How To Support Your Loved One Through Anxiety
Imagine how one would feel if their home smoke alarm was going off at random times with no signs of smoke or fire? This happened on a repeated basis with no clue on how to predict when it would start up again or on how to stop it for good. After sometime feelings of irritability, helplessness, hopelessness, confusion, and even depression may be just some of the emotions that could set in. This is what a child, adolescent or even adult can feel when dealing with symptoms of unmanaged anxiety. Commonly, this is a tremendous struggle for family members as they many times do not know what to do or how to help.
Here are some tips in what you can do as a family member to support your loved one:
1. Label The Anxiety
Help them to see the anxiety as not who they are but something that is separate from them. Give it a label. In younger children this can be especially empowering as they can think of their anxiety as something not attached to them and can make go away. Help them identify what their anxiety is saying to them that makes them feel anxious. Then assist them in coming up with things to say back to it that is full of logical, practical self talk.
2. Know the Difference Between Information versus Reassurance Seeking
Those with high levels of anxiety often feel they cannot tolerate uncertainty. Excessive reassurance seeking is an act done in hopes of reducing their anxiety and feelings of discomfort. However, and this is something that is learned in therapy, we need to tolerate uncertainty in our lives. We are and will be okay if the outcome cannot be predicted. Reassurance questions will often be ones that are not answerable. They may be asked by the person repeatedly such as a child needing to text his mother while at school over and over to make sure she is safe or a college student who asks if it is reasonable that she changes her major and asks all her friends and family. Information seeking questions are specific and the person asks a question to be informed and accepts that answer provided. Encourage your person to welcome uncertainly into their life and try new things!
If you have someone going through anxiety, panic or OCD and are needing more help please reach out to Tara at Minds at Peace Therapy. We can discuss how therapy can assist. Family members need help too!