A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about things that you shouldn’t be saying to someone who suffers with anxiety and today I am back with some things you should be saying. I think it can be hard to know what to say to someone with anxiety especially if they become insular or put barriers up. Don’t let the barriers put you off though because that member of your family or friend will need you more than ever even if they haven’t realised it yet. One of the hardest but most important first steps to take when you are an anxiety sufferer is that of acceptance. Once you have accepted that you have it you can begin to try and fight it. If a person that you love isn’t at that stage yet but you want to help them or if they are talking and you want to know the right things to say to keep that conversation open then keep reading for some conversations starters with an anxiety sufferer.
‘What can I do to help?’
Whether it be bring them some shopping, make a cup of tea or give them some distraction asking what you can do rather than trying to guess is the best way to go. You may find their answer is they don’t know but just asking can be a comfort to them as they know you are there if you do need help.
‘I’m always here if you need to talk’
When suffering with something as relentless as anxiety you can often feel like a burden so offering a shoulder to cry on is so important. If they aren’t ready to meet up or see you then just saying that you are there if they need a chat over a message can help too. They may find it easier to tell you what is bothering them over the phone or in a message. Sometimes being a friend to someone who suffers with anxiety can be draining especially if you are going over and over the same concerns with them but don’t give up. Keep letting them know you are there to talk and listen when they decide they want to.
‘You are not being silly’
Personally I find my own anxious thoughts irrational sometimes so saying them out loud to someone can make me feel very silly. I can worry about really important life changing things all the way through to whether I turned my straighteners off that morning. There is no difference to my reactions to either of these things so the straighteners setting fire to the house can be just as big as something life changing. Make sure you keep reassuring your friend that they are not being silly because if they feel silly that can cause instant shut down on a conversation.
‘Let’s talk it through together’
Sometimes an anxious person simply needs to talk their thoughts out. Removing them from their brain and saying them out loud can really help but a lot of anxious people also need a solution. If there is something bothering them suggest talking it through together. Take their lead and try and rationalise everything for them. Hearing it from someone else can really help.
Don’t say anything
If there is nothing to say don’t try and fill the silence. If your friend wants to talk, let them and take a backseat in the conversation until you feel they are ready for some input. It can be as simple as letting them get all of their thoughts out of their head. If they don’t want to talk then pop on a film or their favourite TV show and sit together. Making someone feel less lonely for a while can be super effective in making them feel better.
So those are my top 5 things to say to an anxious person. If you want to read the things not to say you can here. Remember, just because someone is suffering from anxiety doesn’t mean they can’t see it from your point of view either. More than likely they will know how tricky it is to say the right thing and will be just be really pleased that they have someone with them holding their hand when they need it.