Do you have anxious loved ones that are suffering from anxiety, and want to know how to help them?
This blog will give you four empowering strategies to help them – and you – until we get them through this tragic scene and get them back on track to a happily ever after.
Do you ever notice how the nervous thoughts of your loved ones are taking over their life?
It’s almost as if you can see by the shift in their spirit when they’re ruminating on the very thoughts that are dragging them down into a pit of despair. It’s so hard to watch anxiety dampen the light of those we love.
Whether it be a family member, partner, spouse, husband, wife son, daughter, friend, or close relative—the effect is the same. When someone in our life is anxious, you can feel it. Anxiety robs a person of their joy, their time, and their sense of well-being. At times, anxiety can be so debilitating that people develop insomnia, lose weight, and have a difficult time accomplishing daily living tasks. It is awful to witness someone close to you in the grips of anxiety, so, let’s get into what you can do for a loved one that is suffering with anxiety.
For those who have tried to help their loved one’s with anxiety—you know that anxiety is an awful invader of the mind and body.
Step One: Knowledge is Power. Educate Yourself.
It is important that you educate yourself about anxiety so that you understand what your loved ones are dealing with, and that you start to understand some of the basics of what works to help anxious loved ones.
If it turns out your loved one needs serious help, you will also want to know what treatment options are available in your area—and what your loved one’s healthcare coverage will cover.
If you’re looking for some complimentary support right away I have developed a free 7 day Anxiety Freedom Challenge that anyone can try out from the comfort of their home, while they are determining what their treatment options are. It’s a powerful step in the right direction and it is totally free–Get it here.
Step Two: Engage Your Anxious Loved One on the Topic of Anxiety
The top priority as we attempt to open a dialogue about anxiety is that the person feels loved no matter what.
We do not want our loved ones to feel judged or stigmatized for being anxious. That means we must approach them with humility and in a non-controlling manner. We want to speak from the heart and let them know we have noticed that they appear to be suffering. We want to provide empathy – not sympathy.
And we want to mention exact instances rather than make sweeping generalizations that can leave others feeling judged, evaluated or criticized.
We can ask them: “What would support look like?”
We can inquire, “Would you be willing to look at this one week Anxiety Freedom Challenge with me?”
We cannot force someone to seek help, but we can be there with ideas and inspiration that might help them open up to new possibilities. We can open a line of communication about what anxiety might be costing them and inquire about their motivation for change. We can ask politely if they’d accept our help.
So the next step would be simply asking permission to help them figure out solutions for their anxiety/ worry/ jitters or whatever they call it (if they have admitted to suffering from it).
( “ I do not want to make you feel that I am getting in your business or trying to tell you how to live. But I care about you, and I was wondering if I could have your permission to help you find some solutions to what you are going through [anxiety].”)
If your loved one agrees, I recommend formalizing the process by asking them when they would be available to meet with you to brainstorm solutions.
Then when you meet together, the first step is asking them
What have they tried for their anxiety?
What do they know about anxiety and what it is doing to their life?
What interventions have they heard about that they would be willing to try?
Write down everything they tell you on a piece of paper. Then you can determine your approach. One idea is to ask their permission to share what you have learned about anxiety. Then, if that goes well, you can present them with different solutions that you have learned.
The FREE 7-day Anxiety Freedom Challenge is a great place to start. And further, you could present them with options, starting with listing the most non-invasive options (such as an online course or workbook), and slowly move your way to discussing in-person interventions such as seeing a therapist or doctor, etc. It is important to start with the less intensive interventions to determine their level of engagement.
Once this has been accomplished, give your loved one time before you push for an immediate “fix” or “plan.
Ask their permission to meet formally the next day to discuss what they believe is the best first step for them.
Step Three: Negotiate a Plan of Action
One of the key elements to help anxious loved ones is getting them to commit to a plan of action. The difficult thing about anxiety, is that it often causes people to feel paralyzed and that they “cannot start something new.”
