Helping a friend with stress
Got a mate who’s always stressed out? Sometimes people aren’t coping and they need a friend to step in and help them out. Learn about some of the common causes of stress, figure out whether you should step in if someone is showing signs of stress, and get some tips on how to help them or how to recognise when there’s something else going on.
This can help if:
your mate is always stressed out
you’re worried that a friend isn’t coping
you want to know how to help them.
What are some common causes of stress?
Stress is a natural response to challenging situations, and it can be helpful in small doses. It can energise you and make you feel more switched on and able to deal with tricky situations. However, too much stress over a long period of time can be hard to deal with.
Some of the more common things that tend to stress people out are:
relationship issues, including family, friends, boyfriends or girlfriends
deadlines, whether school, work or uni
living in a difficult circumstance with family or flatmates
financial stress (especially if you live out of home)
unrealistic expectations of yourself or others
taking on too much at one time.
When you should step in
Stress impacts everyone at some point or other. If a mate seems constantly stressed out and rarely, if ever, appears to be on top of things or in control, it’s probably a sign that they need support from a friend. You might find that they’re:
having trouble concentrating
not enjoying the things they usually enjoy
having trouble sleeping or eating
finding it really hard to switch off.
How to help someone with stress
First up, let them know that you’ve noticed how stressed they are, and that you’re worried that they’re not coping very well. Maybe they just need to vent, and knowing that they can talk about things with you might help. Talking stuff through may help them figure out what’s bothering them. Here are some suggestions you could make.
Make things more manageable
Schedule time out
It’s they’re super stressed out they might not be taking any time out for themselves. They’ll probably benefit from thinking about ways to relax.
Use positive coping strategies
Without even knowing it, people often adopt unproductive coping strategies, such as wishful thinking, self-blaming, excessive worrying, ignoring the problem, and keeping things to themselves. On the other hand, positive coping includes things like:
making immediate and short-term goal lists
focusing on the positives
seeking help to get things done
improving relationships and friendships
Tone down the stress factors
Sometimes people are just totally overloaded with work and activities. In these situations, it may be worth brainstorming what things they really have to do, and what things they can forget about or postpone.
When they need more than you can offer
If nothing’s working, maybe there’s something else going on. It could be that they’re just an easily stressed person, or there might be something more serious at work.
Getting help If you think the problem is bigger than you both can handle, it may be worth seeking help from a parent or a teacher. Sometimes just talking to an experienced adult or a health professional (such as a counsellor or your GP) can make all the difference. If you don’t know anyone around you who would be suitable, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.