Even people with the purest intentions can ruin the lives of others by wanting to help. Here are the formulas to avoid and the suggestions that will have a much better effect.
1) come back
As if it were that simple! For people who live in anxiety, getting over it – “get over it, move on” – is impossible. “Like all other mental illnesses, anxiety is personal and subjective,” says psychotherapist Amy Axtell, of Tuscon, Arizona. How we react to our friends, family members, or acquaintances who suffer from anxiety must also be personal and subjective. Never condescending or contemptuous. “The phrase comes back ignores the person’s experience and the severity of their suffering,” adds Amy Axtell. It is better to show sincere interest by asking open-ended questions. “Ask her how she feels, what triggers the bouts, what gives her comfort.
2) You are going to make yourself sick
Many people who suffer from anxiety disorder also have a bit of hypochondria and worry about their health. To suggest to the person that their anxiety is going to make them sick will only worsen their condition, according to Amy Axtell. Living with someone anxious is a challenge. You have to know how to distract him to help him. Offer to go for a walk. A change of scenery can defuse anxiety.
When you are not yourself, the solutions seem simple: there are so many ways to relax! But Amy Axtell points out that the inability to relax is a symptom of anxiety disorders. Tell the person “relax!” “It’s like telling someone with a cold not to sneeze, or someone with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome to sit still. Amy Axtell recommends recognizing the person’s anxiety without passing judgment and perhaps reminding them of times when they were more relaxed. Tell him a fun memory you share. It will help her realize that she will not be in her current state indefinitely.
4) You think too much!
This is precisely the anxiety, explains Amy Axtell. This state puts people on constant alert about possible dangers or troubles. Their thoughts pass, new worries (overeating, biting their nails, talking too fast) arise, and the cycle continues. Telling anxious people to stop thinking too much will not help them stop doing it. For Amy Axtell, it just becomes an additional concern. A good suggestion is to help the person turn their attention to something else. For example, have him read soothing phrases that help anxiety, experts say.
5) take a drink
Self-medication and alcohol cause all kinds of annoyances warns Amy Axtell. The benefits do not last and can lead to dependence. She also notes that “many people who suffer from anxiety also have addiction problems. They sometimes follow recovery programs that ban the use of mood-altering substances. The suggestion of drinking is not only a mark of insensitivity, but it is potentially dangerous. Instead, suggest that she go to the gym together: exercise relieves symptoms of anxiety.
6) Stop stressing
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America rules that stress and anxiety are not the same things. We use the two words interchangeably, and we shouldn’t. Stress is the response to a threatening situation. Its symptoms include heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, flushing of the face, mood changes, and, yes, anxiety. But the anxiety continues after the stressful situation has ceased to exist, or it was already there before. The anxious person cannot get rid of daily stress; talking about it is confusing and frustrating. Amy Axtell suggests acknowledging her anxiety and offering your support. For example, listen to her and answer her, “I hear what you tell me. You feel stressed, anxious, worried. Tell me how I can help you. ”
7) I, too, have stress
This assertion confuses stress and anxiety. It also trivializes the person’s feelings. Amy Axtell recommends that you exercise caring “curiosity” by asking questions and listening without judgment. Don’t talk about your anxiety if you’ve never had it. You can show empathy without going that far!
8) Stop worrying about the little things
This is where the problem lies. For a person with an anxiety disorder, there are no small things. Do not offer him pictures; on the contrary, Amy Axtell encourages acceptance. Let her know, without passing judgment, that you understand that she is feeling anxious, that this is normal, and that it will eventually pass.
9) There are some for whom it is worse
You trivialize the person’s condition and make them feel guilty! Be careful not to fall into toxic behaviors. Pointing out that for others it is worse will make the anxious person feel guilty and feel ashamed. In her professional practice, Amy Axtell notes that when her patients feel anxious, they know very well that others suffer in the world, including much more serious afflictions: famine, mistreatment, or serious illness.