How to Emotionally Support Your Friends:The Right Way

Last week a friend of mine named Joanna bought me a 24 ounce zebra hot chocolate, there was no special occasion or incentive. When she finished paying for it I thanked her and gave her a hug and she looked at me and said, "It's no problem, you look like you need someone to buy you a hot chocolate". The gesture is seemingly small but it made a large impact on me that night to feel like someone had taken time to notice that I was not in the best of moods and it instantly empowered me. This situation also made me think back to when a friend had not dealt with my irritation the best way so I wanted share why it might just be a little bit important to find different ways to support your friends emotionally and try to be as cautious as possible with the things you say.

There are a few things that you should not say to a friend:
  • You are always so angry
  • You are being a downer
  • Just be happy 
  • Why are you always so sad all of the time?
I'm sure you feel like you are just being honest but take a second, place yourself in their shoes. Why are they upset? What has been bothering them specifically? Did you ask? I know you feel like you have the best intentions in mind when you forget to use a filter however the things that feel right to say are not always the best things to let yourself manifest into words towards someone you care about. Lets come up with a scenario: Imagine you've had a really terrible week, you are stressed, work is hard, school is crammed and you feel as if you haven't had a second to truly relax and enjoy yourself. You have to put on a smile for everyone, that gets tiring after awhile doesn't it? Wouldn't it? 
Emotional health talks and consideration aren't as common as we would love to think and i believe as a friend its imperative for you to be a safe space foe ventilation for your other friends. Why? Because that is just what friends are for. Often times we hold those relationships closer and we trust our friends to listen to our problems no matter how seemingly minuscule they may be. You might feel like you are of no real help but there are multiple things you can do to support you friend with just a few small words and actions. Here are a few:

Have a health day at the end of the week 
If your schedule allows it gather a bunch of friends and have a small get together to play games, vent and problem solve, you could even fit in room for a cry break.

Consider your word choice
Think to yourself: Hm I know this person is stressed and going through a rough time what can I say that is optimistic but also not a minimization of their issues. A little bit of thought goes a long way when it comes to another individuals emotional status.

Buy them a cup of coffee 
    If you haven't seen or heard from your friend in a few days they are probably stressed and bogged down with course work, stopping by and dropping off a hot drink always makes someone feel good about their day.

    Go and do something fun with them
    Sometimes all we need is a day to exert a lot of energy and stress and there are plenty of ways to channel on campus. From taking 30 minutes to run at the SRC to going tubing on the snow hill, a few minutes out of your day will make a large impact on the people around you and yourself.

Do light yoga in the morning
    You know those 30 minutes before class that you use to fit in some extra Z's? Take twenty of them to stretch it out and prepare for the day with your friends, make it a semester long deal, your body, mood and mind will thank you.

    Be an ear 
    Sometimes friends don't need advice or to feel relatable, they might just want to vent and feel as if their problems are valid. Be an open ear and let them know that they have every right to feel stressed, then instead of offering advice try to integrate some stress reliving into your schedule with them using some of the examples above.

    Simply ask them!
    I noticed you've been stressed lately and I wanted to know what is the best way I can support you through this tough time.
No one is perfect, which is a reality that is important to come to terms with and college can be a challenge. On top of college some people may have personal or family issues that they have to deal with that they might not want to share with the public and that is okay. Offer resources, be a friend, be a helping hand, be their hot chocolate after a long day, but above all be considerate.

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