It hurts to see you suffering!!!
When a loved one suffers from anxiety it can be really difficult for those around them to know what they can do to help to provide support. This can leave us asking ourselves questions like what can I do or say? How should I act?
This can be a really confusing, frighten and frustrating place to be and can leave us feeling helpless. It can be truly heartbreaking when we see someone we love suffer and not know what we can do to help them through this or take these experiences away. And we can really struggle to understand their feelings when we have not experienced anxiety ourselves.
Anxiety can impact our relationships greatly and whilst we want to support our loved ones we can be at a loss as to how we can help them. Sometimes we begin to manage day to day tasks like house hold chores but can find it emotionally challenging to know how to address our loved ones anxiety and how we can provide them with emotional support.
Today I would like to offer some tips which may help people to offer care and support to those who are suffering from anxiety.
1. Be patient: Be patient with yourself and your loved one. Talk to them and ask how they feel you can help to offer support. Remember anxiety on a day to day basis is different from nervousness of having an exam or going on a first date that is something which most of us would experience. It can be hard for those who that haven’t experienced anxiety to really understand what its like to struggle with anxiety ongoing. Let your loved one know that whilst you have not experienced anxiety yourself , you are doing your best understand how they are feelings. This shows you are being supportive.
2. Educate yourself: Try to read up on anxiety, when we educate ourselves by listening to our loved ones and reading up on anxiety then we can begin to find ways to offer more support. Most importantly listen, listen, listen, and try to hear and really understand as best as you can how this anxiety is making your loved one feel. Actively listening to your loved one can be really useful and active listening in not a skill we are generally trained to do in our day to day life. This can be researched online. Listening to your loved ones and really trying to understand their experiences and feelings can really shows them that you are trying to offer all them support.
3.Be supportive when things get negative: There may be times when the actions of a loved one who is suffering with anxiety can put a lot of pressure on relationships. Try to understand that if your loved one is feeling irritable they may not be able to help this feeling in the moment. This is a time when even more understanding is needed. Reassure your loved one that you are not going to abandon them. There may be times when a loved one cannot attend events because of their anxiety. They may already be beating themselves up about this with their inner critic and feeling they have ruined the night so be patient and reassure them.
4.If your loved one makes plans and has decided they want to go somewhere or do something let them know that if they are not feeling ok when they get there they can always leave at anytime. Do not put pressure on them to stay or guilt trip them, as often feeling pressure to do something will only heighten their anxiety. Having the choice to leave without feeling pressure can often help.
5.Boundaries: If you have plans and your partner cannot make it due to feelings of anxiety reassure them that you still love them but you would still like to go. On the most part they will not have a problem with you going as you are an individual and have needs too just reassure them it is something you want to do and that it does not mean you care for them any less.
6.Try to be prepared for what to do if your loved one is having a panic attack. Practice relaxed breathing techniques together and progressive muscular relaxation techniques. (These can be found on our anxiety 2 post and video 1 on anxiety). These are tools which can help our loved ones when they are feeling anxious and can be practiced before hand so that we become familiar with them. This enables our loved ones to know they have steps they can put into action when they feel an anxiety attack coming on.
7.Anyone one can do
8.Mind yourself: Self care is of the utmost importance. Take a walk to get some fresh air, meditate, do things that you find fun and make sure you are getting time to relax. We cannot pour from an empty cup, we have to take care of ourselves before we can help others. It is important to take the right steps to avoid emotional burnout. Make sure you also have a good support network.
9.Be there: let you loved one know you are there to listen, that they can call you for a chat or meet you for lunch or a walk in the park. Let them know you want to support them and do not presume you know what they need. Ask them how they feel that you can support them. They may not know the answer but being there and listening actively and empathizing offers support.
When we educate ourselves about our anxiety we can provide support to those we love who are suffering. With the right techniques and support people can take control of their anxiety. There are many types of anxiety by researching them we can find more ways to provide support to our loved ones.
If someone’s anxiety is affecting their quality of life then I would suggest that they contact a mental health professional. I would suggest that you do not ring up a therapist for your loved one if they have not agreed to this as they may feel pressured. It may be best if you ask them how they would feel about speaking to someone and making a call themselves. They need to make the decision to come along. We are always happy to help they would like to give us a call.
People begin to heal when they feel heard.
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