Here’s How To Support A Friend With Anxiety
Supporting a friend who has anxiety can be hard, especially if you don’t know how to help. Psychology Today notes that the first step to helping someone with anxiety is educating yourself. There are many types of anxiety, from generalized anxiety disorder to panic disorder, so knowing the type of anxiety your friend has is important. The outlet recommends reading mental health workbooks that focus on anxiety, so you’ll have an inside look into it, including recognizing the signs of an anxiety attack and knowing how anxious thoughts can get triggered.
Once you have an understanding of anxiety, it’s important to know the coping mechanisms that work for your friend. Psychology Today details various coping mechanisms, including exercise, breathing exercises, and meditation. Ask your friend which coping mechanism they use and encourage them to use their method of coping during an anxious moment.
Even if you don’t have a friend dealing with anxiety, it’s still good to know these tips. The fact is, anxiety is very common, with 40 million American adults aged 18 or older suffering from it, according to Verywell Mind. That being said, chances are you will encounter someone with anxiety at least once, so knowing how to support is essential.
Acknowledge a friend's anxiety to support them
Other than educating yourself on anxiety and various coping mechanisms, another form of support is acknowledging your friend’s anxiety, according to Verywell Mind. The outlet notes that most people with anxiety don’t even know they’re experiencing it or having anxious thoughts. To support your friend, you must not only acknowledge and listen to them but also encourage them to engage in coping mechanisms to reduce their anxiety.
However, when acknowledging your friend’s anxiety, it’s important to not perpetuate the anxiety by continuously reassuring them, according to Verywell Mind. For example, psychiatrist Gail Saltz told the outlet that many anxious people ask for reassurance. “If your friend or loved one is frequently asking some form of ‘what if something terrible happens’ and then looking to you for reassurance … you are actually perpetuating their anxiety,” per Verywell Mind. So, instead of reassuring your friend, encourage them to use meditation practice, exercise, deep thinking, or other methods that’ll decrease their anxiety.
Knowing how to support a friend with anxiety is important, as you want to help them without making the anxiety worse. And, now that you know these important tips, you can be there for your friend every step of the way.
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