Knowing when a friend is going through hard times can be difficult to navigate. We may fear of saying the wrong thing or come off as being nosy, but a lot of the time the friend will appreciate you thinking of them and being supportive. Even if the friend does not respond or does not open up about whatever they may be going through, it allows them to know that they have people thinking of them and that they are not alone. Below are a few way you can check in with and support a friend who may be going through a tough time.
1. Contact Them
Whether it is a phone call, a text, or a message on Facebook, you can easily reach out to anyone who you may think is hurting. A simple message like “hey just checking in with you” or “hey I have been thinking about you, how are you?” can do so much for a person. Whatever way you choose to communicate is up to you.
2. Normalize Their Feelings
Some people who may be in distress may feel like their feelings are not valid. Allowing them to understand that their feelings are warranted and normal can be empowering. Normalizing one’s feelings or emotions can be a relief for people, especially if they know that other’s have felt this way too.
3. Allow Them to Vent
Some people like to talk out whatever they are feeling in that moment. Venting can be cathartic and a form of release. Giving a person that space to openly talk about what is going on and how they are feeling can be extremely helpful and can allow the person to clear out their mind.
4. Help Them Reach Out For Support
Reaching out for help is scary. There is still a stigma that surrounds mental health and it can deter a lot of people from reaching out. Letting your friend know that you will drive them to their therapy appointment, or be in the room with them when they call a therapist for the first time can be extremely supportive. It may help them make that next step to seeking profession support.
5. Ask What They Need
Sometimes we don’t know what a friend needs to feel better. Sometimes asking that question can help the person vocalize what they need, and actually allow the person to check in with themselves and ask “what do I need right now to feel better?” Ways we can ask this may be “hey I want to support you, what do you need from me?” or “I am not sure what to do, is there anything you need right now?”
6. Be Non-Judgmental
Even if we don’t think we are being judgmental, the way we express ourselves may come off as a judgment. It can be the way we word things, our facial expression, or even our body language. A good way to practice non-judgmental listening is to listen to understand, not to solve.
7. Respect Their Limits
Many people may not want to open up about whatever they are currently going through. A great way to support someone is understanding and respecting their boundaries. If the person says that they don’t want to talk about that, we should respect them and acknowledge that boundary.
8. Try Not to Give Advice
This one may be difficult, especially because we are usually trying to help the person solve whatever issue they are going through. Sometimes advice is not always helpful and people may just need a person to talk to. If the person directly asks “What would you do in this situation?” that could be a time to give advice, but if they are just wanting to talk about their feelings and emotions the best thing we can do is be there and listen.
9. Make a Care Package
Little gifts can be a really sweet gesture of showing someone that you are thinking about them. The gifts do not have to be big, and more than the gift itself it is the gesture that is more impactful. Some gift ideas can be:
- Favorite Candy
- Thoughtful letter to them
10. Spend Time With Them
Sometimes the best thing we can do to support someone is to physically be there for them. That does not mean you have to talk about whatever it is they are going through, just being there can be helpful. You can cook with them, watch TV, or just sit in silence. Any way you choose to spend time with them can help the person feel cared for and supported.