Tuesday, March 14, 2023

How To Help Someone Who Is Stressed

Help Out At Their Home

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Chores like grocery shopping, cooking, or laundry can feel totally overwhelming when youre 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.

How To Comfort Yourself When You Live Alone

When you live alone, theres no one to reach out to, and there may be no one to talk to. In other words, you have no handy attachment figure someone close to you to whom you can turn for reassurance.

Depending upon the nature of the stress youre dealing with and how long it goes on, you may be vulnerable. Very vulnerable. To a lack of self-care. To poor judgment. To sending yourself to a dark emotional place.

Psychologist Bella DePaulo suggests that single people may be at risk when receiving bad news or dealing with stress. I came across her 2011 article on the subject just this morning, Can You Be Your Own Source of Comfort and Security, in which she notes several of the helpful options I listed above, and that single people may sit on their stress, or they turn to comfort food, to passionate pursuits, to exercise, and to their pets. They may also seek or need to a broader circle of attachment figures.

In other words, we need to reach out to more people and create those necessary connections and supports that serve as a safe haven. And from personal experience, I would add this: Try to be kinder to yourself if you possibly can.

Managing Stress And The People Who Cause It

Everyone encounters daily stressors. Some are expected or even routine. Others catch us by surprise. Either way, we must manage some level of stress every day, and much of the time, we do it without even thinking about it.

But there are still many times when we have to make a conscious effort to deal with the stress, and dealing with stressful or “toxic” people is just one of them. Whether their actions are frustrating, cruel, or simply negative, the best approach to working with stressful people is to be proactive and learn how to manage them and your stress.

Here are five great tips for learning how to manage stressful people:

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Change The Scenery And Take A Break

I would recommend couples walk around outside and discuss their issues, says Nicholas Hardy, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist out of Houston, Texas. In addition to being outside and enjoying the weather , you are not forced to look directly at each other.

It takes the pressure off of the conversation, which sometimes allows people to be more open, Hardy adds.

Staying in one place during an argument can make you feel like you arent moving toward an endpoint. Try to put the heat of the argument on pause, take a break, and revisit things after youve cleared your head.

Create A Sense Of Structure To Keep Yourself Productive And Positive

8 Ways To Help Someone With Post

Even though my business may be impacted right now, its been important for me to keep a daily work schedule that Ive always maintained.

7 AM: Wake up and work out8 AM: Get ready, have breakfast and listen to news podcasts9 AM: Work time, check-in with my co-founders12:00 PM: Lunch, take a 30-minute break to cook1:00 PM: Work time, check-in with my co-founders5:30 PM: Go on a run outside with my husband, no phones!6:00 PM: Cook and have dinner with my husband screen break!7:00 PM: Self-care time8:30 PM: Facetime friends or family10:30 PM: Go to bed

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Focus On A Good Recovery Plan

Stress is actually good for us. It pushes us to fix whatever is wrong or solve a problem.

Like a muscle, unless it is stressed, it wont grow. In fact, the opposite will happen. Too much rest will cause atrophy or the slow deterioration of the muscle. Conversely, when a muscle is stressed, it sets into motion the stress-recovery cycle or whats known as the Oscillation Cycle.

Stress needs recovery. Recovery needs stress. They are both necessary for healthy stress management.

To seek to remove stress isnt the answer, nor realistic. Many people are dealing with stressful jobs or situations. Unnecessary stress should work to be reduced. We often have more control than we think we do.

The question is, how much stress is too much, and how much inflow recovery is needed to replenish the stress outflow? Just like a muscle that is stressed, it depends on the volume, intensity, and duration of the stress.

A replenishment strategy that matches the stress level is the key to proper oscillation. Working a muscle with high intensity every day of the week without proportionate recovery doesnt adequately repair or give the muscle time to grow. Proportionate oscillation is crucial.

Therefore, stress isnt the villain. Our lack of proportionate recovery is. Our recovery from stress needs to be proportionate to the volume, duration, and intensity of our stress. Therefore, instead of working more in stressful times, we will need to wisely recovery more.

Dr. Laura Ellick, Ph.D.

Be Sure To Validate Their Emotional Experience

Even if you may not fully understand or directly relate, reassuring them that their emotions make sense can help them feel less alone and even help reduce the impact of the stressful experience.

Heres a few examples of some language you can use to help validate others emotions:

  • Sounds like you are pretty worried about that, huh? I would feel the same way.
  • I can tell you are feeling some pressure right now. I can tell how much you care about this.

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Omg That’s Really Frustrating

The way you respond to their texts is important, too. Because a stressed out person might not want advice, as much as they just want to vent. And knowing the difference is key.

