Mental Health Awareness Week: Need help with anxiety at work?

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re discussing how to manage anxiety in the workplace. 

This week, people and businesses worldwide are marking Mental Health Awareness Week.

But what is it? How do you get involved? Why is it focusing on anxiety? And how can you include your workplace?

What is Mental Health Awareness Week?

Mental Health Awareness Week is an initiative from the Mental Health Foundation, which was formed in 1949 and has since become the UK’s leading mental health charity.

Their mission statement envisions…

“A world with good mental health for all. With prevention at the heart of what we do, we aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive.”

“We will drive change towards a mentally healthy society for all, and support communities, families and individuals to live mentally healthier lives, with a particular focus on those at greatest risk.”

Mental Health Awareness Week has been a long-running initiative of the Mental Health Foundation, focusing on a varying theme annually to highlight different aspects of mental health each year.

The first Mental Health Awareness Week was observed in 2001 and centred on the theme of ‘Friendship and Mental Health’.

It has since focused on issues like loneliness, stress, mindfulness, ‘nature and the environment’, ‘women and mental health’, and kindness – to name a few.

This year the theme is anxiety.

Anxiety in the modern world

In 2023, there is a lot to be anxious about – and you wouldn’t be alone if you are struggling.

According to Mental Health UK, in the UK, over 8 million people are experiencing an anxiety disorder at any one time.

There are three main types of anxiety; generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, and health anxiety.

Lots of things can lead to feelings of anxiety, be they personal or professional.

The problem arises when these become too much to manage.

The Mental Health Foundation hopes that:

“Focusing on anxiety for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week will increase people’s awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem.”

“We will keep up the pressure to demand change – making sure that improving mental health is a key priority for the government and society as a whole.”

Managing anxiety in the workplace

Whether you’re working at home or in the office, knowing how to take care of your mental health at work is of the utmost importance.

Thankfully, there are lots of handy resources to help staff at all levels work together to better overall mental health in your workplace.

From Headspace for work to online guides and training schemes, you can do a lot for your team and their mental health simply by seriously engaging with the topic and making it less of a taboo subject.

The Mental Health Foundation also advise steps for coping with anxiety – many of which can be applied during work hours.

These include:

  1.  Focus on your breathing: To help you ground yourself and control anxious thoughts. Using the 4-7-8 breathing technique has been proven to be effective here. This means breathing in through your nose for 4 counts, then holding it for seven and exhaling through your mouth for eight counts.
  2. Exercise: Gentle exercises like yoga, walking, jogging or swimming can greatly quell anxiety. Try and find ways throughout the work day to keep moving – even a little.
  3. Keep a diary: To get a better understanding of your anxieties and stop them from taking over your mind by putting them down on paper.
  4. Challenge your thoughts: To avoid rumination worsening your anxiety, try to combat your anxious thoughts by challenging them. Think, is what you’re worried about likely to happen? Has this or a similar situation worked out amicably before
  5. Spend time in nature: Being out in nature can provide a huge boost to your mental health. Does your workplace have an outdoor space where you can eat your lunch or take breaks? Try spending some time outdoors to alleviate anxiety at work.
  6. Connect with people around you: Talk to your coworkers, managers or someone else in your life about worries in your life. Sharing your anxieties can help you feel less isolated and overwhelmed.
  7. Stay healthy: Getting enough sleep and maintaining a balanced diet can help with anxiety regulate your blood sugar and gives you the energy you need to live well.
  8. Maintain a clean environment: A dirty workspace can greatly impact both your productivity and mental health. Try and keep your desk and workspaces cluttered and hygienic to aid anxiety and stress.

Dirty workplace making you anxious?

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And for resources and ways to get involved with this year’s Mental Health Awareness week, discover ways to take part today.