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Anxiety and Wellness – my story

I give tips and support to others on anxiety and wellbeing but when it comes to looking after my own mental health sometimes it can be difficult to take note of my own advice. The saying, preach what you teach comes to mind.  

My anxiety stems back to middle school, it grew to be uncontrollable and suffocating at times. Anxiety has often been explained to me as a protective layer shielding me from what my brain perceives as a threat.  

But the shield I had built was preventing me from living. I became very mentally unwell, and I found it very difficult to leave the house.  

Being conscious of how mental ill health has affected me in the past, I make more of a conscious effort to stay afloat through trying to incorporate the 5 Ways to Wellbeing in my routine: 

Be Active: 

I am committed to a hobby that gives me routine and keep me going. I climb every week outdoors or indoors, weather dependent!  

Connect: 

I check in with someone. I book in time to meet with a friend or go out for walks and connect through nature, making the most of living in Dorset and its lovely surroundings.   

Take Notice: 

Shutting off from digital screens forces me to tune into how I am feeling. I find this difficult because I get into habits of avoidance. I will keep myself busy to distract myself. This is something I am working at taking more notice of.  

Learn: 

I am currently in CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), this is helping me to learn more about my anxiety and challenging anxious/negative thoughts. Recently, we worked through an exercise in which we took one of my anxieties and plotted possible solutions, listing positive and negative outcomes, and moving forwards with the best solution. This felt like a productive way of working through what was a sticking point in my head at the time. 

Give: 

Giving is one of my goals for 2022. I want to get more involved with the Dorset community. Our fundraising team (Team Dorset Mind), do a great job at organising exciting events/fundraisers, and I’m always up for a challenge!  

I am proud of where I am at with my mental health. I have worked through some difficult obstacles as a young person and a young adult, but I never give up.  

My advice for anyone struggling with social anxiety would be to set yourself small challenges i.e., going for a short walk, going to the cinema, sitting in a coffee shop by yourself, not drinking alcohol at a party. Working through activities that would once, and often still do, trigger an anxious response, have helped grow my confidence and pushed me to do more.  

Help and Support 

If you are struggling to cope with your mental health in general, please talk to your GP. You can also check out dorsetmindyourhead.co.uk for mental health resources and support services for young people 11 upwards.  

Additional Resources 

Anxiety UK – Advice and support for people living with anxiety. 

Steps 2 Wellbeing (18+) – Service providing psychological support. Dorset Mind and Dorset Mind Your Head also offer counselling support, which you can find by following the links.

Samaritans – Call 116 123, FREE 24/7 for emotional support.

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