Stress and anxiety are awful to deal with. They can leave people feeling scared, depressed, tired and in despair, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, they are two conditions that are becoming increasingly common in the fast-paced modern world that we find ourselves inhabiting.
If you’ve ever suffered from stress or anxiety you will know just how debilitating they can be and how you can feel like you’ll never be happy and well again. It’s definitely not easy and anyone who is suffering from either or both of these conditions needs all of the help and support they can get.
If it is your friend or family member who is suffering, here are some things you can do to help them through:
Take Their Worries Seriously
One of the worst things you can do when someone confides their worries and concerns in you is to make light of them, brush them off or tell them to get over it. Yes, the fact that your husband is going bald may not seem like a big deal to you, but if it is causing him stress and anxiety, it is a big deal to him, so instead of dismissing him, tell him you love him no matter what and maybe get busy Googling hair treatments and finding answers to the question What is the difference between propecia and finasteride? Or, if your daughter is worried that everyone will be looking at her if she goes to the supermarket, instead of telling her not to be silly, reassure her that everyone feels self-conscious sometimes, and that although it can feel like sometimes, most people are too wrapped up in their own worries to give much thought to others then offer to go with her, promising you can leave at any time, even if you have to abandon a trolley full of shopping, if she feels uncomfortable.
By feeling you are listening to them and taking them seriously, they will start to feel a little better about their issues.
If someone is anxious, then it may not be as easy for them to do the things that you can do without much thought like shopping in the supermarket or introducing themself at a party. You need to understand this and be patient with them instead of getting angry or forcing them to do something they feel unable to do. All that will do is make them feel inferior and even more anxious than they already were!
Break Problems Down
If your beloved family member is feeling stressed out, whether it’s about a tough work situation, the planning of their wedding or anything else you can think of, one thing that can be really helpful is to sit down with them and break the problem down into more manageable chunks. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees and any and all problems can seem far more insurmountable than they actually are, by breaking them down into smaller tasks they start to feel more achievable and the levels of stress around them can be lowered and better managed by most people.
Although you should never be patronising to people who are suffering with stress and anxiety, sometimes all they need is a bit of reassurance from a friendly face, especially when they are in panic mode and aren’t coping very well. Simply telling them things will be okay and supporting them to feel better, in any way you can, can be very powerful indeed. Knowing someone has their back is far more effective than you might think.
Do a Little Pushing
I said earlier that you should not force anxious people to do things that they do not want to do, and you absolutely should not as it is likely to end in disaster. What you can do, though, is to gently push them towards doing the things that scare them. For example, if you know someone who is anxious meeting new people, don’t take them to a party, but have them meet a good friend or colleague of yours, who they don’t know, one-on-one in an informal setting, Encourage them to do this without making them feel like they have to, and when they’ve succeeded, think of another, slightly bigger, challenge you can work on and so on. This is a very mild form of exposure therapy and it can work wonders when handled with care.
Help Them Come Up with Positive Coping Strategies
Stressed people in particular can often turn to damaging coping strategies such as drinking excessively or even harming themselves. This may help them to feel better in the very short-term, but it can become quite destructive long-term. To help your loved ones avoid even more pain down the line, a good thing to do is to help them come up with positive coping strategies. Going to the gym with them so they can take their anger out on the equipment, having a movie night instead of hitting the wine bar, signing up for yoga or encouraging a much-loved hobby are all good ways to do this and give them an outlet that is more positive in nature.
Encourage Them to Seek Help
If their stress or anxiety is out of control and you feel like you can’t really help them on your own, encourage them to see a doctor or mental health professional. It may feel like a cop out at the time but actually it could be the most loving thing you can do because sometimes we need more help than our friends and family can offer if we want to get back on track and get mentally well again.
Never Give Up
Caring for someone who is stressed and/or anxious can be pretty tough at the best of times, but probably the worst thing you can do is to give up. They need to know that they are loved and accepted, no matter how tough things might be for them in the moment, and if you’re always there, you will build unbelievable bonds and become so much closer as a result. More importantly, they will have a much better chance of coming out the other side feeling brighter, better and more optimistic.