Breathing and anxiety – words from Hilda


This week on the blog we’re continuing with our content theme of anxiety. Hilda Campbell from COPE Scotland sent us a great post that utilises the prompt in a great way; by exploring the complex nature of anxiety, describing a variety of causes of anxious feelings, and providing some resources from COPE Scotland that might be able to help.

There can be many reasons why feeling anxious is a natural response. After all, the flight, fight or freeze response is there to alert us to danger and to try and help keep us safe. The challenge can be when we perceive there may be a danger BUT we are not sure what it is, or how to respond in a way that is most helpful. Worrying about ‘what ifs’ can produce feelings of anxiety which leave us feeling many emotions which are not always helpful for our wellbeing. Click here to read a piece about ‘managing the what ifs’.

There can also be challenges when our response to feeling anxious is to become angry or aggressive towards others as again this can cause us further issues and rather than people perhaps understanding where these emotions are coming from, end up backing off as they are uncertain of our reaction which is making them anxious! Or perhaps the feelings become so overwhelming they trigger a panic attack. This wee video may be of interest. Click here to watch a video about panic attacks.  Please remember that this advice is for self-care and does not replace professional advice.

There can also be specific mental ill health issues associated with anxiety e.g., OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) Now of course, just because someone experiences OCD does not mean they don’t also have the same anxieties as everyone else, it just means they might feel them even more intensely. Imagine, if you will, someone with OCD during lockdown, when we were told to ‘stay at home, save lives’. For some people, going to do essential shopping may have been intensely anxiety provoking either due to fear of contamination and catching the virus or, by act or omission to act, bringing the virus home and infecting a loved one!

Anxiety is complicated, people are complicated and life is complex. For anyone suffering an anxiety disorder seek professional advice. This wee piece is a conversation piece and not a replacement for professional intervention.  Sometimes, it’s just helpful to know, feeling anxious is often natural given certain circumstances, and what matters is finding ways to help manage it. There are plenty of sources of information online, like the websites Anxiety UK  and NHS Inform,. I will also add this link as I specifically mentioned OCD above: Mind Useful contacts OCD

Clean air day (Click here for information about Action for clean air) will be on the 15th of June this year and has the theme of cleaning up the air, to help look after our mind. Sometimes, we do not realise that in addition to the constant bombardment of news that things are bad and going to get worse, (no wonder anxiety is becoming more an issue for more people) we have to manage our own life challenges which are natural to be anxious about e.g., not sure if your post is being made redundant, This piece may be of interest to anyone worried about redundancy. Click here for tips to manage redundancy.

There are also other factors which can lead to increased feelings of anxiety, including air pollution, noise pollution, nutrition, and concerns around nutrition and being able to afford food. Are the foods people are eating giving their body and mind the nutrients they need? Becoming mindful of our breathing is one simple and effective way to help bring anxiety under control. There are many ways we can do this including grounding exercises. Here is one example: Click here for a post about finger-holds that can help manage difficult emotions.  Also, as I mentioned above, breathing clean air is hugely important when it comes to the management of anxiety. Maybe think about ways you can experience more clean air in your life e.g. spending time in nature or creating your own scented space using plants instead of  scented candles which sometimes are not helpful to our wellbeing.

Most of us spend more time indoors than outside, so also remember the quality of air in the home matters too and is something we can (usually) have more control over. Maybe link with family, friends or the local community to explore ideas to increase our contact with the natural world as well. We often think and talk about the challenges of lockdown, but in some ways, people came together. Sometimes having something bigger than ourselves can help give us perspective which offers us positive emotions and make it harder for anxiety to take root.  Remember that you matter and there are often more possibilities for positive change than we realise. Sometimes one simple action at a time.

Hilda also was generous enough to share a postcard made by COPE Scotland, with some ideas about how to be kind to yourself. Click here to view and download the postcard. Thanks for reading, and please get in touch with us if you would like to contribute a blog post! You can email, message us on Twitter at @mindwaves1, or DM us on Instagram at @mindwaves_scot

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