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Helping yourself & others

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Helping yourself & others

Anxiety disorders respond well to treatment. There are also steps you can take to help you manage stress and anxiety.

And if you know someone who is struggling with an anxiety disorder, you can encourage him to get help and support him as he recovers from the anxiety disorder. A healthcare provider can help you find the right treatment plan for you

Managing stress and anxiety

Managing your level of stress in healthy ways can become habit-forming. Try the following strategies in addition to working with your healthcare provider to help promote resilience and manage stress and anxiety.

Stress management strategies:

  • Connect with others; family and friends can provide support, fun, and a break from the daily grind
  • Get regular exercise; exercise is a natural stress-buster
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get enough sleep to give your body the best chance to recuperate
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, breathing techniques, and visualization
  • Engage in contemplative practices, such as meditation and prayer
  • Make it a regular habit to find time to yourself and time for relaxation and fun
  • Learn to ask for help; a healthcare provider can help you find relief from anxiety disorder symptoms
  • Look at your to-do list and calendar; do you need to say no more often and lighten your load of responsibilities?

Helping someone you love

The first step in helping your loved one is to encourage her to seek treatment. Too many people with anxiety disorders suffer needlessly, when treatment is available. It can be hard for someone with an anxiety disorder to acknowledge that there’s a problem to others or even to themselves. Many people with anxiety disorders work very hard at coping and don’t realize that they are not alone and that there is help available.

Once your loved one is in treatment, recovery can take some time as she learns to respond in new ways to feelings of anxiety.

To help your loved one, you can:

  • Learn about anxiety disorders to have a better understanding of what your loved one is experiencing
  • Learn what triggers anxiety in your loved one and be flexible to help her learn how to better handle and approach these triggers
  • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement
  • Listen to the feelings and stories your loved one shares; she may need to talk through them many times; don’t push for information or details
  • Plan positive activities that keep your loved one engaged with the world, such as walks, outings, getting back to work, and other activities
  • Do not force your loved one into doing things she is not willing to do; encourage her to approach things she is afraid of without being negative or pressuring
  • Remind your loved one that with time, support, and treatment, she can get better

If someone in your family has an anxiety disorder, it can be helpful to get family counseling, particularly for families who have a young child with an anxiety disorder. The whole family can learn more about the anxiety disorder, learn to recognize symptoms early if they recur, and learn how to support the family member in his recovery. For instance, family members of someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder may need to learn how to stop participating in the compulsive rituals and behaviors in order to help their loved one make progress.

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