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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.
"You should try to relax." "Don't worry about it." "Please try to calm down."
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org.