We all can agree that life can be tough. From work stress, to money worries, to relationship problems and family troubles, there seems to be no limit to the things that can cause us to feel down. Although these types of challenges are shared by many of us, it’s easy to think we are alone or that no one else understands what we are going through. But that is exactly the opposite of how we want our friends to feel when they are struggling. (Of course if your friend is going through something that’s more serious than the kind of sad days everyone has, you should encourage them to seek attention from a mental health professional. That’s a whole different story.)
Even if a friend is facing something you haven’t, there are ways to show her you care. Here are a few things you can do to cheer up a friend when she’s down in the dumps.
Ask her what she needs
I am guilty of offering unsolicited advice more often than I should, and I’ve learned that there are many other and often better ways to help cheer up a friend than trying to fix her problems for her. Even still, you can ask if there’s anything you can do to help. When someone is feeling down, even regular tasks like cooking a meal can seem difficult. Offering to make dinner or take your friend out to eat may relieve some pressure off her, for example.
Asking what your friend needs is also a good idea because it gives her the opportunity to let you know she might appreciate your presence but not necessarily want to talk about what’s bumming her out. Maybe she wants a hug, or maybe she wants to be left alone until later. You don’t know until you ask.
Regardless if you can help with the problem or if your friend wants advice or not, listening to her talk about what’s bothering her might help her feel better. Maybe she wants to talk through what’s going on so she can figure out how she feels or what she wants to do. Listening — without judging — can help empower your friend to make her best decision. Be sure to let her know you support her, whatever she decides.
Take her mind off whatever is bothering her
Although there are times when friends need someone to listen to them, other times these friends don’t want to focus on the problem at all. They want to escape from it, even temporarily. If that’s the case, stop talking about it. Try to help her have some fun or at least distract her from whatever it is she wants distracting from. This could mean talking about some other topic, whether it’s some silly thing you two did in the past or something unrelated to her. You could watch puppy videos on YouTube, go to a movie, play a game, take a walk, or do something she’s never done before.
Remind her how awesome she is
Even the most confident among us struggle with self-esteem sometimes, especially when we are in the midst of a crisis. Help your friend when she’s down in the dumps by reminding her how awesome she is. Tell her why you care about her and why other people do, too. No matter what’s going on in her life, she is valuable, loved and special. That might be just the thing she needs to hear to help get her back in good spirits.
Despite your best efforts, you can’t always cheer people up. If that’s the case, know that it’s not about you. The important thing to remember is to be supportive. There are many ways to do that, as long as you’re paying attention to your friend and showing her that you care.
When all else fails, you can always bring her ice cream and all the Harry Potter movies to marathon. That will work for anyone, I’m sure. Or is that just me?
(Image via FOX)