One of the most common questions I get outside of my office (via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.) is, "What can I do if I struggle with anxiety?" Or often they are asking for someone they know and care about, "What can I do to help someone with anxiety?"
I have to caution and say that there is not a one size fits all answer to this question.
But generally speaking there are 4 things that I tell that person that we can do:
- I help them see that anxiety is completely normal. There is nothing wrong with you for struggling with anxiety. That may seem obvious to many of you, but for many, having anxiety is like carrying around a scarlet letter on their chest in their community. So I try to normalize the experience for them.
- I help that person identify some tools and resources that will help them manage and or reduce their currently level of distress with anxiety. I find this to be an important step that allows us to move to the next thing.
- I help that person identify and work on the root issue that is driving the anxiety. Relieving symptoms is great, but to really transform anxiety, I want to help that person understand the root of their anxiety. Anxiety is the coping behavior of some feeling.
- I help the person reframe anxiety as an opportunity for growth. I want them to see anxiety as a friend who speaks into their life and guides them. I want to help them to see God at work in the midst of it.
These are four things that you can help a person, or yourself, who is struggling with anxiety. And these are the things that you might also want to look for in a counselor, therapist, pastoral counselor, life coach, etc.
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