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On average, about 1 in 5 young people have anxiety, which means chances are someone you know or care about is currently struggling with anxiety. Anxiety can vary from person to person, but it usually involves someone feeling nervous, scared, apprehensive and/or worried, and which can result in panic attacks, obsessive worrying and physical pain.
A person with anxiety tends to close off from others, and if that person is your BFF, then that can probably become confusing at times. You want to support her, but you just don’t know what to do or what to say to make things better. While anxiety is a condition that can’t suddenly be cured, there are some strategies you can use to help your friend with anxiety.
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1. Let Her Know You’re There to Listen
It’s important to let your friend know that not only are you there for her to talk through her feelings, but also you are listening without any judgement. It’s crucial that your friend understands that you aren’t judging her fears, especially because her fears will tend to repeat themselves over and over again. Above anything else, a person with anxiety needs to feel safe. Tell your friend, “I’m here to listen. You can tell me how you’re feeling and know that I’m not judging you at all. I want to be here for you.”
2. Don’t Downplay Her Fears
Though you might think saying something as simple as “There’s nothing to worry about” is harmless to a friend with anxiety, you have to remember that her fears are very, very real to her. As hard as she might try not to worry, she can’t stop her fearful thoughts. And remember: don’t get frustrated with your friend. Trust us, she doesn’t want to feel the way she does either!
3. Try a New Exercise Together
Plan something fun with your friend that gets you moving. Get outdoors and go for a hike or a bike ride. Join a new activity together like yoga, ballet or boxing. Exercise is a known remedy to help alleviate anxiety, so not only will a new workout help soothe your friend, but you’ll also make some awesome memories together.
4. Ensure Your Friend Knows Love Her
People with anxiety often assume their loved ones might be disappointed in them, or think of worst-case scenarios, like you breaking off the friendship, for example. When she’s suffering from an anxiety attack, she might even think you’re ashamed or mad at her. Let your friend know how much you love and appreciate her for who she is. List her awesome qualities and reassure her that your friendship is solid.
5. Be Yourself
No matter what — be yourself. Your friend is your friend because of who you are. You don’t have to change your behavior for your friend — and she wouldn’t want you to change either. The fact that you are trying to make her anxiety easier demonstrates just how amazing a friend you are. Be positive, fun and continue spreading those good vibes! Your friend will appreciate your effort.