Standing Beside Someone with Anxiety: Practical Ways to Help

Jun 4, 2024 | Blog, Mental Wellbeing | 0 comments

Many of us have experienced anxiety at some point – the racing heart, the feelings of dread, shaky legs and sweaty palms, that horrible feeling that makes you just want to escape – so when someone you care about struggles with anxiety, it’s natural to empathise and want to help ease their distress.

While we can’t make anxiety disappear, there are thoughtful ways we can support and stand alongside those experiencing it. With some understanding and compassion, we can make their path a little smoother.

Listen without judgement

Creating a safe space starts with listening ears and an open heart. Resist the temptation to minimise their feelings or anxiety. Instead, let them share without fear of judgement or criticism. Even if their worries seem unreasonable to you, they are very real to those experiencing them. Seek to understand rather than fix.

Offer reassurance

Simple phrases like “I’m here for you” or “We’ll get through this together” go a long way. Reassurance helps replace anxious thoughts with comfort and support. But be careful not to offer hollow platitudes or false assurances. Your support means more when it’s realistic and caring.

Encourage professional help

While you can be a caring listener and great support, it can be really beneficial for those experiencing anxiety to seek professional help as well. A therapist can equip them with valuable coping skills and management strategies. Recommend speaking to their doctor about anxiety if they haven’t already.

Educate yourself

Learn about the symptoms of anxiety and common triggers. Understanding the causes better equips you to notice signs they may be struggling. But avoid trying to “diagnose” them or suggest their anxiety isn’t warranted. Your role isn’t to fix or downplay their feelings but to be an empathetic support as they work through it.

Checking in

Make it a point to regularly check in and let them know you’re available to talk if they need it. If it’s a friend, a quick text like “Thinking of you today” reminds them they have someone in their corner. But be careful not to pressure them to talk before they’re ready. Offer your open ear without demand or expectation.

Help with practical tasks

Everyday responsibilities can feel monumental when anxiety comes knocking. Offer to help lighten their load with tasks like planning, shopping or lifts to appointments. Reducing real-life stresses can help minimise anxiety triggers during difficult times.

Encourage healthy habits

Gentle encouragement of positive lifestyle habits can also help manage anxiety. Good self-care like healthy eating, exercise, quality sleep and saying no to unnecessary responsibilities all reinforce mental health. But be careful your suggestions don’t come across as prescriptive. Make them invitations, not expectations.

Respect their boundaries

Check in about what makes them most comfortable in social situations when anxiety flares up. Can they connect in smaller groups or one-on-one? Will it help if they are given advance notice before making plans? Respect their needs, even if it means changing regular routines.

Navigating anxiety, your own or someone else’s, takes gentleness, learning and grace. But by walking alongside those struggling with patient love, you help lighten the load. Your open heart and listening ear can make a life-changing difference to someone weathering this storm.

In the bustling halls of schools, an invisible struggle often hinders students’ ability to thrive: poor mental health. This silent adversary not only affects their wellbeing but also takes a toll on their school attendance and academic performance. The consequences are far-reaching, impacting the individual, the classroom dynamics, and the broader educational landscape.

Absenteeism: A Telltale Sign

Absenteeism in schools has long been attributed to various reasons, from physical illness to family emergencies. However, an increasingly prevalent cause is poor mental health. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can shroud a student’s daily life, making the simple act of attending school an overwhelming challenge.

When mental health concerns go unaddressed, absenteeism tends to rise. Students might miss classes, fall behind on coursework, and disconnect from the educational environment. Consequently, this absenteeism becomes a significant barrier to academic success.

The Effects of Missing School: Ripple Effect on Academic Performance

Poor mental health not only affects attendance but also profoundly impacts academic performance. A student grappling with mental health issues may find it arduous to concentrate, retain information, or participate actively in class. Consequently, their grades might suffer, perpetuating a cycle of frustration and underachievement.

Moreover, the classroom atmosphere is affected when students are absent or mentally disengaged. Discussions lack diverse perspectives, group projects falter, and the overall dynamics lose the enriching contributions of every individual.

Nurturing Good Mental Health: A Key to Improved Attendance and Grades

The correlation between good mental health and academic success cannot be overstated. A school environment that prioritises mental wellbeing can yield remarkable results. Schools can effectively combat absenteeism and boost academic performance by fostering a culture of understanding, support, and resources for mental health.

Accessible Support Services: 

Schools should offer accessible counselling services, creating a safe space for students to discuss their mental health concerns. Professional guidance and support can help students navigate their challenges and feel more empowered to attend classes regularly.

Promotion of Mental Health Awareness:

Educating both students and staff about mental health is pivotal. Awareness initiatives, workshops, and discussions can de-stigmatise mental health issues and encourage a more empathetic and supportive environment.

Integration of Mindfulness and Wellbeing Practices: 

Incorporating mindfulness exercises, stress-relief techniques, and wellbeing programmes into the curriculum can equip students with coping mechanisms to manage stress and anxiety, thus improving their attendance and focus.

The Triumph of Good Mental Health

Emphasising good mental health not only minimises absenteeism but also cultivates a conducive environment for academic growth. When students feel supported, understood, and mentally resilient, attendance rates tend to rise, and academic performance improves significantly.

By nurturing positive mental health practices within the educational system, we pave the way for a generation of students who are not only academically successful but also equipped with the invaluable life skills needed to navigate the complexities of the modern world. Investing in mental wellbeing isn’t just about attendance and grades; it’s an investment in the holistic development and future success of our students.

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