Do you want to help a friend with their anxiety? You already are an amazing friend!
But, not to demotivate you, doing it, in reality, isn’t as easy as said. Helping a friend with anxiety can be really intimidating. And often, you may find them completely overwhelmed by their feelings, which sometimes are very hard to handle. Furthermore, many times even your friend doesn’t understand what exactly they are going through. And in this case, they may not be able to tell you clearly how you can help them. This makes the task even more difficult.
Still wanna aid them? We love you for this!
If your friend is suffering from anxiety, a professional anxiety disorder treatment can always help them. But a loved one by their side can also be really motivating. And to support them even further in their fight, here are a few tips for you.
The first step to help your friend cope with their anxiety is to educate yourself about what they are going through and what you can do here. This will enable you to prepare yourself psychologically.
Are you aware of the type of anxiety your friend is suffering from? If not, find out. And then do some research on it. You may utilize a few online resources to find how you may help them. It definitely will take some time. But slowly, you’ll get there. After some time, you’ll be able to understand how anxiety works, what triggers it, what thoughts and emotions people with anxiety have in their minds, and how the condition affects their behavior. This knowledge will help you understand what your friend is going through and also how to approach them to reframe their thought process.
Additionally, you’ll also learn about various strategies that you may apply to help them with their condition. These may include:
To help your friend with this specific condition, you must also learn how to identify their problematic behavior. Keep in mind that not everyone experiences the same symptoms while suffering from anxiety. And thus, you need to look out for their specific signs.
People with anxiety or any mental disorder do not usually talk about their condition out of embarrassment. They fear that others won’t listen to them or may judge them. And thus, you need to re-assure them from time to time that you are there for them. Many times they may think that they are becoming a burden on you. But you must show that you love them and they are special to you.
You must not advise them on how to manage their problem. Keep in mind, anxiety is not a condition that someone can just snap out of. And it is not rational, which the sufferer knows. But still, they don’t seem to handle it. And you telling them that they should do this or that isn’t going to help them. They probably have tried everything already. And right now, they are instead seeking someone who can listen to them.
Sometimes, you may feel like you don’t have anything to contribute. But you actually don’t have to. Just start the conversation with a simple question, such as “What’s on your mind?” or “Is there anything I can do to help?” Even these open-ended questions can make them feel safe and supported.
However, you must not force them if they are not ready to talk. Also, before you bring up a sensitive topic, make sure you both are in a comfortable place with no interruptions. There might be instances when your friend may not want you to support them. But keep checking on them and show them that you care.
Sometimes, avoidance behavior may also contribute significantly to the development of one’s anxiety. When a person keeps on avoiding tasks that make them anxious, their anxiety starts building up over time.
Some of the most common tasks a person usually avoids due to anxiety include:
The more they avoid doing something due to anxiousness, the more they think about it. And they can’t seem to break out of this cycle. But if you help them walk through the process, they may be able to complete what were trying to do. Some outside help can help an anxious person break their habit of avoidance. So, if your anxious friend is avoiding something for some time now, help them take the first step.
There might be a chance that your friend isn’t aware of the treatment options that are available to them. Or they simply are not sure of how to get the support. Sometimes, it may also be quite daunting for them to seek professional help.
You may help your friend here by encouraging them to see a mental health professional or finding a suitable anxiety disorder treatment for them. Help them book their appointment. And offer them to accompany them to the doctor. If you are supporting them in this, they may be able to get the help that they are too afraid to ask and even recover from their condition successfully.
But please note, not every anxiety patient is comfortable enough with meeting a doctor in person. In that case, you may find them a virtual, on-call or chat-based, helpline.
In a condition where they are not at all ready to talk to anyone, ask them if you could talk to someone on their behalf. And if they don’t agree, and you still want to help, find an adult you really trust and talk to them about your friend. They may be able to guide you properly.
On some bad days, your friend may not feel like going out at all. They may lock themselves in their room and may want to cancel whatever they had planned. If they do any such thing, be there for them. Try to motivate them and encourage them to pursue their plan.
Your friend may or may not get professional help, but it’s important that you make them feel you are there to support them, no matter what.
Remember that they are going through tough times. And in such conditions, sometimes they may forget to recognize their own achievements. So, whenever you see an improvement in them, remind them that they are doing amazing and congratulate them. Tell them that you are proud of them and help them feel the same.
Furthermore, while helping your friend with their condition, instead of focusing on finding the solution to the problem, try having fun with them. This will make them feel normal again and thus help them recover as quickly as possible.
Being there for a friend is, of course, very important. After all, it is what makes your friendship stronger. However, sometimes it can be pretty intense to see your loved one going through such a condition. And it can affect your well-being too. Thus, it’s equally important to take care of yourself.
Remember, only if you keep yourself fit and fine, you can support your friends. So, take out some time for your own mental health too. Monitor your mood, exercise, relax for some time, and if needed, ask for help.