How to make your friends feel better
How to Cheer Someone Up: 51 Ways to Make a Friend Smile
Here's exactly how to make someone feel better.
By Mckenzie Terry
When your bestie is down in the dumps, all you want to do is lift their spirits. We've got tons of ideas for how to cheer someone up, no matter the situation, with tips from doctors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, life coaches and more! There's no one-size-fits-all solution. If your pal is stressed about finals, you might take one approach, while you'd go a totally different route if they're upset over a breakup. There are obviously some tried and true methods (ice cream is a pretty universal pick-me-up), but because you might need to dig deep in your well of ideas to get your friend happy again, we're here to help. Yeah, some of the ideas here might be cheesy or feel silly, but didn't you say you'd do anything to lift your pal up? There is sure to be something on this list that can turn any frown upside down.
1. Ask Them If TheyWant Help
First off, find out if the person you’re trying to cheer up actually wants your help! Dr. Susan Edelman, who has spent 30 years as a practicing therapist in Palo Alto, California specializing in women’s issues, says, “it's important to get someone's permission to cheer them up. Otherwise it might feel to them like you're uncomfortable with how they feel and just want to make it go away. That isn't as likely to work to cheer them up.”
2. Simply Be There for Them
To get over breakups, a death in the family, or other serious incidents, people need time. "The best thing you can do to help them heal is to be there. Connect with them, give your time and energy without expecting anything in return. Patience is a virtue when it comes to grief," says Kelly Morrow-Baez, a licensed professional counselor.
3. Take On a Creative Project Together
Whether you plan some elaborate project on Pinterest, or you grab some paint to sling at a piece of cardboard Pollock-style, doing something artistic (collages, painting, drawing, making music, etc.) could help get your friend smiling again.
4. Leave Your Friend a Handwritten Note
Notes are always a great way to let that friend, who maybe gets a little uncomfortable when it comes to the emotional stuff, know you still care. “It makes people feel thought of and you can provide words of affirmation. Alternatively, you could give them words or mantras to cheer them up and replace their automatic negative thought,” says Chicago-based psychotherapist Kelley Kitley. Write something cute, fold it up, and slip it somewhere not-so-obvious for them to find later.
5. Swing the Blues Away
Even if you’re not lucky enough to live by this terrifying/ridiculous swingset at the end of the world, chances are you still have a pretty awesome playground somewhere close by. “Swinging is a great form of exercise,” says Dr. Nesochi Igbokwe, a physician and health writer based in New York City. “There are many added benefits to routine physical activity and exercise such as increased energy levels and improved mood. Endorphins released when you exercise may help combat feelings of depression.”
6. Go Get Some Ice Cream
Ice cream can always brighten someone’s day. Seriously, maybe a double scoop of rocky road is all they need. Or mint chip. Or chocolate brownie. Or butter pecan. (Now we want ice cream!)
7. Do Whatever They Want to Do
"Taking out at least an hour or two every week for an activity you enjoy can help you relax and de-stress. Coping mechanisms to deal with life stressors are crucial since chronic stress may make one susceptible to depression," says Dr. Igbokwe. Help your friend feel better by taking the time to do something they like to do, even if it’s playing video games.
8. Volunteer Together
"Research indicates that volunteering for others can build self-esteem. If your friend needs cheering up, volunteering for others can be both rewarding as well as a positive distraction from their emotional distress," says Denise Limongello, a New York State-licensed master social worker. Your school probably has several opportunities for students looking to volunteer—just check with the guidance office.
9. Give Lots of Positive Reinforcement
"Science has shown that for every negative thought, we need three positive ones to counteract the negative one. That means negativity impacts us more than positivity, it sidelines us and makes us unhappy," says Dr. Erin Stair, a physician and health consultant who runs Blooming Wellness in New York. It might not have been you who put those negative thoughts into your friend's head, but you can totally help negate them — three positive statements at a time!
10. Bake Together
"Baking has been found to have a therapeutic effect which eases depression and anxiety. Because the act of measuring, mixing and paying attention to a recipe often takes your whole attention, you actually create 'peace' in your mind, which pushes away many negative thoughts and emotions. The delicious smells also produce happy feelings and if calories are of any concern, share them with a friend or donate them to a charity or local firehouse," says family coach Erica McCurdy.
11. Take a Tech Break
Psychotherapist and life coach Dr. Kelley Watts suggests you get them out of their bedroom and off electronics. "It can get more difficult to motivate [them] if [they] hole up in a cave in [their] pajamas binge watching Netflix."
12. Spend Quality Time Together
Turn off the TV, put your phone on silent, and just focus on being present and ready to listen. "Conversation will most likely take place, as well as just the enjoyment that comes out of receiving focused, quality time with someone that we care about. Anything that will enhance someone’s self-image and bring them out of their circling thoughts are all effective coping strategies within the world of mental health," says family therapist Crystal Rodenbaugh, who owns Tenfold Counseling in Kansas City.
13. Practice Compassion Meditation
Compassion meditation is something typically done alone, but everything is always more fun with a friend! Help your friend think of someone who has caused them harm and then “work on sending them good wishes, thoughts and vibes,” says Dr. Stair. "Wish them good health, good fortune, etc., and even forgive those who have mistreated you. There is a lot of power and positiveness in forgiveness."
14. Offer Them Flowers
Go to the florist, raid your dad’s garden, "borrow" from a park, or get your origami on, and make your friend a bouquet. If you want to step your game up, you could even send them a secret message with the flowers you choose.
15. Practice Yoga Together
Whether you guys sign up for a class or find a tutorial on YouTube, yoga is a great way to find your way back to happiness.
"Yoga carries a multitude of benefits for mental health. In addition to helping individuals get outside of their comfort zone in a safe, therapeutic way, yoga also lowers physiological arousal in the body — things like heart rate, respiration and cortisol production are all decreased through practicing yoga. By lowering these physical stress markers, yoga helps to decrease anxiety while simultaneously stimulating serotonin production. So the benefit is twofold, helping to relieve stress and boost positive emotions at the same time," says Mike Joly, executive director of Clear Recovery Center.
16. Play a Prank on Them
Sometimes laughter is the best medicine. A quick search for pranks on Pinterest will help you find some really clever pranks, including dipping cheese puff balls in chocolate and then passing them off as Whoppers ... drawing a spider on toilet paper ... etc. Just make sure they'll find whatever you choose funny (the goal is go get them to laugh, not just you!).
17. Remind Them to Take a (Mindful) Breath
“Meditation is proven to be very effective in helping to reduce stress. There are cool apps like Stop, Breathe, and Think that make meditation fun and easy to do," says Dr. Jackie Kibler, a mental health expert based in in Kansas City.
18. Skip (Yes, That's Right, Skip)
Find your yellow brick road and get a move on. "Exercise is a fun way to build endorphins, increase oxygen, get you moving and distract you from a bad mood. You can do whatever exercise you want, but if you want to be extra silly, try skipping. It's extremely hard to stay glum while you skip,” says Dr. Stair.
19. Tag Them in a Million Funny Instagram Posts
Sometimes being annoying can be endearing, too. If it gives them a smile, it'll be worth it. Find all the silly videos of babies dancing, clumsy moments, and dogs being dogs. Tag them in any and every thing that might give them a laugh.
