Being Present for Your Loved Ones
At some point in life, everyone goes through a stressful time. This might be because of a divorce, losing a job, the loss of a loved one, or struggling with an illness. The American Institute of Stress reports that 73% of people have stress that impacts their mental well-being.
Many of us try to advise during these times, but sometimes what we say might not be helpful. So how do you be there for someone, when you don’t know what to say?
Being present for a loved one doesn’t always have to mean giving advice. When a partner, family member, or friend is hurting, often the best way to help is just to be a part of their life.
How to Be There for Someone
A problem shared is a problem halved, as the saying goes. During tough times, often just listening to what is going on can help. Your loved one may not have shared their pain before, so aim to actively listen without judgment.
Refrain from jumping in immediately with advice. If you have a similar story to share, ask permission if you can share it. When your loved one is ready, they may want to hear what you have to say.
- Show Empathy
When someone is in pain, being critical will not help the situation. Even if your loved one is at fault, now is not the time to bring it up. Show empathy by:
- Actively listening
- Recognize how your loved one is feeling
- Asking what they need from you
- Take Them Out
A distracting activity is a way to take your loved one’s mind off the current situation. Something as simple as going for a walk or a trip to the movies can help. Don’t choose something that could add to the pressure. Decide on an activity that is relaxing and fun.
- Keep Checking In
Being there for a loved one means checking in at regular intervals. It’s comforting to know someone is thinking of you during hard times.
It might mean calling or texting a few times a week. Make the effort to be a present friend and ask how their problem is going.
How to Be There for Yourself
It’s not just your loved ones that need a compassionate friend. You need to take care of yourself, so you can care for others. If you’re the type of person that always offers a shoulder to cry on, this can be draining. Be there for yourself by:
- Practicing self-care. This includes exercise, a healthy diet, and getting a good night’s sleep. Reduce stress and sleep better with guided meditations on the BetterSleep app.
- Outsourcing your support. It’s ok to take a break from being the strong one all the time. If you need a break emotionally, be there for your loved ones by gently referring them to a professional.
Remember that everyone is different. What works for one, may not work for the other and the same goes for your loved ones. Be attentive to cues and signals to judge how much support is needed and go from there.
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