12 Good Things to Say to a Friend During This Crisis

Feeling stressed is normal. Being a good friend can help others cope.

Posted May 18, 2020

Here are 12 ways that you can help a friend get through this crisis if they are feeling down or anxious. Be sure to begin by reassuring them that feeling stressed is perfectly normal. In fact, if someone is not feeling stressed that would be even more worrisome! After creating a safe, non-judgemental space for your friend to talk with you, try making the following comments. They are all based on research with people coping with disasters. Each is first explained and then some suggested wording follows:

  1. It’s good to share our feelings: “You can talk to me. It’s between us.”
  2. We all need structure and routine: “You need to plan your day. It will make you feel better.”
  3. Build relationships: “Is there anyone else you need to talk to? Anyone you should spend time with who could make you feel better?” 
  4. Remember what you’re good at. “There are a lot of great things that you can do. You need to share your talents.”
  5. Make a contribution: “Helping someone else can do a lot to help us deal with feelings of anxiety and fear.”
  6. Take control: “What decisions can you make that need to be made?”
  7. Remember who you are: “You come from a long line of people who struggled. What do their lives teach you about resilience?”
  8. The problem is the problem: “You are not your problems.”
  9. Get your finances in order: “Do a budget and stick to it.”
  10. Exercise: “When our body feels better, our mind feels better too.”
  11. Sleep: “Turn off your phone, relax, and get some sleep.”
  12. Avoid social comparisons: “You are doing well no matter what others say. Why not take a holiday from social media and see how you feel?”

Each of these questions is meant to help your friend become more rugged by challenging negative thinking as well as helping them to identify the many sources of support that are important for resilience. The best part about helping a friend is that the one helping also benefits. It’s called vicarious resilience. Helping others to thrive despite challenges reminds us of what’s truly important in life.