Going through something that affects mental health is hard. The stress could even manifest physically, which could affect a person’s quality of life. Hence, if your loved one is going through such a tough time, your support can be a big help for them. The question is, how can you be the support that your loved one needs?
Learning how to comfort someone who’s upset or anxious takes time, compassion, and patience. It may seem like there’s nothing that you can do or say that will make things better for them, but there are actually a lot of ways how you can help them. Here are some of them.
One of the common mistakes that people do when a friend or family member opens up to them about their problems or feelings is that they invalidate the person without even noticing it.
While it’s a natural instinct to ensure someone that everything is fine to minimize the problem, such as saying, “I’m stressed out too,” “Other people I know have it worse,” “It’s too simple to stress about,” etc., it actually doesn’t work. Sometimes, it could even make the person feel worse.
Remember, not everyone is in the same boat and not everyone can easily deal with their problems just like how others do. So, what you can do instead to comfort a friend or a relative is to validate what they’re feeling. Try to convey that their frustrations are reasonable.
Lines like “That seems upsetting. You were really disappointed, weren’t you?” would already make them feel listened to and connected to someone who really cares for them and their feelings.
Let Them Talk
People who are going through something, especially the challenges that are already affecting their mental wellbeing, need someone to vent to or else, the feelings they’re keeping inside might manifest physically and could affect their physical health.
If your loved one needs help, encourage them to tell you how they feel and just let them talk. Let them release all their frustrations. This will help them process their feelings more. This may take some time and patience, though. But, some things might resolve on their own when they’re talked about.
Offer Your Presence
Sometimes, all a person will need is your presence, as it makes them feel safe. There are many ways how you can offer your presence to a friend or relative. One of them is to just try to visit them, so they’ll have company. In case they need someone to talk to, you’re already there to comfort them in person.
Another way you can offer your presence is to ask them if they want to do activities with you. This will help clear their mind, even just for a while. It could be a short walk outside or engaging in an exercise that will help them be grounded.
Sometimes, it’s hard to completely understand what a person is going through, especially if you’ve never experienced it. But, try to put yourself in their shoes to help you see things the way they see it in their eyes.
It could be tempting to share your own experience to make them feel better. But, remember, in their eyes, nothing will compare to what they’re going through. Therefore, it may not be appropriate to talk about what you went through. So, just allow them to just have their moment to feel their emotions.
Offer Help with Chores
When a person is going through something, it can be hard for them to take care of themselves. And in some cases like clinical anxiety, patients may not have the energy to care for themselves too. They may not be able to eat or even follow the basic hygiene routines, as they’re just not emotionally up for it.
Hence, offering them a hand to do their chores such as cooking and cleaning would help a lot. So, if you can, stop by and check on them.
Ask What You Can Do
Some people like to be alone when they’re upset or anxious about something. They will just wait until it passes or is resolved before they open up to you about what they went through. But if you’re getting worried about your loved one, just ask what you can do for them to help them feel better. It lets them know you’re ready to listen whenever they’re ready.
While some people are good at hiding, going through something is not easy, especially if they’re facing all the hardships alone. Offering support, even just by lending your ears, will already help a lot.