on other things
  • Talk to someone you trust – Talking to someone you trust about what's making you anxious could be a relief. It may be that just having someone listen to you and show they care can help in itself
  • Shift your focus – Some people find mindfulness and meditation (including breathing exercises and relaxation) help to calm anxiety and reduce tension by focussing awareness on the present moment 

There are also some excellent resources you can access for support locally. A few examples are: 

  • The Good Thinking website supports Londoners to look after their mental health and wellbeing with helpful tips and resources that best work for them
  • Every Mind Matters also has lots of helpful advice to help you keep anxiety in check
  • The Richmond Wellbeing Service provides helpful support for people who are struggling with anxiety and other common mental health problems

If you are concerned that anxiety is making you unwell, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your GP surgery. They will be able to assess you and suggest some ways to help you feel better. 

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Updated: 18 May 2023