supporting a loved one who is stressed or anxious

It can be challenging to know how and when to support someone who’s feeling overwhelmed. Here we take a look at how to identify stress in other people, and how you can support them.

Everyone sees different situations as stressful, and everyone responds to stress differently. That makes spotting the signs of stress difficult.

As well as learning to support yourself, sometimes you may find you need to support your colleagues or loved ones.

When someone close to us feels overwhelmed or anxious, it can be difficult to know how to help.

Sometimes we may even find ourselves avoiding that person because we’re afraid to say or do the wrong thing.

But withdrawing like this can make things worse.

Here's how you can support someone who’s feeling stressed:

“I'd never met someone as intelligent or interesting as my husband. We were happy and I had a clear image of what my life with him would be. But about a year into our marriage, my husband and I started experiencing some problems. I was struggling to understand him because at times he would get very angry”


caba client

help them recognise there's a problem

It’s often easier to spot stress in someone else than in ourselves. Other times, we just don’t want to admit we’re struggling.

Unfortunately, this means many people ignore the warning signs. They push themselves until they can’t cope.

If you've noticed changes in someone's behaviour, reach out to them. Let them know you've noticed they seem different lately.


Talking things through openly with someone we trust can help us see things differently. It’s a great way to find solutions, too.

Even just knowing that someone’s there to listen can make a huge difference. It’s not always about finding solutions; sometimes it’s just about helping someone feel less alone.

Sharing your time and attention with someone who’s feeling stressed is one of the best things you can do to show your support.

offer reassurance

When you're feeling overwhelmed, it can be difficult to see a way out of a problem.

Reminding and reassuring someone their situation won't last forever, and that things can improve, helps them keep things in perspective. It also helps to keep them in the present, which is part of a mindfulness practice.

help them identify their triggers 

Sometimes we notice things in people they don’t notice in themselves. Discussing this with them can help them identify patterns they may not have otherwise noticed. 

This can be a sensitive topic, as it means drawing attention to negative thoughts or feelings. So be sure to address the topic in a calm, objective, and non-judgemental way. 

You could also help them identify positive situations and activities which make them feel calmer and more in control. For example, going outside for a walk, taking a relaxing bath, or reading a book.  

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 solutions that make the situation easier.  

We can offer practical support including emotional support, counselling, legal and debt advice 

try calming techniques 

Meditation or mindful breathing exercises are proven to help us stay calm, or calm down. Regular practice builds connections in the brain which help us think more clearly and handle pressure better. 

Exercise also helps. And it’s much easier to stick to if 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. 

encourage them to seek professional help 

When stress or anxiety starts to impact someone’s daily life, it may be time for them to speak to a professional. Encourage them to speak to their GP to see what help they can get.

“My daughter spotted the caba advert in a magazine, but initially I was hesitant. I actually felt ashamed that I wasn’t able to manage. The whole situation made me very anxious. I needn’t have worried though. I found caba to be a very respectful organisation. Despite their services being free, they referred to me as a client and very much act in that vein.”


caba client

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)1, ACA students2, ICAEW staff members3, and the family and carers of members and students4

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is or was dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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