How to Help a Friend With Anxiety
As a former firefighter, Griff understands that we live in a stressful world, and now as a qualified meditation expert who holds popular seminars teaching us how to love ourselves and others, he wants to help you nourish your soul. Beyond that, he’s also a nutritional and emotional guide and strongly urges everyone to seek their optimal best.
We frequently get MindEasy users asking us, well almost everything…and we love it! So we’ll do our best to answer your questions. Feel free to contact us if you want to ask Griff… anything!
“How do I help my friend deal with anxiety?”
Jenny from Washington, U.S.
Firstly, I want to point out that you’re an amazing friend to recognise that your buddy is suffering from anxiety, and seeking support for her is a true sign you both have a deep relationship.
Anxiety is becoming an increasingly common condition especially amid the pandemic and to be honest, living in a more strained society. Anxiety is a mental health condition that can vary from person to persons, so here are some tell-tale signs to look out for:
- Responding in a panic, or fearful manner when faced with a particular situation.
- Physically becoming more ‘wired,’ such as getting hot and flushed (from a faster heart beat), or sweaty.
- Tiredness or lethargy – someone suffering from anxiety may find it harder to get to sleep and remain asleep, and in some cases may suffer from insomnia.
- Weight change – a person who feels anxious may change their eating habits, in some cases he or she may stop eating due to a lack of appetite. However, on the flip side some people can turn to comfort eating as a way of dealing with anxiety, and hence, grow bigger.
If you note any of these changes in someone you care for, then what can you do?
Sadly, anxiety isn’t really curable, but there are ways to help lessen those negative feelings in an effort to regain control. But please remember that most of us aren’t medical professionals, so if you feel you can’t handle the situation, ask your friend to see a doctor.
Reduce Anxiety Breathing
- OK, let’s begin with the easiest method to reduce anxiety – breathing.
Yup, we all do it, but deep breathing techniques are a surprisingly simple and effective way to stem anxiety before it spirals into something bigger. It teaches you how to focus and calm yourself.
Here’s an easy exercise to ask your friend to do:
Empty all the air from your lungs, then breath in slowly through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it in for seven seconds and then exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat this four times.
This is called the 4-7-8 breathing technique, and it has been proven to help people when dealing with anxiety or panic attacks.
Talk It Out
Get to the bottom of what’s making your friend anxious, you’re obviously close to each other so reach out to your buddy to talk.
Go somewhere quiet and calming, perhaps go for a long walk together and chat. It’ll probably take a few times to get to the root of your friend’s problem. I think the main concern, is that you can handle whatever your friend will say…if it’s too much, then please seek professional help.
Meditation is a game changer! There are so many different types of meditation out there that will help your friend get on top of anxiety, but let’s try a guided meditation focusing on stress. Anxiety typically stems from stress , which makes us feel worried and tense, so let’s take control before it takes over.
Take a few minutes every morning, or whenever there’s free time to put on a guided meditation, this is when a teacher talks you through recognising feelings or situations and how to deal with it.
It’s important to feel calm, so try a guided meditation on waking up, just simply sit-up in bed, or stay lying down, and listen to the guided meditation. Essentially a good guided meditation will help you learn positive techniques when confronted with an uneasy situation.
Much like breathing exercises, it almost sounds self-explanatory, but it’s important to be mindful and focused when walking.
Go somewhere there’s a clear path, walk slowly, and focus on the sensation of the foot to the ground with each step. The stretch of the foot, the feeling of the hard ground, or the crunch of leaves around.
While he or she is concentrating, the mind will shift from anxious thoughts to the simple feeling of walking.
We’re hoping here to break away from anxiety by focusing on something as simple as walking and cease the deeper spiral into the pit of worry.
Get your friend to look at his or her diet. Are lots of sugary treats being consumed? Is there a high level of fat?
What we put in our bodies can have an effect on our mind. Sweet, carbonated drinks can often make the heart race, which in turn can make us feel more wired and jumpy, which is definitely not helpful for people suffering anxiety.
Replace junk food with fruit, drink more water.
What goes hand in hand with a healthy diet? Exercise. Does your friend exercise daily?
If not, then get him or her to do some gentle exercise every day for at least 15 minutes. Start with a short walk everyday, or try a cycle, yoga is also a wonderful way to stretch out the body.
Basically, if your friend doesn’t usually exercise, start off small and slow, and gradually build up. Exercising releases endorphins – the feel good hormone, and is also an excellent way to help shift the mind’s focus – away from anxiety and more towards loving yourself.
Limit your screen time, especially online social media. It’s a blessing and a curse that we live in a time that allows us to be so social online .
It’s great that we can interact and see different lives, but sometimes it’s also a hindrance to compare ourselves with people we see, or try and live up to unrealistic expectations that’s all online.
Life is about living up to one’s own individual expectations and by comparing ourselves to others, can make us feel stressed out.
Make Time for Yourself
When was the last time your friend took some quality time out for her or himself? It’s important to self-love and take time out to relax and reflect, that way your friend will start becoming more grateful for his or her life.
Nowadays, with so many people working from home, taking vacation time is becoming less frequent. Even if travel isn’t on the cards due to Covid-restrictions, try a staycation, just take time out to wind down and relax. This is beneficial for the mind and body.