As therapist , tells Bustle, sometimes just saying “that sounds frustrating” is the best way to help them feel seen and understood.

How To Help A Stressed Or Depressed Loved One

SUPPORT: How can I help someone with anxiety and stress?

I receive many emails from concerned relatives, partners and friends who are trying to help a loved one suffering the torment of a stressful or depressive episode. Sometimes, its easy to forget that people who love us are also affected by these illnesses and may find it difficult to understand whats happening. They want to help, but just dont know what to do for the best.

Having lived with a depressed partner for 3 years and suffered anxiety and depression for 5 years, Ive experienced both sides. In this article, Ill show you exactly what you can do and, what you shouldnt do to help your loved one.

It is so hard to understand and reach loved ones when theyre caught up in these illnesses but please believe me, these ideas are very effective and they will help.

Former anxiety sufferer Chris Green is the author of Conquering Stress, the internationally acclaimed program which will help you to permanently conquer stress, depression and anxiety without taking powerful drugs. For more information please visit his website.

Last medically reviewed on May 17, 2016

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If Someone Has A More Serious Anxiety Problem Avoid Stigmatizing Them

What can we do for folks with more serious issues? People experiencing things like panic disorder, depression mixed with anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or obsessional thinking may fear that theyre literally going crazy. Helping them may feel beyond your ability.

You can still be supportive in many ways. When someone is experiencing significant anxiety, its helpful to reassure them that your overall perception of them hasnt changed. Theyre still the same person theyre just suffering a temporary problem situation that has become out of control. Theyre not broken and who they are hasnt changed. To the extent possible, you can help the person stay connected to positive aspects of their identity by participating in or encouraging their interests and hobbies.

Sometimes, individuals who have chronic anxiety problems arent interested in changing. For example, you might be friends with someone who has agoraphobia or an eating disorder, but their condition is long-term and stable. In these cases, you can be accepting of that person so that they dont feel isolated. Being matter-of-fact about their limitations without excessively shaming them or insisting they should pursue becoming normal is often the best strategy.

Do The Opposite Of What Your Fear Is Telling You To Do

Stress is really a form of anxiety . And the secret to relieving any form of anxiety is to do the opposite of what the fear says to do. If someone is stressed, their fear is telling them to scurry about trying to fend off everything they imagine could go wrong.

Doing the opposite might take the form, then, of freezing, physically, and refusing to move until youve taken back control of what you will do in the next momentno longer dictated to by the fear.

Of course, the fear will try to seduce you to rush back into the same old action, threatening you with all sorts of imaginary disasters if you dont, but we want to stand still and resolute, refusing to move off our mark, like a warrior .

After a couple of minutes, the anxiety and stress evaporate, and if you refuse to move until you no longer have to continue with your previous action, it will evaporate completely. At that point, we make a marvelous discovery: the fear wasnt real!

At most there is a manageable problem to deal with most of the time we find there was no real problem at all. As Michele de Montaigne said, My life was filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened!.

When we achieve this realization, we are free to choose our actions in the next moment, without fear, without stresssimply from the awareness of what serves our higher purposes best.

And usually, we will choose to continue doing exactly what we were doing before, only this time with freedom and a renewed sense of purpose!

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Don’t Get On Their Emotional Bus

Stressful people will try to take you on an emotional ride with them. They get angry, you get angry, and yelling happens. They get sad, you get sad, and everybody’s sad. Don’t get on their emotional bus. Listen, talk, and communicate, but don’t let them control you by triggering unnecessary negative emotions.

Get Them Professional Help

Things To Say To Help Someone Who Is Stressed Out ...

When helping your friend, never ignore the intervention of professional counselors or psychiatrists. They may be all that is needed for your friend to recover from the stressful situation. This is important especially in extreme cases where depression is evident. Your friend may be reluctant at first, claiming they arent severely stressed. It happens in most cases but do not assume its true they arent.

Keep on encouraging them to visit a professional. It helps if you suggest to accompany them there if they are not willing to go by themselves. Only tell them you will not step into the counselors room, so they are assured of secrecy.

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Understand Differences In How Anxiety Manifests

Because of evolution, were wired to respond to fear by either fight, flight, or freeze. For different people, one of these responses will typically dominate. For instance, my spouse tends to freeze and will bury her head in the sand rather than deal with things that make her feel stressed and panicky. I tend more toward fighting, and will become irritable, excessively perfectionistic, or dogmatic if I feel stressed.

When you understand that anxiety is designed to put us into a mode of threat sensitivity, its easier to understand someone who is feeling scared and acting out by being irritable or defensive, and to find compassion for them. By paying attention to how anxiety manifests in the person you care about, you can learn their patterns and be in a better position to help.

