Struggling with anxiety can be a very isolating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have a friend who is struggling with anxiety, knowing the right things to say can make all the difference.
Sadly, there are many common phrases that are often said in an attempt to comfort friends and family members with anxiety that can actually do more harm than good.
So, if you want to help your friend feel better and offer them genuine support, here are nine meaningful things you can say to a friend with anxiety instead of ‘Don’t Stress.
How to recognise the signs of anxiety
Anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways, so it’s important to be aware of the signs. Look out for things like your friend becoming more withdrawn or irritable, difficulty sleeping, or increased worry and panic.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s worth talking to your friend about how they’re feeling.
Is your friend struggling with anxiety? Signs to look out for –
- Feeling more withdrawn or irritable than usual: If your friend is suddenly isolating themselves, becoming easily irritated, or acting out of character, this could be a sign that they are dealing with anxiety.
- Difficulty sleeping: If your friend isn’t getting enough sleep or suffers from insomnia, this can be a sign that they are having difficulty managing their worries and stress levels.
- Increased worry or panic: Feelings of intense fear or worry that can come on quickly and without warning could signal an anxiety disorder.
- Low mood or lack of motivation to do activities they usually enjoy: When someone is struggling with anxiety, it can take a toll on their mental health by sapping their energy and zest for life they once had.
- Obsessive thinking about certain topics: Have you noticed your friend repeatedly dwelling on the same issue? This could be a sign of rumination and anxiety.
- Excessive worrying about the future: Anxious thoughts about the future can impair decision making and interfere with daily routines if left unchecked.
- A desire to be left alone more often: Sometimes when people feel overwhelmed they will want to take breaks from social situations or anything else that might cause them additional stress.
- Avoiding certain situations due to fear: If your friend has become scared of things that used to bring them joy, it may indicate underlying anxiety issues that need to addressed with professional help if necessary.
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and nausea: Unexplained physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, muscle tension, shakiness, dizziness, etc., could be the body’s way of telling you something is wrong and needs attention from a medical professional if it persists for more than two weeks after non-medical treatments have been tried unsuccessful.
Tips on how to help a friend struggling with anxiety:
If you have a friend who is struggling with anxiety, there are several helpful tips to keep in mind.
Firstly, make sure that your friend knows that you are available for support, and be patient if they need more time before confiding in you.
Secondly, listen carefully to what your friend has to say without passing judgement or offering advice unless asked. Empathy and understanding can go a long way in helping your friend feel heard and accepted.
Lastly, encourage healthy coping strategies such as deep breathing exercises or journaling that can help your friend relax and gain control over their worries.
What should you say to your friend?
“I’m here for you.”
“What can I do to help?”
“Your feelings are valid.”
“It’s okay to take breaks and rest when you need it.”
“That must be really tough for you right now.”
“”Is there anything I can do to make this easier for you?”
“You don’t have to go through this alone, I’m here with you every step of the way.”
“Talk to me about how you’re feeling, I’m here to listen without judgement or giving advice if that’s what you need right now.”
“Just breathe, everything will be alright in time.”
These phrases focus on empathy and understanding, rather than providing solutions or dismissing their feelings.
By expressing genuine care and concern while offering meaningful support, you can help your friend feel heard and understood, which is essential for long-term emotional wellbeing.
Furthermore, they give your friend the space to set their own pace as they work towards overcoming their anxiety.
Final Thoughts on Helping a Friend with Anxiety
Remember, when it comes to supporting a friend with anxiety, understanding and empathy are far more valuable than offering advice or “fixing” the problem. Whether you’re trying to console someone who is sharing their distress, or just want to check in on them, these nine meaningful phrases can be used as an alternative to “Don’t Stress” to show that you care and truly understand what they’re going through.