How to Be A Friend
We love our friends so dearly. We love to call them up for a night out, spend hours online on our favourite games, have long conversations about insignificant things, & bond over our mutual hatred for folks that didn’t make “the cut”. But what do we do when our friend is going through something? Why do we run & hide & let them deal with things alone? Why not learn to love helping out?
Well even if we did get to the point where we want to help, most of us don’t know how to help.
The very first hurdle where most of us fall short is not being able to notice when our friends are down & need help. So let’s talk about that for a minute. How do you know when there are clouds over their minds? They seem down & might break into tears or stay too quiet for too long.
- They have erratic sleep patterns.
- They don’t eat right. It’s either overindulging in food or not eating at all.
- They seem to miss deadlines at work or school.
- They don’t emote as much.
- They cancel plans too often
- They have trouble remembering things
And well, you know your friend better than we do so you’d be able to notice changes in their behaviour that we probably can’t.
So now you know they need help but how do you start? Where do you start?
Step 1: would be to have an open & honest conversation with them. Ask them how they’re doing, allow them to feel like they can tell you what’s troubling them without the fear of being judged. And when they start sharing, listen! Listen intently to what they have to say, take it all in & try to understand what they’re going through.
Step 2: Do not dismiss their feelings. Sometimes we may feel like our friend is upset over something that doesn’t hold much significance. Sometimes we like the way they’re dealing with their issues isn’t the best. But let’s take a minute to walk a mile in their shoes before we dismiss their feelings & shoot them down.
Step 3: Help them find the right assistance
Some things are best left to professionals & mental health is one of those things. Every mind is different & though we may mean well, we do not have the knowledge & training required to help someone out of their dark times. So let’s help our friends take a step forward by finding a good therapist or counsellor.
Step 4: Take them out
Go out for a little picnic or take a walk in the park. Call up your friend & invite them to step out & smell the roses. Getting some fresh air can help improve their mood quite a bit & they are unlikely to make a move on this on their own. So invite them to step out with you.
Step 5: Be patient
The journey to better mental health is long, tedious & can get difficult at times. It’s important that we do not lose our cool around our friend in need. We have to understand that they are constantly battling themselves & they are doing their very best. We ought to step back, stay calm & continue to be supportive no matter what.
Step 6: Check On Them
Now I’m not saying you need to nag them every other hour & throw questions at them with no respite. Send them a casual text every once in a while & ask how they are doing. Don’t push them beyond their point of comfort or force them to talk because they may just end up shutting everyone out. So let’s be calm, casual & breezy when we check on them.
Step 7: Understand What they’re going through
If you are unable to comprehend the journey they are on, speak to someone who may know better. Read up on their mental health condition & try to understand all of its facets. This can make you more empathetic to their condition & you would also be prepared to help them out.
Step 8: Don’t’ take the talk personally
It’s quite possible that your friend is going through some of the toughest times of their life. They may sometimes lash out & say things that they don’t mean. Let’s remember that they are only venting & let’s not hold their words against them. You could be the “bigger man” or woman.
Step 9: You Take Care of You!
Being there for a friend or family member through their mental health journey can be difficult & often taxing on the people around them. So when you’re focused on helping them, remember to take care of yourself too. Give yourself some care, love & time too.