3 Things You Should Never Say To Someone With Anxiety

3 Things You Should Never Say To Someone With Anxiety

Even if you think you're being helpful, you might be doing more harm than good.
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Today, anxiety disorder is the number one most common mental illness in the United States. 1 in 5 people suffer from it, which chalks up to a whopping 40 million Americans. 40 million people, in just one country. Not surprisingly, western civilization tends to suffer from anxiety more than our Eastern Hemisphere friends, probably due to the USA’s competitive, success crazed society. Chances are that one of your close friends, family members, or loved ones probably suffers from anxiety, and you may not even know it.

Though millions of people have different variations of anxiety disorders, it’s not something you can see. You might witness symptoms or behaviors that are presented as a result of the disorder, but you’ll never really be able to see what’s going on inside that person’s head. You can’t see the turmoil and distress that an anxious person has to endure while they struggle with their own thoughts. It’s not tangible – you can’t grab it, or hold it, or throw it away in a trashcan. It’s not a light bulb you can switch off or unscrew. It’s not a splinter that you can pull out with a pair of tweezers. You can’t put a bandage on it. It’s just there, under the surface. The only person who can truly get to it is the person who suffers from it. It’s a constant internal battle.

As one of the 40 million Americans who suffer from anxiety, I can tell you that my anxiety doesn’t just affect me; it affects the people in my life. It affects my relationships and interactions with them. It affects how much time I spend with them, how focused I am, how personable I am.

The relationship between a person who suffers from anxiety and a person who doesn’t can sometimes be a complicated one. It can be difficult for a non-anxious person to understand the inner mechanics of an anxious mind. An anxiety-ridden mind is complex. In many situations, you might not know how to react to a person who is experiencing an anxiety or panic attack. That’s not your fault. We know you really just want to help. But sometimes, you do more harm than good, even if it’s unintentional. Here are a few things that you should never, ever say to an anxious person. Though they may seem like simple, helpful phrases to you, they usually only end up making us more frustrated during an already challenging situation.

1. "Calm down."

If we could be calm, we would be calm. But we CAN’T. There’s no magical switch to turn off anxiety, so telling an anxious person to calm down just frustrates them even more. Just remember this simple rule of life: Don’t ever tell your angry girlfriend (or an anxious person) to calm down. It won’t go well.

What you should do: Remind them to breathe

When someone is anxious, and especially if they’re in the midst of a panic attack, they often hyperventilate. Breathing slowly and mindfully is one of the most effective ways to slow a person’s nervous system and calm them down. Chances are, if they have sought professional help for their anxiety, they’ve probably been taught a breathing technique or two. But sometimes we just need a little reminder to practice those exercises. Doing so is a much more constructive approach than simply telling the person to calm down.

2. "Just be positive."

DO NOT tell me to “just be positive”, or any other anxious person for that matter. It brings on a world of frustration. What might be easy for you isn’t necessarily easy for everyone else. Yes, anxious people combat a slew of negative thoughts, so it seems obvious to just point our brain in the opposite direction, right? Wrong. Positive affirmations do help in the fight against anxiety, but when you tell an anxious person to “be positive” you make it sound so simple, and it belittles what they're struggling with. The reality is that it's NOT easy. Taking back control of racing thoughts is a difficult, exhausting task.

What you should say: "You are okay".

No matter how many times we try to be positive ourselves, it doesn’t always work. But hearing a positive affirmation from someone else helps to solidify the thought. Make sure you have their attention, and say it with confidence: “You’re okay.” If you’re confident, it will help them be confident.

3. "There's nothing to worry about."

Alright, deep down, we know that there’s probably nothing to worry about. But we really can’t help obsessing over it. A lot of the time, anxiety isn’t rational. Therefore, we really can’t rationally explain to you why we are so worried about x, y, or z. And we definitely can’t just stop worrying. People who don’t suffer from anxiety sometimes just won’t get it. But saying “There’s nothing to worry about” makes us feel a little crazy.

Personally, sometimes the only way to talk me down is to rationally deconstruct my irrational fears. For example, I went to the beach a while ago with some friends. For those of you from New Hampshire, you all know how freezing the water can be. I was the only one out of my group to go in the water. I was only in for about a minute, but it was so cold that by the time I came out, my legs were numb. Cue my irrational fear that maybe I was going to get hypothermia from spending a mere minute in those frigid waters. A friend of mine, however, calmly and rationally talked me out of my own head. He pointed to all the other people in the water “You see those people? They’ve been in the water longer than you, and they don’t have hypothermia.” He told me that I had to be in frigid water for x amount of time to get hypothermia, and that my body had to drop to a certain temperature. Or something like that. But it worked. My anxiety melted away, and I went back to enjoying our beach day.

What you should say: "Everything is going to be fine"

Saying “everything is going to be okay” might be a similar idea to “There’s nothing to worry about,” but the difference is in the delivery of the message. Reassuring the person that they are safe will help them relax. Sometimes we just need to be told that everything is going to work out. Sometimes, the anxiety or panic is based around absolutely nothing. In which case, it is sometimes okay to say ‘There’s nothing to worry about” as long as you pair it with the positive affirmation that everything is going to be okay. But if there is a specific situation that the person is worrying about, try addressing that issue directly, and assure them that it is highly unlikely. And even if the worst does happen – everything is still going to be okay. Just remember: if you’re confident, it’ll help us be confident too.

Cover Image Credit: News-PressNow

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Meditation Is Not A Perfect Practice, But It's Still Worth Your Time

You'll thank me later.

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I began doing yoga a few years ago, and I instantly loved it. The combination of stretching, mental relaxation, and emotional release is amazing. It creates a sense of zen and peace in my life that I can use during the stress that comes from school, work, and everyday life. But the one part of yoga that I am not in love with is the meditation aspect.

I absolutely dread meditation. I do not know what it is, but I can never quite seem to get my mind to quiet down. No matter how hard I try, there is always a million thoughts running through my brain. "Did I finish that homework assignment?" "Am I breathing too loud? Can other people hear me?" I become so focused on other things happening around me that I just can't seem to calm down and relax.

But meditation is not about just clearing your mind and going completely blank. It is about focusing on a single thought, object, or intention and just allowing those emotions and feelings to overcome you. Focusing on one intention in your life allows you to become focused and re-centered. Meditation is not a set in stone practice, it is adaptable based on each person's needs.

There are seven general types of meditation: loving-kindness meditation, body scanning meditation, mindfulness meditation, breath awareness meditation, kundalini yoga, Zen meditation, and transcendentalism meditation. Each of these general types can be adapted to fit ones specific needs in that time. All seven of these meditations offer stress release options to help with daily stressors and inconveniences.

There is no perfect way to meditate. Meditation can also be as simple as just closing your eyes and simply breathing for a few seconds while focusing on one important thing in your life to help you remain grounded. There is no one set meditation type that works for all people. Some people enjoy all of the forms or even several of them, while others such as myself strictly enjoy the body scanning meditation.

The body scanning meditation focuses on scanning the body for areas of tension and to encourage the release of tension in that part of the body. Once the release occurs, the whole body can begin to relax even more. It usually starts by focusing on the toes and relaxing then moving up the legs, the torso the arms to the fingertips, and all the way through to the tip of the head.

My ideal meditation type is not for everyone. Playing around with the different types of meditations is the best way to find an ideal type of meditation that fits what the body needs. Unlike with most things, practice doesn't make perfect. Practicing the art of meditation just helps to refine the overall calm and zen that is felt.

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