There’s a high chance you know a friend or family suffering from anxiety. Today isn’t that surprising, considering approximately one in every four people suffers from this mental health condition that affects their overall wellbeing.
If you know someone who has anxiety, it’s crucial to provide them with much-needed support to help them cope with this mental health condition. But this isn’t always straightforward because it can be confusing to know the best way to handle and support someone with this disorder.
Luckily, this guide seeks to help out by detailing some of the best ways to handle a loved one with anxiety. Let’s get started.
What Is Anxiety And What Are Some Of Its Signs And Symptoms?
According to experts at Alvarado Parkway Institute, everybody usually experiences occasional anxiety as they go about with routine daily tasks. If this state reaches a point where an individual is constantly worried and fearful in everything they do, it’s a clear sign of anxiety disorder. Before you find out how to best help a person with anxiety, it’s advisable to understand this mental disorder.
Anxiety is a mental illness or health condition in which a person becomes nervous while going about their routine daily activities. As a result, this disorder makes it harder for them to perform everyday activities because they don’t know best to control their feelings and emotions. When this fear and worry reach its peak, such a person suffers from panic attacks.
Here are some of the common physical and mental problems that arise due to anxiety disorder:
- Excessive worry
- Muscle aches
- Rapid heart rate
- Racing thoughts
- Hard time concentrating
- Shortness of breath
Experiencing these symptoms of anxiety disorder can end up causing your loved one suffering from this mental health condition to have a hard time responding to specific situations or overacting to things that trigger their emotions.
In addition, they might start displaying other anxious behaviors such as:
- Compulsive behaviors like excessive hand washing
- Evading dreadful situations
- Misery when in certain social situations
What Are The Most Effective Methods To Help Someone With Anxiety?
Since you now understand what anxiety is and its common signs and symptoms, it’s time to think of ways to help someone suffering from it.
Here are some of the recommended ways that you can offer your support to such an individual:
1. Acknowledge And Accept Their Anxiety
Many people with anxiety disorders are often treated as a joke because they don’t display any physical symptoms. However, this isn’t advised because such a person usually undergoes mental torture even if they don’t exhibit any noticeable physical symptoms. Therefore, you shouldn’t take their struggles lightly and instead show acknowledgment that you indeed understand their troubles.
By acknowledging your friend or family suffering from anxiety, they’ll feel more confident about sharing their struggles and symptoms. And while they talk to you, don’t be judgmental even if you don’t seem to understand anything they’re saying. This way, you’ll ensure they are more willing to express their feelings and thoughts. It would help if you also didn’t pressure them to share their thoughts and emotions because this might make them less willing to open up. It also helps show that you care, which will undoubtedly help them better deal with their anxiety.
2. Validate Their Feelings And Fears
Another common mistake people make when handling people with anxiety is minimizing their fears, resulting in them feeling as though they’re exaggerating their problems. However, you must never do this because this only shows that you don’t understand the struggles they’re going through. As a result, they’ll no longer trust you and eventually stop sharing their issues with you.
With this in mind, you should take a different approach that entails validating the feelings and fears of this individual with anxiety. This will earn their trust and be more than willing to share their vulnerabilities with you. Therefore, this gives you the perfect opportunity to explain to them that their anxiety is normal and something that can be treated.
3. Offer Them Support
You can offer help to a person suffering from anxiety by showing them the much-needed support while they go through this rough patch in their lives. While this might feel quite intimidating, it simply means being readily available to ensure this person is not alone and has someone to share their thoughts with. Even if you don’t understand anything, just being there for them helps ensure they aren’t a burden to society. This helps them become more optimistic about life, which is essential for anyone looking to recover from anxiety.
When helping out someone with anxiety, you shouldn’t assume the best support to offer them. Instead, find out what they want, and be a listening ear or providing them with advice. Doing this is advised to ensure you provide the individual with the right support they need other than guessing what you’d have wanted if it were you in a similar situation. Remember, people are very different, which means their preferences vary greatly.
4. Understand The Different Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety
People with anxiety display symptoms such as restlessness, nausea, excessive fatigue, or racing thoughts, but these usually vary significantly. And because anxiety affects people differently, you need first to understand the different types of anxiety and their respective symptoms. Only then will you be able to better understand the specific struggles an individual faces. Consequently, you’ll be able to think of the best ways to help this loved one or friend recover from anxiety.
Understating how anxiety affects the individual you care about also helps you learn their different patterns. This is critical because you want to know the exact moments when a person struggles with emotional and mental wellbeing. Therefore, you’ll always be available to provide them with the needed support.
