I recently read a fantastic blog article about powerful phrases to help calm anxious children, and I wondered why these ideas were only for children. (to read this article click here) It seems there are many adults who are weighed down by their anxiety and could benefit from these ideas. I have selected my favourite most adult appropriate tips, added a few of my own thoughts and ideas and here they are: 7 tips to calm anxious adults.
We all know friends or family members who suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, and/or bouts of depression so hopefully these tips can be helpful to assist them through their troubled times. These ideas can be very useful for yourself as well.
The biggest thing to avoid telling someone is, “you will be ok, don’t worry about it.” Well, they ARE worrying about it and in that moment they are uncertain whether they will be ok. Alternatively, try one of the following phrases.
“I am here for you, you are safe.” These are comforting words, letting your family member or friend know that you are there to assist them through this time. Anxiety and worry can make a person feel completely out of control, these comforting words are an excellent go-to phrase if you are unsure what to say.
“Would you like to talk to me about it?” This gives the anxious person a chance to open up to you about their troubles. It is important to listen for the purpose of LISTENING. Often we listen to respond and we don’t truly hear what is being said. Empathic listening involves you using your eyes and ears, with complete focus, to allow that person to be fully heard by you. This type of listening allows the anxious person to process and work through their thoughts on their own, this is usually significantly better than telling the person what you think they should do. People often need to realise things on their own. However, if they ask your advice and you feel able to give it, then do so.
“Let’s find an alternative ending.” When anxiety hits, the negative storm takes over our minds and all we can see is the worst case scenario. Help the anxious person see different options by retelling them their story and leaving off the ending, then create some new endings. Maybe some can be a funny ending but make at least one realistic for the person. Focus on conquering any fears or worry.
“What else do you know about (insert worry here)?” Often people feel worried about things because they don’t understand them, help them to research the worry, to find answers about how often things occur (if the worry is something like plane crashes, or natural disasters) and how people stay safe in these situations or how often they actually occur. Find stories of people conquering their fears, if something worked for one person it will likely work for another. Focus on finding facts as the anxious mind cannot argue with the truth. Always question the truth of your thoughts.
“What can I do for you?” It’s unrealistic to assume what a person needs, especially if we are unsure exactly what is wrong. So ASK. It may be as simple as a hug, a tissue, a glass of water or they may just need someone to be there to listen to them. Often we feel anxious and out of control if we are not looking after our bodies, ensure you remain hydrated, eat well AND regularly to maintain blood sugar levels and if you are prone to bouts of anxiety, avoid drugs and alcohol.
“This is daunting/ upsetting BUT…” It is important to acknowledge the persons worries by saying this is upsetting BUT. The but is the most vital part. Here you can say things like “you have been through this before”, “You have a plan,” or “I am here to help you.” To competently have a “but,” we must first LISTEN, otherwise we are responding with our own thoughts rather than acknowledging what will help our friends thoughts.
“This feeling will pass.” I love this one, it brings the idea of Impermanence to life, you can read more on impermanence here. Tell the anxious person that no feeling lasts forever, often anxiety and worry are all consuming, the anxious person will feel that it will never pass, but try not to allow the mind to snowball out of control. This is difficult in the moment but try a mantra such as “I will be ok, this will pass, I am safe.” Repeat this to yourself and as the mind becomes occupied with the mantra, the anxiety will fade. Alternatively there are some fantastic breathing techniques, the main idea being to really fill the lungs and abdomen by inhaling through the noise and exhaling through pursed lips. Counting slowly to 3 on each inhale and exhale. Stay tuned as I will be blogging about breathing techniques in the coming weeks. To help control your own anxieties, I do suggest practicing mindfulness daily, there are some fantastic Apps available that are very convenient including “Calm” and “Headspace.”. It may seem common sense but if you can control your thoughts, you can control your life. Mindfulness allows us to do this.
Worry and anxiety is different for everyone, these tips will not always help. Hopefully they can a little bit, the most important thing to remember is that we ALL worry about things, we all get anxious about things. It is in our DNA, in our nature to feel this way. I can assure you that even the people who seem to have their lives together still have moments of insecurity. It is how we handle these moments that define us. We must work on ourselves everyday to question the truth of our concern. Like anything, practice makes perfect. So even if it still takes you a little while to calm yourself or to assist you friend or family member through an anxious time, next time it will be easier. We must always question our thoughts and choose them carefully. Our inner dialogue can make or break us. You wouldn’t allow a friend or family member to talk negatively about us, so do not allow your mind to talk negatively inside your head. We have roughly 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts per day, make sure your mind is your biggest fan, always telling you that you can conquer anything!
“There’s no need to be scared you will be alone in the future, we are all going there together.” – Rhiannon Chesterman
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Love and Light