Supporting someone living with anxiety

You probably know at least one person living with anxiety and at times you may have seen them being completely overwhelmed by it. The thought of supporting your loved one might seem intimidating but don’t worry, here’s how you can show you support them. 

Learn more about anxiety 

Anxiety is not always a bad thing. In fact, you need anxiety to survive, especially in situations where you need to be alert for possible danger, deception and when you need to perform at your best in your exam. But anxiety can be unhelpful, especially when it makes it difficult for you or loved ones to enjoy life. A person living with anxiety will often get into unhealthy patterns of coping with anxiety that causes it to spiral out of control.

Oneway to support a loved one living with anxiety is by taking time to listen and understand their feelings. This way you’re showing compassion and allowing them to express their experience freely, while getting to know more about anxiety. 

Offer support they can use 

When you have more information about anxiety, you may want to know what kind of support works best for your loved one. For example, practical support (breaking tasks down to manageable parts and thinking through decisions) versus emotional support (by affirming and encouraging). What’s most important is that your loved one feels empowered to take control over their situation. 

Take care of yourself 

It’s easy to get caught up in supporting your friend or loved one but you need to remember to take care of your well-being so that you’re not burnt out from offering your support. This way you’ll still offer your loved one the support they need.

Avoid stigmatising 

Keep in mind that there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding mental health illnesses. Statements such as “get over it” and “it’s not that deep” aren’t supportive at all! Instead they promote the stigma around mental health issues.  

Part of supporting your loved one involves reassuring them that you don’t see them differently. Also, try your best to move at their pace. It’s okay to push a little but respect your loved one when they’re not ready to take certain steps.

Supporting someone living with anxiety is not easy and you may feel like you’re not getting it right. But take it a step at a time and remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can. If at all you feel that professional help is needed, simply encourage your loved one to see a health care professional for further support. Remember to stay compassionate and take good care of yourself as well. 

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).