In the United States, it’s estimated that over 19% of adults deal with an anxiety disorder. That’s almost 1 in 5 people, so the chances are, if you don’t deal with an anxiety disorder yourself, you know someone who does.
If someone chooses to confide in you about their experience of anxiety, you should see this as a sign of trust. However, comforting someone with anxiety isn’t always easy, especially over text.
Luckily, there are ways to provide comfort and support for someone with anxiety, even if you’re not in the same room. In this guide, we’ll give you some suggestions for comforting a person with anxiety over text.
Ways To Comfort Someone With Anxiety Over Text
1. Listen To Them
When you get a text from someone who is dealing with anxiety, put yourself in a listening mindset.
When you care about someone, it can be tempting to jump straight into trying to fix the problem. However, the person you’re speaking to may simply want to vent about their feelings – after all, living with anxiety can feel exhausting and lonely.
Take the time to carefully read through their text message before you do anything else, and try to put yourself in their shoes. Confirm that you have understood what they are saying and encourage them to open up further if it feels appropriate, for example:
“I’m sorry to hear that you’re having such a difficult time. Would you like to talk more about what’s been going on?”
“It sounds like work has been really stressful, I can understand why you would feel overwhelmed and anxious.”
“From your text, it seems like you’ve been dealing with these feelings for a while. If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been experiencing this?”
2. Make Them Feel Safe And Secure
A lot of the time, anxiety comes from a place of uncertainty and feeling unsafe or out of control.
Someone with an anxiety disorder may also experience panic attacks, which can make a person feel like they are unable to breathe or that they are dying. Obviously, this is a terrifying experience.
Therefore, one of the most effective ways to comfort someone with anxiety is to make them feel safe and secure, both in general and in their relationship with you:
“I understand that you’re feeling very anxious right now, but I want you to know that you are safe, and I am always here for you.”
“I’m glad you reached out to me. You’re one of my closest friends, and you mean so much to me, I’m going to help you get through this.”
“It sounds like you’re having a panic attack. I know it feels so scary, but you can get through this. I may not be in the same room, but I’m here with you. You’re going to be okay.”
“I love you, and so do all your friends and family. We all have your back, you never have to do this alone.”
3. Unpack The Source Of The Anxiety
Getting to the bottom of feelings of anxiety can help to lessen the overwhelming sensations and racing thoughts.
Talking someone through their anxiety and unpacking it is something you can do over text as well as in person, and it might look something like this:
“Do you have any idea what might be at the root of your anxiety?”
“I’ve noticed you mostly tend to express feeling anxious after spending time with your mom. Do you think there’s any connection there?”
“It seems like most of your anxiety revolves around money. You don’t have to answer any questions you’re uncomfortable with, but are you doing okay financially at the moment?”
4. Give Helpful Advice And Solutions (If Appropriate)
Not everyone who talks about their anxiety is looking for advice. The person you’re speaking to may have dealt with these feelings for a long time and know plenty of coping strategies, but simply need a safe person to vent to.
However, in some cases, the person with anxiety may feel completely overwhelmed or be at a loss for how to cope. Anxiety can make it hard to think clearly in the moment. In this case, you can offer solutions and advice.
Be very mindful here. Telling someone in the middle of a panic attack that they should do more exercise, or to “just stop thinking about it”, is not going to be helpful. Instead, try:
“Take some deep, slow breaths.”
“Have you eaten or drank anything recently? I know it’s hard to eat when you feel anxious, but try to sip some water if you can.”
“When I feel anxious about my finances, it helps me to make a budget spreadsheet. It can seem scary at first, but you will feel much more in control afterward. I could even help you with it if you want.”
5. Offer Practical Help And Support
That last example leads on to our final point, which is to offer the anxious person help and support in practical ways.
Severe anxiety can be debilitating due to how overwhelming it is, and the person may feel unable to complete certain tasks or practice self-care.
If that’s the case, you can offer to help in various ways, including:
“If you think speaking to a mental health professional would be helpful, I could help you to arrange an appointment.”
“I know how overwhelming everything can feel at times like this. If you want, I can come round and cook us a meal?”
“Would you like some company? I’d love to catch up with you in person.”
“If you need anything at all, please let me know. I’m always just a phone call away.”
It’s not always easy to find the right words when comforting someone with anxiety over text, but we hope that our suggestions are helpful to you.
Remember, the most important thing is to let the person know you’re there for them and listen to them without judgment. Make sure they know they are not alone.