1. Reassurance, reassurance, reassurance.
Humans are complex and we all need a little reassurance from time to time, but people with anxiety need it much more frequently. Most people who suffer from anxiety have perfected an Oscar worthy talent for acting and while they may look totally fine, their head may be a total mess of questions, doubts, escape plans from made up scenarios and ‘’what ifs’’. Know that it will never be deemed weird, random or out of place to let them know that everything is, and will be fine.
2. Patience is key.
When someone is overcome by a sudden attack of anxiety, they find it impossible to see any end to their panic, they feel trapped and unable to cope with the (more often than not) exaggerated situation that they find themselves in. Thoughts of the future frighten them and in the horrible haze of chest pains, dizziness, nausea and sweating everything that is apparently going to happen to them is bleak, terrifying and hopeless. Let them know that it isn’t. Rational thinking has by this point, long since taken a running jump and they need patience. Never get angry. In the midst of panic, nobody sees the world the way they would normally.
3. Help them figure out a plan to combat their worries.
Ask them what it is that worries them. Ask for a definition. Is it money? Work? Family? Or something not so concrete? Writing it down with them so they can visualise it can be more helpful than it sounds. Sit down together and work out a way to solve the problems that send them into a meltdown, they won’t look so scary then. Replacing ‘’what if’’ with ‘’what is’’ is important and learning as much as possible about something is a tried and tested way to minimise fear.
4. Create a code.
If your loved one struggles very much, it may be wise to create a code word or sentence that can be casually slotted into regular conversation to let you know when they are starting to feel overwhelmed. It can be used like a safeword and through this, the person will feel that they can be open with you, know that you value their feelings, and that you understand their condition doesn’t just go away.
5. Set time aside regularly to talk about their worries.
Anxiety is always there, sometimes it is dormant, other times it isn’t. Let your loved one know that you are actively thinking about them and their condition by setting time aside to be alone together in your own environment and talk openly about how they are feeling. This isn’t obsessing, it is a release for words and emotions that might otherwise build up and build up until they spill over and make the person feel even worse.
6. Write notes.
Whether it is a kind word spelled out with fridge magnet letters, a quick ‘’I love you’’ on the bathroom mirror or a full length poem under their pillow, this will help enormously. Having something that lets them know things are okay to physically look at, hold and read when they are feeling anxious goes a very long way.
7. Let them know that it’s okay to seek help.
If you or your loved one feel like their anxiety might require the help of a professional, let them know that you don’t think they’re crazy. Let them know that every single person in the world has issues, some face them and some do not. Although we should not go through life constantly seeking the approval of others, it will only bring good things to let your loved one know that you support and will be involved in their decision to speak to a doctor.