20. Do Something Outside
"Nature therapy is a big thing for improving mood," says Dr. Stair. "Science has shown that just being in nature (or even just looking at photos of nature) naturally improves one's mood." So, whether you’re in the middle of a metropolis, or you're lucky enough to live a stone’s throw from a national park, find something to do outside. Even if it’s just 15 minutes of fresh air outside, it can really boost your friend or loved one’s spirit.
21. Find (or Fake) Some Luck
Maybe all your friend needs is a little extra confidence. Maybe scouring the street for a lucky penny, or combing through a field to find a four-leaf clover is the antidote to their doldrums. Maybe they don’t find one so you surreptitiously drop a penny of your own and let them pick it up, 'cause you read Harry Potter and remember the ole’ Felix Felicis switcheroo that worked on Ron.
22. Encourage Them to Talk It Out
Talking is one of the most effective ways to cheer someone up. Encourage your friend to share their feelings! "Teenagers (especially girls) often say that when they are stressed that they want someone to talk to about things. Be there for them, listen to them. If they aren’t interested in talking, invite them to do an activity with you and more than likely, they will start talking," says Kibler.
23. Choreograph a Dance to Their Favorite Song
Want a fun activity that's sure to take anyone's mind of their woes? Make up a dance to your friend's favorite song, or try to copy the existing choreography.
24. Cook Them a Meal
"Cooking and eating with family and friends promotes bonding and studies show, also, overall happiness," says Danielle Hamo, a registered dietician and licensed nutritionist. If you can, go for a healthy meal full of nutrients to help nourish your friend.
"When most people are down, the low energy that impacts their body has them reaching for quick energy. This often equals lots of sugar and junk food," says Dr. Watts. Why not try a roast chicken? It’s way easier than it sounds, and you both will feel a great sense of accomplishment when that gorgeous golden bird comes out of the oven. Add brown rice and farm-fresh veggies to the mix and you'll have one satisfying and healthy meal!
25. Do a Random Act of Kindness Together
"Do a random act of kindness together — oftentimes when we do things for other people, we are the ones that benefit. Go out and do things, even small things (e.g., opening a door for someone, paying for someone’s drink at a restaurant, smiling and saying 'good morning' to a stranger, etc. ), for others and see how your day changes," says Kibler.
26. Visualize the Future
Helping people think about how they’re a product of their past, present and the future, with a special emphasis on the future, can help you see where they’re going."
If your pal is particularly upset about a recent test score, remind him that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not going to keep him from getting that yacht in Ibiza he always dreamed about.
27. Build a Fort
This is pretty much a no-brainer — everybody loves a good fort. It'll make you feel like a kid again!
28. Help Your Friend Embrace Her Inner Light
Life coach Joan Marie Whelan believes that everyone has hidden untapped potential. "Girls are incredibly intuitive and it seems like sometimes they’re almost afraid of their own intuition, when they finally feel and embrace that light inside of them, they’re unstoppable." She urges young women to grab a friend and practice embracing their inner light together: "Look in the mirror and just smile, take three deep breaths from your core, and feel your heart expanding with a waterfall of love for your own body, nourishing your body, and see that and say to yourself ‘I am a rockstar. '"
29. Smash Some Plates
Some people just need to find a way to get out their aggression, right? Well, now there is a way. "They have some places now where you can actually pay to break plates as a stress reliever! Date nights, friend parties, and the like are welcomed to indulge which indicates that plate breaking anger expression has become a popular way to encourage stress release — when done in a safe, nonviolent, and controlled setting of course!" says Dr. Eliza Belle, the director of psychology and behavior service for Alabama’s Department of Mental Health.
30. Make Them Laugh
Make them laugh! "You know your friend best, so use this knowledge and experience to tailor your approach to their sense of humor," says Dr. Watts. "Remember, they might be a tough audience at first, but once you crack the shell it might be the best giggle either of you has had in a long time. This might mean loading them up in your car to drive around listening to their favorite music doing some soul soothing car dancing, watching a film that you know makes them laugh until they almost wet themselves, telling stories about funny memories you share or, for the more dark humored pals, devising a plan to play a prank on a mutual friend. "
31. Try New Things Together
"Staying active in general can help stave off depression, as you are more likely to engage with friends and have more social networks the more active you are. As a friend, a good cheer up method would be to invite the person to join you in a dance class, rock climbing wall, or anything they may have mentioned before that they wanted to try out but never have," says Dr. Belle.
32. Challenge Your Friend to a Noodle Fight
Grab some pool noodles and have at it. Try to avoid getting hit by dodging, ducking, weaving, and any other means necessary. Remember — the more endorphins you release, and the happier you BOTH will be. (This is one of our favorite things to cheer someone up with!)
33. Help Your Friend Eat Well and Get Some Rest
"When people are going through a tough time, they don’t have much of an appetite, and get less sleep. All this can cause irritability, depression, and make you more prone to anxiety, so anything that is good for your physical body is typically great for enhancing mental health," says Marissa Nelson, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Washington, D. C. Help balance out your buddy’s mental and physical health by grabbing some smoothies, making a huge salad of leafy greens, or even telling them to make time for a nap.
34. Give Them a Cute Nickname
Come up with a nickname. The more ludicrous it is the better. It’s not only a great way to get them laughing right now, but it will be your secret weapon to getting them chuckling in the future, too.
35. Make Friendship Bracelets
This throwback activity is sure to bring a smile to your friend's face while they're making it and whenever they look at it. Here are 15 easy patterns to start.
36. Exercise (Anyway You Want!)
"Studies show just one in four teen girls get enough exercise. Scientists estimate that every 60 seconds of exercise adds a whopping seven minutes to our total lifespan," says Joshua Duvauchelle, a health writer and certified personal trainer based in British Columbia. There is a lot of information out there on how exercise makes us happier but Duvauchelle says that the "anti-stress, mood-boosting effects kick in after just the first five minutes of exercise. " So, get up and shake something!
37. Go On a Text Scavenger Hunt
Licensed clinical psychologist Stephanie King suggests taking your friend on a text scavenger hunt, "send a list of things they have to spot throughout their day. Make sure they are doable but also fun and playful. For example, have them find a pair of yellow shoes, a palm tree, a car older than you." They can send you back pics as they find each thing.
Dr. King says that it’s a "great way to get someone out of a funk and offer up a healthy challenge. A completed challenge will help people feel uplifted, hopeful and capable. This is the idea behind reciprocal inhibition: Two incongruent feelings cannot happen at the same time, so the stronger feeling, i.e. accomplishment, beats out the anxiety."
38. Share Your Perspective on Whatever's Going On
Sometimes, all a friend needs is for you to tell them how you see it, in a kind and gentle manner. It can be hard to see the forest through the trees, so sharing your point of view could help your pal shift their mood.
39. Play Dress Up
Get dolled up. Whether it’s in costumes, your mom’s clothes from the '80s, or some cute outfits you bought especially for the occasion, you’re not allowed to be glum in heels and a smoky eye. You're just not.
40. Braid Their Hair
You can do it up in a fancy French braid, or just give them some flower child side braid. Maybe you’re a straight boss who knows how to work a fishtail braid. Regardless, braiding someone’s hair is a great way to show you care (and it feels AMAZING.)
41. Plan a Sleepover
You've probably been doing this for years, but grab some rom-coms, pizza, magazines, and ingredients to bake some cookies, and your night is guaranteed to be fun.
42. Compliment Them
"Reflect to them the positive things that you love about them. Even if they aren't able to take the compliment gracefully at this time, it will matter that someone sees the good in them. Follow up with messages reminding them that you care and have their back. If you can get them to identify the positive elements of their life, then you will be on the road to success," suggests Dr. Watts.
43. Practice Saying Empowerment Statements
Joan Marie believes that young people need to give each other empowerment statements more frequently. "Friends need to say ‘what do you need to hear from me right now, do you need to feel pretty, smart, confident?’ It’s like a B-12 shot — a power boost."
44. Have a Smiling Contest
Tell each other jokes, make funny noises, do your best impression, etc — the only catch is you have to keep your face as straight as possible, the first person to crack a smile, loses. Or, try out a compliment battle.
45. Run Errands Together
"Studies show that people report difficulty with daily responsibilities when depressed or anxious. Many individuals often report having trouble asking for help when depressed. Making the decision to surprise your friend with a favor can be a great way to provide help without your friend having to make the effort to ask," says Denise.
46. Go On a Walking Tour of Your Town
Download one of these audio tours to your phone, lace up your tennis shoes and grab your friend. It’ll get those endorphins flowing, plus, you might be surprised by how cool your hometown is. If you can’t find an audio tour, make your own! There’s an app for that.
47. Netflix and Chill
Another idea for how to cheer someone up? Watch movies together! This is especially a good idea if your friend doesn't feel like talking just yet. You can lend support just by sharing your presence. Grab some popcorn and watch one of the best feel-good movies on Netflix.
48. Practice Gratitude
Identifying and focusing on the good things in your life can do wonders for lifting your spirits. Help your friend channel her energy and attention into those things. Together, you can each make a list of all things you're grateful for.
49. Help Your Friend Clean Their Car or Room
Being surrounded by a mess doesn't do much for your mental state. Having a tidy space can help you feel more in control and calm. Offering to help your friend straighten up their room or car shows you care and gives you something productive to do together. Plus, later, when they're on their own, they can relax in a clutter-free, peaceful space.
50. Have a DIY Spa Day
Invite your friend over for an afternoon of self-care. Gather up face masks, nail polishes, and whatever else you need to create your own relaxing spa sesh at home. Sure, the pampering will be great, but the quality time you'll spend together will be even better — and just what your friend might need to start smiling again.
51. Know When to Call in Reinforcements
"Understand that if a friend goes through a dark period that lasts longer than a few weeks without having at least some good days or indicates a desire to hurt themselves, this is the time to call in a parent or trusted adult to make sure your friend gets professional help if necessary. Counseling can be incredibly effective in helping someone understand their emotions and how to cope with them. If the friend is genuinely depressed, it likely is beyond your ability to help them out of it no matter how much you try. They will be lucky to have a friend like you alerting their parents or another adult about their difficulties so that they can begin their treatment and recovery," says Dr. Watts.
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71 Ways To Comfort Someone, Cheer Them Up & Make Them Feel Better
It’s never easy seeing someone crying or grieving, let alone someone you love.
Most of us find ourselves tongue-tied for words for a good reason as interacting with someone who’s sad and hurting can be awkward.
You want to be there for them and show your empathy, but it is hard to know how to act and what to say.
A lot of us end up sitting there uncomfortably, offering some awkward back pats, while saying, “It’s okay.”
Why is it that we know how to celebrate someone’s joy but have no clue what to do when they’re hurting?
If you can relate to the situation of not knowing what to do when someone close breaks into tears, this article is for you.
IN THIS ARTICLE
The best way to comfort someone
Best way to cheer up someone and make them feel better
But, before I share with you the best 71 ways to comfort someone, cheer them up and make them feel better, we have to be clear on our goals.
The prime goal of comforting is to ease someone’s burden and suffering.
How do You Comfort Someone?
There are many tips online on how to provide emotional support and comfort to someone.
However, it is critical to note that not all comfort is similar for everyone.
What might work for you might not work for your partner.
McKay and McKay (2019) describe some of the best steps one can take to comfort someone. For example:
You can comfort someone by letting them know that you care or love them.
Another right way to comfort someone going through emotional pain is to help them understand their emotions (McKinzey, 2021). Only then you can cheer them up, and make them feel better.
Remember, words are powerful tools. If used correctly, words can effectively comfort and ease someone’s pain.
Dr. Sue Johnson, a clinical psychologist and arguably one of the best relationship experts in the world, has some excellent tips in her latest book:
Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
BUY ON AMAZON
For those of you with little time to read, I’ve summarised this article into 2 parts:
- How to Comfort Someone (10 Tips)
- How to Cheer Someone Up & Make Them Feel Better (61 Tips)
Best 10 Ways To Comfort Someone1.
Acknowledge Their Feelings
“I hear you…It seems like you’re upset because…I know that this is a hard time for you… I know that you’re hurting…”
To start comforting someone, acknowledge and describe what you see, hear, and feel.
By witnessing and affirming what you see and rephrasing what they say, you help them know that you are on the same page and are not misinterpreting their situation.2.
Repeat Their Feelings
“Of course you’re upset; I was also upset when … happened to me.”
Affirm their feelings using the same emotion-infused word they use (e.g., disappointed, heartbroken, etc.).
Sometimes, past personal experiences allow us to show that we can relate.
Be careful not to change the conversation’s focus to you, but rather, share to show that you empathize.
Avoid comparing your experience with theirs, but focus on the other person’s story.3.
Draw Their Emotions Out
“Tell me what happened… How did that make you feel?”
More often than not, people just want to be heard.
By asking them how something made them feel, you’ll elicit a response from them.
It is not about what they felt, but it’s how they felt so you can gain deeper meanings of their world.
By asking someone “how” instead of “what”, you avoid being caught in one-word replies.
Avoid asking ‘why’ questions, as they might come across as being critical, rather than encourage the other person to understand their suffering better.4.
Don’t Minimize Their Pain
Don’t focus only on cheering them up.
People find it hard to focus on the future when they’re in pain in the present time.5.
Be There For Them, Right At That Moment
When they burst into tears, if you react with: “Don’t cry…”, “you’ll feel better”, or “cheer up”, it’ll come across as trying to trivialize what they are feeling.
Instead, be a good listener, and let them talk!6.
Offer Physical Affection, When Appropriate
If they don’t want to talk, they might not be ready to share.
In that case, and only if appropriate, give him/her a hug.
Physical affection should match the level of love you show regularly.
If you’ve never hugged this person, then perhaps a hand on their shoulder would suffice.
But if the person is your partner, a hug or a snuggle would be more appropriate.7.
Express Your Support
Let your friend know that you care and that you’re sorry for what they’re going through is very important.
Even if they feel better after talking to you, keep reaffirming your support and let them know that you are there for them.8.
Tell Them They’re Special
We all feel good knowing we are that special person to someone. Let your friend know how much they mean to you.
