Stress Awareness Month 2023: Supporting Someone Experiencing Stress

5 April 2023

It can feel difficult if someone you’re close to is feeling stressed. You might find it hard if you can’t help them change the situation that is causing them stress. But there are still lots of practical things you can do to help support a friend or colleague who is experiencing stress. Here are some things you can do to offer support:

1. Help them notice signs and symptoms of stress: Often, someone might not notice that how they feel or behave is a sign of stress. For example, this may include having problems sleeping, or drinking more alcohol than usual. You may be able to see these signs in someone else. This could even be before they recognise it themselves. If you’ve noticed this, you could let them know and ask how you can help. Try to be gentle when starting this conversation, in case it is something they are not aware of or feel sensitive about.

2. Listen without judgment: Let your friend or colleague talk about what’s stressing them out. Having a chance to talk could help them feel calmer and more able to deal with their stress. Being there for them and listening without judging them can help. Simply holding space for them and actively listening can be a huge help.

“[My friends can help by] making me a cup of tea, holding me while I cry, making me laugh…”

3. Offer practical help: Ask your friend or colleague if there’s anything you can do to help them out. If you are work colleagues maybe you can take some of their workload off their plate or help them find resources to manage their stress.

4. Encourage self-care: Encourage your friend or colleague to take care of themselves. Suggest things like exercise, meditation, or getting enough sleep. Offer to join them in these activities if that’s something they’d like.

5. Be patient and understanding: Remember that everyone handles stress differently. Some people may need more time or space to manage their stress. Be patient and understanding if your friend or colleague needs to take a step back or take some time off.

6. Offer resources: If your friend or colleague is struggling with their stress, suggest they seek professional help, and maybe support them to do so. You could offer to help them find a therapist or counsellor, encourage them to talk to their doctor, or share information about Derbyshire Mind’s  free services. 

7. Look after yourself: If someone around you is very stressed, you might feel stressed too. If this happens, try to take a step back and look after your own wellbeing. Having good wellbeing yourself can make you feel more able to help someone else.

Remember that just being there for your friend or colleague can make a big difference. Sometimes knowing that someone cares can be a huge help when dealing with stress.