Just tell them you are there for them. Don’t say ‘it’ll be okay’ or ‘try to be happier’ or ’think of good things!’ Don’t try to squish this anxiety, don’t try to make it go away. That’s not what they need from you.
Remember that this is not the same thing as ‘having a bad day.’ Remember that this is not the same thing as ‘being a little stressed.’ This is its own demon. It is a complicated, awful, suffocating coat that they can’t take off.
Offer to sit with them, to talk to them, to just be with them. Say ‘I’m here.’ That’s it, sometimes that’s all you need to say. Sometimes that is all they need you to do. They don’t need you to ‘fix’ their anxiety.
Listen to them. Do not worry about trying to understand. If you don’t understand, that is okay. It is not completely crucial that you understand how they’re feeling – but it is completely crucial that you remind them that they’re not alone.
Your instinct might be to tell them to sign up for yoga. To buy them relaxing candles. To take them on a trip. To teach them how to meditate. To talk to them about your cousin and what he did to ‘get over’ anxiety and how you think they should do that too.
It’s okay that you want to help. It’s alright that your instinct is to want to do something active to help them. That’s because you’re human and you care about them. But for once, ignore your instinct. They don’t need your candles, your meditation app, your cousin’s anxiety cure. They just need you to be there, to give them something to hold onto, to let them know that they are not crazy for feeling this way. They just need you to remind them that they’re not alone.