Helping a friend who's stressed from the drought

Dealing with the drought can be really stressful. If you’re worried about how it’s affecting any of your mates, there are a few simple things you can do to check in and let them know you’re there for them.

Recognising stress

In some cases your friend may tell you they’re feeling stressed, but it can be a pretty tough thing to bring up. It might be more likely that you notice some changes in their behaviour.

You might find that they’re:

  • having trouble concentrating

  • appearing irritable or annoyed

  • not enjoying the things they usually enjoy

  • having trouble sleeping or eating

  • finding it really hard to switch off.

How you can help

First up, let your friend know you’ve noticed how stressed they are and that you’re there for them to talk to. Having a friend listen to them could make them feel a lot better. Here are some other suggestions you could make if they are looking for more help.

Schedule time out

If your mate is super stressed out and trying to deal with everything that’s going on, they might not be taking any time out for themselves. They’ll probably benefit from thinking about ways to relax. Some ideas include exercising, reading a book, watching a movie or listening to music.

Spend some time together

Spending time with a friend and having a good time can really help to relieve some of the stress caused by the drought. Ask your friend what they’d like to do and then set aside some time to hang out. You could ask them if they would like to go for a walk or watch a movie together. Remind them that even doing something they enjoy for 30 minutes a day can make a difference.

Be empathetic

Listen to your friend without judging and let them know you’re there for them. You can be a good listener by paying attention, asking questions and checking you’ve understood what they’ve meant.

Stay connected to community

Your friend’s local community is probably experiencing the same concerns as them. You could suggest they try volunteering at or attending events at the local hall or chat to neighbours. This could be a really great thing to do together, as it can feel daunting if you’re worried you won’t know anyone.

Take care of yourself

Just as you would remind your friend, check in on the basics for yourself first - are you getting enough sleep, eating healthily and exercising regularly? Sometimes we forget to do these things, but they make the world of difference.

When they need more support

If you try a few options and it doesn't seem to be helping, your friend may need extra support. It may be worth seeking help from a parent or a teacher - sometimes just talking to a trusted adult 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.

What can I do now?

  • Ask a friend if they’re okay.

  • Recommend the ReachOut NextStep tool, which provides personalised support options for stress.