How to Help Someone with Anxiety? Your Complete Guide
We always wish to be there for our loved ones and be their backbone. Especially during their difficult times we feel more concerned and seek to help them to the best of our abilities.
One such time when your loved ones might need you the most is when they are facing anxiety issues. The feelings that accompany anxiety are just so overwhelming and the thoughts are so embarrassing that they often choose to put them in a shell, and that’s the time they need you.
But, helping a friend with anxiety might require some extra and special tips (well, that’s what brings you here) because it is more than the usual consoling. So, how to help someone with anxiety?
We are sharing 5 effective ways to help someone with anxiety. And to make it clear before we begin it is not a ‘pick the best way situation,’ you need all these 6 ways working together.
Ways to Help Someone with Anxiety:
1. Educate Yourself
You can’t make a planter bloom if you don’t know its special requirements. Similarly, if you are not aware of the anxiety issues or type of anxiety that your friend is going through you won’t be able to provide solid help.
So, to begin with, you have to track down the specific type of anxiety that your friend is facing. To make this first step work we would suggest you openly communicate with your friend and if they don’t feel fine talking about you might take help from online resources. The idea behind this is to understand the issue and hence the need of your friend. As every anxiety issue differs from each other.
Now that you have identified the anxiety issue time to educate ourselves about the same. You really don’t have to master it but it is important to know how anxiety works, the triggers, and its impact on mood, thoughts, and behavior. Basically, it will help you be in their shoes for a while and look at the world from their viewpoint.
Cautious: Don’t force a confrontation
This video might help:
2. Be Concerned (and make sure you really are)
If you notice any change in their behavior like withdrawing from activities that were previously enjoyed by them or were a major part of their lifestyle then you should be concerned and express the same. But to make sure your concern is delivered to them in a healthy manner there are some do’s and don’ts for you to keep in mind:
Do be there for them.
Do check on them.
Do validate their experience.
Do acknowledge their progress (even if it’s little).
Don’t keep on asking them Are You Okay? (they clearly are not).
Don’t be too direct with your suggestions (slide them smoothly).
Don’t keep on giving them reassurance constantly.
Don’t expect immediate improvement.
- Call them.
- Visit them & check on them.
- Surprise them with gifts of positivity.
- Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind.
- Encourage them to use self-help workbooks (you may even give it to them).
Cautious: Offer support but don’t take over.
3. Choose Your Words Wisely
Needless to say, our words leave a big impact on an individual’s thoughts, behavior, and emotions. And especially when the person is already in an anticipatory mode and feels anxious it becomes even more important to wise with your words. If you are wondering how to help someone with anxiety through my wise words we are answering that for you!
Anxiety is common but this does not mean if your generalize your loved one’s anxiety by using phrases like “even I feel anxious” “I too almost had a panic attack”
Show empathy through your words. Instead of saying “I can’t believe you this thing can make you feel anxious” use words like “I am here with you, tell me how can I help you”
Use empathetic words and don’t make them feel that they are overreacting to a situation (it’s a manifestation of their symptoms and not them)
Cautious: Make sure your words don’t sound like you are stigmatizing them.
4. Be Their Anti-Anxiety Dose
Trust me your loved one is giving his best to battle off anxiety. But the thoughts and feelings that accompany anxiety can be overwhelming making them look like a hamster running in a ring (stuck at the same place). That’s exactly where you can be their anti-anxiety dose and take them out of this ring! All you have to do is be their partner in activities that are proven to reduce anxiety. They might already be working on making them a part of their lifestyle but the anxiety (argh) might be pulling them back. Well, it’s your time to lend your hand to them and pull them in the right direction.
- Join a yoga or meditation class together (they both are powerful tools to reduce anxiety as they help them feel grounded, bring them back to the current moment, and fill their life with positivity).
- Charge up yourself and your friend physically up through exercises (anxiety drains an individual mentally and leaves them little or no energy. Through exercise you will not only divert them from their anxious thoughts but will also boost their mind and body).
- Indulge in their favorite activity (anxiety often makes an individual withdrawn from things they once enjoyed doing. So, be their joyful reminder).
- Help with avoidance (there might be certain things that your friend might be avoiding certain tasks as that might make them anxious and they don’t want to do it alone. Try and communicate over and make it happen for them)
- Encourage them to eat anxiety-busting food (when going at their place or planning an outing try to incorporate some if not all of this anti-anxiety food)
Cautious: These actions are to make them feel better. It won’t snap them out of anxiety immediately.
This video might help:
5. Encourage Professional Help
We all feel anxious in our daily lives but when the anxious thoughts and feelings start consuming space in our daily life, cutting down on our normal functioning it might be a matter of concern. If you see the same happening with your loved ones then you might offer them more than your helping hand! A suggestion, advice, wise words… to consult a mental health professional.
- First you have to do your homework and track down some great offline and online therapy
- Next, be ready to communicate it with your friend in a positive way (don’t let stigmatizing swing in your communication).
- You may warm them up by encouraging them to join a support group before seeking one-on-one sessions with a mental health professional.
- You may also assist them to their first appointment (like a true friend).
Cautious: Let them think over it; don’t force them
This video might help:
Most importantly make them feel loved! This is the most subtle way to remind them that their illness neither defines them nor makes them unwanted.
Panic attacks are quite common in anxiety so here is a poster that will help you remain alert and will help your friend with anxiety to be more cautious.
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We understand this complete ‘how to help someone with anxiety’ guide might sound too much. But trust me it is just your little efforts put together that can make this work. You don’t have to make all of it happen overnight! Be slow but be steady and most importantly be there for your loved one.
PS: Do take care of yourself!
More power to you…
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