Help Them Get Professional Help
All of us have to recognize our own limitations, and, more often than not, the most important thing you can do for someone is help them get the help that they need. As such, when your friend is not in a moment of extreme anxiety, try to have a longer conversation with them about the importance of getting help and work with them to make sure that they can find the help they need.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Writing down whats making you anxious gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting.
These relaxation tricks are particularly helpful for those who experience anxiety sporadically. They may also work well with someone who has generalized anxiety disorder when theyre in a bind too!
However, if you suspect you have GAD, quick coping methods shouldnt be the only kind of treatment you employ. Youll want to find long-term strategies to help lessen the severity of symptoms and even prevent them from happening.
Other Sites That Can Help
www.atareira.org.nz – Support, education and information for family and whnau.Carers New Zealand – Information and support for people in caregiver roles.Mental Health Foundation – Information about mental health covering a range of topics.Small Steps – A range of simple tools you can use to manage your stress, anxiety and low mood.
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Do Let Them Know Youre Here For Them
When learning how to help someone with anxiety, you may want to explain to the person that youve noticed that they seem more anxious lately and that you want to help.
This will typically come as a welcome relief to the person, as they realise that they dont have to carry the burden of their anxiety alone. Having this conversation gives the person a chance to see that they have people who care about them, who want to listen and who want them to feel better. Someone suffering from anxiety could also tell you ways you can help manage their anxiety symptoms.
Find What Relaxes You
There are already things in your life that relax you. You may find it beneficial to make a list of things you enjoy and that help you to relax so you can reference it when symptoms of anxiety arise. When you notice your anxiety rising turn to those activities to help stop symptoms before they escalate.
For example, if you find that a warm bath is relaxing, don’t wait, draw a bath, maybe light some candles or add a few nice scents and get in. Whether it’s a bath, a shower, skipping stones at a park, getting a massage – if it works, do it right away, rather than allowing yourself to become overwhelmed by your anxiety.
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Instead Say: Lets Go To A Quieter Place Or Go For A Walk
If you want to try to help your friend get out of anxiety mode , you can try grounding them back in reality. Anxiety makes people hyper-focused on the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations that are causing the distress, so to get your friends mind off of those things, ask if they want to take a walk, listen to some music or go to a quiet corner.
Sometimes we need a supportive push to help break us out of our vicious cycle of panic and panicking about panic. Techniques like this are similar to what trained psychologists and therapists use as part of cognitive behavioral therapy, the gold standard of treatment for people who have anxiety disorders.
What Is An Anxiety Disorder
An anxiety disorder is defined as anxiety that grows worse over time and is more than just the occasional challenge or normal reaction to everyday circumstances. It is anxiety or fear of anxiety that interferes with everyday life, causes needless pain, and ultimately sucks the enjoyment out of living. Anxiety disorders do more than just annoy they also make it harder to work, enjoy our relationships with loved ones, or function in society.
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Dont Say: Why Arent You Seeing A Therapist/on Medication
Theres nothing wrong with showing concern for a friend, but be careful it doesnt come across as accusatory. Suggesting your friend should be doing something can create a sense of shame if they arent, or make them feel like theyre being judged. If they do need to see a mental health counselor or take medication, those are decisions they need to make on their own and at their own pace.
Instead Say: Im Always Here For You
You dont have to understand what your friend is going through to be there for them, and you dont have to compare your experiences to theirs to show them that you understand what they feel.
If you dont know what its like to have severe anxiety, be honest about that. But also let them know that you know its real for them and you want to be there to support them however you can.
Showing you care will help if your friend is self-conscious about their anxiety or has a hard time opening up about it. Listen without judgment to what they have to say and what their experiences are like. Being there for someone even when you cant relate is a powerful way of showing support.
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People With Social Anxiety Don’t Want To Be Alone
For people who have anxiety attacks, the fear of having one is often as debilitating as the attacks themselves. The person may fear having a panic attack in specific situations , or that they will experience one out of the blue.
If your loved one has a clinical anxiety disorder, and their anxiety feels out of control to them, they may worry they’re losing their mind or “going crazy.” They may see anxiety as a sign of being a weak person or doubt that there are effective therapies out there that will help them overcome their anxiety.
Communicate that you don’t see their anxiety as a weakness, character flaw, or a sign of them being incompetent in their life, work, or other roles .
Normalize any types of thoughts you can relate to. There are many kinds of anxiety-based thoughts people with anxiety disorders experience that even relatively non-anxious people also experience from time to time. For example, most people can relate to the fear of being judged or of asking for something and being told no.
Also, it’s extremely common for anyone to have fleeting thoughts that they’ll do something odd, dangerous, or out of character . Individuals with anxiety often don’t realize that many people have these types of thoughts. People who are not especially anxious tend to write off the thoughts as just weird, whereas those who are anxious often equate having the thoughts with a real risk that they will act on one of their odd thoughts.
4. Beware the reassurance-seeking trap.
Above All Continually Offer Hope
Anyone can overcome anxiety disorder with the right information, help, and support. Freedom from problematic anxiety is attainable even though it can be a lot of work. Your continued reassurance can help him or her get through the drudgery of recovery. Once he or she has recovered, youll recognize the true value of the hope you provided.
As we mentioned, there arent any miracle or quick-fix cures for anxiety disorder. Overcoming it requires getting the right information, help, and support, and then doing the work required. But success is attainable for anyone willing to do the work.
Your help in this process can make a significant difference, especially when you know how to help. The above tips can help you help your loved one.
