NovelSisters

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Dealing with Anxiety

on April 19, 2016

Children, Walking, Road, Distant, Supportive, Support

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I have heard a lot about anxiety in my lifetime. People who have severe anxiety share their suggestions of ways to deal with it. There are countless books, articles and suggestions out there if you want help. But, well, I feel like I have a bit of a unique perspective, so I thought I’d share too. I can get anxious just like anyone. I’ve been nervous with speaking in front of a crowd, or being alone. I have my own worries and fears. But I don’t think it was ever serious. I never took medication, got counseling or anything like that. I was just a normal kid with normal problems. However, my sister went through and continues to deal with severe anxiety and panic attacks. Most of the advice out there is for people dealing with anxiety for themselves. But there isn’t as much advice for what to do if your friend, or relative, is struggling. What is actually helpful? And what just makes it worse? We all know good intentions don’t mean it’s what will actually help. So here are a few things I’ve learned.

5 Tips on Helping Someone with Anxiety

1. Don’t tell them what to do
Just because you read it in a book, doesn’t mean it will help. This goes for my own advice too. I may give a suggestion that was helpful in my sister’s situation, but wouldn’t help someone else. Don’t assume you understand someone else’s problem or can solve it for them. Often times they don’t want to hear any advice on what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Unless they ask, don’t tell them what to do.

2. Listen
One of the hardest parts of dealing with any problem, is feeling alone, like no one understands you. If you want to be a good friend, listen to what your friend says and believe them. There were so many times that my sister complained about her stomach hurting that many people thought she was making it up, or it was all in her head. But I believed her and told her I believed her. And knowing that at least one person doesn’t think you’re crazy can be such an encouragement.

3. Be present
This may be hard, especially if you live far away or are really busy, but it really shows you care. For my sister, I will give her a hug to show her I’m there with her (since I’m already around her a lot). Some people don’t like physical contact. But at least for my sister, giving her a hug, even one that lasts for a really long time, can help her calm down. It may look awkward to someone else who is watching, but I don’t care. I want my sister to know that I care for her when she’s hurting or scared, so I gave her a hug, or put my arm around her while we sit. I don’t have to say anything, just be there with her. Even if you don’t give hugs, find ways to be physically present with your friend. Go to their house if they can’t get out. Make the effort to be with them. And if you live too far away, maybe have a Skype chat.

4. Take away the pressure by being patient and letting go of expectations
We all feel pressure to do things, to live up to other’s expectations. These expectations can cause anxiety for anyone, and make things worse for someone who already deals with it constantly. Letting them know that they won’t disappoint you if they can’t come to the event, leave the house, or do the thing you wanted to do together can really relieve the anxiety. Countless times I’ve told my sister, “You don’t have to go. It’s not the end of the world.” Or “If we do this, it’ll be fun and if we don’t it’s okay. I’m fine either way.” I let her make the decision to do something if she’s ready to do it. And if she’s not, I don’t get upset. (This can be hard to do, and I don’t always do the best at it, but when I am patient, she does so much better)

5. Pray
This has been the biggest help for my sister. When she starts getting anxious she’ll ask me to pray. And I do, whether for her stomach to stop hurting or for God to give her peace. Sometimes I start praying and end up thanking God for her and how much He loves her and me. It helps me and my sister remember that even when we can’t do anything about the situation, He can.

 

So there’s my 5 tips. I hope they are helpful for you.

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