Living with anxiety can be exhausting. Since I’m someone who refuses to pop a pill to try to “cure my anxiety“, I work really hard to redirect my thoughts. This is a big reason why I try to be careful about who I let into my life. I learned a huge lesson in my past chapter about human beings and I have finally been able to get back to my regular day to day life again. I have supportive family and friends. Life is really good. I have so much to be grateful for and I’m so happy to be living with my kids again in a place we call home. I often wonder why my anxiety pokes out still. It is frustrating since so many things and people in my life are awesome right now. I have had to just be honest with those close to me, anxiety will forever be a part of who I am. Anxiety for me used to only rear its ugly head when I was in a large social situation with new people, but lately, it’s trying to consume me. I try to formulate the words to explain what thoughts consume me, but my mouth opens and no words come out.
As I work to get my anxiety under control again, I figured I’d share some ways you can help a friend with anxiety. I think the biggest thing that helps me with anxiety is being honest with those close to me and having those same people be understanding and respectful that anxiety is simply a part of who I am. Surrounding yourself with those who love you for who you are and will help uplift you versus weigh you down is a number one priority for anyone living with anxiety.
How to Help a Friend with Anxiety
I’m stubborn. I will not ask for help. I rarely speak about my anxiety in person to people because I personally feel there isn’t much anyone can do to help me. Anxiety is an irrational fear of something or lots of somethings. Anxiety is your thoughts, it’s an inward feeling and an inward thing. Someone who’s experiencing an anxiety attack may appear completely normal on the outside, but inside they can barely breathe, their heart is racing and they’re holding back tears that are right there ready to fall. Only people who are really close to you may see that you’re having an anxious moment. Random strangers may just think you’re anti-social. Either way, it’s important to know how you can help a friend with anxiety.
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Some of these ideas have worked for me, while other ideas have worked for my friends suffering from anxiety. No two people are the same, so try to tweak these ideas to help a friend with anxiety in a way that will help them whack out of it and feel better again.
Say the Right Phrases
When a friend is experiencing major anxiety telling them that this is irrational is only going to make the situation worse. Try to tell your friend that you understand anxiety is consuming them right now. Let them know that they are strong and that these feelings may suck right now but remind them you’re there to help them through these thoughts and fears. Telling your anxious friend that “we’ll get through this together” may be the only thing they need to hear to calm the anxious thoughts.
Give Space, But not too Much
An anxious person often feels that space is abandonment and only makes them feel far worse than they did, to begin with. When a friend or family member decides to just give you space during high anxiety moments, you simply feel more alone. Giving some space, such as to not consume your anxious friend is okay but completely walking away and not communicating at all will only make them feel like a horrible person and add fuel to the fire.[click_to_tweet tweet=”Having a friend with anxiety can be difficult. Here’s how you can help a friend with anxiety when they’re under attack of their own thoughts … #anxietyproblems” quote=”Having a friend with anxiety can be difficult. Here’s how you can help a friend with anxiety when they’re under attack of their own thoughts … #anxietyproblems”]
If you talk too much to your anxious friend it may only consume them even more and cripple them to go sleep for the day. Anxiety can quickly turn to depression if your friend doesn’t work out the thoughts in their mind soon enough. Be a loving person who can just listen. Do not pass any judgment and try not to snicker, because the reality is your friend’s anxious thoughts will sometimes be worth a giggle but it will only make them feel worse.
Distract your Friend
The last way to try to help an anxious friend is to distract them. You’ll know what this person enjoys the most, get them away from the environment where they’re having an anxiety attack. Perhaps go for a drive or walk around their favorite park. Try to get your friend to go with you and do something that they truly enjoy. Distracting your friend from their anxious thoughts with something that they enjoy doing will help deteriorate their anxiety attack.
These ways to help a friend with anxiety may not work for everyone. For example, I’m an extremely stubborn person and try my hardest to work through my anxious thoughts on my own. I don’t want anyone to pity me or baby me. I need to find the strength to redirect my thoughts again. I may appear this strong person on the outside when I’m experiencing major anxiety, just because it’s who I am, but inside I am dying for a huge bear hug so that I can bury my face and cry. Anxiety is crippling at times, and I’m so glad to have a support system. I just need to ask for that support more often. If you’re suffering from anxiety, please reach out to those who love you and ask them for help, it’s okay to admit that you’re struggling, we all struggle from time to time and friends are there to support you always.