How to Support Someone with Anxiety
When someone constantly has a feeling of fear or nervousness and this feeling becomes excessive, difficult to control and interferes with daily life, that person may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders affect several million adults in the U.S, making it the most common mental health condition. Anxiety is highly treatable, yet only some of those suffering actually receive treatment.
Anxiety is part of the body’s natural reaction to stress and it can be helpful sometimes, as it makes a person more mindful and ready for action. However, when a person has constantly experienced this anxiousness and this feeling is already causing distractions in their day-to-day life, this is where the problem starts to manifest.
Anxiety disorders can adversely impact people’s lives; the longer it goes untreated, the harder it is to make those symptoms go away. If someone you know is suffering from this mental health disorder, gently let them know that they do not have to suffer long-term, because anxiety is treatable. There are a variety of treatments now available, both in the form of therapy and medication, that can help alleviate the symptoms associated with anxiety. Additionally, it is not ideal to try and manage anxiety on your own; the love and support of family members and close friends can have a significant impact on a person’s recovery journey.
If you think someone you know is battling with an anxiety disorder, we hope that the general tips provided in this article may assist you to help them manage their condition.
Things You Can Do to Support Someone Suffering from Anxiety
A lot of us have a loved one in our lives who struggles with anxiety and it can sometimes be very confusing – we don’t always know what to say, what to do or how to act in ways that are most helpful to that person. There are times where we end up feeling really frustrated, overwhelmed or at a loss on what to do. Different people experience anxiety in different ways and different people find different things helpful. Today we’re going to talk about several different things that you can do to help you support someone struggling with anxiety.
Learn Everything You Can About Anxiety
Martin Luther King Jr. once said that the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. This saying could not be more appropriate with regards to minimising the symptoms of anxiety. Educating yourself about anxiety is the first step towards being part of a good support system for your loved one suffering from this mental health illness.
Educating yourself does not mean that you have to be an expert in this field – what is important, is to know the salient features of this disorder, such as its signs, symptoms and treatment options, as this will prepare you to be more of a help to the person suffering from it. Equipping yourself with this vital information will expand your knowledge and understanding regarding the internal struggle faced by a person battling with anxiety. Lastly, this will ensure you are an integral part of their support system, as you fully understand that combating this mental health illness is not an easy task. As a result, you can be there to support them throughout the duration of their recovery process.
The number one thing we need to know, is that people who are struggling with anxiety are never intentionally doing things to be difficult or to get attention. In fact, if they were only given the choice, they would likely much rather feel calm, grounded and in charge of their thoughts, feelings and their lives as a whole. Oftentimes, people suffering from anxiety have a severe internal psychological battle with themselves and sometimes the resulting signs and symptoms of their anxiety disorder can impact not only the individual at hand, but also their family and friends around them. Knowing that they are not doing this on purpose to hurt or upset us can make a big difference in helping them understand the battle they are fighting.
Be reliable. Let your loved one know that you’re there for them. Let them know that they can talk to you and share with you what’s going on inside their mind. Assure them that you are not going to judge them. You may need to be a little bit persistent, because people with anxiety might not want to open up instantly, but that might be because they’re scared of “burdening you” with their problems.
Most people battling with anxiety are scared of being a nuisance and might be a little bit reluctant or resistant. Being a little bit persistent does not mean to be pushy. Give them time to process the thought that you are willing to help. Do not force them to open up if they are not yet ready. Let them know that you are willing to listen to them if they have anything that they want to sort through. Saying these things can be really helpful, because many people with anxiety think nobody wants to deal with them, or that nobody really cares about what’s going on with them, and may feel like, “I’m too much for myself, I don’t want to be too much for somebody else”.
No Guilt Trips, Ultimatums, or Threats
If someone is struggling with anxiety and you want them to do something, or you’re upset with them for not doing something, do not threaten or guilt trip them, or make an ultimatum. This will definitely not work with your loved one and it will certainly not lead to getting you the outcome you want. Making threats or laying guilt trips is just going to make them feel worse, and as a result, probably going to make you feel worse, too (i.e. the situation does not get anyone, anywhere).
