Introduction: As this week is Mental Health Awareness Week and it focuses on anxiety this year, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my personal story, insights, and coping mechanisms. While I have chosen not to label myself as someone with anxiety, I have discovered effective ways to manage anxious feelings. In this blog post, I'll discuss my experience with anxiety, the importance of distinguishing between mental illness and poor mental health and strategies for taking control of our well-being.
Section 1: Recognizing and Seeking Support for Anxiety A few years ago, I experienced various symptoms that left me feeling uneasy and convinced that something was wrong with me. I constantly Googled my symptoms and worried about potential health issues. Eventually, I sought support through the NHS and was fortunate to receive cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions. The diagnosis was health anxiety and CBT provided coping mechanisms that helped me regain control. Though I have made significant progress, anxiety still flares up occasionally. I have chosen not to label myself as having anxiety, as it allows me to better manage and understand my emotions. For me personally, if I labelled myself as 'having anxiety' then it feels almost like I've given myself an excuse not to try to manage my symptoms. By simply saying instead that I am feeling anxious or experiencing anxious thoughts then it better allows me to look at what's triggering those feelings and how I can best manage them. I can only speak from my own experience and I do know other people who having that diagnosis and label is absolutely life changing in a good way in that it just allows them to understand themselves, and to allow and accept their feelings, everyone is different and you have to find what works for you.
Section 2: Shifting Perspectives on Mental Health During Mental Health Awareness Week it feels like a great time to recognise the crucial distinction between mental illness and poor mental health.
Often, we associate mental health with severe disorders, but it encompasses our overall well-being and self-care practices. Each one of us needs to prioritise mental health, regardless of whether we have a diagnosed mental illness. We must be aware of what supports or hinders our well-being and recognise the warning signs when we neglect self-care.
Section 3: Taking Control by Accepting What We Can't Control In my CBT sessions I learned a valuable technique for managing anxiety—acknowledging what we can and cannot control. Imagine yourself as the centre of a target, with a small circle representing what you can actively control and a larger outer circle encompassing everything beyond your control. The key is learning to accept the vast amount of things beyond our control and focusing on our ability to manage what lies within our reach. Embracing uncertainty and becoming comfortable with the unknown is an ongoing challenge that I continue to work on.
Conclusion: Embracing Personal Experiences and Seeking Support Everyone's mental health journey is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. I have shared my personal experience to shed light on alternative perspectives. If you are concerned about your own mental health, please don't hesitate to seek support through the resources provided below. If, however, you do not feel worried abut potential mental illnesses, but rather you would like to focus on simply improving your own wellbeing, I'd urge you to consider the benefits of working with a life coach who can offer a non-judgmental space for open conversations. Prioritizing mental health and self-care is essential for overall mental health, so let's continue to have open discussions and support each other on this journey.
To book a free discovery call with me and explore how I can help you, visit RachelBloomfield.com and click on "Work With Me."
Take care, stay well, and I'll see you soon!
Some helpful resources: