In this brief guide, we cover how to help someone with stress, what you can do to help them cope with stress and what sort of help may be relevant if what you have been doing isn’t helpful.
How to help someone with stress?
“How to help someone with stress?” is the question you keep asking yourself, well, there are actually some important things to consider when you want to help someone who is feeling stressed. We will list them and them and then talk about each more in-depth:
- Help them to recognize they have a problem.
- Listen to them.
- Offer reassurance and comfort.
- Help them to identify their stress triggers
- Offer them support.
- Help them relax and calm down.
- Encourage them to seek professional help if needed.
In this century, stress is considered as part of our daily routine. We worry too much about relationships, bills, work or our health. It can be very overwhelming and we can even feel tired some times. Everyone can feel stress from time to time, adolescents, adults, older people, and even children can experience stress.
If you have a friend or a relative that is always stressed and you really feel like you should do something to help them. But, do we know how to help them? Or do we even know where to start looking?
When we are stressed we tend to distance ourselves from others, sometimes this is not intentional, sometimes we just feel we want to be left out alone to deal with our thoughts and problems.
It can be quite challenging when we try to help a friend and sometimes it is not even easy to be that strong person they need to lean on, especially when you don’t feel quite strong yourself.
Here we present some tips you can use to help someone with stress, however, remember everyone is different and what might help someone will probably not work for someone else.
What are the common causes of stress?
In small doses or what we consider acute stress, it can actually help us to go through challenging or difficult situations. However, too much stress can have the opposite effect on our lives.
Some of the most common things people usually stress about include (reachout.com):
- Issues with family, friends, boyfriends/girlfriends or spouse.
- Having to meet deadlines at work/school or University.
- Living a difficult situation with family or other people we may have been living with.
- Financial problems.
- Unrealistic expectations of yourself or others.
Tip 1: Help them realize they have a problem
This is probably the most important tip of all, without it, there is no way someone will feel the need to get help or let someone else help them. It is very easy to spot signs of stress in other people than it will probably be spotting them on us.
Often people tend to avoid or admit they have a problem and are struggling to cope. Sometimes they can even go on for a couple of weeks and you may see how they deteriorate, feel more exhausted or end up withdrawing from the social scene.
Reach out to them and since you already have built a relationship and trust each other, it may be easier to let them know how you have noticed they are not acting like themselves lately and how you have noticed their behavior and attitude changes.
Tip 2: Support and motivate them
Try being there for them. If you already know what is their source of stress make sure you motivate them to keep going, to stay strong. Probably you have a friend or a relative stressed due to a big presentation Monday morning or a very important exam they have been studying all semester.
Text them the morning of that big event and make sure you let them know that you are there for them and that they will nail their presentation or their exam.
Tip 3: Help them to discover mediation
Meditation or yoga classes can be fun. Probably you have been going to some yourself, what if you bring that stressed-out friend along? Or if you have never been to a yoga or meditation class, well still try it out and bring your friend or relative with you.
Tip 4: Send them a surprise box
One of the main problems of being stressed is that we lose the ability to get surprised or that “novelty” each day can bring. For us, everything turns into a routine and everything seems monotone.
The best way to let someone get out of their routine and to get them distracted can be sending them a surprise box. If it is your friend or relative you may be familiar with what they enjoy and like. What if you gather their favorite snacks, a face mask or body scrub, a massage kit or probably send them a book with a good motivational card.
Tip 5: Get them to consider trying homeopathic stress relieves
When we are stressed we usually turn to nicotine, caffeine, alcohol or sleeping pills to help us cope with stress, but none of those options are going to ensure a real solution to our problems. It is only temporary and they can actually affect our health in the long run.
However, there are many natural supplements that we might have heard about but have never tried. Probably because we are a bit skeptic about them. Some of the most known are valerian root, magnesium, Omega-3 Fatty acids or vitamin B complex.
Tip 6: Help them reconnect with the present
When someone you love is stressed the first thing that comes to your mind is phrases like “calm down” or “just relax”, but they can have quite the opposite effect making them even angrier, upset and misunderstood.
But this may not be possible, because anxiety has a physical component that you can’t always “think” your way out of. Anxiety is triggered when we perceive a threat, and that perception, accurate or not, causes a release of adrenaline.
The feelings are real, the sensations are real, so don’t invalidate them. Instead, help your loved one reconnect with the present moment. You can do this by asking them to close their eyes and notice their body or what’s going on around them: the feeling of their feet touching the ground, the weight of their hands in their lap, the quiet hum of an air conditioner or heater.
Tip 7: Get them moving
Get them to move or practice some form of exercise, this helps to release endorphins and can help boost mood and energy levels.
We are not saying you need to subscribe to your local gym, but try encouraging them to do some form of exercise such as swimming, walking or even Zumba dance classes. There is no need for the typical ways of going to the gym for 2 or 3 hours to exercise.
Tip 8: Breathing exercises
Encourage them to take a deep breath, which reduces anxiety—Ask them to take 5 to 10 deep breaths, or try walking them through a breathing exercise. Ask them to go for a walk, go food shopping with you. Anything that will distract their mind.
Tip 9: Help them get perspective and set short-term goals
When anxious thoughts are rattling around in our minds, it’s easy to get lost or overwhelmed. Simply naming our worries can bring some much-needed clarity.
Turn on the light for your loved one by asking them to clearly verbalize what they fear. The trick is to get those thoughts out of their heads and into the light, so they become less scary—and less believable. By helping your loved one rationalize their fear you are likely to make them feel better.
Also, help them make a list of immediate and short-term goals with all the problems they consider are stressing them out. Then, focus together on the solution to the problem, you may even find more than one solution to the problem. Set a plan to act on it and try the available options.
Tip 10: Listen without being judgemental
It is easy to judge other people on their problems, how they are not doing enough or trying enough to get out of them or find a solution. We see everything from the barrier, from outside, so it is easy to judge and criticize. Sometimes we don’t even do it to make them feel bad and we are simply trying for them to see they are no real issues and that everything is in their heads.
However, it is not what you say but how you say it and it is the truth. Try challenging their negative thoughts and verbalizations without being confrontational. Wiki how gives us some good examples:
- For example, if they say, “Ugh, I’m such a failure. I can’t do anything right,” respond with something like, “Sure you can! Remember what a great job you did on that project last month?”
- Avoid vague or confrontational responses, like, “Stop talking that way! You know that’s not true.”
Tip 11: Support them to seek for professional help
Sometimes we can help the people around us cope with stress using some simple techniques, and it may work for a while but they may relapse and it can even get worse next time.
Make sure they understand there are situations in life we can’t handle on our own reassuring everyone has problems and seeking professional help is normal. Let them know they are not broken or need to be “fixed”, just need some extra help to learn some techniques to deal with stress.
Why is this blog about how to help someone with stress important?
Knowing where to start to help a friend can be difficult. We worry about their health and wellbeing, but sometimes we try to help them and nothing seems to work, they even seem to get worse. Make sure to let them know you are there for them and you genuinely want to listen to them.
There are plenty of tips out there to help cope with stress, however, not all of them will work for every person. Also, when stress gets worse and starts having a negative impact on the way we function normally then it is time to seek professional help.
Please feel free to comment in the comments section below!
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