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How to Help a Loved One Manage Anxiety

How to Help a Loved One Manage Anxiety

Anxiety is not a dismissible “phase.” Anxiety is often a symptom of mental illness. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 18 percent of the US population over the age of 18 is affected by some sort of anxiety disorder.

If your loved one is struggling with anxiety, you will no doubt want to do everything you can to help them win that battle. But where do you start?

Understanding Anxiety

In order to be able to help your family member who suffers from anxiety, you first need to be informed. There are three main anxiety disorders that have their own symptoms, but all three have a common core—irrational and excessive worry and fear.

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

People afflicted with generalized anxiety disorder can’t help but worry over the smallest things, concerning themselves with problems that don’t yet or even may never exist. After managing to get through another day, they lie awake at night imagining and stressing over the worst possible outcome of whatever situations the following day will bring.

Panic Disorder

Those with a panic disorder experience sudden overwhelming feelings of fear that lead to breathing problems, dizziness, chest pains, and more. People with panic disorder will tend to avoid areas where they’ve experienced panic attacks before, due to fear the memories may induce another attack.

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

Social anxiety disorder causes individuals to have difficulty talking with others even though they do want to have conversations. They often avoid places that usually have lots of people, even the grocery store. Making and keeping friends is often a daunting thought for them, as well.

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For more information on these anxiety disorders and their symptoms and treatment options, visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Helping Your Loved One

If you have a family member who suffers from any of these anxiety disorders, there are ways in which you can help. Your loved one is facing a constant battle against stress and fear, which can be detrimental to their health, as well, so they could really use a dose of warmth and compassion from you. Your support throughout their battle is sure to lighten their load and perhaps even give them the boost of confidence they need to help them overcome anxiety.

Make Time for Your Loved One

Many people who suffer with anxiety disorders lack the self-confidence to get themselves through social situations, especially when by themselves. Being around a loved one may make them feel more secure and more willing to open up even slightly in social situations. Arrange weekly outings for you and your family member. They can be anything from grocery shopping or spending a day at the mall, to visiting museums or galleries, or even just a walk around the local park. Regular outings are a great way to expand your loved one’s socializing skills and help them overcome their anxiety disorder, especially if they are suffering from a social phobia.

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Help Your Family Member Discover a Hobby

In addition to outings, try helping your loved one discover a new hobby. Taking up a hobby is an excellent way to relieve the mind of stress and worry, because many hobbies require concentrating on the tasks at hand. Some hobbies particularly helpful with people suffering from anxiety disorders are…

  • Gardening
    Being surrounded by and interacting with nature is healthy for the mind and body. Consider starting a vegetable garden with your loved one. You can both reap the benefits—the soothing, relaxing sensation of becoming one with nature as well as the fruits of your labor.
  • Cooking
    Speaking of the fruits of your labor…you can use your homegrown veggies to delve into culinary arts experiments. Cooking with a partner can be a blast, especially when it’s with someone you love. Look up online recipes or watch cooking shows together, or Google local culinary classes to get out and about and help your loved one find people who share their interests.
  • Writing
    Just like talking with a good friend, writing about your struggles helps you better clarify your thought process, which may in turn ease your stress. Suggest this method to your family member who is suffering from anxiety. Maybe you could sit down together, each write a piece, and then discuss each other’s troubles.
  • Join a Book Club
    Reading is another great escape from stress. Getting involved with a book club can help your loved one ease into expressing their opinions among a small group and get to know others with similar interests.

Further information on these and other relaxing hobbies particularly helpful for people with anxiety disorders can be found here.

Never Judge Your Loved One

It’s in our nature as humans to judge others, despite our efforts to remain neutral. We develop our first impression of someone within seven seconds of our initial encounter, based mostly on nonverbal characteristics. But when spending time with your loved one, it’s important for them to know that you care about their well-being, despite their rocky situation.

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Your family member suffering from anxiety may find comfort in talking about their feelings with you, about the struggles they’re going through. You’ll improve your relationship with your loved one if you can overcome the curse of judgement and open your heart and mind to their situation, express your concern and offer a shoulder.

Any anxiety disorder can be detrimental to a person’s health. If your loved one or someone you know is suffering from an anxiety disorder, be sure to reach out for further help, information, and support when needed.

Featured photo credit: The endless road by Ryan McGuire via imcreator.com

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Dan Gellman

Director of Marketing for High Focus Centers

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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