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4 Ways to Support Someone Struggling With Anxiety

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From the outside looking in, anxiety may be confusing and hard to understand. What might be especially hard is knowing how to comfort someone who is dealing with anxiety. You may feel like if you say the wrong thing, you’ll set me off and make everything worse — but please don’t let that stop you from comforting the ones you love. Any effort is truly appreciated. Even if I don’t show it in that moment, it really does mean the world to me that you’ve acknowledged I am struggling and you are trying to help. Admittedly, knowing what to say or do isn’t always easy. Here are a few ideas to keep in your back pocket if you ever need to help a loved one through their anxiety.

1. Distract me

When I’m feeling anxious, sometimes all I need is a change of subject or scenery. Just simply going on a walk produces endorphins that can help ease my anxiety. Suggest getting out of the house to get a breath of fresh air so I can refocus my thoughts. Change the subject by talking about something positive, something I can get excited about and let me slowly unwind from my anxiety.

2. Don’t say anything

Sometimes you don’t even need to say anything, just be physically present. Snuggle up beside me, give me a hug or just hold me. That physical reassurance that you are here and you love me means everything. It will help me slow down my breathing and remember everything is OK.

3. Talk about it

It’s not that I don’t want to talk about my anxiety, I just think you don’t want to hear about it. If you open up the conversation, it will help me work through my feelings. By talking through these emotions, you can help me work through my anxiety and rationalize my anxious thoughts.

4. Reassure me

When I’m panicking, I often forget the things I fear aren’t actually happening in real life. I have a tendency to get stuck inside my own head and get completely lost in my anxious thoughts. To help pull me out, just gently reassure me everything is OK and remind me the things I fear aren’t actually coming true.

The best thing you can do for your loved one is love them through anxiety. Be there however they need you and just be patient as they work through it. There’s no rule book on coping with anxiety — most of us are learning how to deal with ourselves just like you are.

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Thinkstock photo via alexandralarina.

Originally published: August 17, 2017
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