Caring for Someone with Anxiety
Updated: Mar 8, 2021
“Why don’t you just get over it?”
“Just try not to think about it!”
“It’s not that big of a deal!”
“Omg, you’re being dramatic, calm down!”
“You’re doing this just for attention!”
These are just a few phrases that people suffering from anxiety hear on a daily basis. My goal for this blog is for you to be able to help your loved ones who are experiencing anxiety.
Anxiety is something a person feels when they experience excessive worrying and they cannot control their worries. A person experiencing anxiety can experience mental and physical symptoms. Sometimes the physical symptoms are easier to spot. For example, someone feeling anxious may feel: shortness of breath, immediate sweating, flushing of the skin (specifically in the chest), a rapid rise in body temperature, muscle tension, restlessness, and more.
Some mental symptoms include, but are not limited to: racing thoughts, panicky feelings, obsessive thoughts, catastrophizing thoughts, an inability to concentrate on anything else but what is causing the anxiety, embarrassment, shame, guilt, and more.
Individuals suffering from anxiety do not CHOOSE to be this way or worry so much. They don’t want to feel this way. This is not a very comfortable feeling, to say the least. So how can we care for the people around us and the ones we love that do have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or are just experiencing anxiety in general, or in the moment? Below are a few tips to help out.
Do’s & Don’t of Caring for a Person with Anxiety:
-DO have some compassion.
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. How would you feel in that particular moment?
-DON’T belittle their feelings.
Saying things like, “It’s not that big of a deal!,” or “Stop being dramatic!,” will not help the person feel better or calm down. If anything, this will make them have more anxiety and frustration.
-DO help them feel safe.
When someone is anxious, that means that they are perceiving something as a threat towards them, which then causes them major discomfort. Remind them that they are safe in that moment, that they are okay. Help them be present in the moment.
-DO use a calming voice.
If a person is feeling anxious, that means their thoughts are already racing and that they are possibly internally panicking. It is hard for them to organize their thoughts and keep them straight, so loud noises and voices can overwhelm this person more.
-DON’T force them to talk right away.
Your loved one has so many disorganized thoughts in that moment that they might not know yet how they are feeling. Give them a second to catch their breath.
-DO let them know that you are there if they need to talk about or explain their feelings.
People with anxiety tend to have shame or feel embarrassed because they don’t like how they are feeling either. They already know what they look like or sound like, for the most part, which can be irrational.
-DO be patient with them.
Your loved one needs to feel like they aren’t being rushed to get better and, “hurry up and get over it!” If a person is rushed, it can add more to their existing anxiety.
-DO remind them of coping skills.
Gently remind and encourage your loved one to utilize one of their coping skills that have worked for them in the past. If possible, walk them through it step-by-step (e.g. grounding technique). Only assist them if they are willing to accept the help. Also, this tip is only used when you have prior knowledge of what works for that person.
After reading these tips, I hope you feel more confident and comfortable when dealing with your loved one who experiences anxiety. Also, if you are suffering from anxiety and feel like a loved one would benefit from this list, share it with them as well.
If you are someone you know is struggling with anxiety, contact me and set up an appointment. CLICK HERE for information.