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Thoughts and reflections | May 15, 2023 | By Monika Halsan

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week is a powerful event focusing on the importance of good mental health. This year’s theme is anxiety, encouraging people to share their own experiences and any helpful ideas on how they manage anxiety.

In the spirit of this campaign, I am sharing a free version of my CBT booklet this May, outlining helpful techniques to help with OCD and anxiety disorders.

Phone with social media assets for Mental Health Awareness Week.

What is Mental Health Awareness Week?

Mental Health Awareness Week is a significant event that shines a spotlight on good mental health. It’s all about breaking down stigma and encouraging everyone to prioritise their own well-being and that of others.

Mental Health Awareness Week was initiated by the Mental Health Foundation in 2001. In 2023, the week is starting today, May 15, and runs until the 21st, with this year’s theme being anxiety.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety can manifest in various forms, with both physical and mental symptoms. You may experience a raised heart rate, breathlessness, or chest pain, as well as headaches and loss of appetite. Anxiety might also make you feel restless, tense, nervous, irritable, or withdrawn, and you could have trouble sleeping or concentrating.

Various factors, such as relationship issues, exam stress, a demanding job, financial concerns, or significant life changes, can trigger anxiety – and that’s perfectly normal. However, for some individuals and during specific periods, controlling these anxious feelings can become challenging, ultimately affecting day-to-day well-being.

Joining in on the conversation

Anxiety was chosen as this year’s theme to “kickstart a nationwide conversation, encouraging people to share their own experiences and helpful ideas on how they manage anxiety.” So, I’ll join in on the conversation.

Anxiety played a role in my decision to take sick leave from work in April – what eventually led me to start Healthy Pixels. When I first began therapy, I didn’t recognise any of my symptoms as anxiety. While I acknowledged my low mood/depression, anxiety didn’t even cross my mind. However, when asked to fill in the GAD7 (Generalised Anxiety Disorder Assessment), it became clear that anxiety had a more significant impact on my life than I realised.

Anxiety goes beyond just feeling nervous or on edge. The assessment questions also encompass issues such as excessive worrying, difficulty relaxing, restlessness, and irritability. For me, it has manifested into constant stress. Where I can’t fully focus – always planning in order to avoid stressful situations in the future, or thinking of and obsessing over the ones that just didn’t go that well.

What helps me is to incorporate positive habits and establishing a better routine. Yoga and meditation have also been grounding and provide a much-needed outlet to calm my mind.

Managing anxiety

Depending on how severely anxiety affects your daily life, you might consider speaking with your GP. In the meantime, and/or while seeking guidance from your GP, there are activities that might help with your symptoms. These include spending time in nature (my personal favourite!), staying active, talking to someone (a professional or a friend), spending time with loved ones, and focusing on breathing techniques. Engaging in hobbies that bring you joy and a sense of calmness can also be beneficial.

Speaking of breathing techniques, have you given your breathing any thought today? Let’s do some box breathing – repeat as many times as you like!

I also recently attended my first sound bath experience, which was absolutely amazing. This meditation practice involves the use of singing bowls to create soothing vibrational sounds. After the session, I felt remarkably calmer, and that feeling stayed with me for the next day or so. So, I highly recommend it.

A free resource for you: CBT Booklet

During the pandemic, I was diagnosed with OCD. Undergoing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the next six months, I learned valuable techniques to manage my OCD (and other anxiety disorders).

Feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of resources provided and information that didn’t always feel relevant, I decided to create a practical and accessible guide outlining the CBT techniques I learned.

The Healthy Pixels CBT booklet open on page 10.

The booklet covers topics such as identifying and challenging negative thoughts, exposure and response prevention, and developing coping strategies. It’s designed to be used alongside therapy, but can also be a helpful resource for those looking to learn more about CBT, or to simply have the techniques at hand in the future.

In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Week, I will be giving out this booklet for free all of May. So, grab your free copy below!

Get a digital copy

This resource was available as a free download only in May 2023. However, it is still available for purchase!

Support Mental Health Awareness Week

There are many ways you can support this cause. First, share your experience and/or tips if you feel comfortable doing so. If not, simply sharing the cause on your social media will also help make a difference.

Other ways to support are:

Final thoughts

After being a topic that went unspoken for a long time, this campaign aims to keep mental health on the radar of public conversation. I am committed to using Healthy Pixels to further aid this cause.

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