Actual, useful tips for managing your anxiety

Published on 18/05/23 by Nick Thompson / Simplyhealth Mental Health First Aiders

Let's be clear, feeling anxious is normal. It's all part of being human and how we react to different situations. But the effects of anxiety can vary massively from person to person, and if you don't deal with those effects, they can manifest and start impacting your life. That's why we've created this article.

The information below has come direct from our Mental Health First Aiders at Simplyhealth. We spent time with them to discover their favourite ways to manage anxiety and stress when fear builds up. At the end of this, we want you to be able to talk about and take away tactics to help squash the anxiety levels before they become too much.

What is a Mental Health First Aider?

Our team of qualified Mental Health First Aiders are all extremely passionate about mental well-being. Spread around the company, they exist to listen, support, and signpost our employees to useful resources. They look out for each other, especially in the 'working from home' environment, spotting signs and reaching out to people

Tips to help manage anxiety

Luke Robinson, Employee Experience Mnager

Our first Mental Health First Aider is Luke Robinson. Luke is an Employee Experience Manager at Simplyhealth and shares his four pieces of advice that have always helped him when anxiety starts creeping up:

Two young men sat at table outside coffee shop

1. Talking always helps

It takes work and still isn't my natural instinct, but without fail, I've felt better every single time I've shared, whether that's with a friend or family member, a colleague, or a well-being professional.

2. Be kind to yourself

If you're feeling 30% one day and 30% is what you give, you've actually given 100% and shown real grit in doing so. Pat yourself on the back and see what you can give tomorrow.

3. Routine can help tackle anxiety

Find the things that help you and then try to stick to them, even when you're feeling good. That could mean mealtimes and nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, bedtime habits, playing an instrument, limiting phone screen time or social media – anything that makes you feel better.

4. Make a note of and celebrate your successes

This could mean keeping a journal each evening, having an open draft email where you add your daily wins (big or small), or creating a folder for any praise or positive feedback you receive. When you're feeling anxious, take a look back through your wins to remind you of all the brilliant things you're achieving.

Alice Owen, Senior Customer Advisor

Our second Mental Health First Aider is Alice Owen. Alice is a Senior Customer Advisor at Simplyhealth and shares a tip learnt at university. One that has stayed with her whenever she feels panic and anxiety rising:

Woman wearing headphones and using a meditation app

5. Breathing techniques

I started using breathing techniques during my therapy at University, and it changed my life (sounds dramatic, but it did). 

When I feel like I may go into a panic attack, I use my techniques, and it helps me so much! There are so many, but a popular one is box breathing, which is helpful, especially while working on a laptop.

You just need to look at a square or rectangular shape anywhere in your room (laptop, tv, etc) and follow the edges. Breathe in whilst following one side of the shape to a count of four, then hold it whilst following the next edge for a count of four, then breathe out following the next edge to a count of four and then hold it following the last edge to a count of four. Then start the pattern again and keep this up for as long as you need.

6. Well-being and meditation apps

There are many well-being apps available, and in a lot of cases, you can download a free version. In the one I use, there are 2, 3, and 5-minute sessions with a voice-over talking you through breathing and meditation. They are short but perfect if you're at work, on your lunch, or just out and about. You can pop your headphones in and listen to any of them. There is also a series on Netflix with different types of meditation that's very useful.

Alex Hooker, Ecommerce Manager

Our third and final Mental Health First Aider is Alex Hooker. Alex is an Ecommerce Manager at Simplyhealth and has three personal tips that help her keep anxiety in check: 

7. Daily gratitude

Start your day writing down ten things that you’re grateful for and why. Even if it’s the small things, like your cup of coffee or the sun shining. Really try to feel the happiness those things give you and take those feelings with you throughout the day.

Then, at the end of the day, when you get into bed at night, ask yourself, “What’s the best thing that happened today?”. It gets your brain into the habit of focusing on the positive things and puts you in a good mood to go to sleep.

Two women training at the gym

8. Set boundaries at work

  • If you’re supposed to work 35 hours a week, try to stick to that. We can only do so much, so feel empowered to ask for help and set expectations on completing work tasks.
  • I’m sure we all get triggered by the amount of Teams/Zoom messages we get while trying to focus. Set your status to ‘do not disturb’, or even work offline completely and let your manager know you’re taking the time to focus.
  • If your role allows you to be flexible, take a break when you need it. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stop to make a drink, do a meditation, or go for a walk in nature to recharge.

9. Weight training, fitness and the gym

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and makes you feel happier and more resilient. I found that having a coach has kept me accountable by giving me personal goals to work towards. Focusing on improving my technique and lifting heavier weights really helps to calm my mind and leave the stresses of life out of the gym.

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