16 LITTLE THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR SOMEONE WITH ANXIETY
Be a person who someone with anxiety knows they can count on when they’re having problems.
- •Don’t put off responding to a message.Nobody is saying that you have to be available all the time, but leaving an anxious person waiting for hours can create way more discomfort for them than just leaving a quick message.
- •Ask how you can help during an anxiety attack.Some people might just need a hug, and others may prefer you give them breathing room. You know how it is: Every person has their own ways, and that’s why there’s no magic formula and why it’s necessary to talk about it. Having that conversation before an anxiety attack is even better.
- •Understand that situations that appear simple and easy in your daily life may be tough for someone with anxiety.Speaking in public, answering the phone, being introduced to someone — even though theses might be a piece of cake for you, they can still be tough for someone else.
- •Make concrete plans whenever possible.Messages like “Let’s get together soon!” or “Be there around 8ish” can be especially annoying for someone with anxiety, because things are uncertain or open to interpretation. Making an actual plan and sticking to it is super helpful.
- •Help them remember positive memories and entertaining thoughts.When someone with anxiety is in the eye of the storm, that person is unable to stop thinking about things that make them anxious. Talking about interesting, calming stuff — like childhood memories and funny stories — can help to break that cycle.
- •Learn to notice their signs of an oncoming anxiety attack.Before it gets bad, some people might experience things like difficulty speaking, hearing, or breathing. Watching out for these signs can make you more effective at helping a loved one.
- •Suggest activities that will make them feel better.You don’t always need to offer a solution — just a helpful way to take their mind off of things.
- •Don’t say things like “You weren’t always this anxious” and “Why are you so complicated?”Seriously, this doesn’t help anyone.
- •Help them understand that they’re not abnormal.They might feel frustrated and defeated and forget that it’s actually pretty normal to have difficulty in stressful situations. Remind them that they’re not alone.
- •Talk with them about what makes them feel anxious.Don’t be afraid to bring it up. Sometimes talking it out can actually help someone better understand what they’re going through.
- •Don’t create unnecessary suspense.Phrases like “I need to talk to you later” can make all of us nervous, so just imagine how that feels for someone with anxiety.
- •Invite them to spend some time doing “nothing” with you.Chat outside, people-watch, and just relax as the day goes by. These are some uncomplicated ways to help someone with anxiety disconnect from their busy mind.
- •Show that you care.Call or text just to see if everything’s OK. It’s comforting to know that people care.
- •Be someone who an anxious person knows they can count on when things are bad.Just having this safety net will help them feel more comfortable and secure.
- •Understand that someone with anxiety may also need space.Whether that’s just taking a few steps back to give them some breathing room, or respecting the time they need to get their energy back, it’s nice to show that you’re not gone — you’re just respecting their boundaries.
- •Listen.Let them talk. Sometimes that’s all an anxious person needs.