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.
82
views

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

Popular Right Now

If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
506810
views

Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Buying New Clothes Every Month Has Been The Key To Helping Me Become Happy With My Body Again

Loving my body in new outfits has boosted my self image so much.

1363
views

Being body-positive has been really hard for me to do throughout 2019, despite there being an overwhelming surge in body-positivity around me, whether through my friends and family or YouTube. I look in the mirror and what I see is someone I want to make a jean size or two smaller like in the past. That being said, I've slowly been coming around to accepting the body I have now, instead of bashing it constantly. A key way I've come to accept the body I'm in now is through buying myself something new every month, like a new T-shirt or a pair of jeans or sneakers that help me see myself in a positive light. When I'm in a new outfit, I feel invincible. I don't think about how pudgy my stomach is, or about the hair I have growing in random places, like my neck or on my nose (yes, not just in, but ON too).

My bank account tends to suffer as of recently because of this, but it's worth it when I can genuinely feel good in what I am wearing every day. I like to wake up and think about how many outfits I can put together, ready to post my #OOTD for Snapchat without caring what anyone thinks. I've let social media dictate how I feel about myself more than I care to admit. I see how perfect all the models are in everything they're wearing from brands I know and love, yet when I try the same thing on, it's a whole different ugly story.

I don't enjoy trying things on to avoid the shame I feel when things don't fit me right, or if something that I thought would flatter me actually makes me look like a sack of potatoes. Instagram has really hurt my body image a lot — enough to make me delete it for a week after one post sent me spiraling. Going through those bumps made me finally realize it's not my fault if something doesn't fit. Sizes range depending on the item, it's the clothing items fault, not mine. Now that I see that, it's easier to brush off something not fitting me as it should. I know my size very well in the stores I frequent the most, so it's easier for me to pick out things I know will look good and not have to worry about the sizing issue.

Buying yourself something new is not something you should limit to every few months or longer. You shouldn't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone price wise every once and a while either. Coupons exist, stories always offer you them when you first sign up to receive emails and even texts. You can be crafty and still get a high price item for less. If you treat yourself to cheap things, you won't feel half as good as you want to. Granted, sticking to a limit is important but there's no shame in going over the limit every once and a while.

I love shopping as much as I love country music and writing short stories — a lot. Yes, I get yelled at almost every time I get something new. I need to save my money for important things, like for my sorority or for medical issues that could suddenly arise, or for utilities at my house next year off campus.

However, my mental well-being is not something I can ignore.

I can't push the good feelings aside to save 30 or 40 bucks a month. I don't want to feel as low as I've felt about myself anymore. I'm tired of feeling sad or angry at who I am, and I want to learn how to accept myself as I am. Buying myself something new, like clothes, is what offers a positive light to view myself under.

Whether you treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, or to face masks, or to a new movie when it comes out — don't be afraid to do it. Put yourself first and you'll realize your worth and how much you've been ignoring it in the face of poor confidence.

My confidence isn't back up to where it used to be, but it's getting there.

It may not be the most cash efficient method of self-love, but my body positivity is better than it was a few months ago. Aerie and American Eagle have really helped me become happier with my body, and I can't thank them enough for being more inclusive for people like me who are learning to love themselves again in a new body.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us hoping to promote our own body positivity, and it could all start with a simple purchase from your favorite store after you read this.

Related Content

Facebook Comments