10 things you can do to help someone with anxiety
When people are working with us, often the things their friends and loved ones say can undermine the work they are doing. So here are10 things that you can do or say that will help and support their efforts.
1. If you want to go out, that’s great, but if you don’t, that’s okay too
Nobody likes to be forced into anything, and if they have anxiety it will make things worse. Give them the option to back out if they don’t feel right, this helps them to feel less trapped. It calms them down knowing that they can decide whether or not they feel able to do something.
2. Give them time
One of their biggest fears is that they are wasting your time. They constantly feel like they are disrupting the lives of the people around them by feeling the way they do. When you let them know that time is not an issue, they find it easier to calm down as they don’t have that added worry.
3. Let them know you’re proud of them
Some of the things we ask clients to do may seem simple to you but to them it might feel like a huge mountain to climb. It’s helpful for them to hear and feel your support whilst they are making this change in the way they feel. They like to hear that you are proud of them for taking on these challenges. It helps them to know that you understand how difficult it can be to persevere and succeed.
4. Try to understand that it’s something that they can’t control
The last thing they need to hear is you saying “get a grip” or “just forget it”. They need you to understand that they cannot control the anxiety when it happens. It makes them feel supported and safer if you understand.
5. Acknowledge that they are making an effort to make a change
They like to know that you understand that they are trying. Often, people give the impression that they are lazy or that they aren’t trying. It’s important for them to know that you really understand that they are persevering. Remember, it can be enormously hard for them to act normally, even in a very normal situation.
6. What can I do that will make you feel better
When they start to feel anxious, it can be helpful to ask, “What can I do to help?”. In the past, they just need to sit there and wait for the anxiety to pass, but we will have probably given them techniques that they will need to use to head off the anxiety.
That being said, they might appreciate it if you ask, because it makes them feel like you care about what they are going through. However, don’t push it!
7. You’re safe and secure, I’m here if you need me
It’s important for them to be reassured that everything around them isn’t falling apart. Anxiety is about feeling vulnerable, even when they are not. So any way that you can help them feel safe and secure can only help, but again, don’t push it.
8. Let’s grab some fresh air
Most people with anxiety feel trapped and feel like they can’t breathe, so going outside with someone can be a real help. It can give them some time to sort out how they are feeling whilst you’re there and they can feel supported.
A word of warning; for some people with anxiety, going outside and leaving their “safe zone” can be the last thing they want to do. In that case, make your presence felt by just being there for them.
9. It’s not a problem for us, we’re here if you need us
As previously mentioned they are worried about wasting your time. They hate feeling like a burden when they are out with friends and family. It reassures them when you tell them that they aren’t troubling you when they start to feel anxious.
10. Let’s work through this as a team
Sometimes it feels good to talk through their anxiety. It can be reassuring to get a different perspective on what they are experiencing. Try to be calm and objective without being judgemental. Everybody knows that anxiety is irrational but it’s the feelings we are trying to change and since when have feelings been rational?
Sometimes (but not always), it can feel great to let it all out in a calm and objective way with someone you love.
First, I want to inspire you about Amanda and how she worked through her anxiety and the things she learned that helped her.
Then, I would like to send you regular emails to help you to start taking control and give you a chance to think and feel differently about anxiety. I want you to know upfront that I will send you a few emails every week.
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