Offer To Help In Specific Ways Or Tell Them Youre Going To Help
If you know the person well, you can offer to help them in certain ways that you know is going to help them.
For instance, I know youre really stressed because Susie needs 50 cookies for the bake sale tomorrow, but I really dont mind helping. Ill pick her up and she can come bake cookies with me. How does 3pm sound? or saying something like, Okay, Im coming over to help you pick napkins for the wedding. You dont have a choice! Be there in 20 minutes!
Sometimes, its hard for people to reach out and ask to help, so if you have a close enough relationship where you can just show up and help based on knowing what they need, all the better.
Things Not To Say To Someone Who Is Stressed Out
1. “Just take a deep breath.” I took lots of deep breaths. I also counted to 10, envisioned my happy place, and told myself that everything was going to be OK. Yet here we are discussing how you think I should handle my stresses and it’s making me feel dumb.
2. “You need a vacation.” Why, yes! I do! Every third thought I have is of disconnecting myself from the Internet and everything that’s stressful around me, but unfortunately I literally can’t. So glad you pointed out that I look as run-down as I feel though!
3. “It doesn’t sound like you really have that much to do.” Mountains and molehills are relative, sir. Just because my stresses are different than yours doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of stressing over. Please don’t make a molehill out of my mountain, thx.
4. “Stress is bad for your skin.” You know what else is bad for my skin? Everything. Now you’ve sent me into a stress spiral about aging prematurely and getting older.
5. “There are other people who have worse problems.” I appreciate that you’re trying to give me some perspective, but now I just feel crappy. I wasn’t comparing my problems to anyone who is starving or anything, I was venting about how my issues are affecting me, here, today.
6. “It’s all in your head.” It’s not though! That’s not to say I’m not exaggerating a little or making things more difficult for myself, but in all likelihood, this problem was created by an outside force and thrown my way to deal with.
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What To Say To Someone Who Is Stressed
Stress is just a natural part of life sometimes, so its not surprising that you may come across someone who is stressed whether it be a friend, family member, coworker or even stranger.
Figuring out what to say to someone who is stressed can be the hardest, as you dont want to stress them out even more and want to help them calm their stress.
It can also make a difference what theyre stressed about, as your reaction would be different to someone who is stressed out about schoolwork and getting motivated to study versus someone who is stressed out because their wedding might have to be cancelled last minute because the venue caught fire.
This handy guide to what to say to someone who is stressed should help you navigate the waters and be a supportive and comforting voice.
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Help Out At Their Home
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.
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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.
When Should I Talk To A Doctor About Stress
You should seek medical attention if you feel overwhelmed, if you are using drugs or alcohol to cope, or if you have thoughts about hurting yourself. Your primary care provider can help by offering advice, prescribing medicine or referring you to a therapist.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Its natural and normal to be stressed sometimes. But long-term stress can cause physical symptoms, emotional symptoms and unhealthy behaviors. Try relieving and managing stress using a few simple strategies. But if you feel overwhelmed, talk to your doctor.
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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.
Assess If They Can Handle Some Suggestions
After they share, if you feel you may have some solutions, I would advise you to first ask if this person is in a place where they could handle hearing some suggestions. If they are not, it would be helpful to remind yourself that it is not personal. A simple response of, Glad I could be here for you.
Often, when a person is stressed there is SO much already going on in their minds. It is possible that they may not feel able to add any more in the mix.
I would also encourage you to send nice follow up, encouraging texts, or maybe funny memes just to let them know youre thinking of them.
Lauren Lottino, MA, MFTC
Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, In Bloom Therapy
Here are some helpful ways you can respond when someone you care about is feeling stressed:
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I’ve Been There And I Know It’s Hard
While you’ll want to keep the focus on the person who’s stressed, it can help to admit you’ve been there, too â as a way of saying “you’re not alone.” Because going through challenges in life can be very isolating, Andre says, “it is important to show to your friend that they are part of a supportive community.”
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.
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Remind Them Of The Calm After The Storm
Stress often comes from a particularly busy or painful period of time in our lives, but its unusual for anyone to live a perpetually stressful life that is truly concerning with how stressful it is 24/7.
Remind the person that there is a calm after the storm, just as soon as they get through these mid-terms or after the school year lets out or when theyre on honeymoon just soaking up the sunshine and not having to think about table layouts.
This does depend on what the person is stressed about, but trying to help them see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel can go a little ways towards keeping their brain focused on the positives rather than the storm they are in.
Don’t Add To The Stress Your Co
Have you ever been incredibly pressed for a deadline, only to have a co-worker say something that pushes all your buttons and stresses you out even further? but what can we do to make sure we’re not the ones creating stress in our colleagues?
You can begin by never, ever saying these 5 things to a stressed-out co-worker who’s already feeling in over his or her head.
