This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme for this year is ‘Anxiety’. Our Community Champions Project Manager, Ewa, has written a piece below about anxiety disorder, her experience with it, and what she has learnt, and one of our Wellbeing clients, Stan, has written a piece about how decorating his flat has boosted his mood recently. Read both of these amazing pieces below!
Ewa on Anxiety
The Mental Health Awareness Week is officially on. This year it aims to raise awareness of anxiety disorder, encouraging people to share their experiences as well as tips on how to manage the condition.
Well, this is something I feel competent doing. I have been living with anxiety for most of my adult life. Yes, it has been treated and yes, I receive a lot of support at work and from my family. Yet, it still can be debilitating at times and never really goes away. One thing for us, anxious folks, to accept is that, while anxiety disorder can be fully curable, the risk of reoccurrence is always there. I used to feel a lot of pressure to make myself better as soon as possible and felt like a failure when it was not happening. This was rather exhausting and I do not do it anymore. I lowered my expectations of full recovery and instead I am just trying to be nicer to myself.
There will be a lot of talking about self-care this week, all the lavender sniffing and hot baths. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I think that what actually works a bit better is spending time to get to know ourselves and recognise our needs and limitations. Then setting boundaries and respecting them. Beware, this is much harder than it seems and includes saying no. What is equally hard, but sometimes helps with boundaries, is open communication. I admit that just saying the words anxiety (Am I being an attention seeker?) and self-care (Am I overindulging?) when speaking about myself, normally sends me to the edge of cringe. But practice makes it easier and, as mind reading is a very rare skill, certain things just need to be said to be heard.
Obviously, simply talking about anxiety would not make it disappear and I am also aware of my own privilege to be able to share my experience without the fear of hostility. I know this is not the case for everyone, so if you feel like doing the same, make sure that you are comfortable with it. Then, if you are, use your anxiety as a superpower to raise awareness and support others, who perhaps are not in the position to speak up themselves.
For support, advice and information on all anxiety, stress and anxiety-based depression conditions, please visit https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/helpline-services/
Stan on Decorating
I suspect that if asked to name a therapeutic activity, painting and decorating would not immediately come to most people’s mind. Yet it can alter feelings of self worth and capability, improve your environment and give a real sense of empowerment and achievement.
If depressed, anxious or experiencing low self worth staring at a wall that has long ago lost that vibrant blue or ‘white’ woodwork that now has become a dirty grey can add to that feeling of impotence and doing something about your environment can feel daunting.
Yet there is a way to tackle this feeling, the trick is to start small. Perhaps by applying a little filler to that damaged door, when dry sand it down, and then paint or varnish the finished result. Don’t go for perfect but settle for ‘good enough.’ You may find yourself surprised at the sense of achievement
you feel and soon you will be looking around for other similar small jobs to complete.
It doesn’t have to be redecorating, fixing a squeaky door, cleaning a window or tacking down that irritating bit of carpet. One small job will lead to another.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, though the Internet is full of tips on everything from painting to the various sorts of glue available. And decorating need not be expensive, a tin of white gloss for woodwork can cost around five pounds, adding a paint brush[s] and sanding paper the total need not exceed ten pounds. If even this stretches your budget ask around for help, for example Housing Associations and other landlords like any tenant who wants to improve the property.
Your home is likely the place where you spend most time, certainly the place where you want to feel most comfortable. Small improvements in your home environment can have an impact that outweighs the effort made. Just keep in mind progress/small improvements not perfection.