How can friends and family help?

This section is for friends and family of someone who is experiencing stress, who want to support them.

If someone you’re close to is stressed there are lots of practical things you can do to support them – even though you probably can’t change the situation they’re in.

  • Help them reflect on whether they are stressed. Often, people don’t notice that some physical symptoms and behaviour (such as not being able to get to sleep, or drinking more than usual) are actually signs of stress. Sometimes you may be able to see it before they recognise it themselves. If you’ve noticed that someone seems particularly busy, anxious or unwell, you could gently let them know, and ask how you can help.
  • Listen to how they are feeling. Having a chance to talk openly could help someone to feel calmer and more able to move forward. Just being there for them will probably help lots.

[My friends can help by] making me a cup of tea, holding me while I cry, making me laugh…

  • Reassure them  that  stressful  situations  can  pass.  For  someone who is in the middle of a stressful time, it can be hard to see an end point.  Let them know that situations change and can get better.

“Not putting extra pressure on me… letting me know they’re there but that I don’t have to do anything.”

  • Help them address some causes of stress, if you can. You might be able to help your friend or family member look for support around issues like debt, housing problems or difficulties at work.
  • Help them learn and practise relaxation techniques.You could help them research good relaxation techniques and find ways to practise them, such as a weekly yoga class, or setting aside time for breathing

[When I’m stressed I need friends to] hug me. It’s amazing how good a single hug can feel.

  • Support them to seek professional help. For example, you could help them contact their GP, go with them to an appointment or do some research on mental health and wellbeing. (See our bookletThe Mind guide to seeking help for a mental health problem for more ideas)
  • Look after yourself. If someone around you is very stressed, you might become stressed too. If this happens, try to take a step back and look after your own wellbeing. Being calm and relaxed will make you more able to help someone else. (See our booklet How to cope as a carer for more information.)


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