Mental Health Awareness Week – Anxiety In The Workplace

Guest blog by Danielle Bridge from ABC Life Support.  

This month is Mental Health Awareness Week (15-21 May), one of the key events in the wellbeing calendar. With this in mind, we are pleased to share our guest blog from Danielle Bridge from ABC Life Support on the important topic of anxiety in the workplace, here is what she had to say.

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness is anxiety and this is probably a great time to highlight one of the UK’s most diagnosed mental disorders. 

Firstly, it’s important to recognise that everybody experiences anxiety. Anxiety is a natural response which is useful in many ways because it can give you the strength and stamina to escape some quite dangerous experiences by allowing you to focus, feed your muscles with oxygen and prepare to run. You may recognise the saying ‘fight or flight’. This is because your body needs adrenaline and cortisol to either fight or run away. 

So, when does anxiety become a problem if it’s normal and natural? I hear you say. Well, an anxiety disorder differs from normal anxiety in the following ways: 

  • It is more severe.
  • It is long lasting
  • It interferes with the person’s work and/ or relationships.

The effects of anxiety can be very physical and so people generally fear the feeling which makes up a vicious cycle.  There are three main effects when somebody lives with anxiety, which are: physical, psychological and behavioural.

Some of the conditions that are diagnosed are generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, phobias, acute stress disorder (ASD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is important to note that many people with anxiety problems don’t fit neatly into a specific type of disorder. There can be a crossover into many different types of mental ill health. A high level of anxiety can also sometimes lead to depression.

People who live with anxiety often feel helpless, but with management, the symptoms can be made easier, and there is help available. Firstly, accepting that things can be different and that recovery is possible is key. Secondly, knowing where to get that support is crucial, friends and family can be helpful, and the internet is also quite useful, as long as you don’t use it for diagnostic purposes. Those with health anxiety do this to try and seek reassurance which doesn’t work in the long run.

There are different severities of anxiety, there are things we can do to self-manage anxiety such as: exercising regularly, eating well, practising good sleep hygiene and reducing alcohol consumption. If more help is needed, always start by seeking help from your GP first or your employee assistance programme at work, they will be able to help with diagnosis and offer you some suggestions on how to move forward. Here are some treatments which might be available.

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Anti-depressants
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Breathing practices

Click here to find out more information about anxiety and its symptoms. The Mind website is also a useful place to discover more information. Remember, recovery is not only possible but likely. It is important to be kind to yourself and set realistic expectations and goals, take one day at a time.

Raina Joyce

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