Sooner or later, you will encounter or befriend someone who struggles with anxiety. Whether or not you also suffer from anxiety, here are some things to keep in mind so that you can provide the best help possible.
This list is primarily for those with anxiety issues who are helping friends who also experience anxiety, but it’s also great for someone completely new to anxiety or a nurse looking to calm an anxious patient and everyone in between.
When you have someone in your life who is troubled by anxiety, it’s natural to want to help, especially when you have struggled with anxiety yourself. What is really important to remember is that your help is just that – help.
It does not have to be your duty to take care of them in every instance. It is very easy to feel guilty when someone needs our help and we can’t be there for them every time they experience anxiety. You can only do your best; it is not your job to make sure you prevent someone from panicking.
One way to check whether you are still of service is seeing whether or not you are taking on their anxiety. Empathy is important, but only to a certain point; if you are becoming anxious from helping someone’s anxiety, then you are no longer helping them because you are taxing yourself.
Ask yourself – if you were extremely anxious, would you like knowing that someone else has taken on your anxiety from trying to help you? No, of course you don’t want someone you love to experience your pain.
You can give your helpful positive energy without expending your own or contributing to the already negative energy in the air.
On the flip side, many anxiety sufferers can be completely calm when someone else is having a panic attack. It can feel shameful or guilty to feel at ease when someone is going through intense anxiety.
But be thankful and enjoy that relaxing response, because that is ultimately the best way you can help someone facing anxiety – by being calm.
The most productive way to help anyone experiencing anxiety is to be in a stress-free and compassionate state, as opposed to an uneasy and worried state.
Do your best to remain calm, and encourage them to take some deep breaths. Panic can make it feel like you’re dying, but being gentle and reminding the other person that a panic attack cannot kill you and that it will be over soon is the best thing anyone can do.