‘Tis the Season for Depression and Anxiety: 3 Simple Ways You Can Help Your Friends

You might think the winter brings about sugar cookies and snowflakes, but for those of us suffering from anxiety and depression, the cold winter months bring about a lot more than just chillier weather and cute winter jackets.

For those of us suffering– which, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) is around 40 million adults– winter can be an extremely difficult time of year. Because of this high statistic, chances are you probably have a loved one that suffers from anxiety. However, that doesn’t mean you definitely know how to help them.

Mental health is different for everyone, and what one person wants as support might not be the same as what someone else wants. The best way to know what your specific friend wants is to ask. That being said, the following are three potential avenues as to how to help your anxious and depressed loved ones through the cold and dark winter.

1. Check in.

Because your friends probably aren’t going to reach out, you’re going to need to check in, and you’re going to have to do it right. Check in. Check in often–over and over again–and push when you need to. Don’t accept “fine” as an answer to “how are you,” and definitely don’t think checking in is asking “what’s up,” once a week.

Checking in means a text, a phone call, or an in-person question of how are you feeling. It might mean being up front with, “I’m just checking in,” or even an offer of, “what can I do to help you?”  It might mean making an effort once, twice, three times a day, for days in a row. It might mean offering a distraction and talking about something else, or offering a listening ear and supportive words of encouragement.

You know the people you love. Use your knowledge of them to read their mood and what they might need. Or just ask. Honestly, you can’t really go wrong. Sometimes the best thing my friends do for me is asking me what I want and prefer.

For more ideas on how to check-in, you can also check out my post, 6 Ways You Can Check-In on Friends Going Through a Thing.

2. Invite them out.

This is such a huge one that is often overlooked. While yes, sometimes what I need when I’m suffering badly is to sleep and be home alone watching Law & Order reruns until my brain feels like it’s melting, often during the winter months, I need to be pushed out.

This isn’t to say that if your friend tells you they prefer to stay home you should try and convince them otherwise. It simply means that you should extend an invitation that requires them to leave the house, and if they say no, wait a few days and extend another.

You don’t want to push to little, but you don’t want to push too much, either. There are rules to these things. You definitely should not invite them to your huge house party, your family Christmas ball, or to the church party that includes your entire congregation.

The best invite is one that is simple. It provides comfort, minimal effort, low-risk, and a soft landing if things don’t go well. It means asking them out to dinner or lunch where you sit at a table for a couple of hours and just chat about what’s new. It means an invite over to your place where they can wear their sweatpants and you bring out a plate of cookies for the two of you chow on while you both either eventually laugh so hard you cry about the stupidest thing that happened three years ago or they cry on your shoulder about what’s happening. Read their cues. Just make sure you have time blocked out specifically for them so they don’t feel like a burden, nuisance, or inconvenience.

The best invite is easy. It’s simplistic. It’s centered around you, them, and just existing together.

3. Remind them they’re loved.

This one might seem stupid, but it’s vital. Those of us who are anxious or depressed often fall into pits of self-deprecation. Remind your loved one that they’re your loved one and their presence in your life is important to you! Do this with words via a text telling them so. Do it by spending time with them as mentioned above. Do it by picking them up a small gift “just because.” Do it by asking them if you can give them a hug and make it mean something. Do it by checking in or inviting them out, or by some other creative way that you yourself come up with.

It doesn’t matter how you communicate, help, or offer your support. Just do it.

 


How do you remind your friends that you’re there for them? How do your friends prefer support? How do you? Tell me below!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: