Helping Someone Cope With Anxiety

Stress is high right now for everyone, and for good reason, too, as the world continues to battle with COVID-19. But for some, this isn’t just a little bit of stress, this is deeply anxiety inducing. For those who previously suffered with anxiety, the situation may be proving too much to handle, as expressed in the June/July edition of School Nutrition.  Anxiety is a very common mental health disorder and can be easily treated.

While you may not be struggling with anxiety, someone you love may be suffering. They could use your support, love and guidance, but remember that their burden shouldn’t become yours—self-care is important when trying to assist others in managing symptoms of anxiety.

  • Validate their feelings. No one wants to hear their concerns ridiculed or trivialized. It doesn’t matter if you think their concerns are ridiculous—they don’t, and that’s the issue here. Listen, and don’t judge. Take care not to be patronizing when trying to help someone address their anxieties. It may be tempting to dismiss someone’s fears as a way to make them feel better, but it’s more likely to backfire and make you someone they won’t trust with this vulnerability or turn to again.
  • Ask what type of support they want. Some people want solutions, while others just want someone to listen to their fears and worries. The best way to support someone is to give them the type of support that they want. All you have to say is, “What do you need right now?”
  • Encourage professional help. Many individuals struggle to overcome a perceived stigma against taking advantage of professional resources, such as visiting a therapist. Without bullying someone out of their comfort zone, you can be a bridge by simply acknowledging that you think it’s OK to make an appointment with a therapist or to take medication.
  • Follow up. Don’t rely on a single conversation and then let it go. A day or two later, check in to see how your loved one is doing. You can gently inquire about the level of their distress and if they have tried any of the coping strategies you discussed together. The point is not to become a counselor yourself, but to show your loved one that you are there to support them over the long haul.

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