How To Help A Friend If You Notice They Are Struggling
There are times in life when you will notice that a friend is struggling.
Perhaps they haven’t seemed like ‘themselves’ for a while. Or they’ve mentioned one too many times that they are overwhelmed.
Between break-ups, career moves, and everything that life can throw at us, there are periods when we all find things particularly tough.
Opening up to a friend can be one of the most positive shifts towards climbing out of a blue period. Today Chelsea is sharing her advice for how to help a friend if you notice they are struggling.
My two cents on this? Listen, listen, listen. Take Chelsea’s advice (it’s on point as always) and (one of my personal favourites!) go for a margarita! Having been through ups and downs (as we all do) I can confirm that having F U N (and being reminded of it) is one helluva medicine amongst the more serious advice.
If you have any advice on how to help a friend, or a story of how a friend has helped you – I’d love to hear from you!
Drop Chelsea and I a line at the bottom of this post so that your story can be shared with others.
Over to Chelsea!
Love, Monica x
“Whilst everyone’s recipe for overwhelm is unique,
the over-arching emotions are corrosive.
And without speaking up about it, and sharing with one another,
a few days of feeling down can build into weeks or longer.
We can (and should) all step up and be a good friend.”
6 Ways To Help A Friend If You Notice They Are Struggling
Maybe it’s my age (30) or the seemingly endless sombre world news, but lately, I’ve had a lot of conversations about ‘overwhelm’ with my friends.
Overwhelm can stem from many different causes: work woes, current events, relationships . . .
Whilst everyone’s recipe for overwhelm is unique, the over-arching emotions are corrosive.
And without speaking up about it, and sharing with one another, a few days of feeling down can build into weeks or longer.
Having had many conversations with friends about this, I’ve been more conscious than ever about how my friends and I can support one another.
Whilst things like current events are out of my control(!), we can all step up and be a good friend. And in turn, we will encourage the friends closest to us to do the same.
If you’ve noticed a friend having a rough time, here are a six ideas to help them through it:
“Sometimes it’s when someone close to you
shares that they’ve noticed you’re ‘not yourself’
that you in turn acknowledge it.”
1 – Be Upfront
Sometimes when a person close to you is struggling, it’s difficult to broach the subject without feeling intrusive.
You may be thinking: do they want space? Do they need help? Maybe they don’t?
It can be confusing! Especially is someone hasn’t seemed ‘themselves’ of late.
Instead of beating around the bush, you can ask in a kind yet direct way how they are feeling. And how you can help out.
If you find that they’re defensive, try sharing that you’ve been concerned of late, that you care about them, and that you’ve noticed that they’ve not seemed ‘like them’.
Sometimes it’s when someone close to you shares that they’ve noticed you’re ‘not yourself’ that you in turn acknowledge it.
Your friend may have been waiting for you (or someone) to broach the topic. Or they may not have known that it was even visible to others.
At the very least, your friend will appreciate your honesty and kind heart.
Most of the time, you’ll get a good gauge of the situation and how involved you should get, just from that initial conversation.
Be upfront, and ask.
“Sometimes people simply want
to vent without judgment.
And sometimes people don’t need you
to “solve” the problem either.”
2 – Listen, Without Advice
I’m the first to recognize that I’m terrible at listening without instantly giving my advice. Or a story like: “well this happened to me once and here’s what I did.”
It’s a knee-jerk habit of mine, but people don’t necessarily want your advice or experience. It may feel counterintuitive, but sometimes you don’t need to input.
Sometimes people simply want to vent without judgment. And sometimes people don’t need you to “solve” the problem either.
If a friend is struggling, try to be there for them with open ears and a closed mouth – unless they’re directly asking for your advice.
It’s a humbling approach that will allow your friend to express their emotions without feeling overwhelmed by your advice on the ‘right’ thing to do.
Listen, and allow them to share their burden with you.
As the age old adage goes – “a problem shared, is a problem halved” – and isn’t it so true?
The moment you are able to share a situation with someone else, there is immediate comfort in knowing that someone else is sympathising with you. Even if they don’t go on to tell you exactly what to do.
“Try changing your friend’s environment,
even for 30 minutes.”
3 – Change Environment
Often, one of the side-effects of feeling down is that you feel completely ‘stuck’. You feel stuck in the situation you are in, and you can’t see the wood through the trees for it.
Whether it’s been a merry-go-round of late nights at the office, a toxic relationship or even just a mundane routine that is facilitating your friend’s rut, a change in environment can be a HUGE help.
A change in environment can be a simple as going for a walk – nature is hugely therapeutic – or perhaps a really good girls’ night out is what’s called for. Laughter truly is an amazing tonic, and it will help to put things into perspective.
Try changing your friend’s environment, even for 30 minutes. If anything it’ll give you some quality time together which will in turn allow you the platform to talk. Or not talk – whatever they choose.
4 – Write To Your Friend
There is something incredibly special about putting pen to paper. Or even sharing a Paperless Post.
It shows an extra level of thought and care.
Use your writing skills. Make someone’s day – or at least brighten it!
Maybe your friend has lost their job, partner, or are they’re unhappy in themselves – take the time to write. I’ve even found that sometimes it’s easier to jot down my thoughts, over saying them out loud.
If you want to help boost your friend’s confidence – list out all the things you love about that person – and include other friends’ notes too! You can then drop off a truly lovely ‘pep-talk gift’ to them.
And let’s not forget the power of a beautiful bunch of blooms. A side of flowers will help to brighten their day – it’s a small yet powerful way to share the faith you have in your friend with them.
“And let’s not forget the power of a beautiful bunch of blooms.
A side of flowers will help to brighten their day –
it’s a small yet powerful way
to share the faith you have in your friend with them. “
5 – Remove A Task
We all get overwhelmed at points, and if your friend is going through a period of high stress, it may help to remove a task from their to-do list.
It’s not something you need to have a conversation about even – just take inventory of which tasks in their life you could help with.
Drop off dinner for a few nights if they’re working non-stop, run to the grocery store for them if you notice they’re low on food, bring over supplies to wash their car – whatever it is won’t go unnoticed!
When someone’s to-do list is overflowing, taking anything off that list will be a huge help.
6 – De-Stigmatise Getting Help
In certain cases, your friend may need professional help of some kind. Whether that is reaching out to a doctor for help with anxiety, finally getting round to seeing a physio for that niggling pain, or even employing a cleaner to help around the house – you can help to de-stigmatise the act of getting help.
As a friend you can only do so much. Your friend may need a professional in some capacity to help ease their feelings of overwhelm, but they may feel embarrassed or indulgent in doing so.
I’ve seen first hand what a powerful positive change it has been in the lives of some of my friend to get outside help. Sometimes it’s just a gentle nudge from a caring friend, or sharing the fact that you too have sought help in ‘X’ way, that will help them to do the same.
Part and parcel of true friendship, is looking out for one another. You will weather tough times together, just as you will celebrate the greats highs with one another too.
If you have noticed that a friend is struggling, take the time to reach out. Invite them for a one-on-one lady (or guy!) date and take head of all of the advice above.
You can be a part of the positive change in the course of your friend’s life. Just as they will be many times over in yours.
What’s Your Take?
I’d love to hear how you have helped your friends through tough periods?
Was there anything you did that especially made an impact? Or indeed, has a friend ever done something for you which really helped you to turn a page?
We’d love to know so that we can help others to help their friends too.
Love, Chelsea x