How Can You Help Someone With Anxiety? Give’em a Toolbox.

Anxiety is a personal issue for me. Photo Credit: Aleesha Roach Photography


Did you know that anxiety runs the gamut from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) to panic attacks, and social anxiety to PTSD? According to the international nonprofit organization, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental health problems, affecting more than 40 million adults in America with so many more remaining undiagnosed or not getting help because of the associated stigma or shame of it, especially inside the church. That breaks down to 1 in 5 people affected and chances are, you or someone you know suffers from anxiety.

It’s Personal.

As many of you may know, I was diagnosed with anxiety last year and I realize I have struggled with it since childhood. Recently, I began counseling and trauma therapy. Praise God for being in a church who offers employees great healthcare! Working with some incredible doctors, I have undertaken to document all they are teaching me for the benefit of others who may struggle silently or not have the resources for getting help.


“Anxiety is only a problem when it extends beyond logical worry in an unreasonable, unwarranted, uncontrollable way. Situations that should elicit no negative emotions all of a sudden seem life-threatening or crushingly embarrassing.” ~Tim Newman in MedicalNewsToday (9/5/2018 online)

Thankfully, I am progressing rapidly and am finally advocating for my  mental health and well-being. Discovering strategies (along with help from my friend Dr. Michele Novotni) I have developed a toolbox of Standard Operating Procedures–“SOP” for you military folks!–when these strike.

The problem is, during each attack, my mind is incapable of going through my mental checklist to give me relief. Like a computer that’s lost its connection to the CPU goes completely “blank screen”, I become baffled in the moment how to care for myself. (Those of you that suffer from anxiety or panic attacks will completely understand this.) Michele suggested I write them down on a physical index card and carry it with me so I am better prepared when the next attack comes. These are the tools I’d like to share with you today.

My Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Toolbox

Speak It Into Existence.

Here’s my first step in the Toolbox.

Say aloud: “I’m feeling _______. I {can/will/have the power to} do something about it.”

Try to identify the emotion or event that might be causing the anxiety and then speak your intentions into existence.

Let Scripture Speak.

Of course, I’m the Church Girl! You have to start here.

  1. Begin a list of favorite verses. Write them down or bookmark them on your phone.
  2. “Poll The Audience”–ask you friends for ones they consider powerful.
  3. You can search by topic on the YouVersion app or in your Bible’s concordance.
  4. Put’em on notecards and post where you need’em–in the car, on your mirror, at work, in your bedroom.
  5. Create beautiful graphics with your favorite app and make a wallpaper for your phone to have in front of you always. Share with others or on social media. (I use the CANVA app.)

Ask For Prayer.

Again, this is a no-brainer, but when I’m in the middle of an emotional anxiety spin out, I need to see the next step clearly in front of me.

Send a text asking trusted, godly friends to pray for you. You can even “Phone-A-Friend” (those who are prayer warriors) to have them speak God’s love and peace over you aloud.

Here’s one caveat, though. When I’m truly in the middle of an anxiety attack, I cannot remember a single person that can help me or who I can reach out to and get help. On your index card, write names of your key people so that when you need them, they’re right in front of you.

Lay off Caffeine: Drink Water.

When you’re already amped in an anxiety attack, you gotta step off anything that is going to inflame your body. A tall glass of cool water or some herbal tea is a great and practical physical way to take care of yourself.

Diffuse Essential Oils.

Research your favorites. Smelling peppermint, citrus, and fir makes me calm and happy. I honestly adore the Adaptiv blend series by Doterra.

Worship Music.

Crank some worship music, or any music that brings you joy or peace. Dance to it, sing to it, do a little jig to it…

Go For A Walk.

Or maybe a run. Sometimes putting one foot in front of another can clear my mind and getting out into the fresh air and nature is always a good idea. If the weather is bad and you simple can’t get out, check out the free FITON app for stretching, yoga and fitness routines.

Get Physical.

I’m a physical touch kinda gal. If you’re this way, too, then by all means, go get a hug from a safe person. You can also pet your dog, handle your hamster, or grope your iguana if that helps calm you down.

Breathe Deeply.

The Apple Watch has this built into every device and it’s a really easy, helpful way to slow your breathing. For those of you who don’t own one, might I suggest what I call “Palm Breathing”? (Hold out your arm with your hand up and blow across your palm ten times. You’ll be surprised at how much breath it takes to do this and it will slow your breathing immediately.)

Another quick note: Sometimes for panic attacks (which you handle a little differently than an anxiety attack) your body takes you to hyperventilation breathing. The way to help bypass this is to begin alternate nostril breathing. (Click HERE for a How-To Guide.)

Make Some Lists.

What many who work with children know is that if a child is extremely emotional and you want to help her calm down, ask her to make a choice or to do some simple math. Do you want to sit in this chair or that one? What is 2 +2? What is 4+4? This shifts the brain from emotions into critical thinking mode.

When your brain is taking an emotional spin out, try this teacher trick on yourself to get your brain from irrational fear back into its logic lobe: List your teachers from Kindergarten or the names of the animals you had as a child. Count backwards from 100 by sevens. Anything that requires recall of concrete facts is all you need.

Get Under Some Weight.

A weighted blanket is like a full body hug. This has become something of a trend recently, but my family has had weighted blankets for years. Thankfully they are becoming a lot less expensive because of the demand.

Be sure to check what weight is right for you or your loved one. Also, be careful of using these with infants or young children.

Write About It.

This by far is becoming one of my favorite ways to examine my anxiety and get me out of it. My fingers flying on the keyboard, my mind rolling the thoughts over and making sense and order of what seems to be random and scary is a powerful tool. You can journal on paper. Sometimes just seeing my irrational thoughts outside of my brain pinned down on pixels or paper and ink destroy their power or give me clarity and understanding.

Take something.

You keep thinking, “I can get ahead of this!” but many times, because of the chemicals coursing through your brain, you just can’t. Use CBD Oil, Xanax, or whatever  prescription your doctor has prescribed for you. There is no shame in using medicine to control anxiety or depression when you need it.


When it’s all finished, take care of yourself. If you can catch some quiet time to lay down and sleep for a little bit, it might make all the difference to the rest of your day.

What Tools Can You Use on Your Index Card?

Steal some of mine.

Create your own.

Just prepare and strategize before another anxiety attack happens and tries to take you out of the game. Will you follow it perfectly the first time? I doubt it. I didn’t. However, you might find you’ll make progress, the attacks will shorten in duration, and you’ll begin to acquire more mastery over time.


For more articles about
#anxietyattacks #anxietyproblems #anxietyrelief #mentalhealthwellness
Please read
How To Take Care of Yourself, Broken and Restored, STAINS&CHAINS,You’re All Alone, HOLD ON, and Don’t Let Go


Extra Resources:

What happens when God won’t take away your anxiety and you are left to keep moving forward in it? I loved this article from Relevant Magazine. Click HERE to read.