Anxiety Mental Health

How to Help Your Anxious Friend

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How to Help Your Anxious Friend

I know that I’m not easy to be around when my anxiety is getting the better of me. I’m lucky, because I have friends and family who support me and stick with me, even when I’m not much fun to be around. We all need a little bit of help sometimes. So I’ve asked some other bloggers to help me tell you how you can help your anxious friend.

Understand

When your anxious friend cancels at short notice, it’s not because they love you any less or don’t want to spend time with you. Sometimes it’s just too hard to get themselves out of the door. Some situations are just too much for us and we have to decline those invitations. Consider offering activities that are less overwhelming, like sitting on the sofa together, watching TV or eating a takeaway. But be sure to read your friend’s cues and leave if/when it gets too much for them. They might not be comfortable asking you to go. Sometimes, we just need some space when things get hard, but we need to know that you’ll be there when we need you and that what we’re going through now won’t last forever.

Emma at EmmaDrew.info

Ellie at WonderlandEllie

Bry at Goddess of Books

Coping strategies

Your friend might already have coping strategies that help them to control and work through their anxiety. But it can’t hurt to show an interest and talk to them about what those strategies are. Maybe suggest new ones they might like to try, such as deep breathing, stretching or listening to music or a podcast. But know your audience – while suggesting exercise might help one person, for another, figuring out how to get themselves out of the house when they’re feeling anxious might be the last thing they want to do. Pushing them to do something they don’t want to do won’t help.

Strategic Homeschooling

Emma at My Debt Diary

Listen

This is one of the most important things you can do. Not just for your anxious friend, but for anyone. I find that people often want to “fix” my anxiety for me. They can’t. They do it with the best intentions, but no one can fix my anxiety for me. What they can do is let me talk. Listen to your friend. Let them talk about what’s going through their head. Be patient – let them talk to you in their own time, without getting frustrated if that takes a while.

Melissa at Spoonie-Mama.com

Connie at Earth to Connie

Talk

Choose what you say carefully. Try “I’m sorry you’re feeling that way” instead of “there’s nothing to worry about”. Words are powerful. Let your friend know that you understand and that you’re not judging them. Don’t make it all about you – saying “it kills me to see you like this” will only make your friend feel worse. Try “I’m here if you need me” instead.

Johnzelle at Perfectly Imperfect

Triggers

Get to know your friend’s triggers, so that you can be aware of and help them deal with or avoid places and situations that might trigger an anxiety attack. Don’t make a big deal out of it, just be there if they need you. Follow their lead. They might not want to avoid their triggers. Sometimes it’s not possible to avoid them. They will be grateful to know that you’re there to support them.

Johnzelle at Perfectly Imperfect

Celebrate the little wins

Some days, getting out of bed and making cereal for breakfast can be as tough as climbing mountains! If your friend has been having a tough time, celebrate those little wins with them.

Abi at What Abigail Says

Show Up

We all want people to show up for us. Use any excuse. Bring a milkshake. Or chocolates. Or a book you think everyone should read. Just show up. Be there for your friend. You know they’d do the same for you, if it was the other way around.

Katie at 52 Beautiful Things

Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to this post. Is there anything we missed? If you can think of other ways to help you anxious friend, I’d love to hear them!

22 Comments

  1. Emma Long August 3, 2018
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