Over the past year, more of us than ever have faced illness in our loved ones.
Whenever we have ill loved ones, anxiety is a natural response. Our minds fill with questions: are they going to be okay? What will I do if they aren’t okay?
When, in a global pandemic, this threat of illness never goes away, health-related anxiety is common and scary. But this isn’t a good way to live, constantly worried. So how can you combat this anxiety and get it under your control?
Understand what’s happening.
Some people benefit from not knowing the specifics, but most find it helpful to understand what is happening.
Make calls to your loved one’s doctors or caregivers, so they can explain to you what your loved one is going through. Most importantly, they can help you to visualise the future.
Anxiety often centres around a fear of what’s going to happen – the feeling that you can’t control what is to come. By understanding what is expected in your loved one’s future, you can manage your expectations and plan for what might be coming.
Do something to help.
Many of us feel better when we can do something. In many situations, there is nothing you can do. Especially now, when many of us are living under governmental restrictions. But when there are things you can do to help, collating a list and taking a task now and then can help you to keep calm.
If your loved one is elderly, you could research live-in-care so that, even though you can’t be there to help them yourself, you know they are receiving the help they need.
Alternatively, you can do small things to help. Write a card to send to your loved ones, to remind them you are thinking of them. Send some flowers to brighten up their home or some brownies for them to snack on.
Get support for yourself.
When your loved one is ill, it can be easy to forget about your own health. But if you find yourself struggling with your loved one being ill – for example, if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety – you must remember to look after yourself too.
Support can be as simple as making sure to talk to your friends and family about how you are feeling. However, if your anxiety is more severe, you need to speak to a professional. A counsellor or a therapist will help you understand the root of your feelings and help you with strategies to change your thinking and behaviour.
The clearer-minded you are, the better you’ll be able to help your loved one. In helping yourself, you will be helping them.
A loved one facing illness can be hard.
Unfortunately, it is something we all must go through. But you don’t have to go through it alone. Talk to your support network, and, if needed, seek professional help.
Don’t let anxiety control you; it’s not what your loved one would want!