Do’s and Don’ts when someone is having an anxiety attack?

do's and don'ts when someone is having an anxiety attack

Anxiety is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people all around the world. The signs and symptoms are nervousness, anxiety, fear, panic, or physical discomfort.

If you have a friend or family member suffering from an anxiety disorder, you may wonder how you can help them cope with their condition. Although you can’t cure or make their anxiety go away, there are some ways you can support them and show them that you care.

Here are some do’s and don’ts when someone is having an anxiety attack.


1. Educate yourself about anxiety.

The first thing you can do is learn about the different types of anxiety disorders, their causes, symptoms, and treatments. This will help you understand what your loved one is going through and how to communicate with them effectively.

2. Listen to them without judgment.

The best way to help someone with anxiety is to simply listen to them and validate their feelings. Don’t ignore their concerns as irrational or trivial. Don’t tell them to snap out of it or calm down.

Don’t try to solve their problems or give unwanted advice. Instead, show empathy and compassion.

Instead, let them know that you listen to them and you are there for them. Ask them how they are feeling and what they want from you. You can say things like “I’m sorry you feel that way”, “That sounds really hard”, or “How can I support you right now?”

3. Encourage them to seek professional help.

Although your support is valuable, it is not a substitute for professional treatment. Anxiety attacks are treatable conditions that can be managed with the help of a qualified mental health professional.

Encourage your loved one to seek therapy, medication, or other types of treatment that can help them deal with their anxiety.

Here, you can help them find a therapist, make an appointment, or accompany them to their sessions if they want.

4. Help them find healthy coping strategies.

Many things can help reduce anxiety and promote well-being, such as exercise, meditation, breathing techniques, hobbies, relaxation, and self-care. Help your loved one find activities they enjoy and that make them feel good. You can also include them in these activities or suggest new activities that you can try together.

For example, you could go for a walk, do yoga, listen to music, watch a comedy show, or cook together.

5. Respect their boundaries and preferences.

Everyone has different ways of dealing with anxiety and different comfort levels in different situations. Respect their boundaries and preferences when it comes to socializing, working, traveling, or doing other things that may increase their anxiety.

Don’t pressure them to do something they don’t want to do, it may make them feel bad. If they cancel plans or need some space, don’t take it personally. Don’t criticize them for being anxious or avoiding certain things. Instead, ask them what they are comfortable with and how you can accommodate them.

6. Be patient and supportive.

Helping someone with anxiety can be challenging and frustrating sometimes. You may feel helpless, confused, angry, or sad as you watch your loved one struggle with anxiety. You may also feel exhausted or overwhelmed by their needs and expectations.

However, it is important to remember that recovery is a process that takes time and effort. Your loved one may face setbacks or setbacks along the way. They may not always appreciate your help or follow your suggestions. They may not always be able to express their gratitude or affection towards you.

However, that doesn’t mean they don’t care about you or that your help isn’t making a difference. Be patient and supportive.

7. Remind them of their strengths and achievements.

Anxiety can make people doubt themselves and feel depressed. You can boost their confidence and morale by highlighting their positive qualities and achievements.

By following these tips, you can help someone with anxiety and show them they are not alone.

Also Read: Anxiety: What It Is, Why It Happens, And How To Manage It At Home.


1. Don’t try to minimize or dismiss their concerns.

Don’t tell them to “calm down”, “get over it”, or “it’s no big deal”. These phrases can make them feel as if you don’t understand their situation or don’t care.

2. Don’t give unwanted advice or solutions.

Don’t tell them what they should or shouldn’t do, or how they can fix their problems. Unless they ask for your opinion, avoid making suggestions that could come across as criticism or pressure.

3. Don’t make fun of or tease them about their anxiety.

Don’t joke about their fears, symptoms, or behavior. This may make them feel embarrassed, ashamed, or isolated.

4. Don’t Compare them with others or yourself.

Don’t say things like “Everyone gets nervous sometimes” or “I have anxiety too, but I don’t let it get to me.” These statements may make them feel as if their concerns are invalid or unimportant.

5. Don’t get angry at them.

Don’t blame them for their anxiety or assume they’re rude, lazy, or selfish. Try to understand that their anxiety is not a choice or reflection of yours.

What is the 3-3-3 anxiety rule?

The 3-3-3 rule for anxiety is a simple and effective technique that can help you calm down and ground yourself in the present moment when you feel anxious or overwhelmed.

It involves using your senses to focus on your surroundings and distract yourself from your worries.

How does the 3-3-3 rule for anxiety work?

Here is how it works:

  • Name three things that you can see around you. For example, you might see a laptop, a plant, and a book.
  • Identify three sounds you can hear. For example, you can hear the ticking of a clock, car horns, and birds chirping.
  • Move or touch three parts of your body. For example, you might wiggle your toes, rub your hands, and shrug your shoulders.

By doing this, you are shifting your focus from your anxious thoughts to the reality of what is happening right now. This helps you break cycles of negative thinking and reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and sweating.

The 3-3-3 rule for anxiety is based on the principle of emotional grounding, which is a way to deal with strong emotions by connecting to your physical environment. Grounding techniques can help you feel more stable and safe when you’re feeling upset or overwhelmed.

There are many benefits to using the 3-3-3 rule for anxiety, such as:

  1. It is easy to remember and apply in any situation.
  2. It does not require any special tool or preparation.
  3. This can be done discreetly and privately.
  4. This can be repeated as many times as necessary until you feel calm.
  5. It can be combined with other coping strategies, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or positive affirmations.

You can also try other variations of the rule, such as:

1. 5-4-3-2-1 Rule.

Name five things you can see, name four things you can touch, name three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and name things you can taste.

2. ABC Rules.

Look around and name something that starts with each letter of the alphabet.

3. Color rules.

Look around and name all the things that are a certain color.

Remember that this rule for Anxiety is not a cure for anxiety disorders, but it can be a useful tool to manage anxiety at the moment.

If you are struggling with chronic or severe anxiety, you should seek professional help from a therapist or doctor. They can help you identify the causes of your anxiety and provide you with more effective treatment options.

The main thing is to find what works best for you and practice it regularly. By doing this, you can train your brain to respond more positively to stressful situations and improve your mental health.

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