Anxiety is a natural response to stress or to perceived threats. It is often characterised by feelings of unease, fear and worry. When someone is struggling with anxiety, you may observe signs such as excessive and persistent worry, restlessness, irritability and muscle tension to name a few. It can become a concern when these symptoms start to significantly disrupt someone’s daily life and well-being.
Supporting someone with anxiety can make a significant difference in their well-being and overall quality of life. If you have a friend or loved one who is struggling with anxiety, here are some things recommended by our ‘A Kind Place’ founder Sze Jin, that you can do to help them.
Things you can do to help someone experiencing anxiety
1. Encourage them to breathe
Encouraging deep, mindful breathing can be highly effective in managing anxiety. This is because it promotes mindfulness, by allowing the person to focus on the present without judgement. It also allows for the person experiencing anxiety to experience a sense of control over their physical and emotional responses, by interrupting negative thought patterns and the catastrophic thinking that is often associated with anxiety. Encouraging someone to breathe is an easy suggestion that offers a concrete and manageable way to regain composure, and break the cycle of anxious rumination.
2. Ask them to "let it out"
Encouraging someone to “let it out” can offer several valuable benefits in helping manage anxiety. Running on the spot or physically shaking it out can reduce the physical tension associated with anxiety by offering an outlet. Doing this can also produce an emotional release by relieving the build-up of intense emotions. Creating someone with anxiety a safe and open space for them to express their concerns and needs, whilst also empowering them to feel in control of their feelings and anxiety, validates their emotional experience and thus makes it easier to offer support and understanding.
3. Offer them a hug
Offering someone a hug can provide physical comfort and reassurance to someone with anxiety. Hugs have a calming effect on the nervous system, promoting mindfulness and presence in the moment, which can help break the cycle of anxious thoughts and reduce physical anxiety symptoms. They can also be seen as a comforting gesture, delivering a strong message of emotional support and empathy, and reminding the person that they are not alone. However, it’s crucial to respect individual preferences as not everyone may be comfortable with physical touch. Always ask for consent and respect their boundaries.
Remember, everyone’s experience with anxiety is unique. It’s important that we adapt our support to the individual’s preferences and needs by communicating with them. So remember to be kind to yourself in this process of helping others, and remember to be kind to others.Your empathy, patience and willingness to help, can make a significant difference in their journey toward managing anxiety.
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