You see it every day, people that are withdrawn from other people or daily activities. It is most acute when you see it in someone close to you. What can you do? Should you do it? Should you put yourself in an awkward situation? Are they depressed or just feeling down? Will they despise you for focusing on their situation?
The first thing to do is to understand the situation from their point of view. Depression can be an incredibly isolating illness. It is more than being sad, it is a way of thinking that affects all aspects of our lives. When depressed, it is hard for us to speak to our friends. We lack energy and focus. We often feel overwhelmed by the little things that are building up. This leads us into a spiral of declining moods and motivation.
Below are some alternative ways to offer support to someone without offering advice. However, some caution is needed before you launch into action. What one friend might find helpful, another could find patronizing or intrusive. The first thing you can do is ask them how you can help. Even if they don't want your help, they likely will be touched that you asked.
- CLEANING - Simple things like putting out the trash or cleaning the kitchen can make a massive difference in one's mood.
- COOKING - When we have no energy or motivation, cooking can be a real challenge. Cooking a meal or offering extra portions of nutritious batch-cooked meals likely would be appreciated.
- ERRANDS - Whether it's picking up a prescription or filling out paperwork, such tasks can help one feel less overwhelmed.
- ENCOURAGE ENJOYMENT – Encourage doing activities that bring joy, or at the very least help in feeling less isolated.
- FRESH AIR - Fresh air and a bit of exercise can help to improve one's mood. Go for a walk or visit a park.
- GOING OUT FOR COFFEE (OR OTHER DRINK OF CHOICE) - Meeting at a café can be a positive experience. It encourages one to get out of bed, get dressed, and get out of the house and feel connected.
- HUGS – Research shows that hugs help heal us all because they boost oxytocin and serotonin levels. If appropriate, offer a hug to a friend in need.
- LAUGHTER - Laughter works much like a hug so share a joke, text a funny meme or que up a comedy to lift someone's spirits.
- VISIT – Go the extra mile and stop by to show you care. Your presence will remind your friend they matter, are appreciated and that people want to spend time with them.
It all makes a difference.
Inspired by resource article from BLURT