Helpful Things To Say To Someone Experiencing Stress

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We all experience moments of stress from time to time. From experiencing the loss of a close loved one to daily work dress, these things are a normal part of life. When we experience stress, our mind feels like its in overdrive. Anxiety pushes us to the edge, and these thoughts can feel like they have a huge effect on our overall mental health.

Jump ahead to these sections:

If youve ever been in a stressful situation, you know how frustrating it is. You also know how difficult it is to hear people tell you to calm down or get over it. If youre in the presence of someone who is stressed, its important to help in a supportive way.

Even small acknowledgments of their feelings go a long way. Here are 16 helpful things to say to someone experiencing stress in one way or another.

Hint: Sometimes the right thing to say is nothing at all! Dont underestimate the power of silence.

Recommended Reading: How To Make Yourself Less Stressed

Have Them Fully Engage In Their Hobby

People get the most pleasure when they do what they like most. As a friend, you probably know what your pals hobby is. It could be painting, dancing, traveling or any other activity. Your stressed friend will considerably cheer up and show signs of recovery if you direct them toward something they enjoy.

Even if it means getting time off work for you and your friend, go ahead and do it. Health is important, and stress thats not managed can progress to a more dangerous condition.

I Understand Why This Is So Difficult For You

Here’s how to help your partner with their stress

There is great power in empathy. It allows others to feel safe and explore their feelings and thoughts. After you ask about their stress, listen empathetically to the answers you receive. You can rephrase what the other has said or put yourself in their shoes. That is stressful. Or I understand why this is so difficult for you.

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Finding The Right Words In A Stressful Situation

Stressful situations arent supposed to be easy. If youre trying to help a loved one work through their own anxious feelings, you have an opportunity to say the right thing. These messages above are a kind, thoughtful way to respond without increasing their stress.

Nobody likes to be told to stay calm or move on. No matter how simple the situation seems from the outside, feelings are valid in their own way. Be mindful of your own response and be a strong listener. As long as youre focusing on acknowledging their experience and feelings, youre making a positive step in the right direction.


I Am Here If You Want To Talk About It Or Not

This response is not dismissive and shows the person that you care about and want to help. Whether or not they say yes and are open to talking is their choice. Having the option available will be appreciated.

Sometimes when a person verbalizes that they want to be left alone, they may not actually mean it. In my experiences with clients, they report wanting their negative thinking and feelings to leave/stop. Sitting quietly with a person may benefit some individuals.

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Hear Them Out Instead Of Planning Your Defense

An argument can sometimes feel like a competition where the goal is to score the most points over your opponent. While it may feel good to win the argument, it doesnt do anything to de-stress your partner or the situation.

If theyre expressing their anxiety to you even if its not in a calm or productive way try to hear them out. Even if you dont agree with them, stopping to take the time to actually hear what theyre saying will help validate their point of view.

Listen to each other, says Opoku. If we listen to the other person and give them an opportunity to explain their point of view, chances are theyll be more open to hearing us out. When someone is making a statement that we disagree with, our common response is to start thinking of a rebuttal while the person is talking.

It’s Ok To Take A Break

Things To Say To Help Someone Who Is Stressed Out ...

It also can help to remind a stressed out person that it’s OK to slow down, to take a break, and to put themselves first, especially if you’ve spotted a pattern where they’re always working late or taking care of others.

“People who are feeling stressed out often sacrifice themselves physically and emotionally,” Klapow says, so this text will give them permission to do what they already know they need to do.

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Offer Support But Dont Take Over

Avoidance is a core feature of anxiety, so sometimes we may feel pulled to help out by doing things for our avoidant loved ones and inadvertently feed their avoidance. For instance, if your anxious roommate finds making phone calls incredibly stressful and you end up doing this for them, they never push through their avoidance.

  • More on Anxiety

    How stressed and anxious are you? Take the quiz.

A good general principle to keep in mind is that support means helping someone to help themselves, not doing things for them, which includes virtually anything that stops short of actually doing it yourself. For example, you might offer to attend a first therapy session with your loved one if they set up the appointment. Or, if theyre not sure how to choose a therapist, you might brainstorm ways of doing that, but let them choose.

An exception might be when someones anxiety is accompanied by severe depression. If they cant get themselves out of bed, they may be so shut down that they temporarily need people to do whatever is needed to help them stay alive. Also, sometimes loved ones are so gripped by an anxiety disorder that theyre in pure survival mode and need more hands-on help to get things done. In less extreme circumstances, however, its best to offer support without taking over or overdoing the reassurance.

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