Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside of you that is greater than any obstacle- Christian D Larson
Following on from one of my previous posts referencing phrases we should all avoid when talking to an anxious person, I thought it’d be only right to do a post about the phrases we should use. From my own experience of struggling with severe anxiety, it’s been incredible to see just how much a few kind words have really helped me through the tough times!
1. How can I help?
This may seem a natural question to someone in distress, however it is something many people fail to do. Offering your assistance not only lets a person struggling with anxiety that you care, but also that they are not alone.
2. Your emotions are valid
While as a society we have come a long way in reducing mental health stigma and discrimination, some people still hold the misconception that people frequently use anxiety as an excuse and a method of ‘attention-seeking’. It is important that people suffering with anxiety always feel comfortable in expressing their emotions and that it’s okay not to be okay. Invalidating emotions often leads to people suffering in silence!
3. How are you?
For many people suffering with anxiety it can be very difficult to admit they have a problem, usually because of the fear of embarrassment or judgement. Being able to tell someone you are struggling, therefore, is a enormous hurdle to overcome and so it is important to check in and ask how someone is doing. Whether it be a family member, friend, colleague or even a stranger in the street, asking the question opens up a conversation and lets that person know you are there to talk to. If their automatic response is “I’m fine” and you sense they’re lying, remember to #AskTwice. Opening up is the first step towards recovery!
4. Let’s get you some help
Although conversations and support in your day-to-day life are great tools in aiding mental health recovery, it’s vital that we recognise the importance and value of professional help to someone dealing with anxiety. Even if a person is aware of their mental health struggles, it can sometimes be difficult to identify where and what to turn to in order to feel better. Encouraging a person to find help and presenting a helping hand can often be a massive turning point.
5. I’m always here if you need a chat
On some occasions a person with anxiety may want to discuss what’s bothering them, whereas in other instances they want some space and time to themselves to sort things out. In the past I’ve often felt like a burden to the people around me for talking about my emotions, however it’s always incredibly reassuring to hear when somebody says they’ll be there whenever and are always prepared to listen. Not every time is the right time to talk!
6. Take things at your own pace
In a pressured society, whereby there is this expectation to be constantly on the go and getting things done, somebody dealing with anxiety could feel a sense of failure or disappointment if they are not being as productive as possible. If a person is experiencing a panic attack or a prolonged, distressing period of anxiety, it’s vital to reiterate that one is given the time and space they need to recover. You can’t put a time frame on something like anxiety.
7. This isn’t your fault
A key part of supporting someone with anxiety is not to play down their experiences. Being supportive means listening to what they have to say and understanding what they’re going through. Anxiety can often evoke feelings of guilt and worthlessness, therefore providing a bit of reassurance can put a person at ease.
8. I’ll come to your appointment with you
Particularly if somebody has taken the step of seeking mental health support for the first time, it can be quite a daunting prospect to go alone as you’re not sure what to expect. Having somebody to go along with can reduce fears and greatly alleviate anxiety levels.
9. Would you like my advice or should I just listen?
Usually when a friend, family member etc. approaches us and talks about a problem such as anxiety, it is our natural instinct to fix anything that’s bringing them down. Lots of advice in one go can be overwhelming, therefore asking this question and providing a choice shows a level of understanding and that you are happy to support them in the method which suits them best. A listening ear is sometimes all a person needs!
If you have any feedback or suggestions of your own, feel free to comment below
Thanks for reading,