Couple Therapy: HOW CAN I HELP SOMEONE WITH ANXIETY?
- Effective communication involves a give and takes on both sides. Unfortunately, those experiencing anxiety may not be able to live up to their end of the communication bargain.
When anxious or upset, many people tend to withdraw...
... This withdrawal may seem like agitation, indifference, or other dramatic changes in the way they interact with you.
Get them out by asking questions. Say something as simple as: “You seem to be having a hard time.
How can I help you right now? "It lets the person know that you are there, that you care, and that they may depend on you.
2. STEP BY STEP WITHOUT HURRY
When an anxious person tells you how they are feeling, your immediate reaction might be, "No way. That's not possible." Take control of your own feelings and let the thought pass. For the anxious person, what he feels, and thinks is very real. As they open to you, new anxieties will emerge, including the anxiety that you may be judging them.
Listen to what your friend or family member is saying to you. Understand that what you might dismiss as a silly fear is very real to them.
3. AVOID ATTEMPTING AN INSTANT FIX
While it's tempting to try to change their perspective or improve their mood, phrases like "calm down" or "just relax" give the impression that you don't care about the person. They have heard those words before and have no doubt tried to follow them. Learning how to help someone with anxiety means practising your deep listening skills to discover what they really need from you.
They may not want me to fix their problem at all. They may just want you to be present for them as they download and process their feelings. Anxiety can feel overwhelming and destabilizing, so focus on what you can do to provide stability and perspective right now rather than rushing into problem-solving.
4. TALK TO THEM IF YOU NEED
It's a fine line to walk between helping someone with anxiety and helping them stop the cycle of anxiety. Remind them to breathe deeply and keep their bodies in a calmer state. When our physiology changes, so do our emotions. Cardiac respiration can be another helpful state change factor in helping people overcome panic or stress. Guide them through some relaxation techniques or some rapid breathing exercises to give them the support they need to get out of an elevated state.
5. HELP THEM CHANGE THEIR STATUS
The concept of state is so fundamental to the functioning of anxiety that it deserves additional mention. Research consistently shows that emotions are not just mental states; they are also accompanied by a series of physiological and behavioural changes. Anxiety and fear occur and are felt on all levels, creating a self-feeding cycle. If you are learning how to help someone with anxiety who is remarkably close to you, learning more about this cycle can be very helpful. Not only will you be able to help educate them on this process, but you will also be able to better understand what helps, and what doesn't, by offering assistance.
When helping someone with anxiety, remind them that learning techniques to change their physical state also changes their emotional and mental state. Emotions are related to the movement of our body and body language sends signals to the brain. For example, hunched and shallow breathing can produce feelings of lethargy or depression, while maintaining good posture and deep breathing helps produce feelings of clarity and well-being. As a result, you can change your state through physical movement. Understanding this link is critical to understanding how to help someone with anxiety.
6. PRACTICE COMPASSION AND DO NOT PUSH THEM
When helping someone with anxiety, you should avoid taking their feelings personally. Remember, this person's anxiety is for them, not for you. It can be particularly difficult when your partner struggles with anxiety and withdraws physically or emotionally. If this happens, it is time to treat them gently and encourage them to express their feelings. Show them that you are there for them but remember that they may need to work out some of their emotions on their own.
If they express a need to be alone, don't be upset or frustrated. Take a step back and let them know that you are available when they need to talk.
7. ENCOURAGE THEM NICELY
Anxiety can often manifest itself by avoiding tasks or emotions that frighten the sufferer. These procrastinating things may seem trivial to you, like scheduling car maintenance or making a doctor's appointment. Understanding how to help someone with anxiety may mean encouraging them to make an appointment you've been putting off or starting a meditation practice to help yourself.
8. IMPROVE THE SUPPORT SYSTEM
Offering support is one of the best things you can do when you learn to help someone with anxiety. However, you can't be there for them all the time. If you think that the person you are helping is really struggling and may be a danger to themselves, you should suggest that they see a therapist. In less extreme situations, suggesting that they work with a health coach is the perfect way to increase your support network.
Coaching is one of the most powerful tools we have to make permanent and lasting changes. This is because coaching involves professional techniques to empower a person while improving their support system. Coaches know how to help people with anxiety and have experience with different types of emotional obstacles. Coaching can help uncover the reasons behind a person's anxiety, a crucial first step in mastering their fear.
9. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Sometimes when we want to help others, we forget to take care of ourselves. Take the time to attend to your own needs so that you can be the best support for them and for you; it will be better for your relationship and your own well-being.