6 Ways You Can Check-In on Friends Going Through a Thing

While you may be aware of the exact people in your life that are in need of a check-in from you, here’s the thing about emotional or mental struggles: we usually don’t know.

With the holidays coming, things can get busy, crazy, and energy-consuming. For people struggling with their mental health, experiencing a traumatic experience, or going through some sort of life-changing event, the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year.

Many individuals can become drained in a room full of people, or even end up leaving the holidays feeling alone and worse than they do on any other day of the year. While you may be aware of the exact people in your life that are in need of a check-in from you, here’s the thing about emotional or mental struggles: we usually don’t know.

We don’t know which friend needs a pick-me-up, or an opportunity to talk to someone that supports them. If your friends are anything like the millions of people struggling at any given time, including myself, the chances are that they won’t ask. If it’s something you really want, you’ll have to open that door yourself.

There are a million ways to send a text message or make a phone call, but it’s easy to not know where to begin when specifically initiating contact to check-in. Here are some ideas on how to start.

1. Send a photo.
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Some of my favorite text messages are simple photos. It could be a photo of a pet, (my own pup pictured here), a picture of something that reminded you of them, or even a joke you found online.

Photos are the best way to start if you don’t know where to. They require few words on your end, and usually it opens the door to starting a conversation without having to ask how they are from the get-go.

 

2. Call them.

If texting isn’t really your thing, or you’re just more comfortable calling than texting, call! There is nothing wrong with dialing a friend’s number to have a conversation about how they are. A phone call can be a good choice if the conversation might be lengthy or a bit deep, and it might be easier for your friend to open-up when hearing your voice as opposed to reading your words.

That being said, as a person that can get anxious if they don’t have enough time to prepare a response to something, I encourage you to make sure your friend is okay with a phone call before you do it. This does not have to be a big production. You can ask them in person about calling them at a later time, or even send a simple text asking them to call you when they have a moment. Then, you’ll be comfortable, and so will they.

3. Directly tell them you are thinking of them.

iphone-zIpnBeing emotionally vulnerable is difficult. It can often be tough to just tell someone that you are thinking of them, yet sometimes this is the easiest way to go. Simply saying, “I’m thinking of you,” lets your friend know that you’re checking on them while also coming across with no pressure for them to open up to you. You’re delivering a message without giving too much on your end or demanding too much on theirs, making this approach an easy win-win.

4. Tell them they matter to you.

If being direct is more your style, a message telling them they matter to you can do wonders. Whether it’s a text message, a phone call, or an in-person delivery, knowing that you matter to someone and hearing that you do are two completely different things.

This is one of my favorite strategies to use for a few different reasons. You have the option to make it as long or as short as you want. You can end the message with, “you matter to me,” or you can deliver that meaning over a more lengthy description of how you are glad they are in your life. You can even throw in a, “you know I’m really glad we are friends, right?”

This strategy allows for a lot of control on the sender’s end, is best for relationships between friends that are rather close due to its intimacy, and as someone who has received a message like this, it does a lot more for the receiver than any of the others in this list.

For an anxious person, or even a person wanting to reach out but struggling to ask for help, hearing a message like this gives something to reflect on in the future. I have never been told, “you matter to me,” and not reflected on it later. It’s a small memory of knowledge that can constantly be pulled out on rainy days, and that makes it both one of the most beneficial and also one of my favorites (to send and to receive).

5. Ask what’s been going on, not how they are.

It’s an easy cop-out to answer the question, “how are you,” with, “good, how are you?” If you’re checking in on your friend to really find out how they are, you’re going to want to lead with something else. This can be any number of things, including:Speech_bubbles.svg.png

– How are you feeling?
– What’s been going on?
– Is everything ok?
– How was your day?
-How have things been lately?

All of these questions push for more information from the receiver, and stop the ever-so-overused, “how are you?”

6. Tell them you’ve noticed that something has been different.

We often notice when things are just off with our friends. This could be you apologizing because you know you’ve been distant, or it could be you recognizing that something is different with them. Maybe they don’t text back like they used to. Maybe they’re too busy every time you ask them to dinner. Maybe they aren’t as active on social media.

All of these are valid reasons for you to reach out, and they will see it as such. You don’t need to give them the deep details. You simply need to say, “I’ve noticed you seem a bit off lately. Everything alright?” If they ask you what you’re referring to, be vague! “I can’t put my finger on it… it’s just something.”

A little white lie that helps you to check-in on your friend is not going to hurt anyone. However, if there truly is something different, feel free to throw that out there, too!


Struggles are struggles. No matter what they are, they make life more difficult and take a village to get through. Friends are often one of the biggest supports during these difficult times, and you can’t be a good friend if you don’t know how or you don’t try.

The first step to being a good friend is making an effort. Check in. After that, you’re on your own. Your commitment level and effort is up to your comfort level, but you should at least know if your friends are okay.

The only way to know is to ask.

Be the friend that checks in. Set a reminder. Write it on your calendar. Decide to do it on specific regular basis, like every other time you cut the grass or wash the car. Check-in when you think of it, so you don’t forget. Stop tagging them in funny memes on Facebook and text them instead. Start a conversation. Initiate.

You never know when your friend really needs it.

You never know when they’re trying to figure out how to ask for help and they just wish someone would reach out.

Check-in on your friend.

You just might be the only one doing so.

2 Comments

  1. This is such a helpful post! It seems that in situations very few people know how to communicate when a certain life event or situation arises. It amazes me how some people talk to others in those situations. This is such a well written blog post, you are a great writer! Keep it up, I’ll be following along!
    -L

    Liked by 1 person

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