How does stress and anxiety affect wellbeing?
Anxiety becomes a problem when we are trapped by irrational thoughts, examples include thinking we are unable to do things or do not deserve things. We may feel responsible for things outside of our control. Obsessive compulsive disorders often take these further, causing us to feel as though we or our loved ones will be punished if certain tasks are not completed. These episodes usually start due to a trigger, and until the trigger is removed the feeling can build to uncomfortable levels. Triggers can be activities, for example answering or making a telephone call, going to a social event, or even hearing certain words in conversation or the radio. Triggers are personal and can be different for everyone.
Anxiety and stress cause physical symptoms as well, like palpitations (racing heart beat), tingling sensations or numbness, sweating, headaches, cramps, nausea and sickness, dizziness, shortness of breath and more. These can be very scary and can themselves be a cause of stress and anxiety. The stress over having a panic attack in a situation can be enough to trigger an attack.
How can I improve my wellbeing?
If are having an anxiety or panic attack, try to distract yourself by thinking of something else. Puzzles or mindfulness activities can activate a different part of the brain, helping you to get control again. If you can and it is safe to do so, go for a walk in the fresh air, have a hot cup of tea and take deep breaths. Reading has also been proven to reduce stress.
To help your mental health, you must look after your physical health. Get plenty of sleep. Try to cut down on caffeine and drink more water. Eating a healthy diet is also important, as hunger or junk food can make you feel worse. It is important to understand what you are feeling and why.
How to help others
Children have a lot more opportunities to learn and experience, with improving technology available. These opportunities carry a burden as well, and can make even young children feel stressed. It is important to let children know trial and error, and learning through failing, is ok. Encourage them to try again until they get better. There is free online learning resources to support parents and carers on mental wellbeing for children on MindEd for families.
Teenagers can be more sensitive to stress due to the hormone changes they are going through. There are lots of online support websites that a teenager may feel more comfortable with, rather than speaking to a loved one. Do not push for them to open up to you, but encourage them to do so in their own time. Websites such as RiseAbove and Thirteen.me.uk are created for young people's mental health and body issues, with support channels, information and parent helplines.
HEY Mind have helpful tips for family and friends on how to talk about mental health. They can offer support for you as well, as it is important to take care of your own mental health as well.
It is important to ask for help if you feel stressed and anxious at work. If an employee asks for help or wants to reduce their workload, look at ways this can be managed realistically. Search Find Wellbeing for 'workplace' for information on managing different stress based mental health issues for employees.