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23 Things to Remember if You Love An Anxiety-Ridden Person

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23 Things to Remember if You Love An Anxiety-Ridden Person

Anxiety is something that we all feel from time to time, but for some people it’s something which affects almost everything they do. It can take many forms but most forms leave sufferers managing fear and panic every day.  If you’re the partner, friend or parent of someone who struggles with anxiety daily, there are a few things you need to remember:

1. They feel like they could die from anxiety

Having a panic attack literally feels like it could kill you.  Your heart is beating like crazy, you’re sweating, you feel like you might vomit or pass out.  You feel like you’ll die right here right now – in fact you kind of wish you would because nothing could feel worse than this.

2. They need you to be patient

It can be hard but when you’re not patient, it just adds to their anxiety and makes things a whole lot worse.

3. They need you to be kind to them – which means being kind to yourself too

Being kind goes with being patient, but it’s not easy to be constantly kind to someone who is struggling with anxiety, no matter how much you love them.  You can use up your kind-reserves pretty quickly so it’s important that you nurture yourself too.

4. They know it doesn’t make sense

It’s irrational.  They get that.  Knowing that doesn’t make it go away.  They can’t help it.  Sometimes they worry about how irrational it is… and it fuels their anxiety further.  Pointing out that their fear and anxiety is irrational is utterly, utterly unhelpful.

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5. They don’t expect you to understand

Nine times out of ten, they don’t understand it, so there’s no way they’d expect you to – but they really like it when you try.

6. They don’t think like you

…and that’s okay.  They overthink things and worry about the little things as well as the big things.  That can be frustrating, but it can also be the thing that makes them brilliant.  Their attention to detail and excellent risk assessment skills can be a valuable asset when they’re not causing issues.

7. They like it when you help them find anxiety lifehacks

Think with them about little things that might help.  What can they alter or avoid? Help them research things that have helped other people – finding practical ways to make each day a little easier will make both of you feel better.

8. They hate being talked down to

They’re anxious.  They’re not an idiot.  Don’t talk down to them – treat them like the human being they are, all the time, even during their most difficult moments.  Be kind, always; be belittling, never.

9. They are on constant sensory overload

It’s tiring being an anxious person because you’re constantly in a sense of hyper-alertness.  You’re on the look out for danger, you’re over analysing everything that’s just happened, everything that’s about to happen, everything that’s happened ever…

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10. They will panic less if you stop asking them if they’re panicking

Out of love, we often ask ‘are you okay?’ – but this isn’t helpful at all.  If they’re having an okay moment, nothing’s more likely to rain on that parade than being asked whether they’re okay, which makes them think about it, which might make them realise all the different reasons they might not be okay.  Or they might worry about why you’re asking.

11. They panic more when you panic

Watching someone having a severe anxiety episode or panic attack can be pretty scary and cause us to panic ourselves – especially when the person in question is someone we care deeply about.  However, our panic will fuel their panic so it’s important that we remain outwardly calm and in control – if you need to, you can scream in your head, but only if  your poker face is good.

14. They don’t mean it when they snap at you

Their head is full of really difficult stuff most of the time.  When they’re short with you, it’s not about you, it’s about them.  It’s hard to be nice and calm and sweet when your thoughts are in constant turmoil.

15. They know they’re not the best company

They fully understand that they can be unreasonable and unreliable.  They know that it’s inconvenient and frustrating for the people that love them.  They beat themselves up about it, constantly.  Don’t make them feel worse by reminding them.  They don’t need reminding.

16. They can live a normal life

There’s not a lot that a person struggling with anxiety can’t do.  It might take more planning than for other people, but most things are possible. They don’t need to be handheld and mollycoddled every day of their lives.

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17. They like it when you trust them to challenge themselves

It can be good for people struggling with anxiety to test their limits and try something new. It’s one of the best ways of stopping anxiety from encroaching further and further on their lives and can help them regain a little control.  But it’s hard for us to let go and let our loved ones fly when we know how hard they might find it.  Instead of finding reasons why it’s a bad idea for them to challenge themselves, think of practical ways to make it more manageable, they’ll love you for it.

18. They can tell you how to help them – but not at the moment they need that help

There are lots of practical ways that you can help someone struggling with anxiety, but you need to explore them during calmer moments.  They absolutely cannot tell you how to help them to calm down as their world is crumbling around them whilst they’re tossed in a sea of panic.  After an anxiety incident, reflect on how you could be more help next time – what was good and what was less good about how you tried to help this time.  Explore these questions during quieter, calmer moments and both of you will feel more able to manage the next incident.

19. They can find comfort in strange things

Sometimes strange things will help them.  It doesn’t matter what brings them comfort, it will always be welcome, no matter how kooky. So if you’ve noticed that your girlfriend seems calmer after she’s been dancing it he rain, get your wellies on.  If your brother is less anxious when his books are in colour and height order, get sorting.

20. They might need your help spotting the things that bring them comfort

Sometimes it’s easier to spot this stuff when we’re looking in from the outside.  We might observe them physically calm in certain situations – it might be in response to certain people, smells, places, music etc.  If you notice that something seems to help reduce their anxiety you should never hesitate to point it out and see if it can help again another time.

21. They hurt

Anxiety physically hurts.  Whether it’s the heart-attack type feeling of a panic attack or the aching muscles caused by over-tensing for too long or stomach-aches and headaches it hurts.

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22. They need to be listened to, not talked at

Being allowed to talk and feeling heard is hugely helpful.  It raises their self-esteem and helps them to explore the things that both cause and reduce their anxiety.  Being lectured on the other hand, is unhelpful.  You are more helpful when you help them to talk rather than when you do all the talking.  Ask open-ended questions and never be afraid of silence… whilst you can hear nothing there is often a cacophony of noise happening in their head whilst they get their thoughts straight.

23. They love you too

They know they’re hard to live with, they know that you go to great lengths to support them and they really do appreciate it.  They may not always be the best at showing it but they really do love you too.

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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