For 35 additional ways to help someone with anxiety disorder, members can read the 50 Ways To Help Someone With Anxiety Disorder section in Chapter 14 in the Recovery Support area.
Members can also visit the sections 10 Ways To Help Children Of A Parent With Anxiety Disorder and 20 Ways To Help Affected Others in Chapter 14, as well.
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Support Them To Seek Help
If you think your friend or family member’s anxiety is becoming a problem for them, you could encourage them to seek treatment by talking to a GP or therapist. You could:
- Offer to help them arrange a doctor’s appointment. If they are scared of leaving the house, you could suggest they ring their GP to find out if they will do home visits and telephone appointments.
- Offer support when they attend appointments. You could offer to go with them to their appointments and wait in the waiting room. You can also help them plan what they’d like to talk about with the doctor. See our page on talking to your GP for more information.
- Help them seek help from a therapist. See our page on how to find a therapist for more information.
- Help them research different options for support, such as community services or peer support groups such as those run by Anxiety UK and No Panic. See our useful contacts page for more information. You could also call Mind’s Infoline to find out more about local services.
See our page on helping someone else seek help for more information.
Provide Safe And Comforting Physical Touch
Im a big advocate for skin-to-skin contact. We live in a culture thats starved for physical affection. We all crave it, and we all need it. A warm hug, a cuddle session on the couch, or holding hands tells your loved one, When youre with me, youre safe.
Skin-to-skin contact isnt just for newborns, and it often isnt sexual. Offering safe and affectionate physical touch is a powerful way to calm anxiety. Skin-to-skin contact reduces heart rate, which is one of the physical manifestations of anxiety. Physical touch also has the power to erase feelings of loneliness and disconnection.
Of course, physical touch will look different depending on the person youre comforting. It could be holding hands with your spouse and looking them in the eye. It could be a tight, 60-second hug with a friend .
It should go without saying, but before you touch anyone struggling with anxiety, even your spouse, ask their permission. Since anxiety is an alarm signaling a lack of control, reaching out to touch someone without their permission could make them feel like theyre not in control of their own bodies. In an effort to help, you may make things worse. Gently extend your hand as an offer for them to take your hand. Kindly ask, Will you walk with me for a moment? Or you might ask, Do you mind if I put my hands on your shoulders? or Can I hug you? If someone isnt interested in your touch, dont take it personally. Respect their independence and move on to the next step.
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Anxiety Doesnt Have To Be Forever
Good folks, I want to high-five you for loving the people around you enough to learn how you can support them. If youre interested in learning more about topics related to anxiety, I invite you to grab a copy of my Quick Read, Redefining Anxiety. Its a short book that uncovers four common myths about anxiety, and it offers you a plan to get your life back on track.
About the author
Dr. John Delony
Dr. John Delony is a mental health expert with two PhDs in counselor education and supervision, and higher education administration from Texas Tech University. Before joining Ramsey Solutions in 2020, John worked as a senior leader, professor and researcher at multiple universities. He also spent two decades in crisis response, walking with people through severe trauma. Now as a Ramsey Personality, he teaches on relationships, mental health and wellness.Learn More.
Stay Calm And Help Him Calm Down
Anxiety disorder is based on fear. This fear can be rational or irrational. Fear activates the stress response, which can cause a number of physiological, psychological, and emotional changes in the body. These changes can produce some profound anxiety symptoms. Often its these symptoms that anxiety disorder sufferers react to with more fear.
Regardless of whether the fear is rational or irrational, or whether the symptoms are strong, we can always find ways of calming ourselves so that the body shuts off the stress response, which leads to feeling better.
If your loved one or colleague is struggling with an episode of anxiety, encourage him to calm down and settle himself. As he calms down, he will feel betterin time. It can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from an activate stress response.
Remaining calm yourself can provide an example for him. Encouraging him to calm down can also help him calm down. Keeping calm is one of the silver bullets for anxiety as it shuts off the very mechanism that activates it.
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Encourage Him To Seek Professional Help
Anxiety disorder is caused by unhealthy behavior. While self-help information can be beneficial, a professional anxiety disorder therapist is almost always required to overcome problematic anxiety. Thats because many of the underlying factors that cause issues with anxiety are invisible, and therefore, unknown to the sufferer. Unless the sufferer is professionally trained in anxiety disorder resolution, its unrealistic to think he would be able to identify, successfully address, and help himself back to lasting anxiety disorder-free health .
Click the link for more information about the best type of help for anxiety disorder.
Help Bring Their Focus Back To The Present
An intense anxiety or panic attack may feel surreal. Your loved one may be having an out of body experience. They may lose their sense of the present. Being trapped in irrational fear can make them forget where they are.
You can contain a panic attack using various grounding techniques. These techniques bring the persons focus back to the present moments. It helps to make them aware of their surroundings and calm down.
Making them touch a physical item such as a chair or wall might trigger them back to reality.
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How To Help Someone With Anxiety
All of us worry and get scared from time to time. But those with anxiety may feel consumed by fears of things that might seem irrational to others. It can be hard to relate to these concerns, and as a result, many people dont know how to best help someone with anxiety. People are often dismissive of people experiencing anxiety, says Joseph McGuire, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine. With other medical illnesses, you may be able to see physical symptoms. But with anxiety, you dont necessarily see what the person is dealing with. So its important to be sensitive to what the person with anxiety is going through, even if it doesnt make sense to you. Its distressing to watch a loved one experience panic attacks and face anxiety every day, but there are things you can do to help. It starts with recognizing the signs of excessive worry and understanding the best ways to support your loved one.