7 Ways to Help a Friend or Family Member Through a Tough Time
You know your loved ones better than anyone else does, so it’s easy to tell when they are dealing with something difficult or just aren’t feeling their best. As any good friend or relative would, you want to help everyone get through tough times and show your support however you can.
It can be hard to find the right things to do or say when someone you love is hurting, but putting in effort will show them just how much you care. Keep reading for a list of ways to reach out to friends and family when they need you most.
1. Check-In Regularly
When someone is going through a rough patch or struggling emotionally, they can tend to withdraw from friends and family and isolate themselves. If possible, try to prevent this by checking in on your loved ones on a regular basis. While it is important that they have the space to deal with their problems in their own way, checking in every so often gives them the opportunity to talk about how they’re doing and reminds them that people care.
2. Listen & Avoid Judgment
If your friend or relative opens up to you about what they’re thinking or feeling, try to withhold judgment and listen with an open mind. Avoid interrupting them or offering your opinion too often, as this can invalidate the way they feel or discourage them from sharing in the future. Be mindful of your responses and ensure that they know you’re there to support them, not criticize them.
3. Don’t Try to Solve Everything
Just as you should hold back strong opinions and judgment when listening to a friend’s explanation of their feelings, you should also avoid telling them what they should do to resolve their situation. While it may be tempting to offer a solution that seems ideal to you, your friend or family member may want or need to handle their situation differently than you would if you were in their shoes. Everyone has different responses to grief, trauma, and turmoil, and that’s okay. It isn’t your job to fix their problems–your job is to have their back as they figure it out on their own.
4. Suggest Effective Coping Strategies
While telling a friend what to do may be in poor taste, they may ask for advice or help during particularly hard moments. If you want to prevent coming off as judgmental or bossy, try to guide them to some productive coping methods that may help them work on their emotions and come to their own conclusions about their situation. Encourage them to develop a routine, try new hobbies, and find other ways to productively manage their thoughts and feelings. In the long run, they will be grateful to have people in their lives who care enough to help them develop positive habits and reach a healthier headspace.
5. Offer to Help with Day-to-Day Responsibilities
If you’d prefer to take a hands-on approach to help your friend or relative through this difficult period, offer to help with chores or errands instead of trying to resolve their bigger problems. This way, you can feel like you’re doing as much as possible to help your loved ones and they can have extra time to focus on their wellness. Simple favors like picking up some groceries, washing their car, or paying for a meal can give them a much-needed break and kick-start some positive changes.
6. Recognize Signs of Bigger Issues
You never want to think that your loved ones are dealing with mental health problems, but major crises and traumatic events can lead to serious issues like depression and thoughts of self-harm. If your friend or loved one is presenting any of these common warning signs, you may need to have an urgent talk with them about their feelings or reach out to emergency resources.
7. Know When to Seek Help
Similarly, you may need to be mindful of the progression of your friend or family member’s problems and know the right times to recommend professional help. If their healing seems to stagnate or their situation gets even worse, you may need to encourage them to see a counselor or look into legal options that will help them get closure. While your help will be appreciated throughout their recovery process, you aren’t trained to help in these situations and you can only do so much. The right professional-led outlets and opportunities could give your loved one the boost they need to get back to living a full, happy life.
Helping a friend or family member deal with the effects of trauma, mental health problems, or even just a rough patch in the road can be tricky. If you follow these tips and stay mindful, you can help your loved ones get through anything.