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Standing Beside Someone with Anxiety: Practical Ways to Help

Many of us have experienced anxiety at some point - the racing heart, the feelings of dread, shaky legs and sweaty palms, that horrible feeling that makes you just want to escape - so when someone you care about struggles with anxiety, it’s natural to empathise and want to help ease their distress.

While we can’t make anxiety disappear, there are thoughtful ways we can support and stand alongside those experiencing it. With some understanding and compassion, we can make their path a little smoother.

Listen without judgement

Creating a safe space starts with listening ears and an open heart. Resist the temptation to minimise their feelings or anxiety. Instead, let them share without fear of judgement or criticism. Even if their worries seem unreasonable to you, they are very real to those experiencing them. Seek to understand rather than fix.

Offer reassurance

Simple phrases like “I’m here for you” or “We’ll get through this together” go a long way. Reassurance helps replace anxious thoughts with comfort and support. But be careful not to offer hollow platitudes or false assurances. Your support means more when it’s realistic and caring.

Encourage professional help

While you can be a caring listener and great support, it can be really beneficial for those experiencing anxiety to seek professional help as well. A therapist can equip them with valuable coping skills and management strategies. Recommend speaking to their doctor about anxiety if they haven’t already.

Educate yourself

Learn about the symptoms of anxiety and common triggers. Understanding the causes better equips you to notice signs they may be struggling. But avoid trying to “diagnose” them or suggest their anxiety isn’t warranted. Your role isn’t to fix or downplay their feelings but to be an empathetic support as they work through it.

Checking in

Make it a point to regularly check in and let them know you’re available to talk if they need it. If it’s a friend, a quick text like “Thinking of you today” reminds them they have someone in their corner. But be careful not to pressure them to talk before they’re ready. Offer your open ear without demand or expectation.

Help with practical tasks

Everyday responsibilities can feel monumental when anxiety comes knocking. Offer to help lighten their load with tasks like planning, shopping or lifts to appointments. Reducing real-life stresses can help minimise anxiety triggers during difficult times.

Encourage healthy habits

Gentle encouragement of positive lifestyle habits can also help manage anxiety. Good self-care like healthy eating, exercise, quality sleep and saying no to unnecessary responsibilities all reinforce mental health. But be careful your suggestions don’t come across as prescriptive. Make them invitations, not expectations.

Respect their boundaries

Check in about what makes them most comfortable in social situations when anxiety flares up. Can they connect in smaller groups or one-on-one? Will it help if they are given advance notice before making plans? Respect their needs, even if it means changing regular routines.

Navigating anxiety, your own or someone else’s, takes gentleness, learning and grace. But by walking alongside those struggling with patient love, you help lighten the load. Your open heart and listening ear can make a life-changing difference to someone weathering this storm.

How to Help Someone with Anxiety


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