Nothing is better than a handwritten note, so write down how thankful you are to have a friend like him/her in your life.9.
Give Positive Reinforcement
Science has shown that we need three positive ones for every negative thought to counteract the negative one.
“Negativity impacts us more than positivity. It sidelines us and makes us unhappy,”
says Dr. Erin Stair, a physician and health consultant who runs Blooming Wellness in New York.
It might not have been you who put those negative thoughts into your friend’s head, but they can negate them with three positive statements at a time!10.
Keep Things Simple
Remember, most people would not share easily, even if they need some help.
However, you should at least try by asking if they want to talk.
This question alone will relieve that person’s feelings quite a lot.
Best 61 Ways To Cheer Up Someone
And, Make Them Feel Better1.
Surprise Them With A Nice Dinner
“Cooking and eating with family and friends promotes bonding and studies show, also, overall happiness,” says Danielle Hamo, a registered dietician and licensed nutritionist.
If you can, go for a healthy meal full of nutrients to help nourish your friend – with foods that relieve stress.
“When people are down, low energy impacts their body and has them reaching for backup. But, this often equals to lots of sugar and junk food,” adds Dr. Watts.
Why not try a roast chicken? It’s way easier than it sounds, and you both will feel a great sense of accomplishment when that gorgeous golden bird comes out of the oven.
Add brown rice and farm-fresh veggies to the mix, and you’ll have one satisfying and healthy meal!
Or, make them a homemade stir-fry curry dish with a dash of turmeric.
Turmeric and the fiber from vegetables, often found in those dishes, regulate serotonin.
Fish have healthy Omega-3s, and animal proteins are high in tryptophan, which triggers serotonin production.
Plus, there is a bonus to sharing food with another person; it gives them a chance to relax and perhaps more comfortably share their problem.
Having a good dinner can be calming, soothing, and relaxing and help get the person’s mind off their troubles.2.
Start An Interesting Project Together
Starting an exciting project is the best way to keep their mind connected to something productive.
This would heal that person within and would also help to lift their mood.
You can do many things together, but doing something that the person loves would help the most.3.
Organize A Movie Night
Watching a movie alone isn’t always as entertaining as watching with a friend.
Make some popcorn, gather some favorite snacks and share a movie that’s going to tickle the funny bone.
Find something on Netflix or Amazon Prime (light-hearted comedies are the right choice), and watch it together.
If tears are in order, grab a box of tissue and find a sad story.
Sometimes, tears can be as cathartic as laughter.
Or, choose a movie that is the right mix of comedy and drama.
Either way, a movie is an excellent way to help someone troubled take their mind off of the problem for a while.4.
Take Them For A Swing Ride
It might sound weird, but this trick always works if your friend is feeling low.
Make them take a seat on the swing and swing them away.
Then watch all the stress go away; it works wonders all the time.5.
Organize An Ice Cream Date
There is nothing that ice cream cannot solve.
It would be great if you know about your friend’s favorite flavor of ice cream so that you can grab especially that for them.6.
Do What They Want to Do
Take out at least an hour every week for an activity they enjoy a lot.
“Coping mechanisms that deal with life stressors are crucial since chronic stress leads to depression,” says Dr. Igbokwe.
Help your friend feel better by taking the time to do something they like to do, even if it’s playing video games.7.
Arrange a Spa Day
A spa day can be a real treat for you both, and above all, it is not that expensive.
Treat a friend or loved one and yourself to a Spa and “stop the rat race” for a day.
Relax, unwind, talk, and just enjoy one another’s company.
Another unique way to elevate a spa day is with Tucson IV treatments at home.
Many IV formulas are designed to naturally elevate your mood and leave you feeling refreshed.
Combined with a spa day treatment, your friend is sure to feel pampered and cared for.
You’ll both feel relaxed, refreshed, and simply pampered.
A spa day is just a great way to hit the ground running again.
However, if money is an issue, invite your friend over for an afternoon of self-care.
Gather up face masks, nail polishes, and whatever else you need to create your relaxing spa sesh at home.
Sure, the pampering will be great, but the quality time you’ll spend together will be even better — and just what your friend might need to start smiling again.8.
Research shows that volunteering builds confidence and self-esteem.
If your friend needs cheering up, volunteering for others can be both rewarding as well as a positive distraction from their emotional distress,” says Helen D’Angelo, a Lost Angeles-licensed chief social worker.
Go volunteer together at a local charity.
Find something that helps them connect with others that are going through worse times than them.
Volunteer to serve food at a soup kitchen or work with senior citizens.
Check online; there are several opportunities for people looking to volunteer and help others, in your country or abroad.9.
Baking has a therapeutic effect that eases depression and anxiety.
That is because the act of measuring, mixing, and paying attention to a recipe requires full attention.
Indirectly, they’ll create ‘peace’ in their mind and push away any negative thoughts and emotions.
The delicious smells of baked goodies also produce happy feelings.
But, if calories are of concern, share what you’ve baked with other close friends, or donate them to a charity or local firehouse.10.
Take a Tech Detox
Get them out of their bedroom and off electronics for a day.
It can get more challenging to motivate them if they hole up in a cave in their pajamas, binge-watching Netflix, or obsessively checking on Instagram.11.
Send Them a Cute Animal Pic
There’s nothing more satisfying than looking at cute and funny animal pictures.
Make someone’s day by sending a random text with a photo that will put a smile on their face.
Bonus: while searching for that one perfect pic to send to your friend, you can look at as many as you want!12.
Arrange a Group Game Night
It’s tough to cheer someone up when you’re limited to the virtual world.
Fortunately, some classic feel-good activities can take place online.
Round up a crew for a game night of classics such as Monopoly, Bingo, Trivia, and play with your friends via a zoom call.13.
Organize a meditation day with your friend and surprise them by asking them to think of someone who has caused them harm.
Then with their closed eyes, ask them to start sending them good wishes, thoughts, and vibes.
“Wish them good health, good fortune, etc., and even forgive those who have mistreated you. There is a lot of power and positiveness in forgiveness,” says Dr. Stair.
“If you don’t know how to meditate, there are lots of apps that make meditation fun and easy to do,” completes Dr. Jackie Kibler, a Psychiatry health expert from Kansas City.
Offer Them Flowers
Go to the florist, raid your dad’s garden, “borrow” from a park and make your friend a lovely bouquet of flowers.
If you want to step your game up, you could even send them an original bouquet of origami flowers!15.
Practice Yoga Together
Yoga carries a multitude of benefits for mental health.
Whether you guys sign up for a class or find a tutorial on YouTube, yoga is a great way to find your way back to happiness.
In addition to helping individuals get outside of their comfort zone safely, therapeutic way, yoga also lowers physiological arousal in the body.
Things like heart rate, respiration, and cortisol production are decreased through practicing yoga.
By lowering these physical stress markers, yoga helps to decrease anxiety while simultaneously stimulating serotonin production.
Thus, the benefit is twofold by relieving stress and boosting positive emotions at the same time.16.
Scare them and make them laugh!
“You know your friend best, so use this knowledge and experience to tailor your approach to their sense of humor,” says Dr. Watts.
