How can I help others who have anxiety?
If you have someone struggling with anxiety in your life, it can be difficult to know what to do. Your loved one – partner, spouse, child, friend, trusted colleague – is anxious and afraid but saying something like “It’ll be fine” only seems to make things worse. Ignoring the issue will likely only cause more stress or anxiety, not make it go away.
Here we’ll talk about what you can do to help others deal with anxiety. No matter what causes anxiety, stress, or worry, understand what’s happening along with generosity can turn a relationship breaker into a situation that ultimately brings you closer.
Understand how to deal with anxiety
First off, when someone says they’re anxious or stressed, it may mean something different than you first assume. Instead of telling a person how they feel, ask. Questions like “Can you tell me more about what’s happening?” leave space for better understanding of the complete situation. Here are some other ways to help support a loved one struggling with how to treat anxiety without becoming anxious yourself:
Open up communication
Most people when they are anxious or upset tend to draw inwards. This retreat can come across as agitation, aloofness, or other dramatic changes in how they interact with you. This is where asking without judgment comes in. Saying something as simple as, “You seem to be having a hard time. How can I help you right now?” lets the person know you’re there, you care, and they can depend on you.
Avoid attempting an instant fix
Phrases like “calm down” or “just relax,” give the impression you don’t actually care about the person. Anxiety can feel overwhelming and destabilizing, so focus on what you can do to bring stability and perspective at this moment. Again, listen – don’t tell.
Don’t be an accomplice to fear
That said, it’s also important to not encourage the continuation of the anxiety cycle. Understanding and compassion doesn’t mean you must accommodate someone’s fears. Instead, take a moment to remind them to breathe deeply and get their body into a calmer state. When our physiology changes, so do our emotions. Heart-breathing can be another useful state-changer to help people get over their panic or stressed moment.
Remember, this person’s anxiety is about them, not you. It be particularly difficult when your partner struggles with how to deal with anxiety and withdraws physically or emotionally. But instead of feeling upset or frustrated, take a step back. Sometimes when we want to help others, we forget to take care of ourselves. Tend to your own needs so that you can be the best support for them and for you; it’ll be better for your relationship and your own well-being.
How to treat anxiety: the importance of support systems
Coaching is one of the most powerful tools we have to make permanent, lasting change. Instead of trying to be a person’s single support system, help them get the help they need. Coaching or psychotherapy can help uncover the reasons underlying someone’s anxiety, a crucial first step for mastering their fear.
The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. See full disclaimer.