How to help a friend with stress

12 Ways to Help a Stressed-Out Friend


  • Copy By: Josie Santi

We all get stressed out. Work, bills, relationships, deadlines, health — it can all get to be too much. Sometimes, all the hot baths and ice cream cartons in the world wouldn’t help, and you really need to lean on your support system. But what about when your support system leans on you? Do you know what to do if you notice that one of the people you love most has seemed especially distance and stressed lately, or if they come to you for help?

It can be tough to know exactly what will help a friend, and how to be that strong person for someone else to lean on, especially when you don’t always feel strong yourself. So to help, here are 12 ways you can be there for your friend who’s having a hard time.


Source: @rosielondoner



Motivate them.

Assume the role of their personal hype-woman. Text them every morning saying, “you got this!” or “you’re going to crush that board meeting!” and send genuine compliments when they’re struggling with self-confidence. If you want to do more, give them a motivational book, or a Congratulations! card when they nail that presentation at work they’ve been worrying about.


2. Make plans for a yoga or meditation class.

Especially if your friend doesn’t want to talk and just needs to relax, invite them to come with you to a restorative yoga or meditation class, or go through your own flow at home for some immediate relaxation and peace. Grab your mat and find your own relaxation while your friend finds hers in Savasana.


3. Send a care package.

The oldest way to let someone know you’re thinking of them is still one of the best. Gather all their favorite snack foods, a book or two, some self-care indulgences like a face mask or body scrub, and send it their way.


Source: Elanaloo


4. Get them onto natural, homeopathic stress relievers.

Since stressful times are when we often resort to an extra glass of wine or sleeping pill to take the edge off, offer a healthier alternative that might actually help fix the problem, rather than masking it (like alcohol or sleeping aids do). Make some stress-relieving adaptogen lattes together or give her Calm (aka nature’s Xanax — no, really).


5. Make them laugh.

You’ve heard “laughter is the best medicine,” haven’t you? Cliché it may be, but it’s certainly accurate. Even scientifically, laughter releases endorphins into the brain, reducing stress and increasing happiness. Tell them a funny story, watch Bridesmaids for your next movie night, queue up your favorite funny Netflix show, or send them funny pictures from LOL moments you’ve shared together. They’ll be laughing so hard they might even totally forget what they were stressed about in the first place.


6. Take them on a breakfast date.

After-work drinks might be your social schedule’s go-to, but when your friend’s going through a hard time or is extra stressed, a breakfast hangout could make all the difference in their day. For one, it starts the day off right, and gets them into a happier mindset than going through their usual morning routine would. Also, spending time together in the morning won’t hinder their goals to get to bed early or feel organized with their next day like something in the evenings might. Grab coffee before work or a delicious and healthy brunch on the weekend.


Source: @laurengores


7. Go outside.

Nature acts as a huge stress-reliever. It might be all the fresh air, or that taking a break from staring at screens feels refreshing, but either way, being outside is one of the best things you can do to reduce stress and anxiety. Suggest a hike, walk around the block, or even a bike ride instead of your usual drinks or coffee date.


8. Help out at their home.

Chores like grocery shopping, cooking, or laundry can feel totally overwhelming when you’re going through a stressful time. Surprise them by bringing over dinner one night, send them some groceries through Instacart, or offer to come over and help out with any laundry or quick cleaning that makes a big difference to take one less thing off their plate.


Source: Sad Matters


9. Schedule a self-care day

Plan a spa day for them by going to the nail salon for manis and pedis, booking a couple’s massage (it’s cheaper than two separate massages, and it’s not weird if you’re friends, right!?), spending 30 minutes in your local gym’s sauna, or DIY-ing face masks in bath robes at home. Making them feel pampered with self-care will help them relax, and having a fun time with you will get their mind off of her stress.


10. Be a good influence.

Think about what your friend actually needs, and then act accordingly. Don’t ask them to go out if they need to get more sleep and drink less, or don’t encourage them to skip work again if you know that confronting their boss will help alleviate their stress. If they’re doing something you know is bad for them, let them know. It might be easy to always be the agreeable friend who supports everything. But even more than support, they need someone to help bring out the best of them, instead of let them keep tapping into the worst.


