Supporting someone who is struggling emotionally can make a huge difference in their recovery. While you may not be able to fix their problems, you may be able to help them with the following strategies.
11 ways to help someone struggling emotionally
- Validate their emotions. Letting someone know that they are not alone and being open to what they want to share is an important step. Many people simply want to be understood and know that someone is concerned about them.
- Just show up. There's no way to stop tears or stop their anguish, but just being present and letting them know that we are willing to be by their side can be more powerful than anything you say.
- Be a good listener. You may have opinions about their situation or how they are handling it, but set your judgments aside and concentrate on listening and empathizing.
- Keep things confidential. The best way to live up to their trust is to keep any information confidential that they've shared with you.
- Keep the door open. Let them know that you're thinking of them and would like to spend time with them if and when they're available.
- Spend time with them. Being outside or doing simple activities like yoga or swimming can do wonders for boosting someone’s mood. If they are willing, suggest doing one of these things together.
- Offer praise. If they have suffered a loss and are still able to function effectively throughout the day, they deserve to be commended. Be encouraging and reassure them about what they are doing well.
- Offer practical help. Even minor tasks can be difficult for people who are experiencing emotional distress. Offer to help them with their laundry, watch their kids for a few hours, or drive them to the store. Even a small gesture of assistance can make a significant difference in their day.
- Consider lending your pet for a day. Studies have suggested that pets may improve our mental health, reducing stress and loneliness. If you have a pet, consider offering to let them take care of it for a day.
- Suggest resources. There are doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, helplines, forums, and a plethora of other mental health resources. You could help them connect with experts or suggest that they talk to someone who has been trained to handle emotional issues.
- Encourage them to keep up treatment. Encourage them to continue treatment if they decide to start. If they express a desire to quit or stop taking medications, suggest that they first consult with a mental health professional. You can tell them how much of a difference you've already seen in them during treatment.
What are common signs that someone is struggling emotionally?
Someone experiencing emotional distress may exhibit the following signs and symptoms, indicating mental or physical exhaustion:
- Reclusive behavior
- Complaining of multiple health issues
- Complaining of lack of sleep and tiredness
- Lack of appetite
- Crying frequently or crying for no reason
- Feeling hopeless
- Easily distracted
- Talking about nightmares or flashbacks
- Lack of motivation
- Avoiding loved ones
- Mood changes
- Excessive alcohol consumption or substance abuse
- Talking about suicide
What should I do if I am in emotional pain?
Once you've identified the source of your pain, see if you can come up with any solutions on your own. In terms of overall health management and coping with stress, taking care of yourself may involve:
- Getting enough rest
- Eating a nutritious diet
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining contact with people who can provide you with both practical and emotional support
- Asking for help from family, friends, or religious or community groups with which you are affiliated
If you are experiencing symptoms of emotional stress and have not found relief with self care strategies, seek professional help. Counselors and mental health therapists are trained to help you find strategies to cope with your feelings.
Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Emotional Distress: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline/warning-signs-risk-factors
Supporting someone: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/supporting-someone
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