While you might feel at a loss for how to help,
sending a text to someone who’s anxious really can make a difference in how they feel. “Anxiety can be an isolating experience,” Carrie Potter, LMHCA, a therapist who specializes in anxiety, tells Bustle, which is why reaching out is often “comforting and connecting.”
Whether they have ongoing anxiety or are experiencing a rough patch in life, this person might worry that their emotions are a burden, Potter says, or that they’re pushing you away by being “annoying” or needy. But
a comforting text will serve as a reminder that they’re loved, supported — and definitely not alone.
Just be sure to choose words that validate what they’re experiencing while avoiding accidental brush-off statements, like “you need to calm down” or “everything’s going to be fine.” “Although well-meaning, these kinds of texts can send the message that the person with anxiety just needs to stop worrying or get over it,” Potter says, “which can add to their
feelings of isolation and disconnection.”
Also, because anxiety is so tiring and overwhelming, keep in mind that your partner, family member, or
friend might not text back right away. “It can be helpful to, therefore, not ask a direct question and instead just let them know that you are thinking about them and hoping they are OK,” Potter says. Ready for a few ideas? Here are 20 sample texts to choose from the next time you need to comfort someone who’s feeling anxious. “I did a great meditation this morning! Thought you might like it as well.”
This text is comforting in two ways. It shows that you’re thinking about them, but not necessarily expecting a response. “It also communicates that they’re not the only one who might benefit from something like meditation,” Potter says, “because you are practicing it as well.”
It might help alleviate embarrassment or worse — the notion that you’re trying to “cure” them. Simply send along a link to the meditation and share how relaxing it was.
“I was thinking about you today and wondering how that (fill in the blank) went.”
Did this person recently experience something particularly anxiety-inducing, like a job interview, family get-together, or even something smaller, like a tough phone call? This text will be a good way to check in and give them a chance to talk about how it went, Potter says, while also communicating that you care and think about them often.
“What you’re going through is so hard. I’m here if you need help figuring out how to handle it.”
“This is an example of empowering with empathy,” Potter says. It’s comforting because it’ll remind the person that you have their back. And that you’re waiting in the wings should they ever need support, advice, etc.
“Wow, that’s a lot. Thanks for letting me know :)”
While some anxious folks shut down, this person might actually be the one reaching out to
you, possibly to vent about their stress or talk about whatever’s weighing heavy on their mind.
If that’s the case, let them know you’re down to listen,
Alex Ly, AMFT, a registered associate marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. Assuring them you’re a safe person to reach out will help them feel less alone. “Ugh, that sucks!!!”
To avoid “toxic positivity,” Ly says, avoid phrases like “Just think about positive things!” or “You need to get out of your head!” Instead, simply agree that anxiety sucks.
“Want to go for a walk with me?”
To follow up after the text above, send along a few ideas for relaxing activities, like a walk in the park, a trip to the corner store for bagels, or whatever else might be comforting or distracting. Bonus points if you make it sound like something you were about to do anyway so that they don’t feel pressured.
“You’re so important to me. What can I do to help?”
If you’re worried about pushing the wrong type of help on a friend, switch up your wording and ask what they need instead. “Asking a question can create an open dialogue, which can make it easier/more comfortable for a person with anxiety to reply,”
Dana Myers, LCSW , a licensed clinical social worker and founder of A Fit Mind Life Coaching, tells Bustle.
You might find out they could use some company, that they want to talk on the phone, or that they need a little space. “Although text messages can provide comfort for some, this may not be the case for [everyone who has] anxiety,” Myers says. Go with what this specific person needs, knowing that there are
so many different ways to provide support. “You’ve made it through 100% of your worst days. I’m so proud of you.”
Are you sensing they could use a few words of encouragement? Then say this. “It’s an example of a positive affirmation,” Myers says, which could help provide hope, perspective, and motivation to push through their anxiety. The goal is to remind them of their own resilience and strength.
“I’m here to listen whenever you’re ready to talk <3”
If they truly aren’t in the mood to talk, let them know you’re on standby and will rush to their side (in person or via text) whenever they call. As Myers says, “They may feel comforted knowing that someone is available if and when they do want to talk.”
“That must be so difficult...”
