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MENTAL HEALTH TIPS WITH DAN

In the UK, 1 in 6 people report having mental health symptoms such as anxiety every week. In recent findings by the Mental Health Foundation charity, it was discovered that at least 74% of the population have admitted to having felt extreme levels of stress over the past year. Although it is not uncommon to struggle with these symptoms, knowing how to deal with them can be challenging. 

Every month our well-being manager Dan Owens-Cooper has been offering his advice on a number of topics that the average person will encounter at some point in their life, including trying something new and pushing yourself to the limit. 

There are always small steps that you can take to overcome feelings that prompt you to think ‘I can’t do this’. Before you call it quits on your new job because you are feeling stressed, or the thought of attending a new gym class is making you feel too anxious, take a look at Dan’s advice on some of the ways you could go about overcoming these feelings in that horrible moment when you are feeling helpless.

TRYING SOMETHING NEW

The very thought of trying something new can prompt feelings of nervousness and social anxiety. Whether that be applying for a new job, joining a sports team or taking up driving lessons, it’s very easy to avoid doing things we want to and giving in to fear. But, here are a few simple steps you could take to ease yourself into this newfound hobby or career instead of brushing it under the carpet for the next five years. 

Number one. Ask your friends or family if anyone’s interested in starting this new thing with you. It can be easier to go into situations knowing you have the support of a friend or family member by your side. Plus, they might love it too! 

Number two. Try not to avoid things and challenge yourself to overcome your fear. Sometimes the mere thought of doing something can make you want to curl up and not leave your room. Take going to the gym for example. Getting yourself there can be a nightmare and a half, but you always feel 10/10 afterwards and the whole experience is very rewarding. 

Starting something new with another person can be really beneficial. We had a chat with the Content & Marketing team at Reform to find out if they had ever struggled with trying something new before. One team member who works in videography and photography speaks on their experience of wanting to start DJing in Japan. 

“I wanted to get into DJing for a really long time but was finding it difficult to find the motivation and confidence to get stuck into it on my own. When I was studying in Japan for a year, I promised myself that I would join at least one society. When flicking through the University’s society pamphlet, I came across the weekly DJ society event. Without hesitation, this was at the top of my list, but I grew more and more hesitant as the society’s induction day approached. The idea of heading to a club full of people I didn’t know, plus the element of having to speak in my second language started to dawn on me. 

A week before the first event, I shared my frustration with my hallmates one morning during breakfast. Thankfully one of them had overheard another student feeling the same way, so I dropped him over a message and the rest is history! As we were both feeling anxious beforehand, it was really nice being able to relate and comfort one another and turn the nerves into excitement! It’s been 3 years of DJing now and I look back at that time super fondly. Overcoming numerous obstacles of anxiety together has definitely contributed to me becoming more independent as an artist now!”. 

HIGH PRESSURE

Putting a high level of pressure on yourself is a common human narrative. Whether you want to get A grades across the board or impress your boss by taking lots on, the results can be feelings of stress and being overloaded with things to do. 

If you are somebody who puts high pressure on yourself, when you get into this negative spiral, stop and ask yourself ‘where is my focus and is this helping?’. Checking in with yourself is incredibly important and having these conversations with yourself can really help. 

One way you can tackle feelings of high pressure is to use your imagination to create a compassionate voice in your head, rather than using your focus or imagination to think about all the things you need to do and beating yourself up about the potential of things going wrong. This is not a productive use of your focus or time and by checking in with yourself, it could be resolved. 

One other way to deal with feelings of high pressure is to think about what a friend in your situation might say to you and how this makes you feel. It might change your perspective on things and help you to tackle these emotions. 

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BURNOUT

If you feel like you are losing focus, feeling drained of energy or losing passion for what you are doing, it’s time to call ‘burnout’. Rather than completely burning yourself out, recognise when it is starting to happen and take a break. A break should be something that replenishes you rather than depletes you, such as yoga, meditation or another form of light exercise. It could also be a creative outlet such as painting or drawing. You could also read a book or listen to a podcast. 

It’s important to give yourself a break and do things you find soothing and enjoyable. Find that one thing that helps you to switch off temporarily and relax your mind before you get too burnt out. 

One staff member from the Content & Marketing team shares a personal experience of feeling ‘burnout’ and what outlets they used to cope with this. 

“My very first professional experience has been quite a struggle and ended up being one of my worst experiences overall. I was working in hospitality management in Switzerland at the time, in a hotel and restaurant in the mountains. I knew the field was very hard to work in and very demanding, but I realised quickly that my manager was disrespectful and did not respect my contract or my rights. 

After 2 months, I experienced ‘burnout’ for the first time and I had to leave, resulting in me being expelled from my school for ‘not having the mind to work in this industry’. I had to take a break for 2 months to resource myself and regain confidence, but I ended up changing my field of studies. Outlets like sports, music and movies became my therapy, and still are today in hard periods of anxiety and stress for me”.

To hear more from Dan, tune into his monthly show on Tuesday the 19th in collaboration with #BeWell from 5 PM – 6 PM. A mental health mix of voices, experiences and creative talents from young adults in Greater Manchester.

It’s important to remember that you are never alone in whatever you are going through. If you are struggling mentally and would like to talk to someone, please visit our Emergency Contacts page. Multiple amazing organisations offer their services 24/7. 

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