Help me now
Increase text size Decrease text size Reset text size High contrast mode Translate



Monday, 15 May 2023

Mental Health Awareness Week: What is anxiety?

This Mental Health Awareness Week (15-21 May) we are talking about anxiety. Steps2Wellbeing Senior Service Lead, Liz Doyle has put together a blog on what anxiety is, how to manage it and where to go if you need support.

You can watch our short video on anxiety here.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal emotion for us all. We may feel anxious when we are sitting a driving test, starting a new job or before a big event.

It’s our body’s natural response to anything it perceives as a threat, and its something we have been feeling since humans have lived on earth. However, when feelings of anxiety and worry get out of control it can become a mental health issue.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues, with six in ten adults experiencing it at some point in their lives according to the Mental Health Foundation.

The good news is, there are ways that we can manage anxiety.

What does anxiety feel like?

Anxiety can look and feel different for everyone, but there are some common mental and physical symptoms.

The effects on your mind can include:

• A feeling of dread or fearing the worst

• feeling on edge or panicky

• difficulty concentrating

• irritability

• feeling detached from yourself or the world around you.

Physical feelings can include:

• Restlessness

• feeling dizzy or light-headed

• wobbly legs or pins and needles in your hands and feet

• shortness of breath or hyperventilating

• heart palpitations (a noticeably strong, fast heartbeat)

• nausea (feeling sick)

• needing the toilet more or less often

• sweating

• sleep problems

• panic attacks.

Tips to help anxiety

There are things we can do to manage feelings of anxiety, these include:

Breathing exercises

When you are having anxious thoughts or worrying, take a moment to focus on how your body feels when you breathe in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth. You can find breathing exercises here.

Getting active

Moving your body is a good way of dealing with anxiety and taking your mind off things. Any amount will help, and it can be gentle exercise such as stretching or going for a walk.

Seek help for money worries or cost of living crisis

Worrying about money is a common cause of anxiety, especially during the cost-of-living crisis. If you are worried about paying bills, debt, or receiving the correct benefits there are organisations that can help like Citizen’s Advice or Step Change.

Create a good sleep routine

Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult when your worries are keeping you up. If your thoughts are keeping you awake, try writing them down. You might want to make a note of your sleep patterns to help you work out a routine that could help you sleep.

What support is available

If you need support to manage your anxiety, then Steps2Wellbeing can help. We offer a range of courses, webinars, and guided self-help to help you take control of worry and break the cycle of negative thoughts.

Most of our treatments for anxiety are based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This kind of therapy can help you to recognise and overcome patterns of thinking and behaviour, to change how you feel for the better.

For more information on CBT, click here.

Get in touch

If you are over 18 years old and registered with a GP in Dorset or Southampton City, you can refer yourself to Steps2Wellbeing.

You can contact us quickly and privately, online, over the phone or using our friendly digital assistant. You can refer yourself right away, without having to go to your GP.

To refer yourself, click here.

Recent News

  • New course, Menopause: A Change of Season

    Steps2wellbeing will shortly be offering a new course called Menopause: A Change of Season. Symptoms of menopause and perimenopause can...

    Read article

  • How Steps2Wellbeing can help farmers

    At Steps2Wellbeing, we understand that farmers and their families face unique pressures. Ellie Sturrock, Steps2Wellbeing Mid and West...

    Read article

  • Emily from Poole shares how Steps2Wellbeing helped

    A Poole resident says her positive experience of Steps2Wellbeing can be a beacon of hope for others who are struggling.Steps2Wellbeing is...

    Read article