How to Help a Loved One with Anxiety
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Written by: Ashley Rosser
Everyone has or will eventually experience anxiety because it’s natural, whether it's before a big exam or waiting in line for the rollercoaster, you've been dreading going on. Some of us experience it more than others, and it might even impact our daily lives. You may also know someone with an anxiety disorder, and you don't know how to help them. Understanding how your loved one is feeling is the first step to helping.
What is anxiety?
The Oxford Dictionary defines anxiety as "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome." But what does that even mean? Anxiety is different for everyone. I like to describe it by saying it's like walking down a dark hallway after watching a horror movie and you're six. It's a constant state of fight or flight. Anxiety might feel different for them. It's essential to have a conversation about how anxiety impacts them. Your loved one might not even come out and say anxiety directly. It might be fear, stress, nervousness. Be on the lookout for those words.
Questions to ask
Anxiety isn't one size fits all, as everyone experiences it differently. They also react differently. Just as an example. Whenever I'm anxious, I like to be left alone. It gives me a sense of peace.
But on the other hand, my friend likes to talk about her anxiety. It's crucial to know how your loved one wants to be supportive. It's vital to know what kind of anxiety your loved one is dealing with. After you know, it's easier to be supportive.
"What do you need from me?" This question is so simple, yet so crucial. It not only allows you to know what you can do to help, but it also lets them know they are not alone. That's almost half the battle.
"Do you want to do something?" If you notice your loved one is anxious. Ask them if they want to do something. It doesn't have to be going to the movies or go shopping. It can be as simple as watching their favorite show, making cookies, or going for a run. Sometimes when a loved one feels anxious, they don't want to go right out and say it. But letting them know you're there will allow them to feel more at ease.
Communication is key. Talking with your loved one will make things all the better.
Anxiety is hard. Not only for the loved one, but also the supporter. It's hard to relate to things you've never experienced. Anxiety is common, while that may seem alarming, there are so many resources for every party involved. The only thing to remember is to know you're never alone, and things do get better.