Helping Someone With Anxiety: 8 Things You Can Do For Your Loved One
If someone you love has anxiety, you may be wondering how you can support them most effectively. While you may not struggle with anxiety yourself, it’s something you can learn about and come to understand. Although anxiety can affect everyone differently, there are plenty of ways you can show up for the person you care for. Anxiety may not be something you can take away, but with your support, you can lessen your loved one’s burden. In this article, we’ll be offering some of the most helpful ways to show your concern, care, and support for a loved one living with anxiety.
Helping Someone With Anxiety: Understanding Anxiety
One of the first steps in helping your loved one can be trying to understand what they’re going through. Many of us experience anxiety at one time or another during stressful situations, but those with persistent anxiety may find it difficult to function in everyday life whether at work, school, or home.
While the things or situations your loved one worries about may not seem like a big deal to you, it can be important to recognize that to them, it is. Anxiety is a primal instinct, dating back to caveman times. The basis of it is called fight or flight. When confronted with a stressor, we will either fight the issue, freeze up, or run away. For people with anxiety, this instinct is often hyper-sensitive. The stressors that you might consider minor are blown up in their minds to be extremely stressful situations. They might feel a loss of control and have difficulty controlling their emotions as a result.
Although you may not experience anxiety on a regular basis, you can still do your own research to learn more about it. This may be helpful as you search for and consider different ways to support your loved one.
Helping Someone With Anxiety: Ask Questions
If you want to help a loved one with their anxiety but aren’t sure where to start, you might think about asking them how you can be there for them. Explain that you want to offer a helping hand, but you’re not sure how, and let your loved one take it from there. The goal of asking questions is to get insight into their life. You can ask what normally causes their anxiety, what they do to calm down, or how they typically cope with it. Everyone copes with anxiety differently. Your loved one may need space, or they may prefer someone by their side to ground them and talk them through their anxieties. Taking the time out of your day to sit and talk to them is meaningful and can show that you care.
Helping Someone With Anxiety: Be A Voice Of Reason
Anxiety may cause a person to be irrational. A situation that might seem small to you can be blown up in their minds into a huge ordeal. You can help with this by reminding them of what is reasonable. Ask questions like: “What’s the worst that could happen?” “What’s the best that could happen?” and “Which is more likely?” These questions can lead to a productive conversation and relieve their stress regarding the situation. Do your best to remain calm and avoid becoming frustrated or angry at your loved one. Any additional stress may only add to their anxiety.
Helping Someone With Anxiety: Stop And Breathe
There may be a time when your loved one has an anxiety attack in your presence. If this happens to you, you can help by reminding them to breathe. When you notice their anxiety flaring up, prompt them to take deep breaths or practice deep breathing together. To do so, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose for a few seconds and then out through your mouth for a few more. Ensure that you are speaking in a calm and steady voice. It may take many repetitions of this process before your loved one feels calmer. Additionally, sometimes, no amount of deep breathing will be able to calm them. Consequently, try to be as patient as possible during this process. Remind yourself that your loved one needs support and that you can be the person that they come to for help.
Helping Someone With Anxiety: Exercise Together
Exercising is one of the most beneficial activities you can implement when helping someone with anxiety. Not only can it decrease your loved one’s anxiety levels and boost their physical health, but it can also be a bonding opportunity between the two of you. Exercise releases endorphins (a happy chemical) into your brain that can reduce stress and anxiety. Whether you choose to do high-impact cardio or take a stroll around the neighborhood, what matters is getting up and moving. When your body stays healthy, your mind can follow suit. So, take some time to pick an activity with your loved one and get started with an exercise routine together.
Helping Someone With Anxiety: Destigmatize Their Experience
Many people who struggle with anxiety feel embarrassed by their problems. They may avoid social situations because they are worried someone will notice they are feeling anxious. They might also avoid going to certain places for fear of an anxiety attack.
Often, anxiety attacks can appear out of the blue, and they may not always be preventable. While you may not be able to help your loved one avoid these experiences altogether, you can assure them they will be able to cope should they need to do so. Try to reassure them that many of the feelings they’re having are common. They may not know that others struggle with the same issues. As a result, they might shut themselves out of activities or social situations in favor of a less stressful approach.
Encourage your loved one with anxiety to live their life. Explain that succumbing to the lies that anxiety tells them may only hurt them more in the long run. If the activity in question is something you can attend, offer to tag along. You can show support by giving them reassuring glances or physical touches. Empower them to be bold and brave and to face their fears. Anxiety can be overcome with the right tools and support. The road there may look different for everyone, but it is possible to manage one’s symptoms and live a healthy life.
Helping Someone With Anxiety: Take Care Of Yourself
When you really care for and love someone, it can be tempting to put all your energy into helping them through their problems. However, if you don’t take care of yourself, it may be more challenging to support your loved one. Self-care can be crucial, and depending on your interests, could include any number of activities, hobbies, and habits. Whether you choose to paint, do yoga, take a long bath, or call a friend, anything that helps you relax and unwind can be beneficial to your mental health.
While you may be someone your loved one can lean on, it can be important to also have people you can turn to in times of need. Whether this is a friend, family, or mentor, having others to confide in can help you stay mentally well. Taking care of yourself first and foremost typically makes it easier to support others, including those living with anxiety.
