The things you shouldn’t say to someone with anxiety

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behaviour such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints, and rumination. It includes subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events. It’s a feeling of uneasiness and worry, usually generalised and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that’s only subjectively seen as menacing. It’s often accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue and problems in concentration. Anxiety is closely related to fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat; anxiety involves the expectation of future threat. People facing anxiety may withdraw from situations which have provoked anxiety in the past.

Now that we’ve explained what it means, I think it’s time to jump into this post that has been requested a lot. Multiple people who suffer from anxiety send me messages and explained what they hate hearing. And so, I pinpointed it down to the seven they hear the most!

  1. ‘It’s in your head’

When you experience those scary anxiety symptoms like an increased heart rate, trouble breathing, and shakiness and someone tells you ‘it’s all in your head and you can just stop it’, the anxiety can actually get worse. A lot of people feel that anxiety means worrying a little too much and you can turn it off. That’s not the case. If someone in your environment has anxiety, it’s best to advise him or her to see a mental health professional.

2. ‘Just calm down’

Hate to break it to you, but this sentence doesn’t help at all. Saying this to someone with anxiety makes it seem like nothing is wrong. You’d better just be supportive and listen to what’s going on, instead of giving advice.

3. ‘It’s not that big of a deal’

Sure, it may not be such a big deal to you, but if you have anxiety yourself, it absolutely is. This statement is an opinion that can hurt someone badly.

Woman Sitting in Front of Macbook

4. ‘Your life isn’t that hard’

Remember: everyone is different. What may be easy and normal for you, may feel like the other person’s life is falling apart. If someone with anxiety hears that someone is judging him or her, they can become even more anxious. And of course that’s not the intention.

5. ‘Just stop stressing’

You probably already hear it yourself: this comment is pretty useless. You don’t provide a solution, because if someone with anxiety could simply stop stressing, he or she would have already done so. Avoid statements that might come off as judgmental and be supportive instead; make it clear to your friend that you’re there for them if they want to talk.

6. ‘Have you ever tried yoga?’

It makes sense for you to say this and you certainly have no wrong intentions. Yoga definitely has benefits for your mental health. The point is, people with anxiety are often told this and it can become quite annoying after a while. It’s all about when you make this comment. Does anyone have a panic attack? Then it’s better to leave out suggestions about yoga. When the person with anxiety is calm, say something like: I was worried the last time I saw you have a panic attack. I’ve heard how difficult it is to live with anxiety and I wanted to share that I have read about the benefits of yoga for dealing with anxiety.

White and Brown Wooden Tiles

7. ‘Can’t you just take a pill?’

There are certainly people who take medication for their anxiety disorder, but there are also plenty who try to remedy it in other ways. Consider, for example, breathing exercises and sports. By pretending that a pill helps anyway, you make it seem like the problem isn’t that bad and can be solved easily. Instead, ask how you can help someone and listen carefully.

Love, Deem/Skye Lewis ❤

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