5 Key Ways To Combat Anxiety, From Mental Health Experts

Five proactive ways to ease the weight on your shoulders

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As we've reported countless times before on ELLE, anxiety and depression are real threats to the population's wellbeing, affecting at least one in five people and with women being 70 per cent more likely to succumb to it during their lifetime than men, according to a YouGov survey conducted for Mental Health Awareness Week and The National Institute for Mental Health respectively.

Here at ELLE, we take as proactive an approach as possible towards managing anxiety among our staff and we urge that you do too.

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Recently we invited Louise Chunn, founder of Welldoing.org, and Harriet Frew, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, to speak to the ELLE team, identifying for us some key ways to tackle anxiety and symptoms of depression from the outset.

Here is what they had to say...

SELF CARE

If you feel like you are experiencing early stage anxiety, this is a really great way to stunt its growth. Self-care is an umbrella term for 'looking after yourself', a concept we occasionally forget when we're busy quaffing vodka red bulls on a Friday night.

Essentially though, you need to make sure you get 7-9 hours sleep, eat healthily, regularly and consciously, drink enough water, and turn your phone off for an hour before you go to sleep. It is important to allow yourself time to micro manage all of the above aspects, as this can contribute to a much healthier state of mind.

TALK

It's easy to feel like everyone around you has it together, that everyone is sailing through life uninterrupted.

You can rest assured that this is not the case. Take the time to vocalise your thoughts, feelings and worries and you will learn that others have had similar experiences. It's cool to tell people that you don't have it together, even though externally you may exude calm and collectedness.

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It's not a weakness, but a strength to put your cards of the table and open yourself up to help.

USE APPS

Did you know that we have 60,000 thoughts a day? We didn't either until Harriet Frew told us (and drew a handy diagram).

We need to be aware of our thoughts and challenge any negative thinking. Our thoughts, behavior and feelings are all inter-connected, which explains the physical and external symptoms of anxiety such as shaking, sweating and breathlessness.

The wonderful world of smartphone apps has paved the way for a cheaper and easy-to-access way of improving our mental health through our own devices (literally). We were recommended Headspace and Calm by Louise Chunn.

Headspace asks for ten minutes of your day in order to undertake guided meditation, whilst Calm asks for up to 20 minutes and offers "immersive nature scenes" to really get you Zen. Give it a go. There's nothing to lose except a few gigabyte on your phone!

DO FUN THINGS

By this, we do not mean turning to alcohol at the first sign of trouble. Nobody wants the dreaded alcohol-induced-hangover-anxiety.

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However, we don't exactly mean to preach a life of sobriety either, It's okay to have a good night with your friends.

But, alcohol is actually a depressive and it won't solve your anxieties, even if it may numb them for a while.

Instead of drowning your woes, why don't you try some yoga? A non-competitive sport, which focuses on your relationship between mind and body, can really improve your wellbeing. Instead of binging on the sofa having Netflix on auto play, get outside and go for a walk.

It doesn't have to be scenic and it doesn't have to be long, just leave your phone at home, switch off and be on your walk. Call a friend, and have a conversation on the phone instead of streaming consciousness at each other through text. Be more proactive and be more present!

SEEK HELP

If you feel like your anxiety is impacting your day-to-day life, and stopping you from carrying out your plans and commitments, it is really important to see a therapist, counselor or seek help from your GP.

There is a range of opportunities available such as NHS care, private treatment, group meetings and certified online courses you can take. If you're stuck about where to go, Welldoing offer a questionnaire whereby your responses match you up to a therapist.

There's one last thing mighty worthy of a mention, and whilst we like to think it is common practice, sometimes people forget. Be a nice person: what you give, you get back. Understand that everyone has personal struggles, so be kind and help others.

If you're looking for a further resource on the issues touched on in this article, head over to welldoing.org

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