Anxiety: How Do You Help Someone Slow Down?
By Paula J. Marolewski
If you have a friend or family member who suffers from severe
anxiety, you know that at times their thoughts seem to race out
of control. Here are several points to be aware of as you reach
out in love to help them slow down and regain a clear focus:
Be ready to listen. The sufferer needs to talk out their thoughts – therefore,
they need someone to be there to listen. That person is you. This
is not, however, a five-minute conversation. It may take an hour
or more for the person’s thoughts to even begin to slow down.
It is vital that you do not short-circuit this process. Don’t
rush it. Encourage the person to talk, and to get it all out on
Watch for mental circling. The challenge with listening is to
discern when talking becomes mental circling. The sufferer needs
to talk out all their thoughts and fears. But repeating all those
thoughts and fears multiple times is counterproductive. Therefore,
be patient while they talk, but if you begin to hear the same things
again and again, gently point out that now it is time to move forward.
Recommend an activity, or change the focus of the conversation.
Suggest an activity. If at all possible, get together with the
sufferer and do something active with them. Competitive sports,
hobbies, etc., are very helpful. Be careful to avoid passive pastimes,
i.e., TV or movies, because the sufferer can “tune out” whatever
is on the screen and simply continue their previous thought cycles.
If you can’t get together personally with the sufferer, recommend
something they can do on their own that will be engaging.
Take the initiative. Because anxiety breeds apathy, the sufferer
may resist engaging in an activity. Part of them really does want
to sit and stare at their anxious thoughts. They may literally
not have the energy or the willpower to get up out of the chair
by themselves. You may need to supply the energy and willpower
they need, either by insisting that you engage in an activity together,
or by literally encouraging them verbally until they get up and
take the first step toward action.
Point the way to God. It is important to remember that when a
person’s thoughts are racing, they are essentially self-focused.
Every sense is turned inward. Therefore, the sufferer cannot “see” God:
they only see themselves and the things they fear. Draw their attention
to God and away from themselves by directing them to verses that
speak of God’s might and power, his holiness, his love, his
© 2009 Paula Marolewski
Article Source: http://www.sinkyourroots.com
You have my permission to reprint and distribute this article
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About the Author:
Paula J. Marolewski provides challenging and interactive
adult Bible studies for individuals, Bible studies, small groups,
and adult Sunday School classes at Sink Your Roots. The above article
is an excerpt from the book Fire
in My Mind: Personal Insights & Practical
Help for Severe Anxiety.