5. Find Out What Can Help
It’s no doubt that being there for a friend or family, going through anxiety, helps such an individual recover. With that said, it’s best to still think of ways of ways on how you can help them better manage their symptoms even at the comfort of their home. Some of the different activities that help in easing such a person’s anxiety levels include:
- Make sure they get adequate sleep
- Encourage regular workout or other forms of physical activity
- Discourage negative thinking by helping them concentrate on matters they can control
- Reduce the intake of caffeine and alcoholic drinks
- Encourage deep breathing and meditation practices
By implementing any of these activities, you’ll be able to better help an individual suffering from anxiety recover from this mental health disorder.
6. Offer Safe And Reassuring Physical Touch
Many people going through anxiety often feels disconnected from the world and extremely lonely. A simple albeit effective way of making such individuals feel as though they matter is by providing them with a safe and uplifting physical touch. You can easily comfort an anxious person who usually doesn’t get any physical affection through skin-to-skin contact. Therefore, you should be more than willing to hold hands, cuddle on the sofa or give a warm hug that’ll give them a heartening feeling that you care.
However, you shouldn’t touch someone fighting anxiety without their permission, and this also applies even if it’s your spouse because such individuals can sometimes exhibit a lack of control. By physically touching them, you might make them feel like they don’t have any control over their bodies, thereby worsening their anxiety. One better approach would be to ask for their consent before comforting them through physical touch. Respect their decision, and don’t feel bad if they decline your request.
7. Practice Active Listening
The one wish for a person battling anxiety is to be heard and felt, meaning your main goal should be listening to them rather than playing pretend therapist and trying to come up with ways to fix their anxiety issues. While you might have had good intentions, too much talking is highly discouraged because it only makes this anxious person feel more stressed and eventually exhausted. Despite that, wanting to share solutions with such an individual on the best way to deal with their anxiety might make them feel a lot more anxious than before.
Instead, the best and most crucial thing to do is practice active listening because it gives the person with anxiety a platform to open up about their feelings, thereby giving them a sense of validation. Occasionally, you can ask a question or two to keep the conversation going and regulate their nervous system. Through such actions, you’ll be able to better understand the specific issues the person with anxiety is undergoing.
8. Find Out How You Can Help
You can ease a friend’s or family member’s anxiety levels by regularly asking how you can offer them help. This will be incredibly beneficial because most people suffering from anxiety are aware of the most effective ways to alleviate their symptoms. Therefore, ask them how you can help them feel better by doing certain things that eased their anxiety in the past.
However, you should remember that what worked in the past isn’t guaranteed to work now. Therefore, you should find out what you can do at the precise moment to help the distressed person feel more at peace and in control. In addition, the notion that you’re readily available to help out whenever they’re in need will make this individual less tense and feel safer.
9. Don’t Forget To Take Care Of Yourself
While helping out someone struggling with anxiety is undoubtedly a good deed, you shouldn’t forget about taking care of your mental wellbeing. This is vital because helping out someone with mental issues can often feel overwhelming. As a result, you might eventually find yourself trapped with anxiety menace. Some of the best ways you can ensure it doesn’t get to such a point include:
- Open up with someone you trust about your feelings to get the needed emotional support you deserve
- Talk to someone about the caring role and get useful insights into how best to do this
- Know how much help you can help the person battling anxiety
By implementing these ideas, you’ll manage to safeguard yourself from anxiety. Remember, you also have a life, and taking on excessive responsibility might, in fact, already be a sign you’ve already started struggling with anxiety disorder.
10. Maintain Open Lines Of Communication
Someone fighting with anxiety can suddenly realize a sudden rush of emotional unease. This is why it’s essential always to maintain an open line of communication with such an individual. You can do this either by phone or video, calling them several times during the week. Likewise, you can schedule in-person meetings to get an opportunity to catch up and see how well they’re doing.
Through such interactions, such a person gets a platform through which they can share their problems. Consequently, you can discuss the matter, which helps ease their minds and feel so better in the long run.
11. Define Your Support Role
There are numerous ways to help out individuals suffering from anxiety to help them feel more relaxed and at ease. A few examples of proven ways that work include:
- Doing direct actions, for instance, buying lunch on their behalf, helping them with the dishes, or referring them to a good therapist
- Distract this person to help them stop worrying about themselves, for example, by taking them out for lunch, signing them up to a yoga class, or watching a captivating movie with them
- Make them know you’re readily available should they want help, for instance, by being there should they want to share something disturbing them
Therefore, you need to know your support role to ensure it matches your strengths and be best positioned to help the individual fight anxiety.
Helping a friend or family with anxiety disorder can be quite awkward and tricky because you don’t know what to do or say. However, this does not have to be the case, as this guide has shed light on the matter by detailing some of the best ways you can help a person with anxiety. This is without placing any unwanted pressure on yourself while still effectively easing that person’s anxiety levels.