How to Support Someone Who is Going Through a Tough Time
Updated: Mar 27
We all go through hard times. That’s just how life is. What should we do when someone close to us is facing many tough circumstances? How do we effectively support them? Here are a few of my suggestions.
1. Evaluate if you are able to support them.
Before we attempt to help others, we must ask ourselves if we are capable of doing so. Echoing Purpose Fairy’s message, you must prioritize yourself before others. Helping someone through a crisis often requires a lot of time and effort. If you are busy or mentally overwhelmed, you may want to refer them to another person besides yourself. On the other hand, if you believe that you are in a good physical, mental, and emotional state, then definitely consider helping the person in need.
2. Validate their emotions.
A great first step in helping someone is to provide some form of validation. Even if you do not agree with their actions, you can still validate their feeling by saying comments such as “that seems tiring” or “I can see why you would be frustrated by that.” However, as stated by Ravishly, remember that they might not share their hardships with you. Even if that is the case, you can still validate their wish for privacy. In that case, a simple "it's okay if you don't want to share" would probably do.
3. Spend more one-on-one time with them.
Most people feel more comfortable sharing information with one person as opposed to a group of people. While you are spending time with them, choose activities that would give them the opportunity to talk to you and occupy their mind with something else if necessary. Going to an amusement park, eating out, and planning a game/movie night would all fall under this category. According to Psychology Today, making an effort to spend time with them shows them that you value their presence in your life. This can really help them get out of a stump and back onto their feet.
4. Offer advice.
Keep in mind that there is a time and place for this. Find Your Words states that if someone is feeling depressed, you should focus more on listening to them as opposed to giving advice. Once you sense that they are trying to get back on their feet, ask them if they would like to receive advice. Asking the person before giving the advice is a good precautionary measure, as you don’t want to rush them if they still need some time to process what has happened to them. When you are making suggestions, remember to always be clear and direct with your message yet kind when you are delivering it.
5. Get outside help when necessary.
At times medical help is necessary. As mentioned in Good Life Zen, if you know or strongly suspect that someone is dealing with drug or alcohol abuse, suicidal ideation, an eating disorder, or any other severe physical or mental illness, get professional help for them immediately. You may feel as if you are infringing on their privacy. This may be true, however getting medical help for them in these cases is a necessary measure. Think of it like this: would you rather the person be alive and mad at you, or dead and not upset with you? Your responsibility as someone who is aiding them is to help them meet their needs. Don’t be ashamed to seek professional help for them. If you or someone you care about is in need of support, click here to go to Please Live for a list of national (US) hotlines, or here to go to Together We Are Strong for a list of international hotlines.
While you are consoling someone, make an effort to imagine what it would be like being in their shoes. How are they feeling? What do they need? How can you help them get their needs met? Keep these questions in mind when you are supporting someone, and you will stay on the right track.