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How To Comfort Someone With Anxiety

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How To Help Someone with Anxiety

Its pretty common to worry about having a panic attack, especially in front of strangers, or believe the attack might annoy or inconvenience friends or loved ones.

People struggling with anxiety or panic attacks might intellectually understand the response is illogical. But hearing that from someone else can increase their isolation, Bingham explains.

Avoid saying things like:

  • Just relax. Theres nothing to be afraid of.
  • Youre upset over that?
  • Whats wrong with you?

You might not intend to make your friend feel ashamed, but denying the reality of their distress can certainly have that effect.

What Is An Anxiety Attack

Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are episodes of intense panic or fear. They usually occur suddenly and without warning. Sometimes theres an obvious triggergetting stuck in an elevator, for example, or thinking about the big speech you have to givebut in other cases, the attacks come out of the blue.

Anxiety attacks usually peak within 10 minutes, and they rarely last more than 30 minutes. But during that short time, you may experience terror so severe that you feel as if youre about to die or totally lose control. The physical symptoms are themselves so frightening that many people think theyre having a heart attack. After an anxiety attack is over, you may worry about having another one, particularly in a public place where help isnt available or you cant easily escape.

Comforting Someone Over Text Using The Ruok Method

Comforting someone over text can be similar to comforting someone in person on some levels.

Ultimately, both scenarios rely on effective communication, empathy, and active listening skills. In both scenarios, your goal is to recognize and understand what your friend is going through, and then to help them resolve it.

However, there are also some challenges when trying to comfort a friend over text. Without visible body language, we have to make an extra effort to show that we are actively listening. Messages like I understand how youre feeling, or asking specific questions can help demonstrate active listening over text. While you cant hug a friend or family member over text, you can show them how important they are to you by telling them directly.

To keep the process of comforting a friend over text simple, I made the steps as easy to remember as possible. With the RUOK Method, we are effectively asking someone, Are you okay? . From there, we can figure out how to best assist them in calming down, cheering up, or feeling better.

Well walk you through each step. Afterward, keep reading for even more specific tips on how to craft the perfect text to comfort someone in various situations.

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Avoid Curt Text Message Replies That Might Make Us Think Youre Mad At Us

This sounds petty, but whenever a significant other or family member responds to a text with a curt K , I cant help but worry: Are they mad at me? Did I say something wrong? What did I do!? Rationally, I know Im reading into it, and theyre probably just busy or distracted but it still stings and makes me nervous. I totally get if youre held up at work for an hour or so, but then Id like to hear from you. And if you have time to write K, then I promise you have time to write, OK, sounds good. Locke Hughes

Find Ways To Make Use Of Any Insight They Have Into Their Anxiety

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If your loved one has insight into their anxiety, you can help them spot when their anxiety-driven patterns are occurring. I find it helpful when my spouse notices that Im expressing my anxiety about work by being irritable with her or by being too fussy. Because we know each others patterns so well and have a trusting relationship, we can point out each others habits. Not that this is always met with grace, but the message sinks in anyway.

If youre going to do this, its a good idea to have their permission first. Keep in mind that people who have insight into their anxiety often still feel compelled to give in to their anxious thoughts. For instance, a person with health anxiety might logically know that going to the doctor every week for multiple tests is unnecessary, but they cant help themselves. If your loved one lacks insight into their anxiety or has trouble managing compulsions, its probably best to encourage them to see a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety.

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What Not To Say

Itâs also important to know what not to say to someone whoâs anxious.â

âYouâll get over it./Snap out of it.â Anxiety disorders donât work like this. Often, it requires help from a mental health professional in the form of talk therapy, medication, or a combination of therapies. Remember that your friend or family member doesnât choose to feel this way, so itâs not something that they can turn off to feel normal again.â

âI know, ___ makes me feel really anxious, too.â Comparing your own anxieties to theirs isnât going to help them. You probably feel rational anxiety about things that happen in your life, but you canât equate those feelings to the irrational feelings people with anxiety disorders may have. Itâs not the same, and this diminishes your loved oneâs experience.â

âHave you tried ___?â Donât ask someone with anxiety if theyâve tried certain health or wellness techniques to overcome their feelings. While this may work for people with temporary anxiety about certain situations, it may not work for someone with an anxiety disorder.

