No matter what your friend, family member or loved one is going through, it is difficult to watch someone you care about in pain. From mental illness to difficult life circumstances, there are so many reasons why someone may have a rough time and be in need of help. Whether they ask for practical support, emotional support or some combination of the two, being there for those you love however you can is an important part of being a friend — or family member, that is. While, of course, everyone is different, there are a few universal things you can do to offer help to a loved one in need.
If you have someone in need of some support in your life, there are so many ways you can support them. While certain people will take to certain methods better than others, exploring different ideas is the best way to figure out how exactly to support the people in your life. Really, it’s all about offering whatever you can to help those you love. Here are the best ways you can help out a loved one who needs you.
1. Listening to Them
When people come to you with their problems, one of the most important things you can do is listen to them attentively and fully. While you can obviously go beyond the listening aspect, helping others on an emotional level begins with listening. Take a genuine interest in what they have to say and let them know that you’re a safe space to speak freely.
2. Asking What They Need
After you listen to your loved one, you can ask them about what exactly they need. Even if they only want company or to feel listened to, simply asking them what they need from you can allow them to feel heard and prioritized. Plus, if they actually do tell you something they need and express their needs to you, you can better help them.
3. Educate Yourself About Their Situation
Whether you know exactly what’s going on with them or you’re a bit unsure, educating yourself about their experience can help you be a better ally to your loved one, no matter what is happening in their life. Especially if they’re dealing with something sensitive or unfamiliar to you, education is the best path to allyship.
4. Check Up On Them
Sometimes, the most difficult part of asking for help is reaching out to others. That’s why it’s important to check up on your loved one regularly, especially if you know they are in the midst of a tough time. Perhaps after reaching out once or twice, they may get shy about reaching out again, and it can be transformative to let them know you care and that they are on your mind regularly.
5. Extend Invitations
Sometimes, it can be helpful just to let people know that they are included. Even if you know that they will probably decline your invitation for one reason or another, it can be a kind gesture to invite somebody who is having a rough time to hang out with you or accompany you to an event. Even if they end up saying no, at least they will know that you thought of them.
6. Bring Food
Bringing food and helping out with practical tasks can be a primary method of offering comfort to somebody. Whether you have a friend who is struggling with mental illness, or a family member who is grieving, food is a way to show that you care for their basic needs. Whether you cook something or bring takeout to enjoy together, bringing food is a great way to show that you care.
7. Lend a Hand Around the House
Similar to bringing food, completing household tasks can be difficult for somebody who is struggling and having a hard time. Especially for loved ones with physical and mental illnesses, caring for basic needs can sometimes take a lot of energy. Whether you offer to complete a few chores or grab groceries in a pinch, lending a helping hand around the house can make a huge difference.
8. Offer Distractions
Often, helping out is not about fixing the problem. Rather, helping out somebody in need can be about offering a soothing presence to uplift their spirits. That’s why offering a distraction can be a great way to show someone that you care and participate in their healing. Activities like yoga, watching a movie, taking a walk, playing sports or journaling together can be fantastic, productive distractions to engage in. These activities can break the cycle of sadness and offer some reprieve.
Helping Out a Loved One
No matter what your loved one is going through, you can offer a kind and guiding presence through it all. Everybody needs different things in times of crisis, and by communicating with them about what they need, checking up on them and even lending a helping hand with practical matters, you can help the people you love however works best for them. Do you have a preferred method of offering or receiving care when you’re down?