Anxiety

Worrying is an emotion everyone experiences. A level of worry is normal and should be expected – worrying before something important or stressful – like a big test or presentation, is the emotional symptom of our body preparing us to act in a difficult situation. In a way, it just shows that we care!  However too much worry too often can be detrimental - feeling the way you do before a big event all the time can be overwhelming! If a friend seems overwhelmed by worry or finds it is interfering with their life, you may want to step in and offer support.

What it feels like

It is easiest to imagine what this feels like by thinking back to how you’ve felt before a stressful situation. Think about a public presentation, big sports game, or exam you’ve done. Physically, worry can manifest as increased heart rate, breathing, sweating, shaking and ‘butterflies’ in the stomach. You may feel scared, find it hard to relax, concentrate, pay attention, sleep or eat. This is how a person overwhelmed by worry may feel in any situation that makes them feel stressed.

What you can do to support in the first 24-48 hours: 
  • Get in touch

  • Let them know you want to help

  • See if they want to talk about how they’re feeling - be there, listen without judgement

  • See if they are willing to speak to a mental health professional or GP about the way they feel. Offer to research possible practitioners, accompany them to an appointment and help support them.

Providing Support 

A friend feeling this way needs understanding and support. They are finding it difficult to live a full life, so there are emotional and practical supports you can offer to get them back on track.

Emotional Support
  • Let them know you care about them and want to help

  • Let them talk and process their emotions

  • Talk through their worries, concerns and plans for the future

  • Let them know the ways you are able to support them (emotional, practical, financial)

  • Encourage them when they are attempting to move forwards (engaging with mental health providers, practicing relaxation, living a healthy lifestyle)

  • Encourage them to keep up regular social events and hobbies

Practical Support
  • Some people may engage in unhealthy behaviours to cope with the way they feel. Encourage your friend to avoid or cut back on alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, and try eat a balanced diet and exercise

  • Encourage your friend to engage in soothing practices such as meditation, mindfulness and relaxation techniques

  • Accompanying them to appointments for professional help – counselling, therapy

1 Week on what now?

Ongoing anxiety can result in a person withdrawing from social situations and relationships. It can also disguise itself as physical symptoms such as headaches and nausea. 

Providing support in the long term
  • Keep in touch

  • Let them know you want to continue to help, commit to support for a timeframe and follow up

  • See if they want to talk about how they’re feeling - be there, listen without judgement

  • Continue to advocate that they should speak to a mental health professional. If they already are, check if they are feeling supported, and if they are practicing the skills they are learning.

Emotional Support
  • Remind them that you care about them and want to help

  • Let them talk and process their emotions

  • Remind them of the ways you are able to support them (emotional, practical, financial)

  • Encourage them when they are attempting to move forwards (applying for financial help, applying for jobs)

  • Encourage them to keep up regular social events and hobbies

Practical Support
  • Some people may engage in unhealthy behaviours to cope with the way they feel. Encourage your friend to avoid or cut back on alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, and try eat a balanced diet and exercise

  • Encourage your friend to engage in soothing practices such as meditation, mindfulness and relaxation techniques

  • Your friend may struggle with anxiety around specific tasks – being in crowded places, visiting new areas, new social settings – you can offer to accompany and support them as they take on these challenges.

  • Accompanying them to appointments for professional help – counselling, therapy

Who can help?
Service that can help
Service Directories
Professional Helpers

Counsellor

Description

General Practitioner (GP)

Description

Psychologist

Description

Psychotherapist

Description