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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 March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

More Health Tips

Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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