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.
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“I actually felt ashamed that I wasn’t able to manage. The whole situation made me very anxious. I found caba to be a very respectful organisation.”
If you're worried about a loved one's wellbeing, talk to us. From a listening ear, to counselling sessions with a qualified counsellor, we'll help them work through any difficulties they're facing.
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