What to do (and what to avoid) when helping a loved one with anxiety
“Walk a mile in their shoes” is a common adage urging people to put themselves in others’ positions. But this is far more easily said than done—especially if you’re dealing with someone who has an anxiety disorder. After all, there’s a neurological change happening in their brain that they can’t control. It’s impossible to know what that feels like unless you’re in that situation. Here is a list of things that can work when trying to help a loved one with anxiety and a few things that just aren’t helpful.
- Be Available: No matter how much your loved one may seem to resent your presence and relentless check-ins, keep being present. He or she may not think she needs you now, but there will be a time when it’s much appreciated.
- Get Out: Go places and do things with your loved one. Fresh air and exercise can work wonders for both of you.
- Be Patient: Overcoming anxiety can take years. While the professionals help your loved one with treatment, your job is to be patient and celebrate the small victories with the person you love.
- Judge: The problem that’s plaguing your loved one might not seem like a big deal to you, but this isn’t about you. This is about helping a person you care about.
- Get Frustrated: You may think that nothing’s going to change or get better, but that’s not the case. Be patient with your loved one and know that overcoming anxiety takes time.
- Forget to Take Care of Yourself: Being there for your loved one means you have to make sure that you are taking care of yourself first. Anxiety can be exhausting and stressful and maddening. The best way you can help your loved one is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
Anxiety can steal a lot of joy and a lot of life, but, with the right treatment and the right attitude on your part, your loved one can be on the path to enjoying life again.