Mental Health Awareness Week: What is anxiety and how can I manage it?

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is dedicated to educating and raising awareness of anxiety. The Mental Health Foundation is encouraging everyone across the UK to engage in health conversations about anxiety and share their own experiences with the mental health condition. 

Lots of factors can trigger anxiety, and these can vary from person to person. Whether it’s exam stress, financial pressures or social isolation it's estimated that 37.1% of women and 29.9% of men are experiencing high levels of anxiety. 

Although lots of people know when they are feeling anxious, it can be tricky to define what anxiety actually is.

So, what is anxiety? 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is ‘when you are having regular or uncontrollable worries about many different things in your everyday life’, according to mental health charity, Mind. 

However, there are many other anxiety disorders, some of which are:

  • Panic disorder: When you experience regular or frequent panic attacks without a clear cause or trigger. You might also feel continuously worried about having another attack, making this one of your triggers. 
  • Phobia: Mind says ‘a phobia is an extreme fear or anxiety triggered by a particular situation (such as going outside) or a particular object (such as spiders).’
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder: OCD is characterised by obsessions and compulsions that can leave people experiencing unwanted, intrusive thoughts that then lead to them repeating activities to soothe stress.  

You can read about more anxiety disorders here

How can I manage anxiety? 

There are many techniques that you can harness to soothe anxious feelings. From seeking help for money issues to connecting with people to chat about how you feel, it’s about finding management strategies that work for you. 

Below, we have put together our top three tips for managing anxiety, with help from the Mental Health Foundation. 

    1. Do exercise that you enjoy: Moving your body is great for your mental health - even if it’s a short walk in nature or a 15 minute stretch. Lots of people think that exercise has to be rigorous, but it’s better to find an exercise that you enjoy, to take your mind off of the anxious thoughts and get those endorphins whirring.
    2. Eat a healthy diet: Certain foods - like sugar and alcohol - can have a detrimental affect on our mental health. The Mental Health Foundation says: ‘Eating healthy food regularly helps us to regulate our blood sugar and gives us the energy we need to live well.’ So, try to eat a balanced diet, and if you slip up try to keep everything in moderation.
    3. Write down your thoughts: Keeping a diary of your thoughts and feelings is a useful strategy for not only giving yourself time to release bad feelings but also understand more about your own feelings. From there, you are able to take a step back and consider the best strategies for better mental health. 

For more management techniques, read this article from MHF.

Want more mental health content? Head to the talkmentalhealth hub

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 16 May 2023
Next review: 16 May 2026