Friday, September 6, 2013

If you are a loved one of someone struggling with anxiety

What not to do:
Don’t make fun or be sarcastic about anxiety, panic attacks, or other things that cause obsessive worry.  Humor can be helpful in some situations.  However, making fun of another person or saying sarcastic comments are never productive.

Don’t be the anxiety police.  Meaning: don’t point out every single anxiety you see that could be handled differently.  Pick your battles, as they say.  And make sure it is done in a loving environment.  Most of the time, the person struggling knows full well that he/she is experiencing needless anxiety.  Pointing it out has no benefit.

Don’t tell other people about his/her problems unless given permission.  This breaks trust and will cause the person to be more reluctant to be open and honest, which can greatly hinder recovery in the long run.

Don’t baby him/her.  Compassion is good, but make sure you are not enabling certain behaviors or being a crutch to the anxiety.  For example, if your loved one is having a difficult time going anywhere without you, don’t be available to tag along every single time.  Work with them in creating a plan that sets them up for success in doing it alone.

Don’t get angry if your loved one has set backs.  Healing from anxiety can take a long time.  Don’t be impatient.
What to do:
Praise often, even for seemingly insignificant achievements.

Encourage independence.  Let him/her know that you will always be there for them.  However, by establishing this trust, they can confidently more toward freedom from dependence.

Compliment on progress made.  Every so often, remind your loved one just how far they’ve come.  Sometimes it is good to think about how “bad” it was in the past just to see how much progress has been made in the recovery department.

Reassure him/her that it is just anxiety and it will pass.  This condition is treatable.  And remind them that they are not going crazy.  There is so much comfort in the words, “You are not crazy”.

Stay positive.

Be patient, recovery is a never ending process.  You will grow yourself through these trials and tribulations.

Let him/her make decisions on their own.  But start slow.  Too many decisions in the beginning can be overwhelming.

It is important to keep things as “normal” as possible.  Routine is better word than “normal”.

Communicate about the anxiety.  Make it a point to check in and specifically talk about the subject daily or weekly or whatever is needed.  However, don’t spend too much time focusing on anxiety because that can cause more anxiety.  Dwelling is not good because it is not productive.  Communication is good because it has productive outcomes.  So, if you are unsure, use positive productiveness as a guide.

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