Anxiety disorders are incredibly prevalent in our society. They affect 18.1% of the US
population each year, and are the most common of mental illnesses in the US. With such a high percentage of
our population struggling with this, even those who do not personally deal with anxiety are
inevitably in relations with those who do. Whether this be a romantic partner, a family member,
or a friend, it can be very difficult to give them the assistance that they need. Many people find themselves feeling frustrated when they witness the struggle of someone they care about, but don’t know how to help.
Left unaddressed, this lack of understanding and inability to effectively communicate, can be detrimental to a relationship.
Here are a few tips to get started on how to help loved ones cope with their anxiety:
1) Do some research. The first step to help loved ones cope with their anxiety is to become more informed, which you’re already doing by reading this! If you have never dealt with anxiety, try reading up on it; It may be helpful to get some information from an outside source.
2) Sit down and have an open-minded conversation. One key element to understanding a
person’s emotions and how to help them is to talk to them openly about it. Invite a discussion
without bias, allowing them to share their personal experiences, and to ask questions. This
conversation can be a game changer in relationships, as oftentimes individuals with
anxiety tend to refrain from burdening others with their problems. Reassure them that they are cared for and that a support system is present.
3) Take note of what helps them in different situations. Anxiety can come in many
different forms. Sometimes they may be so overwhelmed that they just need a hug and acknowledgement of their worries; and other times they may need a mood boost: try cracking a joke or doing a fun activity. What should be done in each situation can be a tricky skill, and it will definitely take time to master. Ask them what works best for them, and reassure them that is valued information.
4) Remember the goal. When dealing with anxiety, the goal is to help them, not cure them. Make sure to not take too much responsibility or overcompensate in trying to help. Understand that they may have to deal with some things on their own, and not giving them the space to do this could be harmful.
5) At the end of the day, just try your best. There is only so much that can be done to
help, and it may be frustrating when it feels like it isn’t enough. Try to keep
things in perspective always just trying your best, and they will likely appreciate your efforts.
Final thoughts: Initially, it may be difficult to understand why a loved one worries so much over
minor issues or has certain days where their nerves towards doing small tasks seem like they’re
about to climb Mount Everest. However, help is only a conversation away; a good support person is capable of helping them with dedication and practice.
If you believe your loved one could benefit from professional support, please contact Compass Social Skills and Counseling, LLC at 774-847-9340 or Info@SocialCompassCounseling.com.