Anxiety is a frequent problem in our current society and it is the same in practically the whole world. And it is that anxiety, together with depressive disorders, are among the most frequent worldwide.
In addition, according (2004), anxiety disorders are the ones that start the soonest; specifically, at the average age of 15 years. On the other hand, they reach their maximum prevalence between the ages of 25 and 45 and are more frequent in women than in men.
A person suffering from anxiety has very high activation levels; she may feel tense, irritable, and restless, with somatic symptoms such as pressure or pain, constantly worried about things, with recurring thoughts about the future, fearful of uncertainty…
Do you have a loved one who suffers from anxiety? Would you like to help him and you don’t know very well how to act? If this happens to you, keep reading, because in this article we leave you 7 tips to help a person with anxiety that can go well for you.
The best tips to help a person with anxiety
1 Practice active listening
Active listening is a key tool when it comes to helping and understanding people. If we don’t listen, we can’t understand. But with the term active listening we do not refer only to “listening”, but to do it, as the name itself indicates, actively. What does this mean? Actively listening to the other implies:
-Be attentive to their words, but also to.
– Go offering feedback on what he says, using his own words and adding comments that may be useful.
– Demonstrate that we are following his discursive thread, with gestures such as nodding with the head, maintaining eye contact (looking into his eyes, but not intrusively), etc.
– Respect the silences (do not experience them as something uncomfortable; give them their space).
– Show interest.
A person who feels anxiety and who can talk about it with someone, that is, verbalize how they feel and what worries them, is someone who has the opportunity to vent. And letting off steam, in anxiety, helps reduce the levels of tension and hyper activation of the body.
Talking provides calm and security, as well as the feeling of being understood. In addition, being able to listen to someone with anxiety makes it easier for this person to feel accompanied and not.
2 Bring the person to the present
From psychology there is usually much talk about the following idea, and that is that anxiety is an “excess of the future” (while depression, an “excess of the past”). That is why, generally, mental health is in the present, currently. As a result, the idea emerges that focusing can help lower anxiety levels.
And it is that people with anxiety focus a lot on the future; your thoughts lead you to him (and, furthermore, they are mostly negative, not very optimistic or hopeless thoughts).
All this is shared by the psychologist, who affirms that we can help a person with anxiety by “bringing them to the present”. How can we do it?
– Encouraging her to talk about current things.
-Make plans with her, distract her.
– Reinforce his comments when he talks about the present moment.
– Listen to her when she talks about the future, but bringing the conversation back to the present moment.
– Making you aware of your reality now.
3 Don’t pressure her to “be okay”
Another of the tips to help a person with anxiety that can help us is not to pressure them to be well. Let’s avoid comments of the type: “it’s that you’re always the same”, “you should be fine now”, “it can’t be that you’re like this”, etc. This does not help him, on the contrary; adds pressure to his situation.
Let’s think that anxiety is a state of hyper activation where there is already a good dose of pressure, so we should not add more. Try to accompany the person from another place: from calm, tranquility and confidence that things can improve. Validate her emotions about him, don’t rush him to get better; she accepts that he is like this, but without stopping accompanying her.
4 Validate your emotions
Emotional validation involves listening, not judging them and understanding that they have a function. It also implies giving them the value they deserve and making the other person understand that it is natural (and healthy) for X situations to make them feel X way.
This is important in a person with anxiety, because this accompaniment allows them to reduce anxiety levels, and allows them to enter a state of calm (although it is not always possible).
But it takes pressure off them that they have to “be well” yes or yes. Therefore, if you want to help a person with anxiety, do not judge and validate their emotions. Its okay how you feel, there’s nothing wrong with it. But let him know (and feel) that we are by his side of him in case he needs anything.
5 Take care of yourself too
To help others, it is important to also be well ourselves. Thus, caring also implies caring for oneself. If you want to accompany a person suffering from anxiety, take care of yourself too.
Because accompanying and helping people who suffer from anxiety or other types of symptoms on a psychological, emotional or physical level, implies a certain physical and mental exhaustion. And for this we must have enough energy. It’s like when there is an emergency on planes and one must put on an oxygen mask.
Isn’t it true that they always say, “Put on your own mask first before helping someone next to you”? Well, it’s the same, metaphorically. If you don’t put the mask on first, you will hardly be able to put it on the other and save him, because you won’t be able to breathe.
6 Don’t personalize that anxiety
On the other hand, and especially if the person you want to help is someone very close to you (for example, your), it is important not to personalize excessive anxiety in the other, that is, not to believe that it is “something against us”. For example, if that person does not want to go on a trip with us because he feels anxiety; let’s not think it’s for us.
Perhaps it is because you have a plane phobia (another type of anxiety), because you are afraid of having an anxiety attack during the flight, etc. So depersonalize anxiety, because it’s something that has nothing to do with you, but you can help.
7 Encourage him to ask for help
Finally, another of the tips to help a person with anxiety is to encourage if this problem really causes them suffering or interferes in their life. When to ask for help? Many times, in mental health, it is said that psychological suffering is the starting point, the threshold that determines when professional help should be sought.
If that person is really suffering from their anxiety, if it is a problem that is becoming chronic. We encourage you to talk to that person, looking for a good time to do it, and raise the possibility of asking for help.
You can start by asking: “Have you ever considered asking for professional help?”; “Do you think that asking for help could be good for you?” etc. It is not about convincing her of anything about her, but about talking to her about her openly about the possibility of going to therapy, since a good psychologist can offer her the necessary tools to combat anxiety.
These are just a few tips to help a person with anxiety, although the underlying problem will need to be dealt with by a professional.
However, as we have seen, as friends, partners, and family members… we can do many things to help that person feel a little better. Above all, the most important thing is to convey to her that she is not alone and that she can count on us.