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10 October 2016, 11:41
What to do when a friend needs you.
Dealing with anxiety is no walk in the park. It can impact, not only the sufferer, but those around them, as well. Recently, Zayn Malik shared some of his own experiences with anxiety, prompting girlfriend Gigi Hadid to pen him a letter on social media. That got us thinking about the different ways you can support a friend or family member who you know that is struggling with their own anxiety issues.
We've talked a little bit about "self care" routines in the past. It's basically when you say "sod it" and do what you like. Whether that's reading, journaling, or binge watching TV. It's basically the idea that doing things you enjoy is an, overall, essential part of maintaining good mental health. If you can gift someone something as it pertains to enjoying their favourite hobby or feeling relaxed on a day-to-day basis, you're definitely doing an important bit for a friend.
Gigi's letter to Zayn included words of support and expressions of love and pride. Sometimes, when things seem agonizing and the anxiety starts to settle, some kind words from friends or family members can help clear the haze. I personally get super emotional and grateful when people write down how they feel about me. There is something inherently personal about letter writing. If you can't do it by hand, though, send an email.The key is to let them know that they're your person.
Studies have shown that music can have a massive impact on our overall moods. It's a natural bonding mechanism and, if you've got a friend in a tough spot, why not go see a band you both like or have a mini listening party together? Anxiety isn't something that occurs once a week or a couple of times a month. It is often an ongoing mental health issue compounded by stress and other external factors. Help your friend by giving them something enjoyable to look forward to like a concert or a music themed hang out sesh with all the works.
You know that feeling after you've just had an amazing meal? A meal so good that you talk about it long after you've finished? Yeah, treat them to that kind of meal. And it's not just the meal bit that helps. Opening up over food and drinks and light conversation is a subtle way to let your friend know that you're there for them and care about their well being. Is there anything quite as therapeutic as food?
Living with this particular mental health struggle can be isolating. Sure, there are probably people to talk to or express your problems to. However, a big part of anxiety, in many cases, is a debilitating feeling of not being able to do or say certain things because of the constraints your mind puts on you. So, in essence, being slow to annoyance and quick to understand their anxiety related woes is probably the best way to help your friend.