According to American Psychiatric Association anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders and it affects nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. This means you likely know someone- a friend, family member, relative, or coworker who lives with an anxiety disorder.
Occasionally experiencing anxious thoughts is a normal part of life. But for some people, getting anxious or worried can happen very easily. And how people experience anxiety is subjective. Due to this reason, you might not understand how someone is experiencing anxiety. But you may have the power to emotionally support and be there for them throughout this.
When someone has anxiety, it means that person is intensely worrying about something/ several things that haven’t even happened yet but might happen in the future. So, you have to be very careful with how you handle your words. The things you say while they’re experiencing anxiety can either help them to get through that or it can make them feel a lot worse. So, the easiest and safest way to handle this is to think of “what would I want to hear if I was in the same situation?”
Below is a list of 10 things to say and 10 things not to say to someone who has anxiety;
What to say to someone with anxiety;
As I’ve mentioned before, always try to say things that you think you would want to hear if you were in that same situation. Many therapists suggest it’s important to support them without making them feel like you’re judging them. And remember not to assume things because only they know what they are going through and how it all feels. Always ask what they want and validate their feelings.
You can use below phrases to help your friend;
- “I’m always here for you”
- “What can I do to help you?”/ “How can I help right now?”
- “You can talk about it with me if you want” or “I am all ears when you’re ready to talk”
- “Can I hug you?” or “Do you need a hug?”
- “I’ll stay with you if you’d like”
- “I’m here to help you get through this”
- “Do you want to do something to take your mind off things?”
- “I care about you and want to help you”
- “Thank you for telling me how you feel”
- “You’re safe, I am here if you need me”
Things you should avoid saying to someone who has anxiety;
Questioning them about their anxiety and making assumptions about it are the last things you should do when your friend is experiencing anxiety. If you try to question them about what made them feel anxious when they’re having anxiety can make things worse because you’re making them think more about it. And remember not to tell them that the thing they are worried about is not a big deal because by doing that, you’re disregarding their worries, emotions, and feelings- which is not something helpful at all.
- “Why are you anxious?”
- “Just breathe and calm down”
- “I know how you feel right now”
- “stop crying!”
- “Other people have it worse”
- “It’s not something to worry about, get over it”
- “Do you have anxiety?”
- “Just don’t think about it”
- “it’s all in your head”
- “Don’t worry” worrying won’t change anything
Sometimes just being there with them is the most helpful thing you could do to someone who has anxiety. Anxiety roots from immense fear, negative thoughts, self-doubt. Your presence can truly make your loved ones feel safe.
P.S. I’m sending lots of love and strength to you and your loved ones. I hope you find this article helpful to support your friends!
What do you think about this article? Do you find this article helpful? Let me know in the comments below! ❤️
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Disclaimer: As the admin of the HappyHumaans community, I’m making my best effort in putting forth supportive material based on my knowledge, experience and passions as a psychology student in hopes that you can find simple ways to make your life better and brighter. We DO NOT REPLACE PROFESSIONAL THERAPY or other professional services.