1. Do help them to focus on their breathing.
Breathing is one of the most important parts of dealing with an anxiety attack. If you can, get whoever is struggling to focus on their breathing rather than the cause of their anxiety. The diagram below is a good way to teach the person to breathe because it causes the person’s breathing to steady and slow, which leads to relaxation.
2. Don't try to touch them or hug them.
As hard as this may be when you see a friend or family member struggling, don’t try to touch them unless they ask you to. Hugging someone or touching them when they’re dealing with anxiety can make it worse. Due to the staggered breathing and possible hyperventilating, it could make them feel closed in and like they can’t breathe even more.
3. Do offer encouragement.
Though they’re just words, they can offer a lot of good. It’s helpful to remind your loved one about the positives of the situation. Offering some form of positivity to take their mind off of the negativity can definitely help to ease their mind, and of course their anxiety.
4. Don't tell them it's not a big deal.
Telling someone struggling with anxiety that what they’re feeling anxious about isn’t a big deal can actually make their anxiety worse. It’s important to highlight the positive in a way that isn’t degrading of their feelings and emotions as well. Just because something doesn’t make you anxious, doesn’t mean it doesn’t trigger something for them. Have compassion and be gentle when speaking to someone going through an anxiety attack.
5. Do offer to be there.
Remind your loved one that you are there for them whether it be hanging out, a phone call, or a video chat. Remind them that you care and that you love them. This will help them to feel more open and able to talk through their anxiety. Always remember to show support and kindness for someone in this type of distress. Anxiety is no fun, but knowing the right way to handle it can help your loved one feel less trapped.
Just remember to reassure your loved one. Tell them you love them and make sure they know that they can always confide in you. Be there for them, and I guarantee you will be helping them.