How to support people when they're having a hard time
It has been reported in the news lately that the demand for counselling for stress-related issues in Christchurch is showing no signs of easing. Who do you know who is stressed out from living in a damaged home and battling with their insurance company? Who do you know who is struggling but is reluctant to ask for help because they feel like others are far worse off than them?
This month’s article focuses on the best way to support our friends who are struggling. Everyone is different and every situation is different, but the following tips can be used and adapted so they can help you in supporting your friends.
The best thing you can do is to be there for them when they need it. You don’t need to provide solutions, just be there to listen. However, while it’s great to listen and empathise with them, it’s also important not to let them dwell on their problems. Focussing too much on a problem can cause it to become the only thing you can see, so taking or creating opportunities to get them to focus on other things can help them improve their state of mind for a while. This allows them to recharge their batteries and increase their resourcefulness in dealing with the situation.
An even more effective way of doing this is to get them out and about doing fun things, even if they’re reluctant at first. Often people don’t realise how stressed they are until they have a chance to relax, unwind and do something else. Getting them out for dinner with friends or a walk in the park changes their environment and their state of mind, and gives them a well–needed break from their problems.
Sometimes people need more help than we can give them. That’s when it’s good for them to seek out a professional. However, some people out there are reluctant to seek help – they feel they should be able to get through it by themselves, or are concerned because they feel that others have bigger problems than them, so feel guilty about feeling bad. The fact is there are always people who are worse off, however that doesn’t make our problems any smaller. So if your friend could benefit from professional assistance, let them know it’s ok to get help. Changes can occur quickly with the right kind of professional, improving your life and the lives of those around you, so it’s well worth investing in yourself.