How to help somebody with anxiety.

    How To Help Somone With Anxiety

    Anxiety is present among us in all its forms. We all have a certain level of anxiety.  Living under a hard regimen of anxiety can get frustrating. It may get a hold of us and rule our lives with an iron fist. This can become a source of depression for the anxiety sufferer and the people who are integral to their lives.

    In this article, we explain to what degree anxiety is useful and how to help someone who has anxiety. As we’ll find out below, there are ways to be there for them and breathe new life into their perspective.

    Why is Anxiety Good?

    Anxiety is ingrained in us, but it's only helpful when it operates as a defense mechanism. Sometimes, anxiety can be eye-opening, signaling hazardous situations where we must activate our combative spirit. 

    Let's take this example to understand better how anxiety helped our species survive… 

    Back in ancient times, anxiety was instrumental in day-to-day living.

    Being anxious equaled being alert. Think of a caveman and a cavewoman. They live in an environment that has no established rules or laws. They are at their environment's mercy, and anything can happen. While they mind their own business in their cave, they suddenly hear a loud noise. At that exact moment, their internal danger alarm is activated, or what we know as the fight or flight response. When facing high levels of stress, the body experiences some changes - they propel us to act swiftly to protect ourselves. 

    caveman anxiety


    The hormones released during this acute stress present the body with two options: confronting danger or running away.

    The brain can sense danger and urges the entire body to be highly awake and alert. It's psychological feedback to a situation filled with danger. The emergency mode is on. This leads to experiencing a rush of adrenaline while survival becomes the primary focus. They face a threat - the bear - with their weapons and force it to leave. Once the danger is gone, their stress levels decrease, and they go back to the initial status quo. The threat is out of the question, and anxiety served them as a survival tool. This example proves that anxiety is part and parcel of our lives.

    Living With Anxiety 

    Nowadays, we don’t have to worry about surviving because safety is granted almost everywhere in the world. There is no bear about to attack us from the bushes. Still, muddled or scary events may take place, but most times, we relish in the safety of our environment.

    While primitive danger is practically non-existent, the hazard may surge from a different source - our minds. We may experience an unpleasant event. Instead of dealing with it and then letting it go, we can get attached to interpreting and reinterpreting it and keep attaching more meanings without giving our minds a break. This is when we go on a downward spiral. Lost in the depth of an imaginary world we helped create, negativity can take hold of us. We don’t differentiate between what’s beneficial and what’s not.

    But the problem is that most people are unaware of the moment anxiety kicks in. They adopt the anxious feeling without pausing to understand or question the obnoxious sensation they got entangled in.

    To measure anxiety, let’s imagine a dial from one to ten, ten being the highest level of anxiety. Anxiety may surge as an instant psychological response to an unexpected issue shaking up our environment. In this case, it will probably reach skyrocketing levels. The reaction begins in the amygdala, the part of the brain that deals with fear. Adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol are released into the body.

    We find ourselves in the trenches, operating under stress, sifting through the best ways to cope with sudden chaos. Like in the cave example above, once the imminent danger disappears, our anxiety levels diminish back to zero. The ideal scenario includes sorting out the problem and witnessing things returning to normal.

    Anxiety and Our Inner World

    The problem is when our internal compasses remain discombobulated after dealing with anxiety. When the anxiety tsunami hits, all that’s left is for us to witness how it wipes everything around us. But it’s an elaborate process to go through. Understanding the overwhelming emotional charge we put ourselves through unconsciously is like watching the tsunami getting closer and standing paralyzed in front of it. We have a clear picture of the danger, but its magnitude numbs us. The body is filled with tension, and the thoughts are racing. This is when everything starts going downhill.

    We think we don’t have the tools to deal with anxiety, so we don’t even bother searching for them. Once the damage is done and the danger is gone, we can’t say the same about our apprehension. We’re still inert, with fear, and most of us will go on with our days, operating from that disempowering level. Many of us sense that something is unusual inside ourselves, but we can’t pinpoint it with accuracy. This is how we drag anxiety into our future while learning to live with it in the present.

    When we experience anxiety on a normal basis, it becomes part of our identity - or at least we perceive it this way. We get used to experiencing a fast heart rate, sweating, headaches, stomach aches, body aches, confusion, paranoia, sadness, stress, overthinking, and over-worrying.

    Our mind creates danger due to piling up negative layer upon negative layer of thought. Our minds can’t tell the difference between the past and the present. Hence the projections we create about the future. They can hurt us, even if we don’t know they will become a reality. But by giving them attention, we are unintentionally welcoming them into our lives. The same happens with the past and painful memories we relive on repeat, most of the time unconsciously.

    When the mind becomes used to working overtime, we lose sight of what’s logical and illogical. It’s emotionally draining to constantly live in flight or flight mode. This modus operandi alters our thoughts, behaviors, and self-image. We get trapped in an emotional blockage, and irrational thoughts take over. The rational realm gets dominated by the unreasonable. It leads to the anxiety sufferer becoming used to feeling uncomfortable regularly.

    Sometimes, anxiety sufferers are fighting their silent fight. This can lead to exhibiting unexpected behaviors: they may change their mind last minute and cancel events, avoid certain situations, and even become needy. But all this must be seen as a defense mechanism against a situation they are not equipped to handle.