Get Involved in the Healing Process
Living with someone who is battling anxiety can be very difficult. No matter what its affect in the family or marital relationship, always try to remember that the day-to-day struggles of the patient are far more difficult than any sort of problem you may encounter along the way.
Be supportive and present during the entire mental health recovery journey. Doing so is one of the sincerest forms of love and affection you can provide to someone suffering from anxiety. Let them know that you have their back and you won’t get tired listening to their internal dilemmas.
Do things together, such as things they enjoy, whether that includes exercising, preparing healthy meals, spending time outdoors and/or socialising. These activities can positively impact their recovery journey, while also serving as a potential distraction from their worries and concerns.
Discuss with them potential options for therapy, and where therapy is attended, ask them their thoughts regarding each session. Always check on them if something unusual bothers them. Working through problems by way of communication is the key to improving their ability to be less anxious interacting with other people; this is an important part of the treatment process.
Lastly, encourage them to be gentler with their self and to trust the whole process, because everything will be alright in the end.
Encourage Them to Include Exercise in Their Day
Physical exercise has long been considered as a very effective means of reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration and enhancing overall cognitive function.
When stress reaches the brain, with its many nerve connections, your whole body feels the impact as well. The same thing goes – when your body feels better, so does your mind. The physical benefits of exercise, in the case of someone suffering from a mental health illness, such as anxiety, cannot be overemphasised.
Several studies have proven that regular participation in aerobic exercise has extended a multitude of benefits in alleviating anxiety disorder and its associated symptoms. In fact, just a few minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects, such as reduced physical and mental tension, mood elevation/stabilisation, improved sleep and improved self-esteem.
Ask What They Need
It is amazing how often we try so hard to figure out what somebody else needs. We suggest all these brilliant ideas, and sometimes, they just keep saying that it won’t work or that they have already tried it before, and it did not work well for them. More often than not, we end up just getting more and more frustrated about it.
The simple solution of course, is, if someone’s going through something (such as struggling with anxiety), do not try and guess what they need. Instead, just talk to them and ask what they need. Recommending so many things at the same time to a person suffering from anxiety can be overwhelming for them. This is not helpful to someone who is in the middle of a struggle. You may be trying to be helpful to that person, but in reality, you may not be. Save offering them multiple suggestions and just ask them what they need, plain and simple.
Don’t Hesitate to Say Words of Encouragement
Whenever you think of something good about someone, don’t hold back, just say it! It’s amazing how often so many of us hold back from saying words of encouragement, genuine compliments, or words of praise or recognition to the people in our lives.
What we don’t realise, is that encouragement is something powerful. When you’re encouraging someone, particularly those suffering from anxiety, you are instilling courage in them and helping them to believe in themselves and their ability (i.e. self-esteem).
So next time you think of something good about your loved one, no matter how small it may be, do not hold back, and just let them know how wonderful they are and how well they are doing in their recovery process. You’ll never know how hugely this may impact someone’s day, and how this strategy can positively shape your overall relationship with the people in your life.
Encourage Him/her to Seek Professional Help
The first step with regards to anxiety treatment, is getting an accurate diagnosis of your mental health status. This is one of the most crucial parts of the process, because in some cases, the symptoms of anxiety disorder can be difficult to differentiate from other mental health problems. Making the diagnosis can be a little tricky, so it is important to encourage your loved one to see someone who specialises in mental health, such as the team at Brain Wellness Spa. A qualified professional is more likely to know about the latest and best treatment options for your mental health condition.
If a loved one has been struggling and feeling some or all of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, encourage them to reach out for professional help as soon as possible, and help get them on their way to reducing the emotional pain they have been dealing with.
The challenge of overcoming an anxiety disorder is no walk in the park. The treatment process may not be an easy path both for the patient and their loved ones, but such long hours spent in enhancing his/her mental health cannot be compared to the outcome you’ll get at the end of the recovery process.
A number of therapy sessions are often needed in order to get a person back on their feet, free from the holds of anxiety, and able to continue living a happy life. In order to help yourself or someone you know to overcome anxiety, contact our friendly team to arrange your first appointment at Brain Wellness Spa.