At times, it may be necessary to encourage and participate in aggressive treatment options. However, many times getting a person suffering from anxiety to begin ANY type of intervention at all is a first positive step and can have a HUGE impact.
We do not want to overwhelm our loved one, so I recommended beginning with only one type of anxiety solution at first. If your loved one wants to participate in more than one intervention, by all means encourage them.
After the goals have been set, help them break the goals down into simple and doable steps. Ask them how you can help them with the steps and, if possible, write down dates and times that they are committed to beginning the work of recovery from anxiety.
Remember to give them positive praise for their healthy behavioral changes, as opposed to criticizing their fears or other anxiety-driven behaviors. Another tip is to work together on a way to measure progress weekly based on their individual situation—not on some idealistic perfection.
Step Four: Helping Yourself
When a loved one is suffering, it has been observed that their caretakers and partners often neglect their own health in order to help. When trying to help anxious loved ones, it is very important and definitely not selfish to make sure that you are taking extra good care of yourself at this time.
Don’t change too much of your schedule. Do not stop your outside interests, activities, and hobbies for a break from the stresses of your daily life. If you continue to remain engaged in your own activities, you will find yourself better prepared to face challenges and generally healthier and happier overall. Do not let yourself be mentally consumed by the suffering of your loved one. It will actually help you help them more effectively if you can maintain your own well-being at this time.
Stay Connected. When your loved ones are going through a difficult time, it is vital to make sure you have a few key people that you can confide in. Whether they are friends, family, or a therapist, it is so important that you are emotionally supported during this time of trying to help anxious loved ones.
Set Boundaries. This may seem difficult to do when a loved one is suffering. However, it is important for your health and the health of your loved one to be clear on what your personal boundaries are, while helping them. For instance, if your loved one decides that they will reject all help and not develop any goals or plans to help themselves overcome anxiety, you may have to tell them what your limits are. Overall, it is important to let them know when you are available to help and when you need some time for yourself–this maintains a healthier balance, even during difficult times.
Seek professional help for yourself, if necessary. The recovery process can be extremely stressful and taxing on working to help anxious loved ones. If you need someone to talk to, or if you think you may be suffering from symptoms of anxiety or depression, contact your doctor or consider visiting a mental health professional, such as a licensed professional counselor.
I have developed hundreds of tools in video, audio, and written formats that I want to share with you. If you want a more in-depth approach to defeating anxiety and helping someone close to you, sign up for the free 7 day Anxiety Freedom Challenge.
Anxiety should not be a life sentence.
True mental health is a lifestyle that anyone can learn to live.
I became a doctor to help people achieve physical and mental freedom from their symptoms.
Now as an anxiety expert and integrative mental health consultant, my aim is to help as many people as possible get rid of the anxiety that is slowing them down and achieve true freedom.
That’s not all! I have more free help coming your way:
You can also watch the FREE Anxiety Freedom Masterclass today and get started on your journey toward true freedom! I will be there guiding you for the entire class–and you can watch it over and over. If you want more support, check out my Anxiety Freedom Facebook Group–because community is pivotal, and my team and I are in the group along with a group of warriors working kicking anxiety to the curb together. I have so much passion invested in you and your loved one’s getting set free from anxiety. Let’s do this!
Here’s to your next chapter.
-Dr. Nicole Cain, ND MA
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This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Whenever considering changing your protocol whether it includes a change of medications, supplements, diet or lifestyle, always speak with your primary care physician first. Dr. Nicole Cain consults with clients locally and internationally. Dr. Nicole Cain ND MA has helped countless people take back control of their lives, and she can help you. To set up a complimentary consultation, call our office or visit https://drnicolecain.com/getting-started to schedule online.
Dr. Nicole Cain is an advocate for empowering people around the world to help themselves via her educational video e-courses, books, and exclusive free Facebook group. You can receive the tools you need to find the root cause of your symptoms and feel healthy again.