Although things are opening up, a lot of friends and family that I’m talking to aren’t experiencing the joy and relief we thought we’d be feeling when we were finally able to get out there again. There’s a very tentative hope that things might be starting to be okay, but mostly there seems to be a lot of trepidation and anxiety about getting back out there.
It can be hard to watch friends struggle with this, feeling pressurised to go back to normal but not feeling mentally ready for it. There are lots of things we can do to help them, but on their bad days, we can sometimes feel at a loss of how to cheer them up. We’ve put together a list of things you can do when your friend hits a slump to get them back out there and ready to live their best life:
Have a deep talk
Sometimes, just getting it all out there can be the best remedy. When we bottle things up, we can feel way in over our heads and get completely overwhelmed by our thoughts and feelings, blowing them out of proportion. Sometimes telling someone outside the situation can bring some welcome perspective and rationality to the situation.
Settling in with a comfort film, snacks and cosy blankets is always a comforting experience. Pick out your childhood favourites or some of the best girly comedies out there for a blast of feel-good and a little sugar rush with your favourite sweets. Sometimes a little one on one time to distract them from their problems can be a welcome break.
Plan a day out
Go on a roadtrip! What about that place nearby that you always talk about visiting but never seem to have time to go to? Schedule it in and dress up for the day and go do some exploring. Pack a picnic, set up an amazing roadtrip playlist and make the most of your time together, seeing somewhere new.
Send them videos you find helpful
It can be for whatever they need in that moment: Calming yoga videos, anxiety soothing meditations, funny videos, inspiring Ted Talks – stuff you’ve found helpful or that might apply to them. If they’re struggling with sleep, maybe an article about better sleep routines or a sleep meditation. It’s showing you’re thinking of them and providing alternative ways to help that they may not have considered before.
Offer to help out
If they’re feeling overwhelmed right now, an offer of help can go a long way. If they have errands to run like doing a food shopping, posting a parcel, picking something up for someone, offer to help. No matter big or small, helping to relieve just a little pressure can go a long way.
Make them dinner
Again, if they’re very overwhelmed right now and struggling to maintain a normal routine, cooking them a tasty and nutritious dinner could make all the difference. They may have major exams, be staying late at work or just struggling to fit proper food into their routine, something big and freezable like a lasagne or casserole is always handy to have on hand.
Make a friendship playlist
Music is truly mood-altering. They may be feeling a little disconnected from themselves and the outside world at the moment, but a playlist of all your favourite songs will bring up memories, make them smile and maybe even prompt a dance party in their kitchen!
Send a selfcare package
Because we all need a little TLC now and again. If they’ve been run off their feet lately, gently remind them that taking time for themselves is equally important. If they don’t take time out they’ll burn out and that isn’t going to help anyone. Fill it with bath salts, facemasks, body butter and maybe some of their favourite treats or scented candles – whatever they find most relaxing.
Bake for them
It’s the same idea as cooking them a dinner. Thoughtful, sweet and adds a personal touch, baking them their favourite treat like brownies, cupcakes or even as simple as Rice Krispy’s shows you’re thinking of them.
Send them a good book
Either the best fiction you read recently, or maybe an inspiring biography or maybe one that helped you through hard times. Something with an uplifting message about where they’re at right now can give them hope or a really good gripping story can help them forget about some of their problems for a little while.
Get them outside
When some people go through hard times, they can curl in on themselves and even shut people out. It gets too easy to stay indoors, especially nowadays when we work from home and don’t have as many opportunities to get out and about. Invite them for a walk or a little outdoor yoga or even just to sit out in their garden for a little bit. Being out in the open air with a blue sky over you can do wonders for your mood and balance everything out a little.
Make a gratitude list
It sounds corny, but it can work when someone is in a slump, feeling negative and low. Plus it apparently takes five positive thoughts to outweigh every negative thought! Writing out the things that are working for them and that are going well in their life. The people who love them, their talents, even something as simple as a nice meal they’ve had recently! It doesn’t have to be deep or big – it should just make them feel loved and that the world isn’t against them.
Sometimes retail therapy can be everything you need! Getting out and having a browse for either clothes, some home wear or even some books can be a mood booster. It can get you out and about too, and there’s nothing like the thrill of finding a bargain!