They might be a tough audience at first, but once you crack the shell, it might be the best giggle either of you has had in a long time.
A quick search for pranks on Instagram will help you find some genuinely creative jokes.
Here are a few pranks I’ve found in less than a minute:
- Draw a spider on the toilet paper.
- Deep cheese balls in chocolate and present them as authentic sweets.
- Get a friend dress up as a ghost, and appear in the garden while you’re having dinner.
As the goal is to get them to laugh, make sure your friends find your pranks funny as well.17.
Go Car Driving/Dancing
Loading your friend up in your car and drive around listening to their favorite music.
Do some soul-soothing car dancing, or find some laughable videos on Youtube to inspire your little dance party.
Don’t hold back, though; challenge your loved one to bust a move wherever you are!18.
Skip Rope Together
You can do whatever exercise you want, but if you’re going to be extra silly, try skipping.
Exercise is a fun way to build endorphins, increase oxygen, get you moving and distract you from a bad mood.
“It’s hard to stay glum while you skip,” says Dr. Stair so find a rope and get a move on.19.
Tag Them in a Hundred Funny Instagram Posts
Sometimes being annoying can be endearing, too.
If it makes them smile, it is worth it.
Find all the silly videos of babies dancing, awkward moments, crazy cats, and dogs being dogs.
Tag your friend in any post that might give them a good laugh.20.
Send Them A Motivational Text
It is always nice to know someone is rooting for you.
Whether you send a simple “thinking of you – hang in there!” or scour Pinterest for a great quote/graphic combo, a little bit of inspiration will be appreciated.21.
Send A Hand Written Letter/Card
It’s always exciting to receive snail mail!
Make some cards or buy printable ones online (ideally from a small business or Etsy shop).
Write about your favorite memories together, draw a picture, or tell them how much they mean to you.22.
Get Them A Gift Card
Money is tight for most of us right now.
But, if you have some extra cash, pass it on as a gift card for your friend to use as he/she likes.
Get a dinner, pizza, or even a couple of drinks – the local coffee shop may offer pick-up.
Or, a virtual gift card to save for a treat once places reopen.
They’ll feel loved and have a reason to get out of the house, and a small business will benefit too, so everyone wins!
And of you want to go a step further, you can always gift them an anxiety ring!23.
Send A Story Of Kindness
There’s a lot of sad stuff happening right now, and yet, some people are rising to help each other.
If you see a story that gives you hope, share it with your friend and pass that feeling along.24.
Take A Day Trip In Nature
“Nature therapy is a big thing for improving mood,” says Dr. Stair. “Science has shown that just being in nature (or even just looking at photos of nature) naturally improves one’s mood. ”
So, whether you’re in the middle of a metropolis, or you’re lucky enough to live a stone’s throw from a national park, find something to do outside.
Even if it’s just 15 minutes of outdoor fresh air, it can boost your friend’s spirit.
Moreover, the combination of fresh air, nature, and sunshine will boost their vitamin D and serotonin levels.25.
Find (or Fake) Some Luck
Maybe all your friend needs is a little extra confidence.
Maybe scouring the street for a lucky penny or combing through a field to find a four-leaf clover is the antidote to their doldrums.
Maybe they don’t find one, so you secretly drop a penny of your own and let them pick it up, ’cause you read Harry Potter and remember the ole’ Felix Felicis switcheroo that worked on Ron.26.
Choreograph a Dance to Their Favorite Song
Want a fun activity that’s sure to take anyone’s mind off their woes?
Make up a dance to your friend’s favorite song, or try to copy the existing choreography.
Even better, get some of your friends to help and put up for a big musical show.27.
Do a Random Act of Kindness Together
Often when we do things for other people, we are the ones that benefit the most.
Do a random act of kindness together; even the smallest things count.
Start by opening the door for someone, paying for someone’s coffee, or dinner at a restaurant, by smiling and saying ‘good morning’ to a stranger, and watch your days change for the better.28.
Visualize A Better Future
Helping people think about how they’re a product of their past, present, and future, emphasizing the future, can help them see where they’re going.
Remind your friend that, in the grand scheme of things, this little hurdle will not stop them from getting that Miami yacht they keep dreaming about.29.
Build a Fort or a Treehouse
This is pretty much a no-brainer — everybody loves a treehouse or a good fort.
Get together, make plans, draw schemas on paper, and enjoy as you build, as it’ll make you feel like kids once again!30.
Smash Some Plates
Some people just need to find a way to get out their aggression, right?
After the pandemic, remember that there are dedicated places where you can pay to break plates as a stress reliever!
Plate breaking as a form of anger management and stress release has become very popular over the last few years.
“When done in a safe, nonviolent, and controlled setting, of course!” says Dr. Eliza Belle, the director of psychology and behavior service for Alabama’s Department of Mental Health.
Challenge Your Friend to a Noodle Fight
Grab some pool noodles and have them at it.
Try to avoid getting hit by dodging, ducking, weaving, and any other means necessary.
Remember, the more endorphins you release, and the happier you BOTH will be.
This is one of our favorite things to cheer someone up with!32.
Have Some Deep Rest
When people are going through a tough time, they get far lesser sleep.
Less sleep causes irritability, depression, and makes them prone to anxiety, so sleep is critical for their body and mental health.
Help balance out your buddy’s mental and physical health by telling them to make time for a nap.33.
Give Them A Cute Nickname
Come up with a nickname; the more ludicrous, the better.
It’s not only a great way to get them laughing right now, but it will be your secret weapon to getting them chuckling in the future, too.34.
Make Friendship Bracelets
This throwback activity is sure to bring a smile to your friend’s face.
It’ll work wonders while making it and whenever they look at it.35.
“Research shows that every 60 seconds of exercise adds a whopping seven minutes to our total lifespan,” says Joshua Duvauchelle, a health writer and certified personal trainer based in British Columbia.
There is a lot of information on how exercise makes us happier, but the anti-stress and mood-boosting effects kick in less than the first five minutes of exercise.
So, get up and shake some!36.
Go On A Text Scavenger Hunt
Text scavenging hunt works like this: you send a list of things to your friend, and they have to spot them throughout their day.
Make sure it is doable but also fun and playful.
For example, have them find a pair of yellow shoes, a palm tree, and a car older than yours.
They can send you back pics as they find each thing.
This is a great way to get someone out of a funk and offer up a healthy challenge.
A completed challenge will help people feel uplifted, hopeful, and very capable.37.
Play Dress Up
Get dolled up like in the good old days.
Whether it’s in costumes, your mom’s clothes from the ’80s, or some cute outfits you bought especially for this occasion, this is an excellent opportunity to have a lot of fun.38.
Braid Their Hair
You can do it up in a fancy French braid or just give them some flower child side braid.
Maybe you’re a straight boss who knows how to work a fishtail braid.
Regardless, braiding someone’s hair is a great way to show you care.
If your friend is a boy, offer to give them a haircut or color their hair.
What could go wrong?39.
Plan A Sleepover
You’ve probably been doing this for years, but grab some rom-com’s, pizza, magazines, and ingredients to bake some cookies, and your night is guaranteed to be fun.40.
Practice Positive Affirmations
Recent studies show that if young people who are not that confident repeat self-empowerment statements regularly, their brains change for good.
