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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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