Things to Not Say to Someone with Anxiety

Since I also have anxiety along with all my other problems, I figured I’d make a list with explanations for this too, so here goes:

  • “Calm down”: That’s the thing I have trouble doing. Right now, I have a whole bunch of hormones flooding my body that have activated my sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and I have a lot of difficulty calming down on command. Instead of telling me to calm down, a better thing to do would be to suggest a short meditation or a quick exercise (I find that doing a few jumping jacks helps me, so why not suggest that).
  • “Just get over it”: Well I can’t ‘just get over it’ in a second. It takes me time to get to a point where I’m at a tolerable level of anxiety, and telling me to ‘just get over it’ actually only makes me more anxious because now there’s all that pressure to stop being anxious. Funny how that works.
  • “I’m stressed out too”: This sort of trivializes anxiety. When a person has anxiety, it usually means they have a pretty constant level of stress, worry, and nervousness. Being stressed out, however, is something that almost everyone goes through at some point. Being stressed out and anxiety are two different things, and pretending that they’re the same can be really harmful.
  • “Stop stressing”: I would if I could, but anxiety is more than just stressing. It’s being in a constant state of being jumpy, and worried, and nervous, and anxious. I honestly don’t want to feel like this, and if it were as easy as just relaxing and not stressing, don’t you think I would already be cured?
  • “It’s not a big deal”: Intellectually, I already know that. However, as I mentioned before, my fight or flight system has been activated and I need to find a reason for this anxiety, so I’m going to jump at the easiest explanation, which could very well be the glass of milk I spilled.
  • “Everything will be fine”: I know this comes from a place of love, but the truth is, it never feels this way, and so what you’re saying just falls on deaf ears. The fact of the matter is, anxiety makes it feel like everything won’t be fine. Instead, what I’d prefer personally would be “I’ll try my best to support you” or something along those lines.
  • “What do you have to be anxious about?”: Apart from what you just said? The thing is, everyone has insecurities, but with anxiety, those insecurities are amplified. It’s those feelings that contribute to the feeling of anxiety.
  • “People are worse off than you”: Great, not only are you making me feel worse about my anxiety, but you’re also trivializing it. I already know that people have it worse off than me, but right now I need your support and understanding.
  • “Stop saying sorry”: This one’s not as bad as the others, but it can still make people with anxiety (or at least this person with anxiety) feel a little guilty. I say sorry because I feel like I’ve made a mistake or done something wrong, and when you tell me to stop saying sorry, it feels like there’s one more thing that I’ve done wrong, and one more thing to watch for. It’s just one more anxiety-inducing mistake waiting to happen.
  • “Did I do something wrong?”: This can also contribute to feelings of guilt, because no one really wants to make anyone else feel bad. Not to mention, chances are that you’ve done nothing wrong.

If there’s anything I’ve missed, feel free to add it in the comments.

-cmblanc

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3 thoughts on “Things to Not Say to Someone with Anxiety

  1. I here the “what do you have to be anxious about?” Quite a lot actually. Sometimes I don’t know the answer myself. At times I’m filled with anxious energy for no apparent reason. I know it can be hard for some to understand that and I try to be patient,but it can be frustrating to try and explain that all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

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