Helping Someone With Anxiety: Speak To A Professional
Professionals can offer some of the most effective tools for managing and overcoming anxiety. If home remedies and self-taught techniques aren’t enough, speaking to a mental health counselor could be a helpful next step to take. A professional counselor can equip your loved one with proven strategies and advice that have stood the test of time. They can also diagnose any mental health conditions present and identify and address their root cause. Encouraging your loved one to get the care they need can be vital to their long-term well-being.
Online Counseling For Anxiety Disorders
Seeking professional support for anxiety can be an important part of the healing process. Whether you encourage your loved one to see a therapist or choose to chat with one yourself, going to therapy can help you work through the problems you’re facing in life. The counselors at Regain are trained and ready to help. Regain is an online counseling platform that provides services from anywhere you have an internet connection. For those that struggle with disorders like social anxiety, this can be a convenient option as sessions can be accessed entirely from home. This can eliminate the discomfort they may feel toward being in an unfamiliar place with an unfamiliar person. With these tools and tricks available to help you, moving in a healthier direction is possible.
The Effectiveness Of Online Counseling For Anxiety
Online counseling can be beneficial for those facing a range of mental health concerns. In one study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers found evidence that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) could benefit people experiencing depression, anxiety, and emotional distress from illness. CBT is a form of talk therapy that teaches people how to identify the thoughts that are causing them distress and then reframe them to be more positive. This allows them to develop more positive thinking patterns and alter their unhelpful behaviors as needed.
When someone you love has anxiety, it’s natural to want to support them to the best of your ability. There are many things you can do to show your loved one that you care about them and are there for them. Learning more about anxiety disorders can be helpful for understanding what your loved one is going through. While taking care of someone with anxiety, it can be crucial not to neglect yourself in the process. Participating in therapy sessions can give you a safe space to discuss what’s on your mind and could be a form of self-care that allows you to show up for your loved one more efficiently. You can seek therapy in person or connect with a therapist online. They can equip you with tools that can benefit not only yourself but those in your life who may be struggling with their mental health.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you calm someone with anxiety?
Anxiety can be complex. There are several anxiety disorders currently listed in the DSM, and each of them can impact a person differently. Even if two people have the same disorder, different things may combat or reduce their anxiety (or make it worse). Some people find solace in speaking with others (for example, calling someone on the phone), whereas others might find it most helpful to sit and journal, take a walk, draw, or use other distractions. If your loved one’s anxiety is something they’re conscious of, they may know what helps and what doesn’t. Ask them if they know what helps so that you can know what to do in the future. For example, if they have health anxiety (which refers to anxious thoughts related to health or illness) and you know this, you may ask what you can do to help when they’re struggling with thoughts related to this topic. This can set you both up for future success.
What to give someone who has anxiety?
A sense of understanding and having someone to talk to are just two things you can offer for a loved one’s anxiety. Note that you won’t always be able to curb a loved one’s anxiety or anxious thoughts. Anxiety disorders and thoughts are often complex, and everyone experiences them differently.
How do you instantly reduce anxiety?
People with anxiety disorders can benefit from different things, so if you’re wondering how to help with a loved one’s anxiety, ask your loved one directly how you can effectively support them. Many people find the following tools and techniques helpful when they’re anxious:
- Sensory stimulation (for example, putting an ice cube on one’s skin when they are anxious)
- Distractions, whether that is making art, writing, exercising, meditating, playing a game, or something else.
- Talking to others (for example, calling a friend on the phone or making sure that they are around someone when they start to experience anxious thoughts or anxiety symptoms)
Anxiety disorders are challenging to live with, but they are very common and treatable. If you live with an anxiety disorder or think that you might, reach out to a medical or mental health professional who can help. You can help with a loved one’s anxiety if this is something they are interested in by finding the appropriate support. You can help them look for a therapist, help them contact their insurance company, go with them to the doctor, or help them search the web for a therapist or counselor.
Do hugs help anxiety attacks?
Always ask before you hug someone when they’re experiencing anxiety or an anxiety attack. While it may help some people living with anxiety disorders, it can make anxiety worse for others. When someone is experiencing anxiety, physical touch can worsen it as it may be jarring or triggering. It can also make anxiety worse if someone living with an anxiety disorder requires physical space when experiencing anxiety or an anxiety attack. If you want to hug someone during an anxiety attack, try asking, “Would you like a hug, or would you like physical space right now?”
How do you date someone with severe anxiety?
For the most part, dating those living with anxiety disorders is just like dating anyone else. If you’re searching for ways to help your partner with their anxiety, it’s likely that you’re a caring partner who wants to be there for the person you’re in a relationship with. When it comes to dating someone with severe anxiety, there are a couple of things that are often advantageous. If someone is open about their anxiety, you can ask them what you can do to help. An example of this would be saying, “What can I do when you have an anxiety attack?” or “What’s the best thing to do to support you when you’re anxious?” This can be especially beneficial if you’re able to have this conversation when they’re feeling calm. That way, you can know what to do when your partner is anxious in the future. If someone in your life is experiencing anxiety, try to ask simple, gentle questions that are easy to answer. For example, if you notice a loved one is anxious or see that they are having a panic attack, you may say, “Would you like a glass of water?” or “Is there anything I can get you/do for you?”
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