Anxiety is one of the most common mental illness.
According to Trevor (2017), anxiety is a normal healthy reaction. It happens to everyone at times of danger or when worried about situations.
BUT, there are things you should never say to someone with anxiety.
So, what is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry and apprehension about what’s to come.
Dr Ty Lostutter, a clinical psychologist at the University of Washington Medical Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance reports that while everyone experiences anxiety, people experience differing degrees of severity.
Anxiety becomes a problem when it interferes with everyday lives.
Why You Should Never Say These 3 Things to Someone With Anxiety
Chances are that you have a friend or family member who may have clinical levels of anxiety. However, opening up to people about anxiety can be hard.
With that in mind, here’s what to say, what never to say, and how to be supportive of anxious friends.
Discover how to effectively comfort and calm people suffering from anxiety with words.
What To Say To Someone With Anxiety
General anxiety disorder or GAD is said to affect up to 5% of the UK population.
Feeling anxious and worried about something pretty normal such as walking the dog, driving to work or meeting up with friends and family, can be emotionally draining, and the last thing you want to hear is negativity.
If you know someone who is suffering from anxiety and you’re not quite sure what is the best thing to say, don’t worry.
It can be a bit of a minefield when comforting someone who is anxious, but you need to remember that your words can have a big impact on how they feel.
To help you understand what to say to someone with anxiety, I have put together a few helpful tips.
First, let’s start with 3 things you should never say to anyone suffering from anxiety.
3 Things Never To Say To Someone With Social Anxiety
Yes, it can be frustrating to make plans with someone and for them to cancel last minute due to social anxiety, but we can almost guarantee that they’re feeling far worse than you.
Social anxiety can make you feel physically sick, and you may also experience a rapid heartbeat, breathlessness and sweating.
If you feel the need to talk to your friend or loved one about their anxiety, here are 3 things you must avoid saying, no matter what.
1: What are you worried about?
2: Everything is going to be fine.
3: Just get over it!
Anxiety tends to convince the person suffering from it that their worst fears are about to unfold in front of their eyes, and there is nothing they can do about it.
This irrational thought process has unfortunately got a firm grip on their victim, and no matter what they hear from a friend or family member, it’s going to take a lot of mental strength to overcome it.
When people suffering from social anxiety hear phrases like, what are you worried about, everything will be OK and get over it, it’s almost like you’re calling them a liar, and that their pain and suffering is an elaborate plot to be lazy and stay home.
So, to avoid causing anymore heartache, make sure to avoid these common phrases if you’re hoping to comfort your friend or loved one.
Best Things To Say To Anxiety Suffers
One of the best things you can say to someone suffering from anxiety is ‘I’m here for you!’. Showing that you are going to be by their side, whether they are freaking out, over-analysing a situation, or trying to push themselves to overcome their fears.
This simple phrase gives some reassurance that you will not judge them but will listen, encourage and help, and this is all they need when they’re feeling at their worst.
You may also say, “let’s go to a quieter place or go for a walk,”, “I have noticed you are anxious of late, would you like to have a chat as I am quite concerned?”
How To Calm Someone With Anxiety
An anxiety attack can happen within seconds, and can feel similar to a heart attack, so it’s important to know how to calm someone down before they reach this level.
If you notice that someone close to you is feeling anxious, start by sitting down with them and taking a moment to recognise the situation.
If you’re outside, consider going for a coffee and taking some time to remove them from a stressful situation. If you’re at home, it’s time to pop the kettle on.
Encourage the person to explain how they’re feeling and what they need from you to help them relax. If they feel better writing their thoughts, encourage them to do so. Check out this article on Simple Journaling Prompts for Depression | Anxiety.
Listen and follow their lead. If they want to be alone, let them. If they want to talk, allow them to vent their frustration and fears, and try not to overpower them with your advice, suggestions or recommendations.
How to Comfort Someone With Anxiety
Sometimes one of the best ways to comfort someone with anxiety is to just sit with them quietly and allow them to deal with their emotions and fears at their own pace.
It’s important to realise that their mind will be buzzing and noisy, with thoughts, concerns, fears, frustration and stress, and the last thing they need is another voice trying to tell them what to do. Instead, hold their hand, smile and be there for them no matter what.
Why do Anxiety Symptoms Begin?
Anxiety symptoms can begin for several reasons such as;
- The amount of stress you are under may make you more vulnerable to anxiety.
- The kind of person you are may mean that your bodies’ arousal response might be triggered more quickly and take a longer time to calm down.
When these symptoms begin, anxiety may stay with you because of;
- the way you behave where you avoid the situations you fear or
- because of previously held beliefs you have about situations and its effects.
Common Myths About Anxiety
- I am going to faint
- I am going to lose control
- I am going to die
- I am having a heart attack
- I am going crazy
- The world is ending
- Everything around me is falling apart
Before You Go,
Anxiety is a common problem. Understanding the process of anxiety will help you support a friend or family member with symptoms.
Choosing the right words to say to someone with anxiety can make them feel much better.
What’s the one thing you have said to someone that has helped them feel better? Let me know in the comments below.
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