By a BSc (Hons) Construction Management NTU Alumni
Be The Master of Your Anxiety!
Do you suffer from anxiety? You are not alone, although you may feel like that at first.
· 1 in 4 people suffer from it (and probably increasing)
· It isn’t a taboo subject
· You are not weird or different to other people
· There is lots of help out there
I left NTU in 1992 with a huge ambition and tremendous energy. I was ‘going to set the world on fire’ and having worked hard through my degree, I continued to do the same in working life. Everything in my career was as it should have been – I started on an excellent graduate management programme with a reputable building company and I went up the ladder at a good pace. 16 years later I was head hunted by another large player in the industry to start a new, even more exciting role. Life was good – so what could go wrong?
I realise now that I hadn’t tasted failure in any great way. Along came the first recession that affected my industry very badly – all as a result of the 2008 credit crunch. Due to re-structuring I suddenly found myself unhappy where I was and moved again to keep my career on track. Within 9 months I was promoted to Head of Department – but life soon changed. Over the next 12 months my hours got longer and longer, my family life diminished, no matter how much I worked it wasn’t enough. I suddenly found myself waking up in the middle of the night in a panic – something I had never experienced. I found myself losing confidence, having irrational thoughts and always thinking the worst . Being the main bread winner I had to do whatever it took to keep my job, there wasn’t much work out there.
The reality was, nobody was after my job. But I was now suffering from anxiety and needed help. The important thing was:
· I recognised that I had some abnormal symptoms
· I accepted that I needed help, and
· I wasn’t afraid or embarrassed to get help
Nobody in my work place knew at first because I was good at hiding my innermost feelings. The industry wasn’t as aware as it is now about mental health and wellbeing. Everyone still saw me as the happy, confident person they always knew. But one day it got so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to go into work, and I knew then that I had to act.
In my case, the stress caused by my work, feeling trapped and in a never ending pile of problems brought about my anxiety. But for many people it can be caused by all sorts of other issues – family problems, money worries, social anxiety, health fears.
But what I can say is this – there is so much help out there! Once you have recognised that you have an issue and accepted that you need help, then firstly go to see your GP. And whilst their initial port of call is medication, this isn’t always the answer for everyone, so push for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or counselling if you would prefer non-medicinal routes first. There is also
hypnotherapy, mindfulness meditation, exercise, talking with friends, new hobbies – so don’t feel at a loss. Anxiety UK is also an amazing charity that offers help and support when you need it – they were the ones that convinced me that medication is ok, its not all bad.
For me, a combination of medication and hypnotherapy worked, as well as a change of job! Everybody is different and will find their own happy place in different ways. But clearly as we get older we find it harder to cope with stress so it’s important to have a healthy work life balance (and be rigid about it), but also to exercise more and eat a healthy, balanced diet. It’s also important to let go of the things you can’t control.
Several years on, I am happier than ever at work and enjoying life again. I still hold a good position, but I have re-calibrated the expectations I place on myself and others around me. My wife and two daughters are now the top priority, as they should be!
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the theme is kindness. Being kind to yourself and others can have a positive impact on your mental health. It can help to reduce stress, create a sense a belonging and have a positive impact on your confidence and self-esteem. So why not try and do a little random act of kindness, not only will it help to cheer someone up but it will also help to boost your own mental health too!
Here at NTU we have lots of activities to get involved with throughout the week, check out the full programme of events here
Don’t forget that Student Support Services are still here to support you and we are regularly posting through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well as over on the Virtual Global Lounge Team and the new Stamp out Stress Team
For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
Support from NTU
Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
Struggling at Uni? Go to Student Minds
10 Keys to happiness