Love & Anxiety
Updated: Nov 25, 2019
Loving someone with anxiety - witnessing their struggles, feeling their pain and working with them as they navigate their way through their confusion and terrors, is tough. Every week in our practise we see couples, close friends, parents helping their child, grown up kids with a struggling parent - each supporter doing ‘whatever it takes” to relieve the pain with loving intentions. The question repeatedly asked at each session? “What can we do to help?”
This blog entry is dedicated to those that love someone dealing with anxiety and attempts to answer that compassionate question.
Getting an understanding of what Anxiety actually is can give everyone a better perspective!
Everybody has it!
Anxiety is a completely normal physical response. It’s a part of the brain preparing the body for action in response to a perceived threat - this “Fight or Flight” response involves the release of cortisol and adrenaline and the body gets ready to rumble or run! It’s automatic and we have very little conscious control over it. Unfortunately, for some people, this response is on a “hair trigger” and the result is gut wrenching, heart thumping anxiety.
There’s nothing to worry about - just don’t say that!
Anxiety sufferers know that they’re over reacting and that logically there’s no reason to feel the way they do….but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still happening! Telling someone with anxiety “there’s nothing to worry about” is not helping…but just showing some understanding, being with them and maintaining some calm…and just letting it pass…well that’s gold. And if later they want to talk about it…well listening is good for everyone.
Anxiety is unpredictable and can (often does) turn up at the least appropriate times. This’ll mean last minute changes are going to happen - understanding that these changes are never made lightly and relieving their inevitable sense of guilt by accepting it, without the need for explanation, will make you a hero.
Be careful with advice.
You’ll have the best intentions… but the chances are it’ll backfire, be seen as a personal criticism
and add fuel to the anxiety fire.
Reassure them that they’re loved and supported and are just fine as they are. If/when they
ask for your advice, suggest that you could look into options together.
Encourage them to get outside.
Getting outside and exercising is a proven winner when it comes to taming anxiety. A walk around the block and chat about the "hear & now" things you're seeing and experiencing is a great circuit breaker...and if there's a dog in the household...its a double win!
Quiet understanding means a lot!
As someone close to an anxiety sufferer, the chances are that you’ve witnessed the challenges the
condition creates and seen the often heartbreaking consequences. No doubt you've seen episodes
of frustration, anger, exhaustion and depression - that’s still anxiety - just in another guise!
This first hand experience and your compassionate attempts at better understanding the situation
provides a shared intimacy that is deeply, deeply appreciated. Being there is enough.
Don’t take it personally.
When they're feeling “Fragile”, it’ll be really appreciated if you don't create more expectations. Going out socially, having visitors over…all sorts of otherwise small things can be overwhelming. Saying “no” and avoiding situations might make them look like a control freak, but they’re just doing their best to minimise the stress levels - for themselves, you and everyone else.
Trust that the anxiety sufferer knows what’s best for them and understand that it’s not you they’re saying “no” to, just the situation and their perceived risk of an anxiety attack.
Know that you're appreciated!
Feeling so exposed and so vulnerable means sharing anxiety is a very intimate thing.
Having someone to share that with, showing compassion and reassurance is everything. Hanging in there, supporting each other through the tough times and celebrating the good times is life affirming stuff that builds relationships. For the vast majority of people, anxiety is just a phase - an experience that, despite the exhaustion and disruption, will eventually be resolved. Knowing that, and having someone who “gets it” can make the journey back to balance so much faster.
The other good news is that our bodies have incredible resilience and amazing capabilities to restore the natural balance. Resetting anxiety levels, rebalancing the body’s responses and resolving the underlying issues is not only possible, it’s what we’re designed to do. For more information on resolving excess anxiety, quickly, gently and permanently visit www.pstbythesea.com