11. Consult a professional.

If it feels like a bigger problem than your support can solve or a bad time that your friend just cannot do alone, research psychologists or life coaches in your area and offer to go together. If you’re worried your friend would take it the wrong way, say “I’ve been wanting to go to this great life coach I found to help with my stress at work. Will you come with me?” It’s a non-judgmental way to get your friend to seek outside help that they might not have otherwise.


Source: The Zoe Report




There’s no better way to show support than to listen and ask questions. It might seem like offering your experience or telling your friend how to fix a problem is what they need. But oftentimes, talking about what you think about a situation they’re going through can come off as judgmental, condescending, or just plain unhelpful, even if you don’t mean to be. Instead, ask them to tell you how they’re doing, and actually listen. Ask follow-up questions instead of giving opinions, or, if you’re unsure what to say, asking what can I do to support you? is a great way to let your friend know you want to be there, and will let you know exactly what they need.


How have you helped a friend going through a hard time?

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Helping a friend with stress | Helping friends

Got a mate who’s always stressed out? Sometimes people aren’t coping and they need a friend to step in and help them out. Learn about some of the common causes of stress, figure out whether you should step in if someone is showing signs of stress, and get some tips on how to help them or how to recognise when there’s something else going on.

What are some common causes of stress?

Stress is a natural response to challenging situations, and it can be helpful in small doses. It can energise you and make you feel more switched on and able to deal with tricky situations. However, too much stress over a long period of time can be hard to deal with.

Some of the more common things that tend to stress people out are:

  • relationship issues, including family, friends, boyfriends or girlfriends
  • deadlines, whether school, work or uni
  • living in a difficult circumstance with family or flatmates
  • financial stress (especially if you live out of home)
  • unrealistic expectations of yourself or others
  • taking on too much at one time.

When you should step in

Stress impacts everyone at some point or other. If a mate seems constantly stressed out and rarely, if ever, appears to be on top of things or in control, it’s probably a sign that they need support from a friend. You might find that they’re:

  • having trouble concentrating
  • not enjoying the things they usually enjoy
  • having trouble sleeping or eating
  • finding it really hard to switch off.

How to help someone with stress

First up, let them know that you’ve noticed how stressed they are, and that you’re worried that they’re not coping very well. Maybe they just need to vent, and knowing that they can talk about things with you might help. Talking stuff through may help them figure out what’s bothering them. Here are some suggestions you could make.

Make things more manageable

Try a bit of problem solving. Work with them to figure out what’s stressing them, break it down into small steps that will be easier to get through, and try to figure out some ways to stay motivated.

Schedule time out

It’s they’re super stressed out they might not be taking any time out for themselves. They’ll probably benefit from thinking about ways to relax.

Use positive coping strategies

Without even knowing it, people often adopt unproductive coping strategies, such as wishful thinking, self-blaming, excessive worrying, ignoring the problem, and keeping things to themselves. On the other hand, positive coping includes things like:

  • making immediate and short-term goal lists
  • focusing on the positives
  • seeking help to get things done
  • improving relationships and friendships
  • physical activity or exercise
  • positive coping strategies.

Tone down the stress factors

Sometimes people are just totally overloaded with work and activities. In these situations, it may be worth brainstorming what things they really have to do, and what things they can forget about or postpone.

When they need more than you can offer

If nothing’s working, maybe there’s something else going on. It could be that they’re just an easily stressed person, or there might be something more serious at work.

Getting help If you think the problem is bigger than you both can handle, it may be worth seeking help from a parent or a teacher. Sometimes just talking to an experienced adult or a health professional (such as a counsellor or your GP) can make all the difference. If you don’t know anyone around you who would be suitable, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

What can I do now?

  • Ask a friend if they’re okay.
  • Recommend the ReachOut NextStep tool, which provides personalised support
    options for stress.

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It's not always easy to find the right place to start. Our 'What's on your mind?' tool can help you explore what's right for you.

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"Shut up, sadness": how to help cope with stress

"Shut up, sadness": how to help cope with stress | Big Ideas Emotional intelligence
Article published in Harvard Business Review Russia
Holly Wicks

Recently I got a fair amount of stress and couldn't sleep. I had to tell a rather unpleasant colleague, besides a senior rank, what he did not want to hear from me at all, and I was always afraid of his loud and angry remarks. My friend listened to my complaints, nodded slightly and replied: “Well, yes, I am often yelled at for less.” His words and calm manner helped me change my point of view on the upcoming conversation, returned a sense of normalcy. This conversation no longer seemed like the end of the world to me (that's what it seems to be in a state of stress). I remembered that unpleasant things happen to all of us, and yes, they are unpleasant, but life does not end there.

