Living with anxiety can be trying. It affects nearly every aspect of your life. Having anxiety can be difficult to fully understand if you’ve never experienced it yourself. However, if you have a loved one who suffers, you can still help them. Follow a few guidelines to make them feel more comfortable.
1. Find Resources
A great place to start is finding several quality resources. You can educate yourself and find support for others. Consider looking into self-help books, support groups, therapy, and websites like UnwindingAnxiety.com. Understand that anxiety affects people differently, so one resource may be more beneficial than the next.
2. Learn What Anxiety Is
Take the time to learn what anxiety is. It i so much more than the stress an average person experiences in uncomfortable situations. Clinical anxiety causes an intense, consuming, and persistent worry that interferes with daily life. There doesn’t need to be an extreme scenario to bring the feeling on.
3. Recognize Symptoms
If you recognize the outward symptoms of anxiety, you can better notice when your loved one may need extra support. When your friend or family member feels anxious, you may see disrupted sleeping patterns, restlessness, fast breathing, sweating, and malaise. Their racing mind may want extra reassurance. Some people even face disassociation, depression, and fixation.
4. Acknowledge Triggers
Triggers are experiences that bring on or enhance periods of anxiety. A person’s triggers can be singular or multifaceted, and they vary from person to person. Learning and acknowledging your loved one’s triggers can help you avoid bringing on extra anxiety and allow you to comfort them. Common triggers include social interaction, performances, illness, arguments, and negativity. A person may also have very specific triggers that have unpleasant associations like a song, movie, or location.
5. Communicate Clearly
Always communicate clearly. You should let people know you are empathetic, supportive, and ready to listen. Just knowing you are on their side can be calming. Clear communication also helps prevent stressful misunderstandings. If they are open to it, offer to help point out behavioral patterns that they might not notice themselves.
5. Ask How You Can Help
Instead of avoiding rough situations or assuming you know what to do, ask how you can help. You may just need to lend an ear, give a hug, provide alone time, or assist with a task. What is needed can change from day to day, so check regularly without being overbearing.
6. Attend Therapy
Think about how close you are to the person experiencing anxiety. If you are extremely close, it can be a good idea to attend a therapy session together. Discuss the idea with everyone involved, including the therapist, before making it happen. Therapy can be a great way to connect and get tips for interacting together.
7. Avoid Taking Over
When you see someone you care about struggling, it’s normal to want to intervene. Be cautious not to overstep any boundaries. You should always be supportive, but doing too much can enable avoiding fearful situations. Note that there may be exceptions in severe cases.
8. Practice Self-Care
Trying to be someone’s rock is mentally and physically exhausting. Don’t forget to practice some self-care. If you burn yourself out, you will not be helpful to anyone. You can admit when you are having a bad day or need a break. It can also be useful to set some sort of boundaries.
Having anxiety is a challenge, and so is supporting someone with anxiety. Some days you may not feel like you’re doing it right. If you continue to learn and communicate, things will get better.