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Understanding Anxiety And What It Is Doing To Your Partner

Learning some basic facts about anxiety will help you better understand and support your partner. Psychologist Dave Carbonell, Ph.D. and therapist Dr. Helen Odessky, among other mental health professionals, recommended you keep these ones in mind:

  • Anxiety is a real problem, not something made up. It is a mental health issue.
  • Anxiety is normal. Everyone has it. It only becomes an issue or disorder if it is severe.
  • Anxiety can be a debilitating illness that prevents people from functioning and living a normal life.
  • Anxiety makes people experience fight-or-flight reactions and stress to issues that are not life-threatening, including worrying about whether a partner will cheat or leave.
  • You cannot fix or cure anxiety.
  • Most people who have anxiety wish they didnt have it. They worry about their anxiety being a burden to others.
  • There are millions of people who, despite dealing with anxiety, have great relationships and are happy.
  • Symptoms of anxiety can occur in waves, consistently or both. People with anxiety disorders or issues can have periods of time when they dont experience symptoms.
  • Anxiety is not logical or rational. It causes people to worry about something despite there being no evidence to suggest it is worth worrying about. It also causes them to sometimes act irrationally. Your partner most likely knows this.
  • Anxiety is not a weakness.
  • Anxiety is treatable. Psychotherapy can relieve symptoms and teach people how to better cope with it.

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Be Patient With Us If We Dont Respond To Texts Or Calls Right Away

Ive noticed people get frustrated with my unresponsiveness when Im in anxiety mode. It doesnt necessarily apply to everyone who deals with anxiety, but in my case, I become reclusive and stay completely in my head. Loved ones sometimes feel like its rude or purposeful when Im really just dealing with anxiety. I wish they would have a little more patience and refrain from seeming frustrated. Im not trying to avoid everyday life or be rude, Im just in my head analyzing things and trying to live life minute by minute as best as I can. Javier Montalvo

How Teachers Can Help Students With Anxiety: 9 Easy Methods

Dealing With Anxiety Outside Your Comfort Zone

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Learn How You Can Put a Stop to Panic Attacks From Home in Just 13 Easy Steps!

Looking back on my high school and college years, I recall all the ways in which my classroom anxiety affected my ability to focus and learn. I made my best efforts to beat anxiety in school, and certain teaching styles helped me immensely. So, how can teachers help students with anxiety?

  • Ditch the Ice Breakers
  • Learn How to Identify Anxiety in Students
  • Make it Clear That You Are Willing to Help
  • Offer Accommodations for Those with Anxiety
  • Provide the Opportunity for Alternative Assignments
  • Avoid Singling Students Out
  • Dont Ask Students to Pick Their Own Groups/Teams
  • Encourage Students to Leave Their Comfort Zone on Their Own Terms
  • Consider Extracurricular Activities for Anxiety Support
  • Everyone has that one teacher, who changed their life and whom theyll never forget. By following the above steps to help students with anxiety in the classroom, you can be that teacher for someone.

    If the above methods seem a bit vague, no worries. Were about to go into much greater detail about how teachers can help students with anxiety.

    Alright, lets dive in!

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    Do Let Them Know Youre Here For Them

    When learning how to help someone with anxiety, you may want to explain to the person that youve noticed that they seem more anxious lately and that you want to help.

    This will typically come as a welcome relief to the person, as they realise that they dont have to carry the burden of their anxiety alone. Having this conversation gives the person a chance to see that they have people who care about them, who want to listen and who want them to feel better. Someone suffering from anxiety could also tell you ways you can help manage their anxiety symptoms.

    How To Help Someone Having A Panic Attack

    A panic attack is a brief but intense rush of fear.

