If someone you care about is feeling anxious or insecure, you probably want to do something to lift their spirits. Simply being there and showing concern can make a world of difference. Reassure someone you care about by simply being present, displaying kind gestures, and telling them how you feel.
EditBeing There for Them
- Make yourself available to them. When a friend is dealing with anxiety, they can’t put off how they’re feeling until you’re available to help them deal with it. Show that you see them as a priority by pressing “pause” on other things to be there for them.
- For instance, if a friend says, “I’m freaking out about my upcoming test,” it won’t help reassure them if you say “Can we talk about this later?” Instead, make time for them right away—even if for only a few minutes. You might say, “Okay, can you tell me more about what’s going on?”
- In some cases, you don’t have to say anything at all. Just sit silently with your friend to help reassure them that they are safe and sound.
- Be a good listener. Active listening is a great tool that helps strengthen relationships, but it can also help reassure someone who’s feeling upset. Oftentimes, when people are troubled, others may only be interested in getting them to calm down. A better route is to hear your loved one out.
- Make eye contact, turn to face the person, and nod your head encouragingly. Once they’ve finished talking, restate what they said to be sure you got the right message. Restating might sound like, “If I’m hearing you right, you’re saying…”
- Make them feel understood. It’s helpful to show your friend that they’re not abnormal for feeling how they feel. You can do this by validating their emotions. Validation is a big part of helping them feel reassured.
- For instance, if your friend says they’re afraid that they have a stalker, you might say, “Wow, I would be frightened if someone was following me, too.”
- Remind them that they won’t always feel this way. Anxiety and fear can get a person hung up in the present moment, making them completely forget that these feelings are temporary. Reassure your friend by reminding them that the feeling will go away. You might even remind them of a time when they got through a similar circumstance.
- Saying something like, “I know this is tough for you, but it will get better. Remember how tough it was when your dad died. You got through that and you will get through this.”
- Be patient. Reassurance and urgency don’t belong together, which means you can’t try to rush your friend into feeling better again. This is hard because we always want the people we care about to be happy and calm, but rushing the situation will only make things worse.
- An anxious or frightened friend may need you to listen and validate them over and over again before they start to feel better. Be patient and don’t try to speed up the process.
EditDemonstrating Kind and Thoughtful Gestures
- Offer physical touch, if appropriate. A soft caress or hug is a wonderful gesture for a friend who’s feeling anxious or upset. If your relationship involves physical affection, use it now to help reassure them.
- This gesture doesn’t have to be grand or over-the-top. Gently rubbing their back as they tell you what’s happening or pulling them in for a quick hug can go a long way.
- Ask how you can help. This may seem obvious, but ask your loved one if there is anything specific you can do to help them. Don’t assume you know how to “fix” the problem. Ask for their guidance.
- You might say something like, “Is there anything I can do?”
- If your friend can’t think of anything, try to come up with a practical way to help, like helping them make dinner or accompanying them on a walk to get fresh air.
- Buy them a small gift. Once the immediate stressor has passed, you can help reassure your friend that they are loved and cared for by giving them a small gift. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be meaningful.
- For instance, if you have a friend who has panic attacks, you might gift them with stress stones. They can rub these stones in between their fingers to help ground them in the present moment.
- Put them in front of a mirror. People rarely see themselves through the same lens as the people closest to them. One thoughtful gesture is to help your friend or partner see themselves the way you see them. Walk them in front of a mirror and tell them what you see there.
- For example, you might say, “Come stand here and look. I want you to see what I see. You are strong, kind, and beautiful.”
- Help them face a fear. If your friend is afraid of a specific event or activity, a part of reassuring them could be helping them gradually face and overcome the fear. See if they’d like your help overcoming whatever’s troubling them.
- For instance, if your friend fears crowds, you might make a plan to take them to places where there are large groups. They might start by simply looking at pictures of these places. Then, progress to driving to the events, but staying in the car. Slowly, they might work their way up to getting out and standing in the crowd for a short amount of time.
- If your friend suffers from serious anxiety or a phobia, it’s best to leave their treatment to a professional. Encourage your friend to overcome their fears by working with a mental health therapist.
EditExpressing Your Feelings
- Tell them how much you care. As a loved one, you can do your part in reassuring someone you care about by letting them know what they mean to you. Of course, this won’t make their troubles go away, but it will help them feel less alone in facing them.
- You might say something like, “I love you so much. I’m sorry you’re going through this, but I’m here.”
- Explain how they have made your life better. People suffering from anxiety may only see the world from the perspective of fear, which makes them feel like a burden to the people around them. Your loved one may not know just how valuable they are to you, so tell them.
- You might say, “I know you probably don’t know this, but once I was feeling really down in the dumps. I didn’t think I could go on anymore. You randomly called me. Without even knowing, you made my day so much better.”
- Praise them. Those who feel fear or anxiety may only see their weaknesses. So, your friend doesn’t need more criticism, they need reminding of their positive traits. This can help reassure them and empower them to overcome their fears.
- For instance, if you and a friend who has social anxiety are going to an event, you might say, “Sandra, I really like the color of your dress, and your makeup is flawless.” Or you might praise character traits like, “Gee, Greg, you are such a great listener. I don’t know what I would do without you.”
- Root them on. If your friend is nervous about an upcoming event or activity, do your part to encourage them. Cheer them on by reminding them how great they are and letting them know you believe in their abilities.
- You might say something like, “I know you’re worried about the test, but you shouldn’t be. You’re a rock star! You know your stuff, so I know you’ll knock this test out of the park!”