How to Help a Friend Who’s Struggling

Written By

Kim Chwalek

Food & Home
Faith
Beauty
Connect With Me

I'm a 25-year old girl based in Denver, Colorado. Kim Collective is a space where I share about beauty, faith, food & home, style, travel, well-being, and everything in between. Thanks for stopping by!

Hi, I'm Kim

Travel
Wellness
Style

If you’re reading this, I want to start by saying that I’m sorry. It’s not easy to watch someone you love be in pain, especially when you feel unable to help them. But since you’re here, researching this topic, I know you have a big heart for the people in your life. I can empathize with you. In the past month, I’ve had many of my friends go through difficult times, such as losing loved ones, going through break-ups, and dealing with suicidal thoughts. No situation is the same, but certain realities are: this life can be challenging. In this article, I want to share some insights on how you can best support your friend through a tough time. There are no quick fixes in life but with a little bit of patience, consistency, and love, you will be able to make a profound difference just by showing up.

 

 

7 Steps to Help a Struggling Friend

1. Start by Showing Empathy

The easiest thing you can do to help your friend is to empathize with them. Avoid the tendency to jump to a solution to try to help them, and instead, sit with them in their feelings. Acknowledge they’re being heard and their feelings are valid. Be curious about their emotions and ask what they’re feeling and how these emotions are showing up for them.

Oftentimes, we beat ourselves up for what we’re feeling. We think of our feelings as “bad” or something worth fixing when that’s not the case. That’s why it’s important to give each other space to talk through our challenges. We don’t want to accentuate the anger, shame, or fear our friends feel. We want to be empathetic without expectations.

Here are four things you can say to show empathy:

  • “I hear you’re feeling [emotion] and that totally makes sense.”
  • “I can’t imagine how challenging this must be for you, but I want you to know that I am here for you.”
  • “Your feelings are completely valid, and it’s okay not to be okay. I’m here to listen.”
  • “It sounds like you’re going through a really tough time. Is there anything I can do to help you right now?”

 

 

2. Tap Into the Power of Presence

As a friend, you can help someone overcome their life’s trials just by being a steady, consistent source of support. Friendship is even more important now considering almost half of Americans are lonely, and loneliness itself has been likened to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. By regularly checking in with a friend who’s struggling, you starve off these feelings of loneliness or worthlessness. When you’re physically or digitally present with your friend, they’ll know there’s someone in their life who cares. Your presence is an act of love.

 

 

3. Create a Consistent Weekly Ritual

Did you know that spending time with your friends is one of the best things you can do for your health? According to Time Magazine, “A robust social life…can lower stress levels; improve mood; encourage positive health behaviors and discourage damaging ones; boost cardiovascular health; improve illness recovery rates; and aid virtually everything in between.” When you’re trying to help a friend who’s struggling, you should carve out moments to connect. I recommend scheduling a “weekly ritual” together, or an activity you both look forward to doing each week.

 

Weekly Rituals

  1. Arts & crafts: Try painting, drawing, or other crafts with your friend.
  2. Book club: Select a book, then schedule a weekly meetup to share your thoughts.
  3. Cooking club: Take turns choosing a dish to cook together.
  4. Fitness competitions: Set fitness goals together, whether it’s a daily step count or a weekly workout routine.
  5. Neighborhood walks: Meet up, walk, and talk for an hour.
  6. Movie nights: Create a movie list and tackle your “must-sees” together!
  7. Spa days: Pamper yourselves with face masks, champagne, and your favorite playlist.
  8. Virtual travel: Pick a city, put on a YouTube drive-through tour of that city, and “visit” that city by ordering that city’s famous cuisine.
  9. Volunteer days: Schedule a day to give back together. Sometimes, the best way to feel better is to help a person who’s less fortunate than you.
  10. Weekly hikes: Get outdoors to spike your friend’s serotonin (feel-good hormone) levels.

Arts & Crafts

An easel set, 145-piece art box, flower press kit, embroidery kit, and origami kit.

 

Book Club

Add these to your joint reading list now.

 

Spa Night

Spa supplies for your next hang-out.

 

 

4. Add in Proactive Check-Ins

Remind your friend: “You matter to me!” Random check-ins with friends include serendipitous phone calls, texts, or in-person drop-bys. These are small tokens of love, but they add up over time.

 

5. Offer to Take Things Off Their Plate

Do you know your friend’s love language? The five love languages are five different ways of expressing and receiving love. They include words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Whether or not your friend’s love language is acts of service, giving your friend practical assistance in day-to-day tasks is a great way to help them through a tough time. Many people neglect the basics when they’re struggling, and will appreciate you taking a to-do off their list.

Here are five ways you can help a friend:

  • Clean their house
  • Order food in or cook a meal
  • Run general errands for them around town (gas, groceries, etc.)
  • Take care of their pets (walking, feeding, or medicine)
  • Help with transportation (offer rides to appointments)

 

6. Act Without Asking

Oftentimes, independent people find it hard to ask for help. It’s important to step in and help in concrete ways without waiting for your friend to ask. Of course, you have to be mindful of their boundaries if they say no, but by being proactive, you make a greater impact in your friend’s life.

 

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Lighten the Mood

Laughter is medicine. There’s a time to dive into the pain with your friend and there’s a time to make him or her laugh. Don’t be afraid to pull them out of their slump by sending silly memes, watching funny TV shows, or scheduling a date for an improv or comedy show together. Comedy reminds us that we’re all struggling together. We can find humor in the experience of being human.

 

Final Thoughts

To help a friend who’s struggling, you need to amp up your love, patience, and understanding. Talk to your friend about your ideas and suggest ways to make a consistent weekly ritual together. Then, take it a step further by proactively checking in with your friend and offering acts of service. Remember: it’s the small, thoughtful gestures that often leave the biggest impact on someone’s life. You already have a profound impact on the people in your life and I admire your heart for them.

If you enjoyed this article, consider reading:

Love, Kim

Comments +

  1. Makena says:

    I love these ideas! Love the creativity behind your suggestions for ways to create weekly routines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured post

10 Après Ski Outfits to Shop This Winter

Après ski is a skier’s social hour, so you want to dress right for the occasion! Shop these 10 stylish après ski outfits.

category here

my nightly
skincare regime

You can either type this featured post content manually or use a post look-up function in SHOWIT directly. It can also rotate between several posts.

Other Ways to Connect

Follow me on

Instagram

Explore

The Blog

Join our Book Club, too!

Donate to

Room to Read