- Louise Coughlin
Mental Health Awareness week
This year the focus of mental health awareness week is anxiety. I see a lot of people who struggle with anxiety. Anxiety takes many forms, whether this is anxiety about mixing with other people, leaving home, being in confined spaces, health, or phobias, anxiety can prevent people from doing what, deep down, they really want to do.
Anxiety is often about reflecting on things that have happened or thinking about what could happen in the future. Sometimes our memories of past events have amplified a situation and made it seem worse than it is. Sometimes our past memories are so bad that there is nothing to amplify. Whatever has happened in our past makes us worry about the future. If something bad has happened in the past then surely it can happen again, right? Of course this is a possibility, however we can spend our lives looking for evidence that it will happen again without ever enjoying the present, or without looking forward to the future. Working on how we deal with past events, either through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) (other therapies are available!) can help us redefine how we think about the future. By using mindfulness we can be in the present moment and enjoy what we are doing now. Using a non anxiety example, how many of you have been on holiday, maybe out for a walk, on a boat trip, relaxing on the beach, and your mind wonders to 'I wonder what I'll be having for dinner?'. Being in the present means you can enjoy what you are doing now rather than thinking about the future. Whilst it is important to plan (I am definitely a planner) if you are always living in the future (or the past) you are letting a world slip past you.
If you are struggling with anxiety then take a look at the mental health foundation for some tips and guidance to help manage your symptoms https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/public-engagement/mental-health-awareness-week