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

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 March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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