    These attacks involve symptoms similar to those experienced when facing a threat, including:

    Panic attacks differ from a typical fear response because theres no actual threat involved.

    The body is saying theres danger, when in reality theres none present, explains Sadie Bingham, a clinical social worker who specializes in anxiety and provides therapy in Gig Harbor, Washington.

    Panic attack triggers arent always easy to identify, so people who have one attack often worry about having more, especially in public.

    Panic attacks usually feel very uncomfortable and cause significant distress. Many people believe theyre experiencing a heart attack or other life-threatening issue.

    If you know someone who experiences panic attacks, there are several things you can do to help them in the moment.

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    Want To Go For A Walk With Me

    To follow up after the text above, send along a few ideas for relaxing activities, like a walk in the park, a trip to the corner store for bagels, or whatever else might be comforting or distracting. Bonus points if you make it sound like something you were about to do anyway so that they donât feel pressured.

    Listen And Help Facilitate A Plan

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    If you know someone who is struggling with anxiety, reach out to them and provide support by just listening to what they have to say, says Catherine Richardson, LPC, a Talkspace therapist. If youre not sure how to start the conversation, Richardson says to ask them how you can help.

    Let them know they can come to you when they feel anxious and that you would like to be there for them, she says.

    Together, you can come up with a plan to facilitate this process, such as meeting in person, talking on the phone, or connecting online. Richardson also recommends asking them if there is something they enjoy doing like going to the park, going to a particular restaurant, or watching a favorite movie, that you could do together.

    But most importantly, she says, encourage them to seek help if you feel like they are really struggling and could benefit from therapy.

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    Shifting Your Mental State To Relieve Stress

    Anxiety causes stress because we instinctively perceive it as a problem, nothing more. This evokes anger and fear.

    Clinical psychologist Dr. Carol Kershaw recommended couples try to shift their mindset regarding anxiety. Rather than seeing it only as a source of stress, they can develop a curiosity about it. Trying to understand the anxiety makes it more difficult to become angry about it.

    Curiosity can turn off worry and anxiety, Kershaw said. You cant feel two at once.

    The Dos And Donts Of Anxiety

    With that in mind, itâs time to go over some tips on how to help a friend with anxiety. Note that every person is different and has different needs. There are some people who want to talk about their anxieties, and there are others who may have never mentioned it. So even with these doâs and donâts, itâs hard to know exactly what you should do. However, this can be a helpful guide.

    Letâs begin:

    Dealing with anxiety is an uphill battle, and it does take a toll on others around them. Anxiety can strain relationships, and may even cause significant stress on a loved one. Some people find that they actually start developing anxieties of their own.

    But a supportive friend is an extremely effective way to treat your own anxiety. Learn from the above tips to better understand how to help your friend, family member, or a partner and youâll give them the best opportunity to overcome their anxiety and grow closer to you as a result.


    Those that love someone with anxiety may feel helpless that they cannot help their partner or friend. Anxiety is treatable, but its also a very individual experience. Learning more about anxiety is the best thing you can do for them, as well as encouraging them if they decide theyre ready to treat it.

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    What Not To Do

    To avoid making the anxiety worse, hurting your partner and creating more stress in the relationship, DO NOT:

    • Criticize them for having anxiety
    • Dismiss their anxiety
    • Enable maladaptive anxious behaviors by coddling them too much
    • Try to be their therapist
    • Take everything personally
    • Lose your temper or patience every time the anxiety flares up
    • Try to fix your partner
    • Recommend drugs for their anxiety

    How To Support Your Partner


    Theres a difference between providing support and becoming your partners unpaid, unofficial therapist. A therapist isnt going to hold your partner while they cry or take them out for something to help relieve the anxiety.

    These activities make him feel loved and secure, and that helps with his anxiety, she said.

    Her story shows it is possible to have a loving and long-term relationship when dating someone with anxiety. Here are some other ways you can support your partner:

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