I have had a couple of people recently message me on Instagram about their loved ones having anxiety and not knowing how to help them. When you suffer from anxiety it can completely overtake your life and it can become a very lonely experience. Having people around you that will support you and talk to you is one of the most important parts of steps to recovery. I know I wouldn’t have got where I am now in my recovery journey without good people around me.
If you have never suffered from anxiety it can be hard to understand what your loved one is going through because a lot of the time their thoughts and feelings are essentially irrational but there are things you can do. Here are some ideas.
1 – Ask what they need – If your friend has confided in you that they are having a bad day or suffering from an anxiety attack it is best to ask what they need instead of try and second guess the situation. They may want to be distracted and to not talk about it or they may want to have a big chat about it to make them feel like they have got some of their feelings out in the open. Whatever it is, go with it and let them take the lead.
2 – Don’t react badly – Sometimes when someone with anxiety confides in you, what they say can be a bit shocking. Try not to react badly to what they are saying so as not to put them off talking about their feelings.
3 – Make a self care basket – If you find the talking side of things a bit tough try this practical way of showing support. Self care is such an important part of looking after yourself when you suffer with anxiety that making something like this for a friend can really mean a lot to them. Fill it with things to pamper themselves with, a good book, their favourite food and help them look after them. I found lots of ideas for these on Pinterest.
4 – No surprises – As someone who suffers with anxiety, I do not like surprises. People turning up unannounced sends me into a mild panic. A surprise party for example would be my idea of hell. Plan things together and keep them fully involved.
5 – Encourage treatment – If your friend is yet to seek medical help then gently encourage them to do so. Asking for help from friends is a huge step but visiting a GP is an even bigger one. Offer to go with them or tell them you will be at the end of the phone when they get out of the appointment.
I hope this helps anyone that is worried about how to help a loved one with anxiety. The main thing is just to be there. It will mean more to them than you realise.