Everyone experiences ups and downs in life. One of the best things to get you through a difficult time is a good support system. It’s not easy watching your loved ones suffer, but the empathy and aid you can provide are invaluable. You might not always know what to say or how to act around a friend who is struggling. That’s okay. The important thing is to be there for your loved one. Here are a few tips on how to support a friend going through hard times.
Be an Open Listener
Sometimes, the simple act of talking through your thoughts and emotions can be therapeutic. When you ask how your friend is doing and actively listen to the answer, you show that you want to be there for them. As you listen to your friend, it’s important to let them know that you genuinely care about what they’re saying. Ask follow-up questions, and do your best to truly understand what’s going on in their head. Don’t be judgmental about their experiences and responses. You should also avoid giving advice unless they ask you for it. Letting your friend feel heard and seen is more important than offering advice that may not be relevant or helpful.
Look for Warning Signs
People going through hard times are often more vulnerable to unhealthy coping mechanisms. As you check in on your friend, try to keep an eye out for their physical and emotional health. Have they been sleeping well at night? Are they maintaining a healthy diet? Look for signs of a drinking problem or other unhealthy habits they might turn to during this experience. While you don’t want to overstep your bounds or be controlling, being aware of these issues makes it easier to reach out and help your friend through them.
Find Solutions Together
Getting help isn’t always easy, but you can support your loved one through the process. One of the best ways to support a friend going through hard times is to work together to come up with and follow through on a plan of action. This way, you can create tangible steps to help your friend, rather than just offering vague reassurances. By working together to figure out what happens next, you give your friend the foundation they need to build a support system and make it through this difficult time.