How to support someone suffering from anxiety

Anxiety is our body's natural response to a perceived threat. We all experience anxiety now and again when dealing with the stressors of life. However, many people experience such severe anxiety that it interferes with daily life and makes it extremely difficult to perform at work, maintain relationships; or start/finish tasks.   

The following highlights some common signs of anxiety and some questions to ask yourself to determine if your friend, family or loved one may be exhibiting those signs.

Common signs and questions to ask yourself to determine if a loved one has anxiety

1. Worry - Do they worry a lot? Do they worry about things they have little control over? Are they uncomfortable in situations that they cannot control?

2. Irritability - Do they feel keyed up, sometimes on edge?

3. Stress - Do they have a hard time feeling calm or an inability to relax?

4. Rumination - Do they have a hard time letting go of things- ruminating on something that was said or done a while after the incident occurred.

5. Negative thinking - Does this person have a lot of negative self talk or view of the world?

If these symptoms sound familiar, your loved one might be suffering from anxiety. The good news is you can help! Below are several Important tips to being a helpful and supportive ally, including several things to avoid when trying to support someone with anxiety:

1. Be a support person. Let this person talk to you about their feelings and emotions. Try not to judge what they are saying. 

2. Learn about about anxiety. The more you know the more you can be supportive. If you find anxiety frustrating, imagine how this person might feel. Think about a time when you felt anxious and how that felt. Imagine feeling that way every day or for prolonged periods of time.

3. Encourage the positives. Suggest positive coping skills such as: regular exercise, meditation, mindfulness, balanced nutrition, avoidance of caffeine and alcohol. Reinforce rational thinking and  help them try to avoid thoughts that are irrational.

Are you worried you may say the wrong thing? To help guide your conversation below are some hurtful phrases along with some more encouraging ones.

Hurtful-

"You should try to relax." "Don't worry about it." "Please try to calm down."

Helpful-

"How can I help?" "I am here to talk if you need someone." "I noticed that you did x even though you were really worried about it, I am proud of you."

Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out because you won’t say the ‘right” thing. By talking to someone who is struggling with anxiety, you are already taking an important first step in making them feel heard, supported, and understood.

If someone you love is suffering from anxiety and needs help please contact Kull Counseling, LLC at 608.239.4807 or julie@kullcounselingmadison.com.

5 things no one tells you about a miscarriage

miscarriage and infertility photo

A miscarriage is defined as the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks. It is estimated that 1 in 5 women will have a miscarriage. While many women have a miscarriage, it still remains a taboo subject, and can be very isolating for a woman to go through. 

5 things no one tells you about a miscarriage:

1.  It is a major loss - Going through a miscarriage is a major loss; whether you were 4 weeks pregnant or 20 weeks pregnant. Every woman has a different reaction and experience with miscarriage, and needs time to process and grieve what they have gone through.

2. The physical process can last weeks, if not months - Some women will miscarry at home while others will require medical interventions. Miscarriages can last weeks before they are completed. Because hormones are in the body some woman can continue to experience pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and weight gain. Once a miscarriage has completed it can take months for a woman's body to acknowledge they are no longer pregnant.

3. The mental process can last longer - Miscarriages are tough to deal with and can make you feel alone. People will try their best to support you and help you through your miscarriage, but may not understand what you are experiencing. In addition many people do not feel comfortable discussing having a miscarriage, which can make it feel isolating when you are experiencing one.

4. Your partner's grief will be different than yours -  It can be difficult to understand how your spouse or significant other feels.  Everyone experiences grief differently. While your grief can be different it is still possible to support each other. Open communication is key in understanding your partners grief.

5. It's okay to want to try again - Medical providers have different recommendations on when you can start trying again. Some for medical reasons and others for emotional/mental readiness. No one can tell you when you will feel ready to try again. It is something that each person will have to assess for herself. 

Each person's experience with miscarriage is completely unique and there is no "right way" to process grief. Not every person that experiences a miscarriage will need extra support, but if you feel like you need support through a miscarriage please contact Kull Counseling, LLC at 608.239.4807 or julie@kullcounselingmadison.com. 

Facebook-helpful or hurtful

Facebook comes up at least once a day in my counseling sessions. Social support and distraction can be two positive coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety. Facebook helps us to reconnect and stay in touch with family or friends. It also provides an "in the moment" distraction to take our minds away from uncomfortable feelings. While this all sounds pretty good there are other effects of using Facebook, and other social media platform.

When someone posts a picture on Facebook they are taking just a small snapshot of their life. Sometimes looking at others' pictures of their perfectly orchestrated photos can leave you with feelings of insecurity, inferiority, sadness or jealousy. Sometimes going onto social media can lead you to a downward spiral of spending hours a day torturing yourself with other people's "happy" lives.

The moral of the story is that social media can be a great tool if you use it right. Connect with others, keep in touch. If you find yourself feeling down or stressed from using social media it might be time to log off.

If you are interested in hearing more about healthy ways to deal with anxiety/or stress please contact Julie C Kull, LCSW at Kull Counseling, LLC. 608.239.4807.

 

Anxiety toolbox

I recently had the pleasure of presenting an anxiety toolbox to the Counseling Staff at Edgewood College. I co-presented with Meagan Geurts of Megan Geurts Counseling. As the Fall semester is about half way over the students are well into mid terms and some even looking ahead to finals in another month. This is also the time of year that anxiety starts to peak with students.

Meagan and I were able to discuss some techniques that we use in our sessions to help our clients. One of my favorite tools that i discussed is 4 square breathing. It is a great exercise that can be used in the moment with anxiety.

4 square breathing looks like this: breath in to the count of 4, hold to the count of 4, exhale to the count of 4 and hold to the count of 4. Repeat until you feel your heart rate begin to come down and your breathing slows down.

When I teach relaxation techniques in my session I remind my clients that it takes practice to learn a new skill. I encourage clients to practice 2-3 times a day for 1-2 weeks.

What techniques do you use to decrease anxiety?

For more techniques to help you cope with anxiety please contact Julie C Kull, LCSW at Kull Counseling. 608.239.4807