collaborative post // Whether they are grieving the loss of a loved one or simply feeling overwhelmed by life’s challenges, it can be hard to watch someone you love struggle.
However, while you may not have the answers they need to solve their problems, there is always something you can give them – your time and support.
After all, they say a problem shared is a problem halved, and your friend will thank you for being there for them during their dark days, even if this thanks does not come immediately.
With that in mind, here are some tips for helping a friend through a tough time.
Listen to what they have to say.
Sometimes, your friend will not approach you with their problems because they want you to find a solution; they simply want you to listen. As a result, making it clear that you’re there for them, regardless of the level of support they need, can come in handy.
You should also make it clear that you’re there to offer non-judgemental support – meaning you will not judge them for any of the decisions (or mistakes) they’ve made. After all, they are only human. This could encourage them to open up instead of withholding information from you.
Put together a gift basket.
Putting together a gift basket for your friend is another great way to put a smile on their face. Furthermore, it’s a little more personal than picking something up at the store, as you can hand-pick the items you include.
For example, you could pick up some unique Hampers & Gift Packaging and fill them with things your friend loves or items designed to promote rest and relaxation. This could include:
- Self-help books
- Sweet treats & snacks
- Bath bombs
- Tea & Coffee
- Face masks & other beauty products
Do some research.
One way in which you can work to better understand how your friend is feeling is by carrying out some research into their situation. For example, if they are dealing with an alcohol addiction, you can do some research into the way in which this affects them.
You can then also compile a list of resources they may find useful as they move toward recovery, such as local support groups.
However, it’s important that you do not act as though this research has made you an ‘expert.’ You still need to give your friend room to talk about their specific experiences – which may differ from the norm. Instead, use this research as a tool to deepen your understanding and empathy.
Encourage them to get outside.
When people are going through a tough time, they tend to isolate themselves and stay at home as much as possible. There are various reasons for this – they may feel as though they do not want to burden others with their worries or do not feel as though they can face the outside world. However, encouraging them to spend some time outdoors can be a great way to prevent isolation and lift their spirits.
For example, a recent study found that “exposure to trees, the sky, and birdsong is beneficial to our psychological health.” Natural light is also a known mood booster, as it increases the production of endorphins. As a result, even a short ten-minute walk can help your friend feel calmer, more relaxed, and therefore more prepared to handle their situation.
Sometimes, when people are going through a tough time, they push those around them away. While they may not be doing this consciously, it can be disheartening when your efforts or offers of support are neglected or resisted. However, it’s important that you do not let this dissuade you.
Continue to show up, whether that be by turning up at the door or sending them a message each day. The more consistent you are in the support you offer, the easier it will be for your friend to open up. It also shows them that you are someone they can rely on no matter what.
Take care of your own mental health too.
While you may be naturally inclined to put the needs of others before your own, it’s important that you continue to take care of your own mental health during this time. After all, if you are ‘running on empty’, it will be hard to give energy and support to others.
As such, it’s crucial that you find as many ways as possible to care for your own well-being during this time. For example, you may want to get into the practice of journaling or meditating.
Suggest professional help.
Sometimes, we need professional help in order to become the best versions of ourselves once again. As a result, don’t be afraid to suggest this step to your friend if they are unwilling to take the leap themselves. Don’t lecture them, but instead, make clear the necessity of accepting help when we need it. For example, they would not walk around for weeks on a broken leg – they’d speak to a doctor.
Once you’ve had this difficult conversation, you can suggest certain services or programs to them that you may think are beneficial. For example, this could include group or one-to-one therapy, online or in person. Alternatively, you may simply encourage them to reach out to their healthcare provider who may be able to give them more comprehensive support.
If they are worried about this step, make it clear that you will be with them every step of the way. For example, you could even attend the initial appointment with them if they want to be surrounded by someone who is in their corner – even if the only thing you do is hold their hand.
In short, there are many ways in which you can support a friend who is going through a tough time, even if this is something you have not had direct experience with beforehand.
The key, however, is to be consistent and non-judgemental. Being a good friend sometimes means nothing more than showing up when they need you – and that alone is a simple way to show them just how much you love them.