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Ways To Support Loved Ones With Anxiety

Ways To Support Loved Ones With Anxiety

Showing your support for friends and family can be difficult because what you might think is effective, may actually be more harmful than good. Here are some ways that have been backed by research that will allow you to be as helpful as possible.

1. Realize that things are usually magnified for those with anxiety

People who suffer from anxiety are often misunderstood. People often think that taking a few deep breaths or taking some space will help solve their problems. Unfortunately, it is not that easy. It is important to show support towards loved ones who are anxious by not telling them it will pass or to not sweat the small stuff. For them, their anxiety transforms a seemingly normal everyday situation into something bigger. It is in your best interest to show your support by encouragement, while at the same time not underestimating the situation.

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2. Avoid saying phrases like “calm down”

When you use phrases that are telling an anxious person to be less stressed, it often has the opposite effect. For people who do not suffer from anxiety, these phrases usually will do the trick, but an anxious person is wired differently. It is important to support an anxious person by your actions, rather than your words. Bringing a cool washcloth or creating a quiet environment where they can recover is more important than telling them phrases that will only cause them more anxiety.

3. Help them accept their negative thoughts

It may be tempting to tell your anxious loved ones that they should think positively; however, this will not help get to the root of their problem. Anxious people often have the same negative thoughts on a loop. Instead of trying to block them out, it is important for them to acknowledge that they are there and then try to let them go.

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4. Help them face their fears head on

For loved ones stricken with anxiety, you may feel it is better to shield them from anything that may induce fear, but in fact the opposite is true. Humans are wired with a behavior called “negative reinforcement”, which means by avoiding something that they already fear, it just reinforces this fact. Helping anxious people face a fear, even if they experience negative emotions can help them in the long run. This can be a tricky situation. Make sure you have their permission first to help them because it is ultimately up to them to change their own behavior.

5. Avoid bringing it up excessively

Loved ones suffering from anxiety may seem to talk about their fears constantly with you, but that does not mean you should feel free to bring it up as well. People with anxiety are constantly thinking about it, so when someone else brings it up it creates more anxiety and embarrassment for them. Instead, bring up common interests that you both enjoy.

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6. Avoid leaving them alone

For those with loved ones who are constantly anxious, it may seem like the best thing to do is give them their space, when in fact the opposite is true. People who suffer from anxiety need to be social because it helps distract them from their own thoughts when they are alone. It is important to set-up coffee dates or go to the movies together because it will help ease their anxiety tenfold.

7. Treat them like a normal person

It may be tempting to treat someone with anxiety differently, to be more cautious about how you act or what you say, but it only has a negative effect on them. Anxious people can tell when someone is treating them in a special way and this only increases their stress levels.

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8. Try not to take things personally

It might seem like a person with anxiety has a standoffish or disagreeable personality, so it might be hard to not take it personally. However, it is important to practice sympathy in this situation because the person with anxiety is not usually this way at all and is just battling a constant stream of anxious thoughts.

9. Don’t try to relate to them

People who have loved ones who are dealing with anxiety disorders might feel the need to empathize with them; however, this is a harmful way of trying to help them. Comparing a stressful day at work to a person who has been diagnosed with anxiety is not the same. You may inadvertently make it seem like you are underestimating a serious medical disorder.

10. Don’t place blame on yourself

It may seem like some things you do cause more anxiety for someone who has an anxiety disorder, but it is important not to have this mindset. Blaming yourself only creates more stress for both you and your loved one who is suffering from anxiety disorder. The truth is that their anxiety is much more deep-rooted than you think. Your everyday interactions with them are not contributing factors.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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