It’s important that when someone tells us they feel anxious or down, we do what we can to help an anxious friend. A blogging friend of mine posted that she was feeling anxious and didn’t know why or have a reason as to why. After chatting with her about struggling with content inspiration she posed this question to me and said it would be an amazing post. I absolutely loved the idea so here are my tips on how to help an anxious friend.
This post today is brought to you by Debs from Fire To The Phoenix – thanks Debs for agreeing to write and guest post on my blog today! I hope everybody loves this post as much as I do! – Olivia
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It is usually a feeling of fear or apprehension about something to come. For example, moving to a new place, starting a new job etc. This is perfectly normal and healthy. It means we will work harder and do a better job, even though it is quite unpleasant.
If your anxiety is long lasting and more extreme, you may suffer from an anxiety disorder. There is nothing to be shameful of that. It is more common than you think. Sometimes, I wake up feeling a pit in my stomach and a sense of dread or fear and there is no visible reason for it. A few of the anxiety disorders are:
- Phobias – This can be of anything. I have a phobia of handstands (I know, not a usual one). After having a nasty experience carrying out a handstand, I developed a phobia of them and ended up having mild panic attacks when I was made to do them when I was at dance school.
- Panic disorder – This is when you have panic attacks with no indication of the triggers and can happen at any time.
- Separation anxiety disorder – When I was very young, I was quite a sickly child and almost died a couple of times, so my mum was always with me. By the time I was ready to go to school, all my medical issues had righted themselves but I had separation anxiety when mum had to leave me at school on my own.
- PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) – As the title of this disorder indicates, this is when you have anxiety attacks following a traumatic event. A large number of Army veterans suffer from PTSD after returning from service.
There is also circumstantial/situational anxiety, which is where a situation you are in causes an increase in your anxiety levels. This happened to me in a previous job, where I was being bullied by the boss and couldn’t find a way out. I would have horrifying dreams he would come to my home and attack me and had migraines and panic attacks due to the circumstance I was in.
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WAYS TO HELP AN ANXIOUS FRIEND
Anxiety affects each of us differently, therefore one method to help a friend with anxiety isn’t going to work. Here are some things I have done for friends and friends have done for me in those horrible, anxious times.
JUST BE THERE
One thing I have found the most helpful is knowing I have someone who is just there for me. Something that used to make me ever more anxious, is the thought no one would be there for me because I wasn’t happy all the time. Just being there has an amazing impact on an anxious person.
REMIND THEM WHY YOU CARE FOR THEM
Sometimes, anxiety can be crippling and the person can’t see past it. This can make them think why would anyone want to love me? By reminding them the things you love about them, it can help them focus on those things and have a few moments of distraction from the anxiety. Every so often we need someone to remind us how amazing we are and what we mean to them.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Acknowledging their anxiety and telling them that it’s ok to not be ok is so important. We can’t always be on form and at our best. It’s not sustainable. Remind them that the anxiety won’t last. It really isn’t forever, even though it may feel that way in the moment. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T DO
Don’t try to fix or solve the anxiety. There isn’t always a clear reason or trigger for the anxiety to surface and therefore there won’t be a solution. Like I said before, just being there for them is enough. You don’t need to fix the issue.
Don’t make out they are just attention seeking or that it’s not real. Anxiety disorders and the like are very real and just because you can’t see the reason for their pain doesn’t mean it isn’t there. This happens a lot less these days, since the movement for mental health awareness started. However, it does still happen.
Don’t cut them out of your life. It can sometimes be easier for you to walk away from them because it’s too hard to deal with them or they are too negative. But this is so detrimental to someone who suffers with anxiety. We need to know the people around us understand and won’t give up on us.
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How do you help an anxious friend? What things do you and don’t you do to support them?
Well there you have it!!! Some tips to help an anxious friend that have worked for me in both situations. I’ve loved talking about this subject and being open about some of my experiences. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. Do let me know of any tips you have found in dealing with a situation like this.
Until next time…