At some point in our lives many of us will witness someone we’re close to experiencing anxiety, stress or anxiety based depression. Whilst anxiety is a deeply personal condition, there are ways you can support a loved one in managing their condition.
Some signs your friend or loved one is experiencing anxiety:
They feel unwell. Anxiety has a variety of unpleasant physical symptoms, and your friend might frequently complain of having chest pains or a racing heart. They may feel sick a lot and have no appetite, or always seem tired.
Something seems off. People with anxiety can appear restless, tense or “out of sorts”. They might come across as nervous, even in situations they’d normally be relaxed in. Some people are irritable and others more prone to emotional reactions such as crying.
There’s a change in their normal routine. They might be cancelling plans to events you’ve invited them too, or seeming distant and withdrawn when with you.
They are drawn to the negative side of things, focussing on the worst case scenarios and obsessing over potential problems or situations that haven’t happened yet. As anxious-based thoughts are not rational, simply explaining that their thoughts are unfounded won’t always reassure them.
Below are a list of a few simple things that you can do to support someone living with anxiety, stress or anxiety based depression:
For those experiencing anxiety, stress or anxiety based depression it can make a world of difference to know that they have someone they can depend on. By letting them know that you are always there, should they need you, can act as a real reassurance.
Ask how you can help
Anxiety, stress and anxiety based depression can affect different people in very different ways. What can be helpful for some people may not be for others, and so it can be important to ask what you can do rather than simply handing out advice. Some people may not be able to tell you exactly how you can help, but it’s good to allow them to try.
Encourage them to try new things
Trying something new can be a great distraction. Is there an art class they have always wanted to try or maybe something that they have never thought about giving a go? The great thing about this is that it could be something that you could do together.
Don’t only focus on anxiety
While it’s important that individuals feels comfortable opening up about anxiety, try to make sure that is not the only thing that your relationship focuses on. Remind them that anxiety does not define a person; they are much more than anxiety. Encourage doing things that they enjoy, exercising, spending time outdoors and socialising. These can all act as a good distraction.
Encourage them to explore support options
There are a range of support options available for those experiencing anxiety, stress and anxiety based depression, and different options can work for different people. Whether it’s self-help resources, support groups or accessing reduced cost therapy through Anxiety UK, the most important thing is that the person knows that there is help available and it’s just about finding what works best for them.
Encourage them to include exercise in their day
Exercise can have a huge impact on a person’s mental well-being. Whether it’s walking, running or joining a local sports team, exercise is something that you can do together and both feel the benefits from. So get those trainers on and encourage them to do the same.
If you have any tips of your own, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.