Anxiety, and what we learned from Mental Health Awareness Week
Updated: Jun 17
As this week comes to a close, I’m struck by the engaging opinions, stories and content that has flooded my newsfeed during Mental Health Awareness Week this year. What I have really noticed, is a sense of people having a voice and sharing their own individual experiences.
Here are a few stories that really caught my eye:
The BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) has launched a campaign using AI generated images to illustrate anxiety symptoms. They have used real life quotes to create these images, and they are powerful depiction of how our bodies and minds can experience anxiety in all sorts of different ways. Click here to see more. The images are expressive and powerful, and they resonate with some of the ideas and words and thoughts and creativity that we might explore in counselling.
Welldoing posed some thought provoking questions about anxiety to a handful of therapists. The full article is here. Here’s what I had to say:
What I wish people knew about anxiety That anxiety is there to tell us something. Maybe even to help us. We spend time and energy pushing anxiety away, masking it, trying to escape from it. But when we push things further inside, the feelings don’t dissipate. They fester. So instead, what would it be like to treat your anxiety like a well-meaning friend? And ask yourself – what feelings is my anxiety trying to protect me from? More often than not, this opens us up to explore underlying feelings. Maybe it’s fear, sadness, anger, or something we can’t yet name. This can help to release the ‘pressure cooker’ sense of overwhelming anxiety and allow us to address what’s really going on.
Trends in anxiety It might seem as if anxiety is rising. Perhaps there’s something about our overwhelming 24 hour culture of rolling news and endless scrolling that is making us all feel more anxious. But I think there’s something to be optimistic about here too. As we become more open about talking about anxiety and our mental health, old stigmas and taboos are melting away. Maybe we’re just getting better about talking about our hidden fears and worries. Maybe we’re becoming more comfortable about being vulnerable with one another. And that can only be a good thing.
Selfies showing us ‘this is what anxiety looks like’. I’ve noticed these on my newsfeed. Photos of strangers who appear to be going about their everyday life. But yet the caption says it all. It's a reminder of the assumptions and judgements that we we make when we look at other people. When we realise that other people might be experiencing anxiety, or struggling with their emotions in some way, it helps us to normalise our own feelings, and feel more open to sharing them and exploring them.
What did you notice this year?
Keen to explore more? I love working with people to support them in finding ways to manage their anxiety. If you'd like to learn more, click here to contact me, or click here to book a free 30-minute introductory chat.