If you have a family member or a friend who is suffering from anxiety, then you have probably felt the need to alleviate what they feel, although you are not completely confident of where to begin. Indeed, it hurts to see a person dear to you feeling tired and helpless, and having no energy or motivation to do the activities they once enjoyed.
If you are witnessing anxiety symptoms in someone you love, the first thing to do is to let them know that you care. If you want to be of further help but don’t know what specific steps to take, read on for actionable tips that will help you get started:
1. Learn About Anxiety
While you don’t have to be an expert to understand what anxiety entails, you will be in a much better position to help someone with this condition if you know more about it. There are plenty of resources online that discuss the symptoms and the different types of anxiety, so take time to read through those to learn about the links between emotions and behaviors.
Once you understand that anxiety is not something people can easily snap out of, you will know not to say things like, “It’s all in your head”, which does not make anyone feel better, and only invalidates the reality of anxiety.
2. Talk About Mental Health
People with anxiety often struggle with embarrassment, because they worry that their symptoms will appear when they are in a social situation and that people will notice that they are trembling or sweating during a presentation at work. You can be supportive of a friend with anxiety by reassuring them that their mental condition is not a sign of weakness and that your perception of them has not changed just because they are suffering from anxiety. You can also encourage them to participate in hobbies, and other activities that you know would keep them busy and help them feel a little bit better.
If your friend is the creative type, help them stay connected to this aspect of their identity by inviting them to help you design postcards or create a collage. The goal is not to make them feel like they need to distract themselves to relax their minds, but simply to make them realize that they are still the same wonderful person who can do whatever they put their mind to despite their feelings of anxiety or depression. However, if you notice that your loved one has become desperate for reassurance, you need to set limits, as this degree of anxiety needs intervention from a therapist who is qualified to devise a treatment plan to treat the condition.
3. Ease Avoidance Behavior
Avoidance behavior is any action taken by a person to escape from unpleasant feelings and thoughts. People that have anxiety often avoid the activities they need to do to sidestep their symptoms. The person you care about may be avoiding social events, job opportunities, and even relationships to keep stressful thoughts at bay.
Avoidance behaviors may provide a temporary sense of relief. Still, it can lead to increased anxiety in the long term, so it’s essential to help your loved one slowly face the situations they have been trying to avoid.
To help an anxious loved one to break free from avoidance, you can offer to go with them to a social event that they would typically avoid. It can help your friend feel more at ease, knowing that he or she has a trusted family member or friend who can assist them if their symptoms become unmanageable.
4. Offer Support and Encourage Assistance
Whether we admit it or not, no matter how much support and understanding you give a loved one suffering from anxiety, you are most likely not expert enough to cure their mental problem yourself. Often the best thing to do for the person you love and care about is to encourage them to seek professional help with therapy such as Brain Wellness Spa Anxiety Clinic for their mental health.
Regardless of what form of treatment your family member decides to go for, it will help them navigate their feelings, garner emotional resilience, and build better relationships. If they are afraid to see a therapist for fear of being judged by others, show them that you care about their wellbeing, and assure them that they have your support throughout their therapy process.
Written by Terri Bowman, the founder of Brain Wellness Spa and Quantum Neuro Recoding (QNR).