How to Support a Sufferer
Above all, people who support those with anxiety help them by being a loyal friend. That can provide the sense of security and belonging that sufferers need when they feel that most people around them don't understand them.
Even still, if you are helping someone to deal with their anxiety it may be a challenge to always know what to say and how to react. Simply put, there is no "one size fits all" response for offering anxiety help.
By using common sense
and some of the suggestions below,
you may aid in being a true source of comfort for your family member or friend:
*1. BE AVAILABLE - A true friend avoids making himself scarce. Be accessible to the sufferer even if at times it may not be the most convenient for you.
*2. BE A GOOD LISTENER - A friend who knows how to listen avoids interrupting while the sufferer is expressing himself.
*3. BE DISCERNING - Avoid hurtful or demeaning speech (Ex. Don't compare them to others with the same problem. Recognize that each persons recovers at their own rate.)
*4. BE PATIENT - It may take weeks, months, even years to learn how to manage anxiety well. Stay the course, it's what true friends do.
*5. BE EMPATHETIC - Put yourself in their shoes. (Ask yourself what type of friend you would like to have if your were in their position. Try to be that friend.)
*6. BE UPBUILDING - Make it your aim to remind the sufferer of his/her positive qualities. This will help build their self-esteem.
*7. DON'T EXPECT PERFECTION - Make allowances for setbacks. Many anxiety sufferers revert back to old negative behaviors while making the needed changes.
*8. DON'T OVERREACT - Even if the sufferer may respond with hurtful speech remind yourself not to be offended. Many times it's not toward you but its the "anxiety" talking.
*9. AVOID CLICHES - Stay away from sayings like "don't worry about it, things will be fine." Such generic expressions tend to sound like a "cure all" which is not realistic for the sufferer.
*10. DON'T GIVE UP - Whatever you do, even if YOU don't get all of the above steps right every time, stick with the sufferer and show them you really are there for them. That message will override any minor mistakes.
NOTE OF CAUTION: Sometimes you may wonder after giving of yourself so much when you will have time for yourself. Well, you must take time for yourself and step away from the stress sometimes.
While offering anxiety help requires balance on the part of friends it requires even more balance if you are a spouse. Why? Well, if you are a spouse you are with them most of the time. And because you love that person so much you likely are willing to do any and everything it takes to help them get better. But if you are not balanced it can have a tendency to swallow you up too. Take a break when you need to. While helping as much as you can you must be balanced and care for your own emotional needs.
Remember you are only one person and will never be able to fill all of their anxiety help needs. View the times that you can't help as times that they can use to grow and employ some of the new techniques they are learning.
As a matter of fact encourage them to practice building themselves up by
A good friend is one that helps the other grow into a stronger and better person, not to become dependent.
So, support them as much as you can....and then.....allow them to grow. They will truly appreciate having such a loyal friend like you!
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