Dress up and take pictures together
A little ego-boost is good for the soul. Getting dolled up together, doing makeovers, wearing the dress you always want to wear but never seem to have an occasion to wear it to is all exciting, creative and fun. Thrown on some feel-good music and take a tone of photos together – you don’t even have to post them. They can just be for the two of you to remember how fab you look and are.
Try a little painting or get silly and draw portraits of each other. Go old school and buy a bunch of fashion magazines to make a collage or enrol in a pottery class or something equally new and random. Creativity is good for the soul, so regardless of whether you’re artistic or not, give it a go and try something different.
Another natural mood-booster, it’s easy to get caught in ana exercise slump when we’re feeling unmotivated, overwhelmed or too busy to fit it into our routines. Our body responds to lack of exercise by bringing us down. Try getting out to do something fun –an online dance or Zumba class full of great music and fun exercise, something more calming like a little yoga or something totally new like volleyball or tennis.
Have a sleepover
Throw it back and have a good old-fashioned sleepover. Watch a movie, get your favourite snacks and have deep chats late into the night about everything and anything.
Get your nails done together
A little TLC can go a long way. They’ll love the surprise of getting a little pampering out of the blue. Getting them a voucher rather than an appointment is a good idea so that way they can pick when suits them to get a fab and relaxing manicure.
Send them flowers
Flowers are unexpected and always welcome. We often think of them as something our significant others get us but getting them from friends is just as a lovely. They make us feel loved and appreciated and they stick around for a week reminding us of our lovely caring friends.
Plan a trip together
Regardless of whether or not you take that trip, the fun of planning it and looking towards the future is the real point of this exercise. Especially right now, it can be hard to see life returning to normal, but looking into places to go and things to see can normalize the idea that life and travel and fun things will return. Look at pretty accommodation, decide which places and activities to visit while there, look up the menus of local restaurants and get excited about the food. It’s all about the potential.
Blare music in your car and drive
Sometimes, you just need to rock out to some angsty 2000s girl band hits and let it go. Blare the music and hit the road and maybe try to end up somewhere scenic and peaceful at the end of it to talk it all out.
Send them funny posts that made you think of them
That really niche but hilarious meme that always makes them smile? Send it. That videos of a cat that you don’t find very funny but has them wetting themselves? Send it. That post about ‘your thing’ that just so them? Send it. You never know when someone could do with a good laugh.
Remind them that this will pass
Their life won’t forever be frozen in this moment with these problems. They have a whole lot ahead of them once they get through this rough patch. Try to visualize the future ahead, whether that’s next week, next month or even ten years down the line – all the things they’ll accomplish the people they’ll meet – they have so much more positives in their future to outweigh the negatives in the present.
Try something new together
Sometimes to get out of a slump you need to try something new. Sign up for a class or an activity being run in your local community centre and give it a go. It’s okay to laugh at yourselves and fail epically – the point is to switch things up.
Send them a text or letter about how much they mean to you
I think we all appreciate being told these kind of things. We may think we’re appreciating friends by telling them we love them and having fun experiences, but sometimes it’s really lovely to it’s really lovely to write down specifically whey you’re lucky to have a friend like them. Try to get into detail and specifics, like times you saw what a great person they were, in their job, with their family, with you – it’s all about what makes them individually a person you will always love and trust.
Sometimes that’s all they need. Venting is a way to cleanse yourself of all the pent up anger and frustration you may be feeling. Generally, people don’t want advice – they just want to let it out – and maybe a little sympathy.
Drop off an impromptu coffee and pastry
It’s a small gesture, but it could end up making their day, especially if they’re stressed out at work right now. A little coffee break and a quick chat to unload can put them in a more positive mindset and let them know you’re thinking of them.
Remind them of a happy memory
Send or frame an old photo for them of a time when you were both really happy and spending time together. Good memories can remind us that bad times don’t last forever.
Go to your favourite place together
Whether that’s your bench in the park with a coffee in hand, the beach twenty minutes from your house, or your favourite restaurant, just being somewhere that brings you joy or peace or contentment can have a big impact on your mood.
Know when they’re not okay
Knowing our friends well means knowing when this is more than just a slump or a bad week. When there’s something bigger going on, it might be difficult for them to admit it to themselves. But hearing someone else say they’re worried about you or that it might be time to seek further help can be a wake up call, even if they may not want to hear it at first. You can be the best friend in the world and still see that a coffee date isn’t going to fix this problem. Sometimes, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. Check out some resources here to find out what to do when you’re worried about a loved one’s mental health.