Thursday, January 23, 2014

7 Ways To Cope With The Anxiety Of Others

It can be challenging when someone you love has anxiety. You might not know what to do, or how to react during their anxiety or panic attack. Everyone is different but here are a few tips to help you cope when someone you care about is dealing with anxiety. 

1 Be compassionate: Make an effort to understand where the anxiety is coming from. First of all, know that is not about you, but rather, how they are feeling about a situation. For example, they may have parenting anxiety and get upset when they don't know what to do about a child that won't stop crying. Understand that they might be concerned for the child's safety, it may be rational or irrational, but to them it is very real.  Because they can't stop the child's crying, they feel overwhelmed and out of control. Trying to understand where the anxiety stems from and realizing it is not about you will help you feel more compassionate toward the person suffering.

2 Resist the urge to engage: Make an effort to avoid getting sucked in. No matter how much someone is stressing out, you have the choice to remain calm. Imagine if the EMT (Emergency Medical Technicians) workers arrived at a car accident and they all started screaming and freaking out; nobody would ever be rescued. Picture yourself as an EMT worker, and you are there to help and remain calm during the crisis. You might not be able to "help" but by remaining calm, you can  prevent the situation from becoming worse.

3 Take a deep breath: Simple, I know, but most people forget this in the moment. Find peace in taking nice deep breaths, it will help to keep you grounded and focused.Make sure to breathe deeply enough to make you consciously acknowledge your diaphragm moving.

4 Validate their feelings and offer to help if you can: Say something like "I see that you are upset, how can I help?" or "I see you are struggling, would you like to talk about it?" They may not want your help (and that is OK), but at least you are making an effort to understand and help.

5 Walk away if you need to: If you find that you are unable to avoid reacting, or over-reacting, then simply walk away. Explain later that you had to get away, but it's better to walk away than to pour gasoline on the fire. Create healthy boundaries, even with people who are very close.

6 Communicate: Give everyone enough time to cool down, then talk about the situation. Talk about how the situation might have been handled differently, and express how you were feeling. You can even talk about creating an action plan for future anxiety attacks. Your loved one might appreciate you just taking a step back and not doing anything when they are anxious. Or they might have a specific phrase that you can say that will let them know you are there for them. Communicate honestly and openly with one another and you will get through anything!

7 Lay your weapons down: Pointing out your loved ones weaknesses will not help them. It can be scary and frustrating when your loved one is having an anxiety or panic attack. However, yelling at them, or judging them will never help them get better. If you want to express your love for them, create a safe place for them to be honest and open with you about what is going on. Encourage them to seek professional help. Offer to be supportive and continue to encourage while they are learning to overcome anxiety. Anxiety is not something you can just "stop doing" or "just focus on something else." It takes professional help to overcome so encourage your loved one to reach out for help. Note: many people are far more receptive to seeking help from a "life coach" rather than from a "therapist".

Most of all, do your best. We are not perfect, nor will we always react perfectly when someone we love is in crisis. Don't beat yourself up about it. Do your best, ask for help if you need it, learn as much as you can, be supportive and kind without compromising yourself, and Live Inspired Now!

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