How To Respond To An Individual With Anxiety

Many individuals often ask me, “how do I respond to someone else’s anxiety?” Below, I will go through the types of responses that I believe are the most important while responding to an individual with anxiety.

1. Recognize that it may be difficult for an individual to be vulnerable. Create a safe and comfortable space for vulnerability.

An example on how to create a safe and comfortable space:

“I am here to listen without judgment.”

2. An individual may want to feel heard while sharing his or her anxiety. You can make an individual feel heard by utilizing validating responses.

Examples of validating responses:

“I can see that this is really hard for you.”
“I can see that you are feeling frustrated and upset.”
“I can see that you are really worried.”

3. If you have a piece of advice for this individual, ask the individual if he or she wants advice. Remember, it’s okay if the individual says no.

An example of how to ask an individual if he or she wants advice:

“Do you want advice? I have some thoughts if you’re interested. If not, I am still here to listen and support.”

4. Finally, try not to minimize the individual’s anxiety. Remember, anxiety and stress varies based on the individual. What causes you anxiety may not cause someone else anxiety and vice versa. Accept that this topic might not cause you anxiety but that it may be very stressful for this individual.

Examples of minimizing responses to avoid:

“Oh, that’s not a big deal. You will be fine!”
“Stop worrying about that.”
“You don’t need to have anxiety about that!”
“You are being ridiculous!”

Examples of responses to utilize instead:

“I can see how important this is to you.”
“I can see that this is very real for you and I respect that.”

In summary, creating a safe space, validating, asking if advice is wanted, and avoiding minimization are the key tips that I believe are the most helpful while responding to an individual with anxiety.

Written By: Ms. Palak Vani
MINDS Content Associate

Chief Executive Officer, Curated Goals
instagram: @PalakVani