13 Sep How To Help Someone With Anxiety
Helping someone with anxiety can become intimidating. There are situations where they can be so overwhelmed by anxiety, that it can become difficult for the anxious person to tell you what is even happening to them. They might not be able to express what you can do to help. So use these 5 ways to get an idea of how to deal with an anxious individual that you care about:
Take the time to educate yourself on what type of anxiety your loved one has. Try to understand where they are coming from, put yourself in their shoes. It can take some time and effort, but it’s more effortless if you take it one day at a time. Once you learn how an anxiety disorder develops, you’ll be able to relate more to your friend or loved one. See why certain triggers arise and learn about how anxious thoughts come about in the first place.
Once you’ve got a clearer idea, try to help them out by joining them in one of these anxiety relieving exercises:
- Join them for any type of physical exercise.
- Go to meditation or breathing exercise together.
- Go to yoga together.
- Ask them to share their anxious thoughts with you and spot their negative thinking, and in turn teach them to become aware of their patterns.
- Do aroma therapy together.
- Tackle something/ some task they have been avoiding because of anxiety. Start with something small and do it just once a week.
Help Them Step Out Of Avoidance:
When you put something off because you want to avoid it, it will become worse overtime. For that, we can do tasks like these to help them step out of this behavior: ask them to make requests ( ask a boss for time off ) or ask them to do ANY task that feel intimidating. Another factor that will help them a lot is to guide them to the first step while doing these tasks.
De-stigmatize His/ Her Anxiety:
People who have high anxiety are often embarrassed by their anxiety symptoms.
They may fear their anxiety showing up when they’re in a performance or social situation, or that it will be visible to others. For example, they may fear other people will notice them sweating or if their voice starts shaking during a client meeting at work. The key is not to reassure the person that those things will never happen, but do reassure them that they can cope if/when they do.
For people who have anxiety attacks, the fear of having one is often as debilitating as the attacks themselves. The person may fear having a panic attack in specific situations (e.g., due to being in the middle seat on an aircraft or at the movies) and/or that they will experience one out of the blue.
If your loved one has a clinical anxiety disorder and their anxiety feels out of control to them, they may worry they’re losing their mind or “going crazy.” They may see anxiety as a sign of being a weak person, or doubt that there are effective therapies out there that will help them overcome their anxiety.
Communicate that you don’t see their anxiety as a weakness, character flaw, or a sign of them being incompetent in their life, work, or other roles (and as being a parent or friend.)
Normalize any types of thoughts you can relate to. There are many types of anxiety-based thoughts that people with anxiety disorders experience that even relatively non-anxious people also experience from time to time. For example, most people can relate to fear of being judged or of asking for something and being told no.
Also, it’s extremely common for anyone to have fleeting thoughts that they’ll do something odd, dangerous or out of character (e.g., mow down a pedestrian while driving or develop a sudden urge to become violent). People with anxiety often don’t realize that many people have these types of thoughts. People who are not especially anxious tend to write off the thoughts as just weird, whereas people who are anxious often equate having the thoughts with real risk that they will act on one of their odd thoughts.
Help Them Get Help With Anxiety
You can’t expect yourself to cure your loved one’s anxiety, no matter how smart you are, how much you care about them, or how much time you’re willing to put in.
Sometimes the best solution for how to help an anxious person is help your loved one access a therapist (e.g., you might offer to help with childcare or to go to the first appointment with them.) If they haven’t tried Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) before, then that is the best place to start for anxiety help. It’s the type of therapy with the most evidence behind it for treating anxiety.
If your friend is getting professional help for anxiety, invite them to tell you about what they’re learning and working on. If you think the person might interpret your questioning as checking up on them, you’ll need to be sensitive about how you do this.
Keep it positive by asking them about any useful insights they’ve gotten, or any anxiety management techniques they’ve learned that are working well for them.
If there is something that isn’t working for them about their sessions with their therapist, encourage them to talk to their therapist directly. People who are anxious often avoid bringing up certain topics with their therapist.
There are many different options for what can help with anxiety, and it’s all about finding the best fit between the person and the strategies. It’s no big deal if one particular approach doesn’t work for an individual, since there are many other options to try. If you’re willing, let them know you’re happy to be a partner for them in completing their therapy homework (such as trying out a meditation together or doing some thinking or behavioral exercises.) Getting help for anxiety is often a big step for someone who habitually avoids things that make them feel anxious! Your loved one will likely need all the encouragement you’re able to give!