10 ideas for how to help a friend who's struggling...
We all know a few people who are having a tough time.
For most of them it’s just a dark patch and they’ll pull through without too much hassle or obvious strain. For others it’ll be a deep, pitch black hole that feels lonely, scary and completely overwhelming. The thing is, from the outside, you can’t tell which friend is dealing with which.
So what do you do? You reach out to all your friends who are having a tough time!
Sometimes it can feel awkward or you might have it in your head that you’d have to buy a big gift or spend the day with someone for it to make a difference, so you put it off. We’ve all done that, but let’s not do it anymore, okay? Little things really do make a big impact.
I’ve made a list of 10 little things that you can do to help a friend who is struggling, hopefully 1 or 2 will jump out at you and help you support someone you love :)
- Make time to see them in person, for a movie, a walk, or just pop over to their house and put the kettle on. Nothing can substitute real life interaction.
- When you see them, hug them. Unless they are very uncomfortable with hugs, definitely go for the hug! Hugs have an incredibly positive effect on our brains as well as boosting our immune systems and making us feel more connected to others.
- Remind them of how connected they are! If there is anything like a holiday you went on together, a challenge like a mud run you did, or something that connects you strongly, try and bring it up in conversation. If you’re not there in person tag them in old pictures of these things online saying ‘remember this?!’ and maybe start to plan the next big thing. Shared experiences are really powerful and uplifting!
- Send them a postcard. A postcard is a great way to show someone you’re thinking of them. As well as being a nice surprise it can also be more easily kept or displayed than a thoughtful text (although they’re good too). You can get lovely inexpensive postcards with inspiring quotes on them as well.
- When you talk to them, bring up the hard thing. Whatever it is say SOMETHING about it, with an open ended question if possible like ‘how are you feeling about it all?’ then if it’s really awkward say ‘sorry, we don’t need to talk about it, I just want you to know I’m happy to if you want to’. Often people say ‘I’m here if you need to talk’ but that places the pressure of starting the conversation on them, sometimes it’s too hard. They’re struggling already, be brave and you take the first step for them.
- If you have mutual friends (or family), encourage them to check in with the person too. This will take some pressure off you and make them feel extra supported. Maybe send your mutual friends this blog so they have some new ideas too?
- Keep trying. Often people who are struggling find social interaction hard, (even though isolation normally makes things worse) so you might not get the responses you were expecting. Don’t take this personally, they are doing the best they can and they DO appreciate you putting in the effort even if it doesn’t seem like it.
- Don’t forget YOUR self care. Being there for someone can be emotionally draining, don’t be surprised if you find yourself exhausted after a visit or sad or ‘spaced out’. This is normal but it needs to be managed so it doesn’t bring you down. Give yourself space and time to process, relax as well as have fun and live your normal life. Self care always comes first.
- If you do choose to give a gift, try not to have big expectations for how it will be received. Go for smaller, thoughtful things rather than expensive gifts. When people are in a dark place they don’t always appreciate things in the same way and if there is pressure to be happy with it or excited about it, a gift can actually isolate someone further.
- No guilt. There is always more you can do, if you start thinking about this too much it will drive you crazy and disrupt your life. I take this same approach with giving to charity, I decide how much I WANT to do/give. Then I do it and refuse to be pressured or guilted into more (the pressure almost always comes from within btw). There is no shame in doing what you want to do. What is a shame, is when people do nothing because they know they could always do more and they don’t want the guilt of saying no.
I’m sure you guys have 100’s of other great ideas! Please leave them in the comments on our socials (links below) so we can get more inspired to support the people we love.
As you guys know, I’m not a mental health professional, just a happy person sharing from my own experiences and learning, trying to lift others up ✌🏼
Here is a link to UK mental health organisations if you need professional help https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/useful-contacts/
Thanks for reading!