Anxiety can make life difficult. It’s confusing, it comes on at the most inopportune time, and it’s a struggle, simply put. And it’s not just difficult for those who struggle with it, but for those around them as well.
Having someone who understands and cares makes anxiety so much more bearable. I won’t say it makes it easy; just easier. Do you have someone in your life that struggles with anxiety? Here are some things you can do to show your support for them.
- Realize that their anxiety is a real disease.
- It is just as important as something like a heart disease or diabetes. It’s a part of their life and they have to deal with it every day. It is important to show them that you take it seriously. Don’t ever tell them that “you’re just having a bad day”, or “it’s just hormones”.
- They are aware they are being irrational. You don’t need to remind them.
- They know their brains are probably coming up with the worst case scenario to a problem. But that doesn’t stop the thoughts from racing or the tears from coming. The worst thing you can do is tell someone that struggles with anxiety that they are being irrational. They already know that! Pointing it out only makes it seem like you don’t care.
- They like for things to stay the same.
- Do your best to promote a routine, especially if you know something is a trigger or spikes their anxiety. Routine is good. A personal bubble is good.
- There are some times when they just want to stay home.
- Going out with groups of people is exhausting for someone with anxiety, even if they know everyone in the group. It’s absolutely terrifying if they don’t know everyone. Having to be interactive with a group is tiring, and there’s a lot of social pressure involved. Sometimes they just want to order a pizza and snuggle up with a big fuzzy blanket on the couch. Be patient with them. With enough warning, they can prepare themselves for an event, but they can’t just be thrown into something. And FYI, surprise parties are the absolute worst…
- They need to know that you’re going to be there for them.
- Support is crucial for them when their anxiety is high. They need to know that your’e there with them when things are tough. You’re their support system. You’re the person they’ve let into their life and you’re the one who they’ve shown their true self to. They don’t hide their anxiety around you like they do to the public. Let them know they’ve made the right decision letting you in.
- They need you to be patient with them.
- There’s going to be good days, and there’s going to be some really bad days. And those bad days sometimes come without any explanation or warning. Sometimes they need you to simply give them time to work through it and just be there for them. Sometimes that means simply avoiding a certain subject because it’s too stressful. Sometimes that looks like scooping up a bowl of ice cream and snuggling on the couch together. Their anxiety attack won’t last forever and you can go back to the conversation later. But for the time being, be patient and let them guide the situation. They know what they need.
- They need you to know they’re more than their anxiety.
- They don’t want you to walk around on eggshells around them. They don’t want you to worry and wonder “will this bring out their anxiety?” There are days when they’re perfectly fine, that even difficult or high stress situations don’t set them off, and there are days that are the complete opposite. But even when they’re not having one of those “good days”, they still want you to be you. They love you not the you that’s cautious and careful that what you say might set them off. Again, their high anxiety is temporary. They’ll get back to normal again.
Anxiety is something that’s real and it effects a lot of people. But it’s not something debilitating and it’s definitely not something that should ruin a relationship.
Those of you with anxiety, what are some other good tips for those in your life?