Watching a loved one deal with anxiety is certainly not easy, especially when you are worried that you might do or say something that could worsen their anxiety. You are not alone in this struggle. Millions of individuals suffer from anxiety, and the best thing you can do for your loved one is to be there for them.
It is essential to remind yourself that if an individual with anxiety shares their struggle with you, it indicates that they trust you. This means you can offer to listen and be there for them in their healing process.
Having someone in your life who is struggling with their family, work, and social life due to anxiety can be tough, but there are multiple ways you can help them. Here are some of the ways for how to help someone with anxiety deal with their emotions and everyday life:
Recognize the Signs of Anxiety
The first step in helping a loved one with anxiety is learning to identify signs of anxiety. Knowing when they are getting anxious would allow you to help them navigate their complex feelings and thoughts. Individuals with anxiety typically experience the following when they get anxious:
- Sleeping issues
- Shallow, quick breathing
- Irregular, fast heartbeat
- Jitteriness and restlessness
- Constantly on edge or wound-up
- Constant worry
- Thinking something terrible is about to happen
- Feelings of panic, fear, or nervousness
- Compulsive actions
- Frustration and irritability in certain situations
- Second guessing
- Seeking constant reassurance
- Avoiding feared events or situations
Those battling chronic anxiety might experience overgeneralizing, irritation, sweating, dry mouth, muscle tightness, and a feeling of approaching doom. Some might even experience a panic attack.
Validate Their Feelings
Most individuals with anxiety suffer from constant fears and worries about their future or past. This thought process is difficult for them to change. Listen to them and validate their feelings instead of ignoring them.
Let them know that it is okay to not feel okay. Show them you are there for them in every situation without judgment.
Introduce Meditation and Holistic Remedies for Anxiety
Mindful meditation and other holistic remedies often work in reducing anxious thoughts. These remedies can allow your loved one to process their thoughts and take proactive measures to manage their anxiety.
Aside from mindful meditation that encourages people to stay in the present, there are multiple holistic remedies your loved one can try, including:
- Taking a walk and breathing the fresh air
- Burning candles
- Performing yoga
- Deep breathing exercises
- Diffusing essential oils
- Taking Epsom salt bath
Ask Questions About Anxiety
One of the best ways of helping your loved one manage their anxiety is to listen and ask questions. Having meaningful conversations with them can allow both of you to explore the major cause of their anxious thoughts.
However, avoid forcing them to talk but remind them you are interested in learning and understanding more when they are ready. Remember, your job is not to fix the problem but to provide compassion and support. Some questions to ask include:
- When did you start feeling anxious?
- Was it a situation or an individual who triggered your anxiety?
- Is there anything I can help you with?
- Is there anything you need right now to feel better?
- Is there anything you feel stressed about that I can assist you with?
Be sure to listen to understand and avoid giving any advice or suggestions unless they ask.
Stop Acting like a Professional Anxiety Therapist
This might seem harsh, but people who want to help their loved one with anxiety often act as if they know better. While the intentions are good, this only harms your loved one. Unless you are a mental health professional, you need to understand what your loved one wants from you instead of telling them what they need.
You can still conduct your research and suggest ways to aid in reducing their anxiety. You can also share helpful resources with them, like podcasts, apps, articles, books, and online groups.
Understand and Avoid Common Anxiety Myths
There are many myths and misconceptions regarding anxiety, even to this day, resulting in people giving bad advice or making the problem worse, even if they have good intentions. It is important that you educate yourself about these myths and steer clear of them.
Here are some phrases commonly said to people with anxiety that should be avoided:
- Stop overthinking
- Have you taken your pills?
- You need to chill.
- Why don’t you try deep breathing or yoga?
- It is a genetic disorder that has been passed down to you.
- There is something wrong with you
- Only undisciplined, weak, or lazy people get affected by anxiety
- You might be hiding something from God or your loved one, which is why you have anxiety
- Everyone gets stressed. Get over it already!
Anxiety may be caused by multiple factors that are different for everyone. It is important to avoid repeating these phrases and questions to any individual battling anxiety, as this only minimizes their feelings or belittles them.
Encourage Them to Consult a Professional for Anxiety
No matter how supportive and helpful you are, it is essential to understand that your loved one can greatly benefit from a professional mental health therapist. Anxiety could be caused due to years of toxic values, neglect, or trauma that could make things worse for your loved one if proper therapeutic measures are not taken.
Your loved one might need the guidance and support of a professional to identify their triggers and find proposed solutions. Don’t pressure them but encourage them to seek a therapist to get the help they need.
Assisting a loved one battling with anxiety is not always easy. You might constantly feel you might do something wrong to make things worse. However, you must remind yourself that both of you are doing your best.
Your loved one might simply need someone to be there for them and validate their feelings. Give them time to open up and be patient and compassionate. Most of all, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Being in a healthy state of mind would ensure you take good care of your loved one.