Ask them to write down five to ten things they love about themselves and have them continue to yell them out until you see a smile sneak across their face.
Or, get them to make a list of positive self-statements and ask them to repeat them daily: I feel pretty, I am smart, confident, and so on.
Even if they aren’t able to believe these self-compliments to start with, they Decidingn them in time.
Make sure you follow up with messages reminding them to keep practicing.41.
Have A Smiling Contest
Start telling jokes, make funny noises, make your best impression, and so on.
The only catch is that you have to keep your face as straight as possible.
The first person to crack a smile loses.
Or, try out a compliment battle.42.
Run Errands Together
Studies show that people report difficulty with daily responsibilities when depressed or anxious.
Many individuals often report having trouble asking for help when depressed.
Making the decision to surprise your friend with a favor can be a great way to provide help without your friend having to make the effort to ask.43.
Go On A Guided Walking Tour
Download one of these audio tours to your phone, lace up your tennis shoes and grab your friend.
It’ll get those endorphins flowing; plus, you might be surprised by how cool your hometown is.
If you can’t find an audio tour, make your own; there’s an app for that as well.44.
The best way is to create a ‘gratitude sandwich.’
Ask your friend to identify ten good things in their life right now.
Ask them to sandwich one thing that is going wrong between two things that they are grateful for.
Saying it out loud helps them realize that there is always something positive to focus on.
You can also make a list for each other of all the things you think you and they should be grateful for.45.
Help Your Friend Clean Their Car Or Room
Being surrounded by a mess doesn’t do much for their mental state.
Having a tidy space can help them feel more in control and calm.
Offering to help your friend straighten up their room or car shows you care and gives you something productive to do together.
Plus, later, when they’re on their own, they can relax in a clutter-free, peaceful space.46.
Cheer Them Up With Word Associations
Say words like “amused” or “joy” and have them say five more words that come to mind.
Studies show that this use of “priming” will eventually cause the person to feel the words and emotions they are naming.47.
Stretch It Out
Deep stretching releases the tightness in muscles, usually caused by stress.
Stretching well also promotes healthy blood circulation.
Besides, you do not need a dedicated yoga class, just your living room, and a blanket.48.
Make Them A Healthy Breakfast
Make some protein pancakes with dark chocolate spread and deliver them to their house.
Match it with freshly-squeezed orange juice as the act of hand-squeezing the juice makes them feel loved while giving them a healthy dose of vitamin B6 and folic acid.
Overall, this tasty treat reduces cortisol, releases both endorphins and serotonin, and is an excellent antioxidant source.49.
Go Barefoot In The Grass Or On The Beach
If you live near a beach or park, there are proven benefits to “grounding” or reconnecting with the electrons in nature to promote better sleep and reduce anxiety.
Make them a soundtrack of soothing sounds
A waterfall, ocean waves, rain on a tin roof, or wind rustling leaves are all soothing sounds that can help lull even the most restless minds to sleep.50.
Challenge Them To Solve Riddles And Crossword Puzzles
Our brains love solving problems.
Critical thinking also boosts cognitive function and helps remove that hazy feeling that comes with sadness.51.
Plant a tree, a patio herb garden, or repot a houseplant
The light exercise, connection with nature, and completion of a project are perfect combinations to brighten someone’s mood.
Moreover, you help the environment at the same time.52.
Challenge Them To A Fitness Contest
Any healthy competition will give them a mood boost.
Even if they don’t “win,” it’s an opportunity to burn off stress and detoxify while increasing dopamine and endorphin levels.53.
Take Them To A Painting Or Pottery Class
Pick something small so that they can feel the satisfaction of creating something in just one evening.54.
Fill Their House With Balloons While They Are Sleeping
The silliness of seeing balloons everywhere will make them smile.
Have even more fun with it, and pop them as you both walk through the house!55.
Hide A Note Saying What You Love About Them In Their Purse Or Wallet
Knowing that you went out of your way to make them smile will flood their brain with the warm, loving effects of oxytocin.56.
Host A Reading Day
Studies show that happy people were 21% more likely to read a newspaper or book than watch TV.57.
Take Them On A Roller Coaster
While most people might associate this with endorphins and adrenaline, the rush from amusement park rides also helps you create a bond with the person next to you, boosting oxytocin.58.
Fake A Laugh
Seriously! Just the idea of it seems silly, but many PTSD programs and therapists recommend daily laughing as ‘homework’ to feel better.
We bet as soon as you ask your loved one to fake laugh, they’ll end up laughing for real!59.
Arrange A Session Of Acupuncture
When acupuncture is applied to specific trigger points on the body, endorphins are released in the area, releasing the tension, pain, and stress.60.
Give Them A Safe Space
Bottling up your feelings can lead to chronic stress and stress-related health problems.
Support your friend or loved one by letting them know that they can feel comfortable in your presence.61.
Know When To Call In Reinforcements
Understand that if your friend goes through a dark period that lasts longer than a few weeks, without having at least some good days, or indicates a desire to hurt themselves, it is the time to call in professional help.
Counseling can be incredibly useful in helping someone understand their emotions and how to cope with them.
If your friend is genuinely depressed, it is most likely beyond your ability to help them out, no matter how much you try.
Yet, they are lucky to have a friend like you, alerting their parents or a specialist about their difficulties so that they can begin their treatment and recovery as fast as possible.
Now it’s your turn…
What is that ‘one thing’ you do to comfort someone you love?
How do you best to cheer up someone when you see them down and depressed?
In your experience, what is the fastest way to make someone feel better?
Please share your experiences below, so other people can learn from you and cheer up their loved ones as well.
7 Ways to Feel Confident When Talking to Guys - www.ellegirl.ru
Let's be honest - talking to guys is almost impossible! If he is in your friend zone, you are in his friend zone, or both of you do not pretend to each other and just communicate - still all right, but if you like a guy, communication with him turns into a real disaster - you are embarrassed, your thoughts confused, you think about his reaction more than what you say to him, and in general you are afraid to stumble. Don’t worry, everyone does, and to make it easier for you to communicate with the guy of your dreams, here are 7 useful tips for you.
Don't try to pretend to be someone else. So what's the point in pretending to be another girl? Your deceit will still be revealed, and, perhaps, you will not interest the guy. Just imagine how embarrassing it would be if you pretended to be, say, Regina George from "Mean Girls", thinking that your potential boyfriend likes such girls, but in fact he will be crazy about, say, Mia Thermopolis from "How to become princess." Agree that these are two different types? And just think how it would be a shame if the real you is just very similar to Mia, but has already been stupid and made a different impression. In general, be yourself, your ideal boyfriend will definitely fall in love with the real you.
Talk to him about things that both of you are interested in.
Find out what he likes and talk to him about cars, guns and video games you don't understand is the worst advice. Yes, you can ask him to show off his knowledge, but only if you are really interested, and if not, then he will definitely feel false, and you will not have a good conversation. Pick a moment, choose a topic that both of you like and go ahead - you will definitely start a dialogue;)
Talk to him with friends
Your mutual friends, of course. You don’t need to approach him and distract him when they are discussing something animatedly, otherwise you will create a stressful situation for yourself. It's better to invite everyone to get together if you have mutual friends, and talk to him in a relaxed atmosphere. In a circle of friends and in a large company, you will feel more confident than alone with him.
