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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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