Anxiety affects around 40 million people in America, including in Pinellas County. Around the world, many more millions of people struggle with anxiety disorders and other mental health conditions. If you have friends who live with anxiety, you might be wondering what you can do to support them. It can be difficult to know what to do for the best in situations when your friends are struggling, but we’ll look at some of the best ways you can support your friends who have anxiety.
Be There to Listen
For people struggling with anxiety or other aspects of their mental health, a listening ear can be the most important thing you can offer. Being there for them and listening to their struggles can mean a lot. Talking can help people to feel less lonely and more understood when they are going through challenges in their lives. Whether you’re talking on the phone or in person, it can make a big difference. Offer to listen and let your anxious friend know that you are there for them if they want to talk. Remember that you don’t need to give advice or find solutions when someone wants to talk about their problems. It can be helpful to ask your friend whether they just want you to listen or whether it would be useful to give your opinion.
Don’t Constantly Give Them Reassurance
You might think that constantly reassuring an anxious friend is a helpful thing to do, but research suggests this isn’t always the best approach to take. For people with anxiety, being reassured all the time can create a situation where they expect – or even need – further reassurance. Getting into this cycle can be damaging and unhelpful not only for the person with anxiety but for yourself too. While it’s good to give some reassurance to an anxious friend, it’s important not to create a relationship where the other person relies on your reassurance for comfort.
Be Sympathetic, Even If You Don’t Fully Understand
You may not always understand what a friend with anxiety is going through, and that’s okay. Being there to support them and listening to their struggles doesn’t have to mean that you relate to them. You don’t need the first-hand experience to know that anxiety must be difficult to live with, and comments acknowledging your friend’s struggles can go a long way. Let your friend know if you can’t relate to what they are saying, and ask them to help you understand more about their struggles.
One of the best ways you can support a friend with anxiety is by including them in social situations. People with anxiety may not always feel comfortable going out on their own or taking the initiative to suggest social gatherings or parties. Inviting them and including them in social gatherings can make them feel accepted and supported during a difficult time. Never make them feel pressured into attending a social gathering, but let them know that you would really like their company. Introduce them to other people who you feel will be supportive of them.
Encouraging Your Friend to Seek Professional Support
In some cases, it can be helpful to encourage your friend to seek professional support with their anxiety. In Pinellas County, TMS Advantage offers high-quality counseling services and support for people dealing with anxiety and other mental health problems. Supporting your anxious friend will still be a critical part of their journey, but having an objective third party to speak to can help people who are living with symptoms of anxiety.
Picture Credit: Crello