Flirt with him
Just be careful - don't drive the horses. First, smile, then hold your eyes on him, and only then move on to touching - this will make both of you much more comfortable. Just feel the atmosphere and act according to the situation, and we beg you, do not use stupid tricks and monkey antics that would-be coaches advise using, such as “wind your hair around your finger”, “poke his finger in his shoulder”, “have a nice laugh” and so on. . It looks stupid, and the guy will immediately understand that you are faking and acting according to the script.
Come up with an excuse to exchange phone numbers
Yeah, not every girl is going to just walk up to a guy and say something like “Hey, I felt a connection between us through the whole class, and here I'm here, can you give me your number? ”, But no one has canceled women's tricks! You can talk about something interesting, you can offer to send him an SMS link to a cool article and thus get his number, or invite him to go to the cinema together, you have a ticket (buy a ticket in advance), and discuss the time and arrange a meeting place by phone or in the messenger. So you can freely communicate with him and not look intrusive.
Remember that this is just a guy
Seriously, remember that this is just an ordinary guy who does everything that you do, eats, drinks, walks, listens to music, communicates with friends, experiences different occasions, etc. No need to deify him and be afraid to talk to him just because you have different sexual characteristics, and he is handsome. Pretty guys don't all act obnoxious like they do in the movies, sometimes they're really cute, so don't be intimidated.
Be prepared for the fact that he is not interested in you
No, we are not trying to upset you, it just can happen, and we want you to be ready for it. Not all guys are obliged to fall in love with you and want to communicate with you, but this does not mean that you are stupid, ugly or uninteresting, it's just not your boyfriend, that's all. Say goodbye to him and move on with your head held high. One day you will find the right one, and you will not need any tips and tricks;)
How friends change our life for the worst - T&P
Studies show that friendship helps us maintain mental and physical health : improves immunity, maintains normal blood pressure, reduces the risk of dementia in old age and even the risk of sudden death. But even with the best of friends, communication can suddenly become nauseatingly tense. Journalist Karlin Flora described the different types of toxic relationships and explained where problems with friends come from and why it's not always bad. T&P publishes a translation of her article for Aeon.Karlin Flora is a journalist and former editor of Psychology Today. She has published in Discover, Scientific American Mind, and others. She is the author of the book Friendfluence, which was published in 2013.
Remember the last time you sat opposite your best friend and felt that she knows you very well and, most importantly, truly understands you. Perhaps you have felt that she awakens the best qualities in you, in her presence you succeed in the most sensible remarks and the most witty jokes. She inspired you. She always listened carefully, found hidden patterns in your behavior, and then carefully suggested how you can change everything for the better. You loved to gossip about common acquaintances, from time to time you indulged in memories of joint adventures. You willingly delved into your favorite topics, exchanged half-hints that were barely understandable to others, and easily deciphered meaningful euphemisms in each other's speech. Perhaps you even know the pleasant feeling of admiration for your girlfriend, which was accompanied by a sense of pride from the realization of your similarity with her. The person you had a very high opinion of, appreciated you mutually - of course, this brought a feeling of deep satisfaction and happiness, literally energized you.
Such friendship fills us with spiritual strength, shapes our personality, and sometimes can even change our destiny. These relationships have repeatedly been under the microscope of social scientists - thus it turned out that they help us maintain mental and physical health: good friends improve immunity, stimulate creativity, maintain normal blood pressure, reduce the risk of developing dementia in old age and even the risk of sudden of death. So if you feel that you cannot live without friends, not only sentimentality speaks in you, but also common sense.
But even the deepest and kindest friendship, like almost any human relationship, can be overshadowed by conflicts, resentments and tensions. Charm can irretrievably disappear from it, it can even completely disappear for some sad reason or for no reason at all. But there are also not-so-useful types of friendship: sometimes in a relationship that began on a positive note, conflict grows every day, and in critical cases, friendship can be initially painful, toxic. Good friends make us happy, but even they demand a lot in return. If you look closely, friendship is a much more confusing and ambiguous type of relationship than is commonly thought.
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For the first time, harsh reality cast a shadow over the cloudless concept of friendship, when sociologists became convinced that friendly sympathy is mutual only in half of the cases. This information is shocking to many: the same studies claim that we tend to deliberately believe that our friends almost always share our feelings. Can you guess who from your list of friends would not add you to a similar list?
One reason for the imbalance is that friendships are often socially desirable: a study of teenagers shows that people who are popular want to be friends, and they are often selective (thus upsetting the balance of reciprocity). One recent piece of evidence is an article by Stephen Strugatz in The New York Times published in 2012. According to his observations, our Facebook friends, on average, always have more friends than we do ourselves. They also say that friendship is a salvation from a world obsessed with updating statuses. Here is your salvation!
Scientists also identify an ambivalent kind of friendship — it is characterized by mutual dependence and conflicts. If you have such a friend in your life, he simultaneously evokes both positive and negative feelings in you. For example, when you see his name on the smartphone screen, you will think twice before answering the call. This type of relationship is very common. Each of us has a network of socially important contacts, and, according to statistics, there are about 50% of ambivalent characters in it. In fairness, it’s worth saying that these are most often family members, and not friends (after all, you can’t get rid of relatives so easily). Nevertheless, this is another stone in the garden of the "spotless" concept of friendship.
But even those friends whom you boldly call faithful, reliable and interesting people can darken your life if at least one less attractive one is added to these qualities. We know very well from sociological research that a depressed friend is more likely to make you share his depression, an obese friend is more likely to gain weight, and with friends who smoke or drink a lot, you will drink and smoke more.
In some cases, "good" friends develop goals, habits, or values that are inconsistent with ours. Of course, these people didn't do us any harm. But over time, they cease to be part of the group that defines our social identity and / or helps us solve pressing problems. Staying with them, we swim against the current.
In addition to all the unfortunate effects of conflicting ambivalent friendships, there is also a real harm to our health. In 2003, scientists Julianne Holt-Lunstad of Brigham Young University and Bert Uchino of the University of Utah conducted a collaborative study in which participants were asked to wear a portable blood pressure monitor and record their interactions with people throughout the day. The readings of the devices claimed that blood pressure during communication with ambivalent friends was higher than during truly friendly and even openly hostile communication. This is probably due to the fact that such relationships are largely unpredictable, and therefore force us to be on the alert all the time: "Is Jane going to ruin everyone's Christmas Eve again?" In addition, ambivalent relationships are associated with such unpleasant phenomena as impaired reactivity of the cardiovascular system, premature cellular aging, low levels of stress resistance, and a general deterioration in well-being.
However, in one case, researchers of ambivalent friendship came up with unexpected results: it turned out that it has a positive effect on the work process. As scientists have found, ambivalent colleagues tend to put themselves in the place of another more often than usual, in part because there is always a place for uncertainty in such relationships and a person tries to understand what they really are. In addition, ambivalent friendships add insecurity, which in turn forces people to work harder to establish themselves in their position.
