It can be both a privilege and honour to be your mate’s first point of call, but it can also be a little daunting. There’s no worse feeling than wanting to be there for a friend but not really quite knowing how. A failed first date or a shocker of a job interview will generally call for a few encouraging words and comfort food, but when something more major is going on, what can you do to ensure your friend is getting the support they need?
We’ve put together some tips with our friends at headspace, as part of our I Can’t Even Deal RN series, that you, as a friend, can do to show support to your mate when they’re really struggling.
When something major is going on it’s possible that all your mate wants is for you to physically be there. They may not be ready or wanting to talk about their struggles just yet, but physically being there with them could provide them the subtle support they need. Offer them your company and chances are just you, their friend, being with them in that moment, could be enough. Never underestimate human contact and presence.
Offer Practical Help
Offering your friend practical help can often relieve pressures that are stemming from other aspects of their life. Grabbing some groceries for them or taking their pet for a walk can lift a weight off their shoulders when they’re struggling with other things. It may seem like a small gesture but no doubt it’ll have a huge impact, especially when they’re feeling a bit down.
Check In On Them
Chances are some friends don’t want to bug you with their problems and will prefer to fly under the radar than to ask for your help. By checking in with them, like chucking them a text in the morning, you can give them the opportunity to be helped when they would prefer not to ask. It opens up the channel for communication, or simply support. Text messages can also be totally random and with no strings attached, so they’re not obligated to spill their emotions out via text.
Now it is a tough one, because some problems don’t always come out. But they key is being consistent. If you’ve seen some signs, reach out – and it doesn’t always have to be as a worried friend. Just be a, well, friend. Ask them if they’ve watched the latest episode of that show they’ve been hooked to, or if they’ve listened to a particular song.
Avoid Talking From Experience (Unless Super Relevant)
By all means offer your friend advice but avoid speaking totally from your own experiences. There’s a huge chance that what your friend is going through may be on a similar wave length to your own past experiences but not totally. Avoid making their issues about your own and try to also listen and remain open-minded about the uniqueness of their struggles.
Giving some examples of situations you’ve been through is always helpful, and likely relatable, just don’t try and make it seem like you need the spotlight. Sometimes some solid listening is all that’s required.
Healthy Distractions Are Good Distractions
Offering to head out with your friend, go for a walk or kick a ball around with them could offer them a welcomed distraction from any negative thoughts they may be having. It’s probably a best idea to keep any kind of outing non-alcohol related, so go out for a coffee or do something fun and random. Ideally something that gets a smile on their face or their mind of the issue that might be causing them some stress.
If you have a mate who you think is struggling a bit, but don’t know how to approach them, it can be a tough situation. They may be going through a bit, so check out these tips from headspace to help understand how they’re feeling, and how you can make a first approach.
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