Social Anxiety Support: How Family and Friends Can Help
Saturday, June 5 2010 Aimee White
If you confide in people about your social anxiety, sometimes they don't know how to act around you in an anxiety triggering situation (Social Anxiety triggers). The last thing I, or I am guessing anyone, would want is for the loved ones in our lives to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around us. I can sense when people do that and it makes me feel handicapped. I came up with a few tips for our friends and families so they can have a better idea of what helps in an anxious situation and what just makes things worse.
How to Help Someone With Social Anxiety
I appreciate the sensitivity shown by my family and friends. It truly makes things a lot easier to know that I have someone who will understand my quirkiness and will still love me for it.
- When entering a trigger situation, don’t mention anything about the anxiety to the worrier. It may seem like a nice supportive thing to do to ask “How are you feeling? Are you going to be ok?” etc, but for all you know the worrier isn’t even thinking about it. The questions can make them realize that others may be thinking about it and watching them, and that alone can cause anxiety and panic. The best thing to do is to ask the worrier later, once you have left the situation. You can let them know then that you were thinking about them.
- Not inviting the person to an event because you know it may cause them anxiety. Give the worrier the option of attending instead of making the decision for them. That way, you aren’t enabling them to avoid their fears and you are giving them an opportunity to grow and work on it. Even if they turn you down, they will know that you thought of them and treated them like a normal person - and that is loving and supportive. Exclusion will only cause feelings of resentment on both ends, even though you are doing it to make the worrier and maybe even yourself more comfortable.
Never say something like “It’s not a big deal, just stop worrying about it.” Believe me, if we could we would in a heartbeat. Just being supportive is your best bet.
Summing Up Social Anxiety Support
To sum it all up: Act the way you would if you didn't know your loved one had anxiety. We still want to be invited to social gatherings, even if it's too much for us and we have to turn it down. We still want the option to take the risk. I may be fine inside or really struggling, but for some reason if I think I'm the only one who knows I am struggling, it makes it easier.