Having anxiety can be a lot like living in a haunted house all the time. It makes you overthink everything, be afraid of the world around you, and can cause physical pain. If you have a friend with anxiety, they struggle with this all the time. For people who have never experienced anxiety, it can be hard to understand what it is like. Some behaviors and coping mechanisms don’t make a whole lot of sense from the outside looking in. But it is still important to be open and supportive of friends who experience anxiety.
10 Ways to Help a Friend Who Has Anxiety
- Check in but don’t constantly ask if they are okay. A quick check in can remind them that you care and that you are there for them. It’s important to not over do it because that can cause them unnecessary panic.
- Give space and support. Many people with anxiety find that they need the most help when they want to push everyone away. If they are alone in their room, it may help to sit quietly with them to give them space and support.
- Give reassurance. People with anxiety constantly doubt that others care about them, so make sure to reassure them that you care about them and that they are not a nuisance or a burden.
- Let them be them. A lot of things that they do might not make sense to you, but just know that they are handling their anxiety best they can. Let them be and handle things in their own way.
- Remove them from a stressful situation. If you are in a loud, crowded place, they may find that overwhelming but may be unable to voice that. If you see them shutting down, remove them from a bad situation and get them somewhere quiet.
- Be predictable. Sudden changes to plans or routines can be stressful and cause worry, so always give them plenty of warning.
- Make plans but give them a way out. If you have plans, reassure them that you want to spend time with them, especially if it’s a group activity. Sometimes it can be hard to go out with anxiety, so give your friend a way out if their anxiety is getting bad and they are unable to go out.
- Explain a plan in advance. Spontaneity can be fun, but it can cause a lot of worry to someone with anxiety. Always explain exactly what the plan for the night is and what you will be doing.
- Communicate. Make sure that you text back. If you take a long time to reply, your friend will come up with a horrible worst case scenario of why you are not replying. Just a quick little message can make a world of difference.
- Help them with little things. Lots of everyday things can be stressful. You can best help them by taking care of the little things like ordering food, navigating in the car, and making calls or appointments for them.