How to help a friend with anxiety | my top tips

 Well hello to you my reader chums! I've had anxiety for as long as I can remember and it hasn't been an easy road to learn to firstly accept my anxiety but secondly and mainly, deal and cope with it.

Living with a mental illness isn't easy for both me, my family, and my friends and often, I can't help feel like the one with all the 'problems' or the person who needs 'extra reassurance' and, it has taken me time to realise that's not the case.

If you have a friend or family member who has anxiety or another mental illness and are unsure how to help them, here are my best tips on helping a friend with anxiety.

How to help a friend with anxiety

Offer a helping hand

A helping hand can go a long way especially for someone with anxiety. Most of the time, those with anxiety are looking for someone to be there for support, give them some level of reassurance or help them in any other way, it depends on the person. But if your friend is suffering, simply ask them how you can offer that helping hand; they may need a chat, someone to go for a walk with or simply, someone just to be by their side. 

Give them the reassurance they need

Reassurance is vital for someone living with anxiety. Anxiety is constant thoughts that overplay and make you overthink again and again, which means even the smallest of things are A LOT. And that means when a friend asks 'are you mad at me?' Reply to them with the reassurance they need - think of the response you'd want and then add even more reassurance. Then, if they ask multiple times, instead of getting annoyed, continuously try to reassure them in every way you can - it'll mean more than you think.

Understand why if they cancel last minute

The thing about anxiety is it can be triggered with the smallest of things or flare up when you least expect it and that's why a lot of anxious people may cancel plans last minute or make excuses or why they're not coming. If your friend does this, instead of getting mad or annoyed, try to listen and understand their point of view, and why they did this. It may not be exactly what you want to hear and you may get frustrated with them, but that'll only make them feel worse - try and be calm and approach the response nicely.

Be a listening ear

Adding to the other three points, being a listener is the best thing you can do for your friend with anxiety. Anxiety can be isolating, and often makes you feel like you're a burden so sometimes, you need someone to simply listen to you. This could be to vent or to get the words out of your mind, and feel as if someone is listening to you. Rather than trying to rationalise an anxious person's thoughts, just be a listening ear and be supportive in the way they need.

Come up with coping mechanisms

Those who live with anxiety have many methods that they would have developed in order to cope with their anxiety - and it's dependant from person to person. However, when they're in a social setting with you and they're triggered, these methods may not work, or they may need a method which you can help them with to cope. My friends have been so helpful over the years in developing ways for me to tell them I'm triggered and creating a safe space for me to cope. You need to do the same for your friends - ask them what will help them cope if they're in a setting when their anxiety may be triggered.

Avoid making them feel worse about their anxiety

I cannot stress this point enough. People with anxiety already doubt themselves enough by questioning every single thing they've done and every single conversation they've had, that by saying mean comments will add to their anxiety. Try and avoid telling someone with anxiety that they're being 'overdramatic', 'overthinking' or to 'stop worrying.' Treat every one of their concerns normally and constantly reassure and be empathetic.

Don't push them into things they don't want to do

Those living with anxiety are battling their mind every single day and the worst thing you can do is push an anxious person into doing something they're not ready for. There's a difference between giving someone encouragement and pushing someone, and it's important to know where to draw the line. Keep at their pace and cheer them on, and wait until they're ready to cross the finish line. Don't ever push.

A gesture can go a long way

I'm a big fan of gestures. As someone with an anxious mind, when someone offers a gesture, whether that's inviting me somewhere, giving me an unexpected gift, or writing a lovely paragraph, I remember it. I remember all the ways people make me feel, especially the good times - and that's why gestures are important. If your friend is feeling anxious or has been triggered, a gesture can go a long way.

Read up on their anxiety

The thing about mental illness, it's often misunderstood and people don't take the time and care to read up on it, the way they would with a chronic physical illness. But, if your friend has anxiety, one of the best ways to understand what they're going through is to read and listen. And, I can assure you that they'll appreciate the fact that you took the time to read up on what they're going through as a way to understand.

Appreciate them a little bit more

This may sound a bit weird as I'm sure you love your friend dearly that's why you're pals. However, sharing and showing that appreciation can go the extra mile to let them know, they're loved and worthy of being your friend.

I hope you enjoyed this post about anxiety. What other tips do you have?

Thank you for reading <3

67 comments

  1. Such wonderful advice! As someone who lives with anxiety and has a close friend who does too, it's really important to offer reassurance and support that our feelings are valid. But, I also think the learning never stops, which is why I'm always researching more, reading, watching podcasts and doing everything I can to understand my mind.

    Kate | kindlyk.co.uk

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    1. Thank you lovely! Yes exactly, the learning never stops xx

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  2. Actually, I am the one with anxiety, thank you for this post.
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  3. I have a friend who is super anxious, while she may not have been diagnosed formally, I want to use these tips to show her that I am there for her. She is one to cancel plans but I totally get that - especially in a post lockdown world.
    Thank you for sharing this, I'm going to use each and every tip!

    Rosie

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  4. Gosh I wish my old friends had a post like this when I was suffering with my worst time with anxiety. I think I'd have been in a much better place if I had friends who understood these things x

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    1. Aw bless you, I hope you're in a better place now xx

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  5. This is so important! You need to learn how to look out for another person while also keeping your own mental health okay. I love the idea of just being a listening ear- and showing that you're there whenever they need it is what it takes to be supportive as a friend x

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  6. It can be so difficult for those with anxiety and those that might not have any mental health illness and don't understand. I have anxiety and same with some of my friends, and also friends that have depression. I think these are some great points to support one another so thanks for sharing xx

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  7. This is fantastic advice and I hope many who live with anxiety of have loved ones read this! You've hit a lot of great points about really being reassuring. I've learned that hugs really help my partner when they're anxious they help provide a sense of grounding to him. Thanks for sharing this awesome post!

