Even before the world turned upside down, living with anxiety was a very real problem for many people. We all feel anxious from time to time but for some people this feeling is overwhelming and can take over their lives.
We always talk about what people with anxiety can do to help themselves, but if you know or are living with someone who suffers from anxiety, there are things you can do to help them. Even the smallest things can make a big difference.
For people who don’t suffer with anxiety, or other mental illnesses, it can be difficult to know where to start. You don’t want to say the wrong thing, or even make it worse. Especially if the person you’re trying to help, doesn’t want that help in the first place. But something important to remember, is that you just putting the effort in and taking those first steps to help, is more value than you might ever know.
If you’re unsure if someone you know if struggling with anxiety, or other mental illnesses, here are some signs to look out for; changes in their sleep or appetite, rapid or dramatic mood changes, social withdrawal or loss of interest in hobbies, apathy, illogical thinking, nervousness or problems with concentration, memory or critical thinking.
If you’re noticing these signs in someone, here are some things you can to do help:
- If you see a sudden change in their behaviour, don’t just brush it off and don’t always wait for them to bring it up. Simply asking if they want to talk about it can make a big difference
- Don’t dismiss their feelings, even if they seem over-exaggerated or misplaced
- Make time to talk, giving them a safe place to express themselves
- Express concern. To you it might be obvious that you care and are there to help, but it wont be to them. Comforting words and affirmations go a long way
- Understand that they might not comprehend their feelings themselves, be patient
- Learn their patterns of anxiety and check in. For example, if their anxieties are typically centred around school, check in on them after school or when they’re doing homework
- Be open about your own anxieties, let them know they’re not alone in their feelings
- Simply ask– sometimes all you have to do is ask what’s the best way you can help
- Don’t be disheartened if they don’t open up. They are navigating the same uncertain waters as you are. Sometimes all you can do is create a safe space for them to figure things out themselves
Although you want to do your best to help, remember to take care of yourself as well. Create boundaries for yourself and if you ever feel like it’s too much for you to handle alone or feel that you don’t have the tools to help, encourage them to seek professional help.
Mind- they provide advice and support for anyone experiencing a mental health problem
Infoline: 0300 123 3393/Email: email@example.com
Samaritans- they provide a 24/7 call support for anyone struggling
Phone Number: 116 123