Showing your support for a loved one who suffers from anxiety is never easy. It is frustrating to be in a situation where you often feel helpless as you witness them suffer from this illness. Remember that first and foremost, it is important that you are there, showing support in any way that you can.
Secondly, there are other things you can do to help the situation. Read on to learn a few techniques.
1. Educate yourself about anxiety.
Immerse yourself in as much literature focused on anxiety as possible. It does not all have to be strictly medical; instead, find magazine articles, memoirs and self-help books that will clue you into this often debilitating disease. Documentaries and local talks dealing with anxiety are also another great resource. The more you learn about the illness, the more you will be able to understand why your loved one is a certain way. This will assist you in showing greater empathy.
2. Discuss what is needed.
It is important to have solid communication with your loved one and to make sure to ask how you could provide the most support. Anxiety is different for each individual, so it is important to understand how someone can specifically benefit from your help. Your loved one may have no idea how others can help, but it’s important they can simply count on your support when needed.
It is also helpful to keep the lines of communication open, since what your loved one might need in the future can change with their symptoms.
3. Learn to not take anything too personally.
For anxious individuals, almost anything can trigger an anxiety attack. This heightened stress level may cause them to lash out at others. Try to remain calm and practice empathy towards their situation. It does more harm than good for everyone involved if you become anxious as well.
Remember you can always physically remove yourself from the moment, take a deep breath and come back into the room when you are in a better space.
4. Understand that you are not there to help fix anything.
It can be tempting to offer suggestions to a loved one on how to cope with their anxiety, but its better if you do not. This is a job for their psychiatrist or other mental health professional. Also, while you might be giving advice with good intentions, it might not be seen this way by your loved one and can instead be seen as a personal attack.
Remember you are there to support, not advise.
5. Brainstorm a code word.
One of the most helpful things that you can do is to come up with a word that both of you can use in public if your loved one is feeling anxious. It is important to have this secret word because it can be embarrassing for someone who is suffering from anxiety to mention it outside. It will also enable you to quickly respond to their needs and bring them to a quieter area if need be.
6. Make sure to always inform them of schedule changes.
People who suffer from anxiety often benefit from having as much stability as possible in their lives. If any changes come up, make sure to inform your loved one as soon as possible. Also, make sure to discuss the details of a schedule to make sure that they are well aware of all the events that will take place and can mentally prepare for them beforehand. With social events make sure to bring up details like who and how many people will be there, to make sure that they are fine with the arrangement.
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