When you tell an anxious person to "chill out," you may think that you're helping them. You may think that you're calming them down, you may think that you're making the situation better. You may think it's an easy solution, you may think it's just as simple as that.
But you're not helping.
When you tell an anxious person to "chill out," you're making it seem as if their anxiety is invalid. You're making it seem as if they're just overreacting, you're making it seem as if they're just being irrational - even if you're just trying to help.
You're making it seem like their anxiety is insignificant.
A lot of times people who suffer from anxiety aren't able to just "chill out," hence why they're anxious in the first place. Anxiety causes a lot of stress and worry. Anxiety causes panic, confusion, tension, and irritability. Anxiety causes fatigue, agitation, restlessness, and irrationality. Many times, an anxious person can't figure out where their anxiety is coming from.
They can't pinpoint how or why their anxiety started.
And that's just one of the many problems anxious people face. There is no simple fix, there is no easy solution. There is no such thing as "chilling out" for a person with anxiety. It will never be that effortless. Anxiety has the ability to overwhelm someone to the point where their life is seemingly revolving around their worry, no matter how irrational or dumb it may seem. Anxious people wish they could just "chill out," but it's not something that's necessarily attainable.
Telling an anxious person to "chill out" won't help them, but there are other ways.
Take the time to educate yourself.
If you know someone who has anxiety and you want to help them, take the time to educate yourself. It can be a bit time-confusing and can take some effort, but if you're really looking to help, it's worth it. Anxiety is very hard to understand; people who suffer from anxiety may not even understand it themselves. But taking the time and effort to learn more about anxiety is incredibly helpful and supportive for an anxious person.
Anxiety isn't a weakness, it's not a flaw, it's not a sign of incompetence. But anxious people often feel as if their anxiety shows failure or shortcoming. All of these thoughts can be helped if other people work to destigmatize anxiety. Assure them that their panic or worry isn't an embarrassment. Remind them that their anxiety does not make them weak, it does not make them a failure. And if you can relate to any of an anxious person's feeling, normalize them. Tell them that those feelings are okay to have and that you experience similar feelings, too.
Reassure them that they can cope.
Many people with anxiety experience panic attacks for a variety of reasons. Some attacks can be linked to a specific source, while some cannot. Whether the source is known or not, reassure them that they can cope and get through it. Having a panic attack can be embarrassing for the person, depending on the situation. Remind them that it is okay and that they are strong enough to work through it. Remind them that you understand and that you are not judging them. Remind them that they are more than just their anxiety, it will never define them.
Pay attention and be there.
An anxious person often just wants to know that someone is there. It's comforting to know that someone is by your side or even just a phone call away, always. Be there physically or just be there mentally. If you know someone with anxiety, just be there for them. Pay attention to their needs, to their triggers, to their calming techniques. Pay attention so that you can either help them prevent it or work through it.