Anxiety is a mental health condition that many people struggle with across the world. In 2019, over 301 million people were affected and the numbers are rising.
If you have a friend or family member who is struggling, chances are you know how debilitating it can be. While it can be challenging and frustrating, it’s crucial to stand by their side during this time.
Unsure of the right steps to take? To help guide us through this delicate terrain, we talked with Alyssa Scolari, a seasoned therapist and owner of the group practice, See You Through It Counseling, for 5 evidence-based strategies that you can use to support a loved one with anxiety
While there may not be a one-size-fits-all “cure” for anxiety, there are a variety of treatment options that can ease symptoms. Encouraging someone to seek help can be difficult, but you should still try and point them in the right direction.
If medication isn’t their first choice, that’s okay. There are other routes likecognitive-behavioral therapy or mindfulness techniques that can also be effective.The emphasis here is not on pushing them into any specific direction but on encouraging them to explore the available paths.
Educate yourself about anxiety.
It can be hard to understand a condition if you don’t have it, so take some time to educate yourself. What is anxiety? What are the common signs and symptoms? What causes it to happen?
Asking these questions can help you see through the eyes of your loved one and you’ll be better equipped to support them. Thankfully there are plenty of resources available. You can get started by reading blogs, books and talking to mental health professionals.
Listen without judgment.
Those suffering from anxiety may have low self-esteem and feel helpless. When listening to their concerns, don’t judge and try to refrain from saying anything harsh as it can make the situation worse.
Try and help them feel heard and understood. It’s best to show compassion and empathy, rather than being confused about how they are acting. Just imagine what it would be like if you were in their shoes.
Help them prioritize self-care.
Self-care is an extremely important part of managing anxiety. By joining in and preparing activities, you can make them exciting and enjoyable for your loved one.
You may go to the gym together, organize a spa day, or attend a meditation session. It’s also a good idea to help them establish healthy sleep habits and a proper diet. An unhealthy lifestyle can make their symptoms even worse.
Just like other mental health conditions, managing anxiety is a long journey. As frustrating as it may be, be patient and prepare for setbacks along the way.
Celebrate those small victories and remind them of their progress (even if it may seem insignificant). Trust us when we say, it will mean the world to them.
As you can see from the above, supporting and assisting a loved one doesn’t have to be such a daunting process. Take each step one at a time and soon you’ll see their symptoms ease. Your support and care will make a big difference!