Mental Health Awareness Week 2023
5th May 2023
Monday May 15th – Sunday May 21st is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and this year’s theme is ‘anxiety’. Anxiety is a normal emotion that we all experience; after all, worrying can actually protect us by making us more prepared for the future. However, if not managed properly, anxiety can be overwhelming and start to take over our lives.
In the UK, over 8 million people are experiencing debilitating anxiety at any one time. Anxiety can be the result of many things, including finances, careers, relationships and family, politics and the news, exam pressures and much more. It can also not stem from one ‘obvious’ reason; many people do not know why exactly they feel anxious.
At the Human Race Ltd. our team love sport and tend to have good physical health, however we know that poor mental health can creep up on a person if not properly managed. Like running, cycling and swimming and other sports which keep us physically healthy, we also need to remember to work on our mental ‘fitness’ of which there are many aspects: awareness, resilience, self-care, a sense of belong etc.
So, we spoke to some members of our team to learn about how anxiety affects us, and how we like to manage our own mental health when anxiety and stress build up.
Ellie, Marketing Executive
‘The world can feel very uncertain at times, with 24 hour news cycles and climate anxiety in particular affecting many people. Social media, as we know now, can also make us feel anxious in the sense that we are behind, lacking or inadequate by comparison to others who appear to thrive. Personally, I know how fast anxiety can ‘snowball’ so that everything feels very overwhelming, and so for me, I believe it is key for everyone to have their own coping mechanisms to stop anxiety (or at least manage it) in its tracks.
Coping with anxiety requires good self-awareness, so ask yourself, what are the tell-tale signs that I am anxious? Maybe it is irritability; disrupted sleep; loss of appetite; light sensitivity (this affects me a lot!); lack of concentration and of course, the obvious: constant, obsessive, intrusive worrying.
When I know that I am anxious, I prioritise coping mechanisms which I know work for me. Running also really helps me to switch off, and I have also recently got into yoga (I was sceptical at first, but I am learning how the conscious use of your breath calms your nerves and helps balance out emotions). I also turn off the news and articulate my worries either by speaking to someone close to me or even just writing them down. This really helps to put some things into perspective, as well as making any worries I can act upon more manageable.
There is also of course, the acknowledgement that some things are out of your control. Managing anxiety is therefore also about finding a balance between being aware of issues that you don’t have much impact on – such as the job security of your partner or climate change – and being able to let go to some degree. I know that some people are not natural optimists and so having a ‘sunny outlook’ on life can be difficult, but my personal advice would be to look for the light in the world (and your life) where you can, because it is there if you look for it’.
Vivette, Event Operations Executive
‘Managing mental health for me is all about finding balance and recognising how far I’ve come in managing stress and anxiety than compared to 10, 5 or even 1 year ago. I do this by journaling, listening to podcasts and music, working out and getting into nature. Specifically walking in woods or forests and wild swimming are my go-to ways of turning off from social media and the big smoke and bringing me back to myself. I always feel recharged afterwards.’
‘Managed stress can sometimes be a good thing, like the stress of challenging yourself in something new or a sporting challenge, as the focus it takes and the sense of fulfilment and achievement you get at the end drive you forward to the next thing and makes the idea of stepping outside your comfort zone that little less scary.’
Henry, Marketing Manager
‘Mental health really is like physical health, taking the time to work on it and being patient with yourself, you will really start noticing yourself approach life with a new perspective. I personally use the app headspace to practise mindfulness and have turned it into a 10-minute a day habit. My relationship with anxiety, stress and several other “negative” emotions is now much healthier’.
Jonah, Participant Services Executive
‘I have improved my relationship with my mental health and anxiety by building my self-awareness. When I’m aware of my sluggish and slow state I love to wake myself up with a CrossFit class, a surf or a long cycle. On the contrary, when I feel anxious and stressed, I know the importance of slowing down with some yoga or a long walk in nature with some friends, hopefully by the sea!’
Jess, Marketing Manager
‘Having struggled with anxiety for years, I have found that the best way I can manage it is through exercise: whether it’s a walk, run or cycle, getting outside and being active is my release. I have NEVER felt worse after exercise, sure I may feel physically exhausted but mentally I always feel refreshed and less anxious’.