1. “Calm down!”
In only the rarest of cases does hearing the words “calm down” actually help someone calm down. Generally, when someone is coping poorly with stress, telling him or her to calm down will simply aggravate the situation. They will be even less likely to gather their frazzled nerves. Often, the mere words stress them out more.
2. “You’re getting too worked up.”
Similar to telling someone to calm down, telling someone that they’re getting “too worked up” or “too emotional” about something will only lead to their increased frustration. By discounting the emotions or stress of your co-worker, you’re invalidating his or her feelings. We never know the stories of others, so we definitely shouldn’t act like we understand them better than our own.
3. “You should just get it done faster!”
Although this should be common sense, many people don’t understand that telling someone to meet a pressing deadline even more quickly will only exasperate the person trying to do the work. When a stressed co-worker comes to you for advice, definitely refrain from saying to hurry the job up.
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How To Comfort Someone Who Is Stressed Over Text
One of the most frustrating periods in ones life is when you are stressed out and yet, the person you are chatting with seems to be a very boring type. The same way you feel during this period is how others who are stressed out also feel about you when you cannot keep up with the comfort they need at that moment.
To avoid being a victim of this especially if the stressed individual is your lover or crush, you must make sure you remain with me to the end of this write-up.
Here are a few tips on how you can comfort someone who is stressed over text:
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Dont Give Unsolicited Advice
When people we love are hurting, its natural to want to try and fix them, but unless theyve explicitly asked, try not to give advice. If you have advice to share that you think might help, you can check in about how receptive theyre feeling by saying something like, I have some thoughts/reflections to share, but want to respect where you are because I know sometimes outside opinions arent helpful. Is it ok if I share or should I wait for another time? If your friend signals that they want you to wait , do what you need to do to let it go so you can stay present to your friend in the moment.
Exercise And Get Moving
Whether its brisk walking, running, or simply dancing, exercise decreases stress hormones, like adrenaline, and releases feel-good hormones like endorphins. Think of it as a fair hormone exchange.
Relationship Expert | Trauma Expert
Our response to someone who is stressed depends on our relationship with them.
In some relationships, it may be appropriate to say, what can I take off your plate? In other relationships, it may be more helpful to say, Would it help to talk about it with me? Its OK if youd rather not, but Im here to listen if you want and then say nothing at all.
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Help Them Identify Their Triggers
Your independent observations of someone’s behaviour can help them identify patterns that they hadn’t noticed before.
This can be a sensitive topic, as it will mean drawing attention to negative thoughts or feelings, so remaining calm, objective and non-judgemental is important.
In the same way, you could also help someone identify situations and activities that help them to feel less stressed and more in control. For example getting outside for a walk, taking a relaxing bath or reading a book.
How Can Other People Help
This page is for friends and family of someone who is experiencing stress, who want to support them.
If someone you’re close to is feeling 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 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.
” 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.
- Help them identify their triggers. You can be specific about things you’ve observed, but try to stay open-minded and non-judgemental. Your perspective might be valuable, but your friend or family member could find this conversation stressful, and being patient will help.
“Not putting extra pressure on me… letting me know they’re there but that I don’t have to do anything.”
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Dont Tell Them Not To Be Stressed
If theres one thing you shouldnt do, its to tell the person not to be stressed, even in a lighthearted way like, Hey! Dont be stressed! Its all going to be okay!.
Allow them to feel their feelings and be stressed if they feel that.
You telling them not to be stressed is not going to make it so, so use the suggestions above instead and skip that bit.
Try To Think Differently About It
The first thing I tell people who are stressed to do is to try to think differently about it. This is a practice that you get better at over time, but you can start now by asking What is within my control and what is not?
There are so many circumstances outside of our control that we can release through prayer or other spiritual practices. This helps to free us from this tendency to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.
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Ways To Support Someone Who Is Stressed
We will all have different responses to the pandemic as it has affected each of us in a number of different ways. As well as learning to support yourself at this time, you may find you need to support your loved ones who are feeling the strain.
When someone close to us is feeling overwhelmed or anxious, it can be difficult to know how to help. Sometimes we may even find ourselves avoiding that person for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. But withdrawing like this can actually make things worse.
What Would Be Most Helpful To You Right Now
Empower them with appreciative inquiry. Here are some examples:
- Have you ever been in a similar situation?
- What have you done in the past when you have been overwhelmed/stressed that helped you move forward?
- Im curious what do you think makes you strong? ex. I so appreciate when you bring your sense of humor to my worries!
- Whos on your team that is really helpful?I know its often hard to ask for help, but we all love to help!
- What would be most helpful to you right now?brainstorming, calming, distracting, helping you just clarify whats the challenge, what you can control, what you cant?
- Let me know whenever you want to talk this out!
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