If you read our blog, or follow us on social media, you will know that I have talked about my mental health, and struggling with anxiety. I am not shy about it, and I think it is very important to talk about anxiety and the struggles and problems it can cause. Many people struggle, either publicly or privately, and it can be very life limiting, and hard to manage.
I have found that over the years, being open and honest about my anxiety and what I have to deal with has helped other people around me to understand how I am feeling and what causes me to feel anxious. I have found my work colleagues and friends and family have been surprised by my telling them that I have a diagnosis of anxiety, because “you don’t seem like a person who struggles”.
I think women are more open about their mental health, and we are making a lot of progress in talking about mental health, and the stress that having anxiety and other similar issues can cause and the effect it can have on our lives and those around us and the internet and social media have made space for us to talk and share more freely and remove some of the taboos and ease the stigma around talking about anxiety.
It’s not just feeling a bit nervous before a speech, or a few butterflies before you meet a new person, or go on a first date, or chat to your boss about that promotion you want.
Anxiety, when it takes over can be utterly debilitating, and can really take over your life, and make managing ordinary things other people seem to cope with, much more challenging.
The husband has also suffered from anxiety. His is more short term, and tends to be linked to situations he’s facing, and also can be a reflection of where I am at, in my mental health. It can be tricky to balance, but he has learned how to manage his, through lifestyle changes, and also trying to minimise situations that cause him anxiety. Work pressure, sleep deprivation, and other life challenges can trigger anxiety, and many men suffer but find it hard to seek help and support. The husband struggled with common symptoms, including sleeplessness, feeling anxious and worried about things he was dealing with, and had some minor physical symptoms, including palpitations. He’s not alone in suffering.
Kalms Lavender recently conducted a survey, and they found that
• 70% of young mens’ work performance and relationships are affected by their anxiety
• 80% of young men found anxiety also affects their social life
• For 65% of men in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties, their work was the cause of their anxiety with over half reporting that their anxiety was caused by their friends and relationships
That’s quite a dramatic set of figures and just shows how anxiety can affect so many people, and is still hidden. Talking about anxiety and how it affects both women and men, is so vital. Whilst we can’t fix life, or cure anxiety, we can help to bring awareness and share things that can help. Everyone is different and one person may struggle with common anxiety symptoms, whilst others may be able to hide theirs or not realise that what they are dealing with is actually anxiety, that can they can get help for.
For us, there are a few simple things that help to reduce anxiety symptoms and also to try and circumnavigate situations that can be triggers or make things worse.
The husband finds that exercise helps him tremendously. It sounds so simple, but actually exercise can be used as part of a regime to treat anxiety and it is known that exercise and the endorphins produced can “make us feel better”. He also finds exercise helps him to clear his head. He runs and swims, and also cycles to work.
He also tries to switch off from work when he isn’t at work. We’ve found that being in constant communication with work, particularly when it’s at a stressful time, can really be a major anxiety trigger, so at weekends and evenings, he makes a point of not reading work e mail or logging into work, or being in contact with work colleagues. This helps him to relax and shut it out.
He also likes to talk but sometimes finds it hard to express what’s going on in his head, so finding someone he can talk to, and share his emotions and feelings, is very helpful for him, to get things in perspective, and also try and talk out what’s making him worried or anxious.
I also find exercise helps me. Having spent the last six months not being allowed to run because of recovering from knee surgery, has really made me aware of how much I need to exercise for my mental health.
I also have used talk therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy, to help me deal with my feelings of anxiety and the symptoms, both physical and psychologically that anxiety produces for me. Talking to someone impartial and not emotionally involved in my life helps a lot. I also use calming breathing techniques and keep myself accountable to a couple of people in my life who know me well that I can talk to when I feel I am struggling. I have also used natural and holistic remedies, and made lifestyle adjustments that help. Simple things like watching my caffeine intake and trying to get more sleep, really can make a difference.
Boundaries for us, both, have been a major factor in helping with our anxiety. We both live incredibly busy lives, with a lot of demands on us, and sometimes people and “things” can over step and become factors that trigger anxiety or make it worse. Learning to say no, to not taking on things we know we can’t manage but feel obliged to, managing those relationships that can be draining, and not very healthy, and also things like switching off from social media, and what we watch on tv and in the media, can all be simple ways to reduce the things around us that can be causes of anxiety.
If you suffer from anxiety, what do you find helps? We are proud to be working with Kalms #lifelifeready campaign. Anxiety is something we all need to talk about, and those who struggle need to know they aren’t alone and there are things that can help and those who are fortunate enough not to have to deal with it, can learn a lot, and how to support friends and family around them who do!