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.

How you can support someone who is stressed

1. Help them to recognise there's a problem

It's easier to spot signs of stress in other people than it is to see them in ourselves. And often people don't want to admit, even to themselves, that they're starting to struggle.

Unfortunately, this means many people plough on, despite the warning signs, until they can no longer cope. If you've noticed changes in someone's behaviour that suggests they're feeling stressed, reach out to them. Let them know that you've noticed they don't seem quite themselves.

2. Listen

Talking things through openly with someone we trust can help us see things differently and find new solutions. Even just knowing that somebody is there to listen can make a huge difference. Giving someone who is feeling stressed your time and undivided attention is one of the best things you can do to support them.

3. Offer reassurance

When you're feeling overwhelmed, it can be difficult to see a way out of a problem. Reminding and reassuring someone that this won't last forever and that the situation can improve, will help them keep things in perspective.

4. 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. 

5. Offer practical support

If there's a specific issue that's causing someone to feel stressed such as money worries, job loss or relationship problems, you may be able to help them find practical solutions that make the situation easier.

Practical support from CABA

  • Emotional support including counselling
  • Expert legal advice
  • Specialist debt advice
  • Health and carer support
  • Financial assistance

Find out how we can help

6. Try calming techniques

Techniques such as meditation or mindful breathing exercises can help us stay calm. When practised regularly they improve and strengthen our response to pressure. And regular practice is easier to stick to when you've got someone to practice with. Help your friend take back control by encouraging them to take mindful pauses whenever they start to feel overwhelmed. This 10-minute body scan is a good place to start.

7. Support them to seek professional help

If their stress and anxiety is impacting their day-to-day life, it might be time to seek some professional help. Encourage them to contact their GP or contact CABA to find out more about our services. 

CABA provides lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff and their close family members. Learn more about how to strengthen your mental wellbeing and support others on our dedicated hub.

If you’d like to know more about support from CABA, make an enquiry today or chat with a member of our Support team at caba.org.uk/letstalk.