Pseudo-friends, or friend-enemies, is another kind of conflicting relationship between people. But in this case, contrasting feelings are neatly layered on top of each other: friendliness over rivalry or hostility, in contrast to the ambivalent connection with her explosive cocktail of love, hatred, irritation, pity, affection, disgust, tenderness and a couple more unpredictable ingredients. Many of us know firsthand the powerful motivating power that comes with having such a friend-foe in the office, not to mention romantic or parent-child relationships in which this power can become destructive.
Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, and so are unhappy friendships: there are countless reasons why a friend might be "unfavorable" to you. A couple of American researchers delved into this topic - Susan Heitler, a clinical psychologist from Denver, and Sharon Livingston, a psychologist and marketing consultant from New York. Here are the typical signs of "unfavorable" friendships that they were able to find: a bad friend makes you feel competitive with other friends; she talks about herself much more often than you; she allows herself to criticize you from above, but immediately becomes defensive if you criticize her in response; during communication, you get the feeling that you are walking on thin ice, because at any moment you can provoke an outburst of her anger or disapproval; the relationship is dominated by the so-called emotional swing: today she can be sympathetic and friendly, but the next day she pulls away and behaves as if you barely know each other.
In 2014, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found an interesting correlation while studying the social lives of healthy women over 50. It turned out that if the volume of negative episodes increased in their relationships with others, their risk of developing hypertension also increased. Negative social interactions - for example, overwhelming demands and criticism from others, disappointments, "exchange of pleasantries" - led to the fact that the appearance of hypertension in the subjects became 38% more likely. But in men, no connection was found between negative communication and high blood pressure. This is probably due to the fact that women in general are more concerned about relationships between people and are socially predisposed to pay more attention to them.
Negative communication also contributes to the development of inflammatory processes in the body - both in women and in men. Such data was obtained in the course of her research by Jessica Chiang, a researcher at the University of California (Los Angeles). According to her findings, accumulated social stressors, like real toxins, can cause physical harm to a person.
Those friendships that are destined to be the most painful of our lives often start on a positive note and only then turn into a nightmare. For example, a recent study among teenagers showed that people who had a friendship in the past were 4.3 times more likely to express mutual aggression on the Internet than just acquaintances. In other words, sociological statistics agree with Diane de Poitiers (favorite of the French King Henry II), who, back in the 16th century, stated: “To have a worthy enemy, choose a friend: he knows where to strike.”
Another slippery slope that friendship can take unexpectedly, was described by writer Robert Greene in his book 48 Laws of Power. Friendly help in finding a job, he warns, can lead to the fact that your relationship will gradually turn from good to harmful. This is due, in particular, to the peculiarities of the emotional reaction provoked by such serious favors.
Oddly enough, it is an act of your kindness that can throw a relationship out of balance. People want to feel that their success is deserved. A friendly favor can cause depressing thoughts: “What if I was chosen only because of my connections? Perhaps I am not worthy of this place at all? A condescending attitude, which is easy to suspect in a sympathetic friend, can seriously hurt self-esteem. The trauma will not immediately make itself felt, but gradually the relationship will become more rude frankness, there will be outbreaks of discontent and envy - and before you have time to understand something, the friendship will end.
“So, can directness and disinterested help destroy true friendship?” - you ask. On the one hand, this statement challenges the ideals of absolute openness and boundless generosity - the necessary attributes of sincere friendly affection. But on the other hand, it seems that here lies the key to why friendship can be both favorable, and ambivalent, and harmful, and even move from one state to another.
In his article "The Evolution of Mutual Altruism", published in 1971, evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers summed it up: "Each individual tends to show a tendency to both altruistic behavior and cheating. " Cheating here is understood as the conscious intention to give at least a little less within the relationship or take at least a little more than our friend would take or give in a similar situation.
Trivers explains that evolution has made us clever swindlers. The complex mechanism of our psyche helps us detect those who cheat too openly and notice when we ourselves become too generous. Trivers writes:
“A rude crook will not reciprocate, and an altruist will receive absolutely nothing as a reward for his generosity ... Obviously, in this case, natural selection will be extremely negative towards the crook. Crafty cheating, on the other hand, involves a certain degree of reciprocity. This art is to give less than you receive - or, more precisely, to give less than the partner would give in the opposite situation.
Perhaps it is this balance between selfishness and altruism, which averages close to 50/50, that explains many of the other 50% rates that crop up in research on friendships. Let's remember: only 50% of friends have mutual sympathy, our social networks are 50% composed of ambivalent relationships. Even the average person is able to recognize a lie only 50% of the time. Evolution has made us shrewd enough not to let ourselves be fooled, but at the same time saved us from the inevitable torments that life in a world of absolute harsh truth would bring with it. So we were left with a loophole for compliments and white lies. Similarly, we are able to detect cheating on the part of friends, but still not too virtuoso, otherwise we would risk completely losing faith in people and any desire to maintain friendly relations. Nature has kept the perfect balance - 50/50.
Psychologist Jan Jaeger conducted a survey for his book When Friendship Hurts (2002) and found that 68% of respondents had experienced friend betrayal. Who are these heartless traitors? Why are there so many? However, with the figure of 68% - maybe not “them”, but “us”?
This frightening thought made me wonder: do we really make an effort to forgive small offenses? Express dissatisfaction before it builds up and forces you to end the relationship forever? Find time for a long-awaited meeting? Recognize the right of another person to disagree with us in everything? Are we really trying to give generously rather than keep score? Do we pressure our friends with our unjustified expectations? Is it true that we do our best to keep our friendship? Well, maybe most of our friends feel the same way about themselves. And if they're unfriendly or we're pulled apart by the natural course of life, maybe we should accept that and not label relationships as toxic that we just don't want to have anymore.
When a relationship ends at the initiative of a friend or they disappear from our lives without any explanation, it can be excruciatingly painful. And although it is no secret that the circle of social contacts narrows as we grow older, we still somehow believe that friendship is forever. The rupture of friendships forces us to rethink our own vision of life and our own personality, especially if a friend has been around for many years. As the fresh wound throbs with pain, we hasten to brand him or her as a traitor.
But sometimes we have to leave a friend to become ourselves. In her book Connecting in College (2016), sociology professor Janice McCabe states that breaking friendships early in life is an important part of personal development. We inevitably form our individuality and self-consciousness based on our environment: either we strive for certain people, or we repel ourselves from them.
While we all need to take a second look at our friendly behavior and acknowledge our responsibility for the conflicts that sometimes arise in a relationship, there are still aspects of friendship that are beyond our control. For example, a large number of mutual friends and acquaintances can become a cornerstone in an ambiguous situation. Let's say your friend has crossed the line, but you don't want to disturb your whole company with your conflict and therefore you don't announce publicly that you no longer want to do business with her. You just move away from her, but gently, so as not to cause an open confrontation and not force mutual acquaintances to choose each time which of you to invite to visit. In such cases, we remain chained to "bad" friends forever.
The laws that dictate to us with whom to remain close and whom to let go of ourselves sometimes remain a mystery even to ourselves. Think about it: do you have any acquaintances who are very nice to you, but whom you have not seen for several years? And vice versa: are there those in your closest circle with whom you actually never found a common language? Perhaps the first ones put you on the list of "bad" friends at this very moment.