Do's and Don'ts: Helping Others with Anxiety (18)
In my previous post, I provided some of my own tips that helped me personally in knowing what to do and what to avoid when dealing with anxiety. Since many people also struggle with the anxiety, I thought it would be helpful to share things that I appreciate when others do them. Once again, I am not a professional licensed in giving medical advice, but I've generalized these tips so that they can be helpful for everyone based off of my own experience.
Ask them how they want to be supported. People feel supported in different ways, so it's important to ask someone about their preferences when you know they are struggled. I like being able to talk about what's making me anxious so I can feel less overwhelmed, but others might like to be distracted. Listening to someone's preference can make the world of a difference in them being able to manage their anxiety.
Remain open for connection. Something as simple as sending a text checking up on them can let them know that you're there for them.
Make sure you understand how they're feeling. People are impacted by their anxiety in different ways and can thus experience different symptoms and show different behaviors. You'll find it easier to empathize with someone you know is struggling and support them if you understand the way their anxiety affects them. You can gain this understanding by asking them and educating yourself on the different types of anxiety.
Make sure you're looking after your own mental health. Supporting someone's anxiety can cause you to feel tired or overwhelmed. Doing what's best for you, whether it be talking to family or a licensed professional, will ensure you're in the best headspace to help others and yourself.
Be forgiving. Anxiety can cause people to be on edge and irritable. Try to understand the circumstances so you are able to forgive someone you know is struggling for what is essentially out of their control. However, don't hesitate to have a conversation about boundaries with this person if you feel the need to! Your feelings matter just as much.
Always talk about their anxiety. It's best to only talk about someone's anxiety if they bring it up. If they don't, they most likely want to be distracted with a different topic of conversation.
Expect immediate changes. Recovery isn't linear for everyone, so try to be understanding of setbacks!
Put pressure on them. Managing anxiety is a gradual process, so it's best to stay within your boundaries in helping someone as a friend, and encourage them to see professional help to better tackle their anxiety.
Enable their anxiety. There is a fine line between not pressuring someone and completely enabling their behaviors by continuing with their avoidance of certain circumstances. Try your best to suggest different scenarios that can help with managing their anxiety, but it's all about small steps.
I hope these have been helpful in knowing how to help the ones you care about! If you have any additional tips that you appreciate in regards to helping yourself and others, please share them below!