Coping with anxiety can be challenging, but NAMI is here to provide support and information for you and your family. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about anxiety disorders, or finding support and resources.
Anxiety disorders can impact even the smallest details of life. It’s important to get help and know how to stay resilient when things are tough. Here are some ways you can work towards recovery:
- Become an expert. Learn about medication and treatment options. Keep up with current research. Build a personal library of useful websites and helpful books.
- Know your triggers and stressors. If large groups make you cringe, plan to see the Sunday matinee. If taking a walk outdoors reduces your anxiety before a big meeting, schedule a 10 minute walk before the meeting starts. Being mindful of triggers and stressors will help you live your life with fewer limitations.
- Partner with your health care providers. Actively participate in your treatment by working with mental health care professionals to develop a plan that works for you. Talk with them about your goals, decide on a recovery pace you’re comfortable with, then stick to the plan. Don’t quit when something doesn’t go well. Instead, talk to your doctor or therapist about options and possible changes.
- Get healthy. Studies have reported that 30 minutes of vigorous, aerobic exercise can eliminate symptoms, while low-key activities like meditation, yoga or Tai Chi relieve stress. Regular exercise can reduce many symptoms. Diet is also an important factor. Try to eat healthy, balanced meals, and pay attention to food sensitivities. In some people, certain foods or additives can cause unpleasant physical reactions, which may lead to irritability or anxiety.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. These substances may seem to help with anxiety at first, but can disrupt emotional balance, sleep cycles and interact with medications. Coffee, energy drinks and cigarettes worsen anxiety.
- Find support. Share your thoughts, fears and questions with other people. NAMI offers Connection Recovery Support Groups and Peer-to-Peer education programs, as well as online discussion communities.
If you live with a mental health condition, learn more about managing your mental health and finding the support you need.
Helping a Family Member or Friend
Learn about triggers, stressor and symptoms. By being informed and aware, you may be able to prevent an increase in symptoms. Look for things like rapid breathing, fidgeting or avoidance. Discuss your friend or family member’s past experiences with them so they can clearly recognize the signs early.
- Create a treatment role. Increasingly, mental health professionals are recommending couple or family-based treatment programs. Occasionally, a therapist might enlist a loved one to help reinforce behavior modification techniques or help with homework. Ultimately the work involved in recovery is the responsibility of the person with the disorder, but you can play an active, supportive role.
- Communicate. Speak honestly and kindly. Make specific offers of help and follow through. Offer alternatives that may be more comfortable for your loved one so she can still be involved. Tell the person you care about her. Ask how she feels and don’t chide or judge.
- Allow time for recovery. Understanding and patience need to be balanced with pushing for progress and your expectations.
- React calmly and rationally. Even if your loved one is in a crisis, it’s important to remain calm. Listen to him and make him feel understood, then take the next step towards getting help.
Find out more about taking care of your family member or friend and yourself.