Anxiety is something that is faced by everyone. You, your friends, your family and colleagues might have all faced anxiety and anxious thoughts. It’s important to know how you can calm someone who is feeling anxious and help them feel better! Saying the right things, giving the right support and knowing how to react is key.
Here’s what you should do to help calm an anxious person
Listen calmly and without judgement. If someone is feeling anxious and they are talking to you, know that it’s a big step. This is difficult for them and the best way you can help ease their anxiety is listen to them without judgement. Make them feel comfortable and they’ll feel better. Be supportive, non-judgemental and even say, “I am here for you.”
Ask them how you can help. Rather than giving them advice or suggestions in a bid to make them feel better, ask them what you can do for them. People who are anxious may not want your advice and may just want to vent. Moreover, your advice may be something they have already tried, so it would not help. Giving them the chance to tell you what to do will help them feel more comfortable, in control and allow you to help them further.
Validate their feelings. A simple way to help is to tell a person what they feel is okay. They will feel better about it and calmer. A person who is anxious is facing a lot of problems and many thoughts. Their fears and worries may cloud their judgement, creating doubt. By validating and reassuring them, you are helping them feel better and calmer.
Ask them to breathe. A great way to calm down and find balance when anxious is to settle your breathing. Breathing can be difficult when you’re feeling anxious and that is why bringing the rhythm back is key. It can help normalise your heartbeat and allow you to relax. Just ask them to take a few deep breaths and focus on it slowly. It’ll bring them back to balance and ease the tension. Simple breathing techniques like box breathing and belly breathing are excellent ways to reduce stress.
Here’s what you shouldn’t do
Don’t ask them why. Anxiety is a very personal thing and a number of things are triggers for anxiety. Asking them why they are anxious puts them in a spot and adds additional pressure. Moreover, sometimes the person may not even know the reason, but feel this way! As a result, they will become even more anxious, worried and doubtful of themselves.
Don’t ask them to calm down. If they could calm down, they would. Asking them to do that is pointless and can worsen their anxious feelings. Instead, stay with them in the moment and tell them it’ll be okay. Pacify them and make them feel good by saying what they are feeling is temporary and will pass. By asking them to calm down or relax, you reaffirm the fact that they aren’t relaxed and it increases stress levels.
Don’t talk about your anxiety. When you’re listening to someone vent their fears, don’t try and equal yourselves to them. Your experiences and their anxiety isn’t the same. You can’t understand what they are going through, because their feelings are very different and it may feel like you are making their problem seem small. Instead, listen without judgement and without making it about you. Allow them to feel comfortable and safe.
Anxiety is caused due to various reasons and isn’t the same for any two people. When feeling anxious, it’s important to know how to reduce anxiety quickly and over time, find solutions for it! Your food habits may help reduce anxiety or even increase its symptoms.