“Someone who is experiencing anxiety may feel overwhelmed, worried, stressed, fearful, isolated, insecure, and even agitated or irritable,” Myers says. So another way to validate their feelings is by acknowledging how stressful and taxing anxiety can be. Even if they don’t want to verbalize what they’re experiencing, this is a way to say “I get it” without saying “I get it.”
“I’ve been so anxious on my Zoom calls lately. How have you been feeling?”
Another way to connect with someone who’s feeling anxious is by leading with a comment about your own anxiety or stress. “This normalizes discussing your feelings and can make them feel more comfortable opening up about their own mental health,”
Sara Sharnoff Tick, MS, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. “I know you’re anxious right now. But whatever happens, I have your back.”
“This text validates the anxiety and reminds someone that no matter the outcome (which we can never control) they will be OK and they have support,”
Dr. Tari Mack, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. “I know it’s tough, but this feeling won’t last forever.”
This one serves as a gentle reminder that, even though it never feels like it in the moment, anxious feelings do eventually fade. Just remember you can’t speed up the process or talk someone out of anxiety. (If it was possible to snap out of it, they would.) You can, however, “validate their feelings,” Mack says, “while also offering supportive and more reality-based messages of hope and well-being.”
“What if you tried to count as many things you can see near you in your favorite color?"
starting to have panic attack, reach out with a text like this one. “This is an example of grounding, a technique designed to help a person focus on the present moment to help detract from their feelings of anxiety and distress,” Anjani Amladi, M.D., a board-certified adult psychiatrist, tells Bustle. You can even offer to do it with them, as a sign of moral support. “Always thinking about you! Hope you’re doing well.”
Haven’t heard from your anxious friend in a while? It might be that they’re waiting for you to reach out. “Folks with anxiety tend to color their world with more hostility and isolation,”
Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. “It is helpful for sources of support to remind individuals with anxiety that they are cared about.” “Remember when we had that amazing picnic at the beach?”
If you come out of the blue to share a pleasant memory, there’s no telling how meaningful it’ll be to the person with anxiety, especially if you know they
tend to feel depressed, as well.
“It is helpful to skew the quality and quantity of negative thoughts to a more balanced harmony with good memories,” Romanoff says. “Remind the person of a funny time or a story in which they were strong or brave.”
“You are safe. Take a deep breath.”
Remind them that they’re safe (if they are, that is) and suggest a deep breath — in through the nose and out through the mouth. “Taking time to breathe out through the mouth is a helpful way to
slow down one's central nervous system,” Michelle Pargman, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor, tells Bustle. You could even ask them to join you in taking a deep breath so they don’t feel singled out. “Let’s make a plan for whenever you’re feeling anxious.”
Help them come up with a plan they can turn to in their most anxious moments. It might include “reminders about quick and easy actions that increase their sense of safety and calm,” Pargman says, “whether it is taking a walk or engaging in a grounding exercise.” If they reach out and say they’re anxious, text them back and remind them about the plan.
“It’s totally valid to feel anxious right now.”
This text will remind them you’re available to listen judgment-free,
Donna T. Novak, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist, tells Bustle, as well as that it’s OK to feel anxious, especially when tough things are happening outside their control. “Would it be helpful if I came over?”
If they say yes, bring their favorite snack, find a good movie, and sit with them. It won’t “fix” their anxiety, but it might soothe them during the worst of it, relationship therapist
Sarah Hubbell, MAS-MFT, LAMFT, tells Bustle. Just be sure to honor your own boundaries.
Avoid doing anything that pushes you past your limits, like texting 24/7 or staying up super late. While it may be necessary to go above and beyond for a loved one on occasion, it’s possible to offer comfort and support to someone who’s feeling anxious, without also
burning yourself out. Sources: Carrie Potter, LMHCA, therapist who specializing in anxiety Alex Ly, AMFT, registered associate marriage and family therapist Dana Myers, LCSW , licensed clinical social worker Sara Sharnoff Tick, MS, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Tari Mack, clinical psychologist Anjani Amladi, MD, board-certified adult psychiatrist Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, clinical psychologist Michelle Pargman, LMHC, licensed mental health counselor Donna T. Novak, PsyD, licensed psychologist Sarah Hubbell, MAS-MFT, LAMFT, relationship therapist