I don't know a single person who would benefit from "don't worry" advice. It is much better to show the interlocutor that this difficult situation for him can be approached from a different point of view. Some types of help may be easier and more effective than others, so if you decide to support a person, first remember that you do not need to say .

Avoid cliches and platitudes. Cliches and platitudes do not inspire a stressed person, but exacerbate his condition, because they have no content. Stress is not the same as laziness or lack of motivation, so don't say, "When you're having a hard time, grit your teeth and work" or "Come on, do it!".

Do not pull the blanket over. If you undertake to help, try not to reduce the whole conversation to your loved one, do not turn the interlocutor and his problems into something insignificant. The story of how you failed at the conference will have to wait until another time. And never say: “Are you doing something bad? Here I am…”

Don't downplay the problem. We dismiss other people's problems because we feel uncomfortable. By this we do not help at all, and we ourselves look insignificant. “Don't worry”, “It's nothing”, “You're exaggerating”, “It doesn't matter - it will pass” - all these phrases do not need to be said.

Do not read morality. If you talk down, then again, you will not help in any way, moreover, you will only make the interlocutor even more irritable. Suppress your desire to be boring in the spirit of “But if you managed your time correctly…”

No need for lengthy condolences. Briefly expressing regret will help your colleague talk. But empathy alone doesn't help. If you sit down next to him and begin to mourn his ill-fated fate, things will never get off the ground.

Stress affects us mentally, physically, psychologically and emotionally. Dealing with all these levels of stress is difficult, don't take on too much. Choose what you can, help a colleague to the extent that you are ready to help. Remember that you are not obligated to completely relieve a person of stress, you are just trying to alleviate his condition at the moment. Try this.

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How to help a loved one survive stress?

How to help a loved one cope with stress?

Stress is a state of emotional and physical tension that occurs as a reaction to any event (positive or negative) that is difficult or impossible for a person to cope with. In the view of many, stress is an enemy that it is desirable to get rid of forever. It is wrong to consider stress only in a negative way, because short-term stressful situations help a person to activate his strength, strengthen his nervous system, and find new ways to solve difficulties. But it should be understood that in the presence of constant anxiety, the human body spends too many resources and is quickly depleted. Chronic and acute stressful situations negatively affect not only psychological mechanisms, but also the whole organism as a whole, leading to a number of problems.

The causes of stress are diverse and individual, because each person reacts differently to the same events. A stressful state can be caused by the loss of loved ones (death, divorce), job loss, catastrophe, sudden social, political or economic changes, serious illness, violence - any event for which a person was not ready and which undermines the foundations of his usual life.

Sometimes a person himself does not understand what is happening to him, cannot adequately assess his condition. And then relatives should come to his aid. First of all, you should pay attention to any drastic changes in the behavior and emotional state of a person: depression, lethargy, fatigue, unwillingness to communicate and do the usual things, or vice versa, excessive aggressiveness, irritability and dissatisfaction with what is happening. Complaints of sleep and appetite disorders, headaches, tremors, excessive sweating, problems with memory and concentration, and decreased productivity can give out a stressful state. A person who has experienced a traumatic event may be haunted by recurring unwanted memories and dreams about it, the fear of a repetition of the situation. Signs of a stressful state can also be attacks of fear and panic, inability to relax or be distracted, constant tension, frequent desire to cry, distrust of oneself and others around.

Often help a person survive stress, even a non-professional. What can loved ones do? The first task is just to be there. No need to obsessively offer your help or advise to speak out. It is important to make it clear that a person is not alone, and next to him there will always be relatives, ready to listen and support. It is necessary to encourage the expression of feelings and emotions, avoid platitudes and show that any experiences and reactions of a person to stress are normal. In some cases, relatives can help reduce exposure to stress (for example, by limiting information about the traumatic event). If necessary, close people can temporarily remove part of the load from a person (for example, help with household chores) in order to free up time for relaxation, analysis of the situation and recovery. Sometimes it's helpful to share your own thoughts and feelings about what's going on, but don't pull the blanket over yourself, downplay the problem, or try to teach you how to behave. The main allies in helping are closeness, openness and support. And of course, do not forget that before helping others, it is important to assess your own condition, to make sure that there are enough resources and strength for this.

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