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  8. Such an important post and oh so helpful - some really great points here. Will be remembering these for the future! x

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  9. It's a wonderful list. I think in this pandemic many people are going through rough times and these points will help to support them too.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  10. All wonderful tips. Anxiety is so tricky to manage especially when you're going through an attack! I never hold it against someone who cancels last minute due to not feeling like going out or having a bad day. Thanks for sharing x

    Lynn | https://www.lynnmumbingmejia.com

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  11. Love that this is aimed at helping friends with anxiety! Educating ourselves and being appreciative of them goes a long way in showing, not just saying, that you care. Even if a friend does not necessarily relate to anxiety struggles, just their awareness and understanding of it means a lot.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  13. I really enjoyed reading your post, because it makes me realize that what I might mistake for a lack of confidence or insecurity may actually be anxiety. I understand that empathy and support are important because the person suffering from anxiety is experiencing a lot of discomfort and distress. Thank you for sharing.

    Corinne
    https://en.maqualitedevie.com

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  14. I have to say that I also often feel anxious about life and myself.
    Telling others will feel that talking too much is radiating negative energy, so I will choose to read books, or watch healing anime, and watch funny variety shows to divert attention.
    brazilian lace front wigs

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  15. You've mentioned some great points. I definitely think communication is so important. Just knowing someone is there for you either to listen or help with something can make such a difference. Whilst it won't cure the anxiety, it does make you calmer knowing you have that support to hand.

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  16. Thank you for your sharing. I have a good friend who is in anxiety. After reading your article, I can help her better.
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  17. This is such an important topic and plenty of great tips! i had experience both personally and with someone near me, and gestures were what I appreciated the most. A small not, or a letter, knowing that they're there no matter what! Also listening is so important xx

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  18. I love this. Your tips are so helpful and relevant. I have a friend who's also dealing with anxiety but before I knew anything about it, I used to get pissed off when she changes her mind too much or doesn't talk to me for months without any heads up. I thought I did something wrong to her or something, but as we talked about it, she said it wasn't anything like that. Now I know better. Thanks for sharing!


    www.lifebeginsattwenty.com

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  19. Aww this is so sweet! This is definitely an important topic. Great post ��

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  20. Such an important topic, myself and some of my friends have anxiety and it's so important to help each other! x

    Lucy | www.lucymary.co.uk

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  21. Hi Della. Those are some very helpful suggestions, thank you. I am, however, now thinking that sometimes in my eagerness to encourage and support I may be a little too ... enthusiastic. It's a balancing act, isn't it, and the degree of encouragement needed varies from person to person.

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  22. I love this post, super helpful. I know so many people who struggle with anxiety and I always want to do my best to help them. Great one!!

    xoxo Olivia | http://www.oliviaandbeauty.com

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  23. These are such great tips for helping friends who have anxiety. Thanks so much for sharing all this information!

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  24. As a person suffering from anxiety myself, I can definitely vouch for these being great tips! Thanks for sharing x

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  25. These are really great tips. Thanks for sharing!

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  26. Great advice, thank you! A family member has anxiety and when I try to ask him about it to understand and support he says it's not related to anything, it just is. Especially love your tips about not pushing (knowing where to draw the line) and small gestures. Thanks!

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  27. Wonderful advice! My best friend has suffered with anxiety for a while now and this is really helpful - I especially love your tip about reading it up on it as I know I haven't done that as much as I could've. Thanks for sharing!

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  28. This is such a great post filled with wonderful advice, thank you for sharing! Sometimes giving them the space to talk at their own pace and give them a listening ear is one of the most helpful things you can do! I hope this post really helps someone!

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  29. Lovely tips! I think this post would be great for anyone with anxiety to share with their loved ones to give them a better understanding of how they can help!

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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  30. I casually just sent this post in the group chat because this said everything that's too hard for me to speak about. I went out last weekend and couldn't stop crying because I felt so anxious and I felt horrible about it because they worried.

    Anyways great post,

    Lay x

    www.SimplyLay.com

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    1. I hope this post helped your friends understand a little more, thank you lovely xx

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  31. These are such great tips! I have anxiety which got really bad at the start of lockdown. I had one friend who was great, she'd reassure me and take the time to talk me through things :) xx

    Holly | www.gollymissholly.uk

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  32. This is excellent, I kinda feel like forwarding it to my mum. She's always trying to push me and it actually makes it worse.
    The smallest amount of understanding can go a long way when you have anxiety.
    Cora | https://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

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    1. Thank you lovely! I hope this post helps in some way xx

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  33. This is such a helpful post! I completely agree with 'Understand why if they cancel last minute', as I suffer from anxiety, I wish more people understood this! x

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  34. I love this advice. When I had my eating disorder, I didn't want to go out to eat and my friends stopped inviting me. It hurt, but I found friends who were there for me. I hope that people read these tips and are more considerate towards their loved ones, thanks for sharing. Em x

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  35. Thanks for sharing, this is great advice not everyone has time to listen to you when your having a bad day, so great advice :)

    Nic | Nic's Adventures & Bakes

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