    How to Help Someone with Anxiety

    Living with anxiety is not a walk in the park. It’s not convenient to be around someone with anxiety because their emotional state may influence and frustrate us. But perhaps an essential thing to remember when someone we know suffers from anxiety is that it’s not their fault. Many factors can cause anxiety, but honing your coping skills to help someone can make a huge difference in their lives.

    Below, we’ll find easy-to-implement ways to help us be there for someone with anxiety.

    • Be there for them

    It helps if you remember that anxiety is a human feature, not a fault. No one wants to live with anxiety. Someone who suffers from anxiety can often feel rejected. It’s important to support them in finding their center.

    Let them know that it’s not the end of the world to live with anxiety and that they can befriend it. Help them focus on the dynamics behind anxiety. They probably live with high expectations but low resources to fulfill them.

    So, it’s essential to show your support. It will ease their way through anxious feelings while reminding them they are not alone. By being there for them, you’re not encouraging living with anxiety. A common worry is that by supporting them, you’re inviting anxiety into their future. If anything, being neutral about their condition will help them switch their focus from negativity.

    be there for someone with anxiety


    • Be patient and available to listen

    Judging someone who suffers from anxiety can become a default behavior. But they don’t need someone to determine whether they’re right or wrong; they need a shoulder to cry on. Don’t be their judge; instead, practice becoming a steady stabilizer in their lives. Don’t put pressure on them and adapt to their pace. Focus on each win, and treat setbacks calmly and patiently.

    Immediate change won’t happen overnight, but a gradual interest can move mountains. A considerable shift can occur when they get the reassurance that they are understood and are not going through challenging times alone.

    • Give them space 

    There’s a lot of stigma around anxiety. The general mistake we tend to make when we want to help someone with anxiety is trying to repair them. But most times, they need someone who can confirm that it’s ok not to be ok. This way, they can sit down with their feelings and acknowledge them. Help them know that there’s no urgent destination to reach. Make sure they have space to breathe, rejuvenate and ground themselves. But also, make sure you hold space for them. Be an unconditional container of kindness, appreciation, and tolerance without depleting your reservoirs. You are helping them to help themselves.

    • Shift their attention to situations they can change

    Anxiety can come with many restrictions, to the point it can make us feel like we’ve lost all control over our lives. While someone with anxiety can’t change the past, they can change how they think about it. What morals and lessons can we help them extract from past situations? The past may blindside someone who has anxiety. Bitter events can follow them and affect the quality of the present moment. Highlighting the insights the past provides will help them look forward to the future, an incentive any anxiety sufferer needs.

    When it comes to the present, planning can make a huge difference. Visualizing how their day goes the night before can help them become more intentional about their thoughts when unexpected events or unpleasant twists slide in.

    • Stop telling them to stop worrying

    Although well-intended, telling an anxious person to ditch worrying may add pressure on them. And, it’s easier said than done when we don’t know exactly what they’re going through - we imagine from the outside. Don’t act like everything will get solved once they press the stop worrying button. It won’t help. It will only add up to their frustration. Don’t try to underestimate or minimize what they’re going through. Sometimes, it may seem like they need a quick fix, when in reality, it may take them months or years to recover. You can’t force their healing process. What you can suggest is exploring ways to overcome anxiety without medication.

    • Don’t take things personally  

    Even if you live with someone with anxiety, this was never about you - and make sure your participation is neutral. You must encourage them to voice how they feel without taking on the responsibility of solving their issues. Being neutral doesn’t imply not being genuinely interested in their well-being without being emotionally attached to their progress or lack thereof. Focusing on the bigger picture will help reveal what works and doesn’t for the anxiety sufferer. Every story is different; we must integrate objectiveness into our acts to honor it.

    If you get carried away by the emotional chaos they may find themselves in, you’ll be short-sighted in helping them. The common denominator in fighting anxiety has to be the pursuit of harmony and mental peace from a place of loving and caring. 

    Present vulnerability as a safe space where they can travel when out of sorts. There’s nothing shameful in having the courage to face what they feel. If anything, it’s the bridge to understanding what’s happening inside and ultimately healing.

    Lastly, remember that you must take care of yourself, too, to lead them with empathy while acting free of prejudice.

    A Better and Brighter Future Is Possible

    Over a decade of experience, I’ve witnessed anxiety crushing people’s peace of mind, self-esteem, and desire to look forward to the future. 

    30-day anxiety challenge

    But the main culprit is not the anxiety sufferer. Not even anxiety. It’s the absence of a system to guide us through the emotional chaos anxiety creates. This is why I created The 30-Day Anxiety Challenge, an immersive program that takes you through a foolproof journey to overcome anxiety. It’s filled to the brim with tips and techniques to take you from exactly where you find yourself right now to a sustainable state of mental peace.

    How will you help someone with anxiety?  If we’ve missed any great tips, please let us know and we’ll be happy to include them in the article.


    I’ve made it my life’s mission to make peace of mind and the ability to reach your potential available to everyone
    - and that includes you!


    Here’s to true freedom, happiness and health! - Jamie Clarke

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