7 Ways to Support a Friend

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We all have our times in life when we are struggling and find it hard to get by. We want to be happy and strong enough to deal with life’s situations but sometimes it’s important to realise when we need a little help. Here are seven suggested strategies to support someone going through a rough time.

1. Check in regularly

Let the person know that you’re thinking of them and your available if they want to talk. The best thing you can do for someone who is struggling is to listen and give them your full attention. If you don’t know what to say to make them feel better you can say: “I just don’t know what to say, but I am here for you.”

2. Offer practical help

Some practical tasks responsibilities continue, even in a crisis. Offer to bring groceries or a meal or make sure your friend has child/pet/housekeeping support in the early weeks. A surprise care package is a great way to remind someone they are loved.

3. Help change the surroundings

Candles can help create a calming environment. They smell good, look nice, and serve a symbolic way to focus on feelings of hope and new beginnings. An art print, photograph or small change to the surroundings may help kick start a new focus.

4. Share the love with a gift

A gift may help show appreciation to someone going through a rough time. An engaging novel or adult colouring book may provide a much-needed distraction of creative outlet.

5. Be self-aware and emotionally available

Reflect on your own feelings about the situation and how they might impact on the support you are offering. Refrain from judgements, criticisms or over-sharing personal stories. Try to see things from the perspective of your friend. Give them as much time as possible to share their thoughts and feelings.

6. Check in over time

Tough circumstances and emotions can take a long time to process. You can check and ask how your friend is doing to show you are still available. This could be face-to-face or via a phone call. A simple ‘Thinking of you’ or ‘How are you going today?’ may help you stay connected.

7. Support the healing process

When decisions need to be made, but your friend is feeling overwhelmed, you can offer choices such as “Shall we go now or after lunch?” or offer support such as “Let’s do it together.”

At some point, when your friend expresses an interest in moving on, be available to support the transition. Encourage them to take up a new hobby they have always wanted to try. If they are a bit hesitant then offer to come for the first session.

Summary

It is also important to set healthy emotional boundaries. If you are providing an intense caring role then take short breaks to recharge and get perspective. Read motivational books and ask for help if you need it. Taking care of yourself increases your capacity to provide support and be fully present.

These strategies may help the person in your life who is going through a hard time to get the support they need. If you are concerned, that your friend may not be coping then encourage them to see their GP or a mental health professional.

Article by Natalie Monelli 

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