Updated: Oct 21
Things you can say to a friend, loved one, or colleague that has anxiety. Also, some brief tips on what is less helpful to say.
Empathy is key in your response. If you don’t understand what anxiety feels like, it is helpful to say, "I am so sorry you are feeling this way," or "I don’t know what anxiety feels like but it sounds horrible, what can I do to help?"
If you have felt anxiety before, you can say something along the lines of, "I have felt anxious before too and it feels horrible, how can I help?" Express to the person you are there for them and want to help in anyway you can.
Every person with anxiety isn’t the same. Some people want space from others, while some people want others to tell them it’s ok and hug them. Asking the person what they need allows you to tailor your response to help them in the best way possible. Some people may just want space, and if so, that is just what they are needing to cope and is likely not personal.
What is not helpful to say is, "there is nothing wrong here why are you anxious?" or "it's not a big deal." Telling someone to stop worrying or feeling anxious will not be benefical.
The most important thing is to express empathy and that you are there for the person.