When I began struggling with anxiety, the people in my support system did not immediately know what to do. They wanted to help, but “the right thing” to do wasn’t always clear.
Thankfully, we enlisted the help of professionals who assisted with establishing my plan of care. I don’t know how I would have managed to regain control of my life without these people there to guide me.
My struggle with anxiety did not only impact me, it impacted the lives of those around me. I know it wasn’t easy for them.
Now that we’re on the other side it, I want to lay out a few tips for those of you out there who may be wondering how you can support someone with anxiety.
Your loved one does not want to experience anxiety, but they can’t help it. Regard them with grace as they work through it.
Unfortunately, there is not a set timeline for how long someone can or “should” struggle with anxiety. Everybody’s experience is unique. The open-ended nature of the situation is daunting, but recovery takes time.
Make an effort to learn helpful methods that you can use while supporting a person who is experiencing anxiety. Your help can be monumental in aiding with their fight.
It is common for people struggling with anxiety to feel like they’re “going crazy”. Don’t tell them to suck it up or get over it. What they are experiencing is real, even if it “only” exists in their head.
If you cannot understand what your loved one is going through, take the time to educate yourself on the symptoms of anxiety.
Then go a step further and learn suggested techniques that you can use to help them cope with their anxiety.
Believe me, telling someone with anxiety to simply “tough it out” is not effective. It will only alienate you from them and will prolong their recovery.
Ask them what they need
Your first response when you realize someone is experiencing anxiety should be to ask them what they need and how you can help.
Sometimes the person suffering from anxiety does not know what is causing it or what would make them feel better. Other times, they do.
If they cannot come up with an answer for what would help, assure them that it’s okay. Recall the tips and techniques that you’ve learned and start working through them until you find a solution that works.
Remind them that everything is going to be okay
The person experiencing anxiety doesn’t always want to hear this, but it’s important that they do.
Even now, after all of the experience I’ve accrued in dealing with my anxiety, I still have moments where I’m feeling anxious and I need reassurance from my husband that I’m okay.
Let your loved one know that you’re here for them and that you’ll help them however you can. Remind them that their anxiety does have a beginning and an end, but be sure to also acknowledge and validate how they’re feeling right now.
Encourage them to remember that they have (most likely) gotten through anxious moments before, and they will certainly do so again.
Take care of yourself
Being a support person is hard and draining on your well being too. It is important that you also consider your self care during this time.
Try not to withdraw from your usual activities. Continue to do things you enjoy. Make time to wind down and/or blow off steam.
Establish your own support people and lean on them when necessary. We should not have to face these sort of hardships alone.
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Do you know someone who is struggling with anxiety? What do you do to support them? Was this article helpful for you?
Tell me about your experience in the comments below!