The Most Important Way to Support a Friend Who’s Struggling During the Coronavirus Crisis

It’s important to reach out, but the way we communicate is key.

Shutterstock/ Eakachai Leesin
Shutterstock/ Eakachai Leesin

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of our lives, though its effects are hitting some harder than others. Most of us want to help our friends and family who are having a tough time — but knowing the best way to show up for others can be challenging. Even though we may struggle to find the right words, research confirms that reaching out and extending support is critical.

When you check in, try referencing a happy memory the two of you share, and allow that positive anecdote to be a conversation starter, Ursula Whiteside, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, told Thrive. Then, consider reflecting their strengths back at them: “It’s a form of giving hope. You might say something like, ‘I was just thinking of you. I know you’ve been through so much lately, but I’ve seen how strong you are, and I know you’ll get through it,’” Whiteside suggests.

You’ll also want to be specific about when and in what capacity you’re available to help them should they need you. Blanket statements like “let me know if you need anything” can be vague and confusing to the person who’s struggling, no matter how well-intentioned your offer is.

To better support the friends and family in your life, keep these Microsteps in mind:

Show someone concern without offering advice. Instead of “How can I solve their problem,” ask, “How can I be there for them in this moment?”

Today, make a list of someone to call, text, or FaceTime each day. Writing out a list of your loved ones and allocating a few minutes each day to call them will help you — and them — feel more connected. 

Check in on a friend or family member who lost their job. A quick phone call or text can let your loved one know they aren’t alone. 

Ask someone what they’re doing to take care of themselves. Social distancing can make us feel further apart emotionally. This question can bring us closer.

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