Helping them when they are anxious. (spouse, family, friends)

anxiety
Photo credit: ulisse albiati on VisualHunt / CC BY-SA
I remember the moment it dawned on me–he’s anxious too.  Actually I think he is more anxious than me.  I don’t know why I never saw it, but I do now.  Perhaps his anxiety is a result of mine, but that doesn’t explain it all.  He is an anxious person on his own.  It could be a season of anxiety for him, or part of his anxious life.  Whatever the cause is I need to be more aware of how my anxiety increases his and look for ways to help him through his.  Perhaps by doing so he will feel more at peace.
In fact I saw it in my son when he was younger.  Back when I was completely unaware of most things as a parent.  We had gone through some difficult years at home.  Things were topsy turvy.  My son wasn’t sure what he would get from day to day.  Would it be peaceful or would we fight?  The anxiety in the home fueled his.  He was born with the innate desire, almost an obsession, to control.  He likes a plan.  It comforts him to know what is going on.  He doesn’t function well without it.
To provide him assurance as a young boy I would let him know what our plans for the next week were and the upcoming weekend.  If I knew of big changes we were going to make to the house or in our life I would discuss that with him.  I tried to provide him respect as a growing young man and communicate with him proactively to ensure he felt like he knew what was going on.  We also discussed the fact that much of life is unplanned and out of our control and ways we could handle that.
Helping our spouse & children with their anxiety
We can’t fix the problems that the people we love have.  We can help them and should even if we struggle with the same issue.  Focusing on others can help us cope with our own anxiety as we see what causes and cures it.
  1. Observe:  Watch and learn what causes others anxiety.  Maybe this is a season of anxiety, or is indicative of their entire life.  There might be certain times of the day, events, or circumstances that spike the anxiety.  The more you can learn the better you will be able to help.
  2. Evaluate your behavior.  When my son was struggling the most I was also struggling.  I was distance and didn’t communicate well.  I wasn’t ministering to my own child.  I evaluated my behavior and how I was handling the situation and determined ways I could calm myself and the situation down.  We don’t want to be the source of other peoples anxiety and can determine ways we can promote trust, peace, and faith in God to handle our future.
  3. Communicate:  As much as it depends on us, at the right time, talk to the person about your observations.  I was able to talk to my son about his anxiety, but I have had other people I am not in a position to speak to about it.  I am prayerful about communicating, however, so that we can tackle the issue together.
  4. Take action:  My husband and I are tag teaming the anxiety journey.  First it’s me, then him, and we go back and forth.  Once in a while we share the same plight.  It stems from too much of life and trying to handle the many changes our family is going through.  We can take action.  We can actively pray, read God’s word, identify the source of the anxiety, and take action to correct situations that can be changed.  If I am anxious about household responsibilities we can take care of that.  If we are anxious about children we can instruct them, pray, and trust God for their future.
  5. Understand.  There are situations that can cause a great deal of anxiety.  It’s normal to react in this way during difficult times.  We are not to be anxious, but let’s understand that we are from time to time.  As we journey through life let’s work hard to trust something greater than us, to take action to relieve our worries, and to live in peace, but let’s understand that it happens.  Deal with it and move on.
God says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication which thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Phil 4:6). Sometimes I read that verse while I am breathing hard, I turn to God in prayer and struggle to believe I will live through this situation.  I do okay for a little while and then it starts again.  I read an article in the paper, listen to a news headline, read a story, or talk to a co-worker.  Something reminds me to be afraid.  Something reminds me I am not in control and that should scare me so to gain control I worry.
What makes the other people in your life anxious?  Perhaps we can lessen that and assure them.
What are you doing to make the situation better or worse?  There is always something we can do to make things better.
Anxiety is crushed when there is communication.  Talk.
Take action.  God is a god of action.  Take it.  Anxiety stops, actions go
Understand.  Understand that the world is a mess.  Life doesn’t look like it does on t.v.  There is a lot to worry and fret over.  It’s normal, but God doesn’t want us to be anxious.  So we strive to do as He asks us to do and to love others by helping reduce their anxiety.
But in everything, by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God,
Marcy Pedersen

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