Sometimes, it can be a bit difficult to know how to be the best friend you can be. When you have a buddy who is going through a tough time, knowing what to say, how to act and how to support them best can be a minefield of potential mishaps and saying the wrong thing – and that can be pretty stressful for you too! Supporting someone through a tough time can be really hard on you too, so we decided to give you a super quick toolkit on how you can be the great supportive friend without having to stress about doing the wrong thing.
…Has Social Anxiety
When a friend finds it hard to go out or be in large groups, it can be difficult to do stuff together. It is important to remember that this is not a reflection on you, and it definitely doesn’t mean that they don’t want to spend time with you. Here are a few suggestions for what you can do to make sure you stay friends and give them a little bit of support
1) Suggest a day in the house
If they are really having a difficult day, suggest a day spent together in the comfort of their living room/bedroom. Think comfy clothes, video games, movies and junk food for most of the afternoon. That way, you both get your quality friend time without them feeling too much anxiety and pressure that they probably have to feel every day anyway.
2) Or go for a long walk somewhere quiet
As we creep into summer, the sun is out (most of the time) and that can be a real mood booster. Find a walking route that won’t be too crowded on a weekend and go for a nice long walk in the sunshine together. Even getting outside the house can sometimes be tough for someone with social anxiety, so this is an absolute win for them.
3) Help them out during social interactions
If you guys decide to hit the shops for a little bit, this can be a tough ask for someone with social anxiety. Offer to come to the counter with them when they pay (but not to do it for them – it’s a great way to help them conquer their fears). This way they have back up but are working towards kicking their fears in the butt.
4) Do some yoga or meditation with them
This a great mood booster and can work wonders for combatting the stress associated with having serious anxiety. Doing a bit of yoga or meditation every day can also really clear the mind – perfect for someone who is probably a chronic overthinker.
5) Suggest they talk to someone as well as you
This is a biggie. Suggesting a friend sees someone can be a tricky ask for you, but it is probably the best thing for them. Take a moment in a quiet safe space and gently suggest they look towards someone who isn’t you for help – it could be the push they need.
…Is Going Through a Bad Breakup
Everyone has probably been through a breakup at one point or another, and they totally suck. The thing is, when a mate is going through one, it can completely send them into a tail spin. Also, the longer this lasts, the more the sympathy starts to dry up. That’s why it’s important to give them a helping hand through the pain if they need it and back out into the dating game, Ariana style (#thankunext)
1) Give them a cuddle
Basically, the first thing most of us need after the breakup to end all breakups is a little bit of love. A cuddle, or at least a bit of moral support, is absolutely what is needed when it’s relatively raw.
2) Remind them of who they were before the relationship
It can be easy to forget how to be single, especially when the relationship has been a few years in the making. Take a photo of the two of you before their relationship to show them – and remind them that they were perfectly happy then and can be that way again.
3) Get them to give this a read
We put together a list of things you can do to take your mind off you ex, and is a great helping hand for them when you can’t be around or need a bit of time for you. You can read this here.
4) Take their mind off it
There are loads of things to do that can take your mind off an ex – like in this article here. But, they are even better with a best bud. Go on a day trip somewhere you’ve not been before, go for some retail therapy, or something active like Laser Quest or paintballing. Getting out of breath and covered in paint seems like a pretty sick way to get them out of their heads and feeling happy again.
5) Encourage them to let go
Sometimes, we want to hold on to mementos of relationships, but this can be a really bad idea. Having stuff lying around everywhere that reminds them of their situation is a sure-fire way to set them back to square one so gather all the stuff up together, box it up, and put it out of the way until it can go back to the other person.
…Is Struggling with Work/Exam Stress
Some of us deal with stress better than others. Even though you might be sitting the same exams or having similar work pressures, they might be less well equipped to deal with it than you. In this case, there are a few things you can do to help them deal day to day so that you can keep going as well.
1) Work together
If it’s exams that’s getting them down, why not try having a study session together. That way, you still get all your work done with no stress, and they can have a bit of moral support when they are revising as well.
2) Let them know what you do
Give them a bit of a cheat sheet on how you deal with it. Do you have some pro revision techniques or a way of managing your work that you find works for you? Clue them in on it! If it works for them, they are happy, and you can carry on with your work uninterrupted.
3) Show them this
Mindfulness can be crucial for managing stress, so we put together a list of our top 10 apps for mindfulness which you can read here.
Finally, make sure you take care of you. Of course, you want to help your friend, but looking after your mental health is incredibly important when you are helping someone else through a tough time. Take time for you, and if you feel like you need a little bit of space from the situation, politely and calmly explain to your friend that you are just going to take an hour for yourself.
If you have been affected by any of the issues listed here, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here and we will listen to you.