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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 November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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