If you’re noticing you’ve got a friend or family member who’s feeling pretty anxious right now and are keen to support them…
here are 6 tips to help you show up for your loved ones in genuine and supportive ways, during this uncertain and unstable time.
1. Listen & support
The power of human connection and support is what we humans need to live healthy lives. To listen without judgement, and reflect back how they might be feeling will provide your friend with a safe space to vent their concerns. Using words like: “I hear you”, “that must be (how you think they’re feeling)”
Expressing your own concerns and connecting with your friend also fosters healthy human connection. Decreasing feelings of loneliness, and isolation when that’s exactly what we’ve been forced to do. “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”
3. Grounding with facts
During this time our fears can have a pandemic nature of their own. Fear can be contagious as our bodies kick into self-protection mode. So checking in with your friend, with what they know about the facts of the virus, the steps they’re taking to keep themselves safe and others, such as hand washing & self-isolating, can help to bring their anxiety levels down. Make sure you read up with trusted sources. (such as health.gov.au)
It’s helpful to stay informed of world affairs, and the trajectory of the virus and how it impacts you directly. However, constantly checking your socials, the news, and forwarded content from your loved ones might not be the most helpful thing to do at the moment, particularly when all we can do is wait. So limit your exposure to the information. Set aside set times/ a time in the day when you feel like you have enough energy to read up about what’s going on, and move on. Check in with your friend and find out how much time they’re spending viewing the news, and suggest to them to limit their consumption of all things COVID-19.
Funnel you and your friend’s energy elsewhere. After you’ve had space to express your fears, concerns, and worries, focus your attention elsewhere. What you did for the day? What are you planning to do? Are there things you can be doing together, given the circumstances?
6. Get creative & connect
Luckily we live in a technologically-rich era, and so we have the ability to connect and funnel our energy and attention in a variety of ways:
- Playing multi-player games
- Holding video dates/hang outs
- Working on projects that you’ve forgotten about
- Watching Netflix shows with a friend on the phone with one of these amazing apps, or just over a video call
- Creating daily shared habits, like joining each other for workouts/meditation/yoga sessions/coffee/drinks nights (or going for exercise with no more than 2 people at a time)
- Co-create playlists on YouTube or Spotify, have a theme – workout playlists, well-being playlists, get creative and connect! These can all be ways that you can support a loved one, and yourself during these tough times. We’re social creatures, and we are hard-wired to need social connection in some shape or form.
Remember, you don’t have to be your friend’s “therapist”
It’s great to chat to friends about how they’re feeling. It’s important that we’re all open and supportive of one another in times like these. But it’s worth remembering that you might not have the capacity to advise or soothe your friends appropriately right now. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unfit to be the support they need, gently encourage them to chat to a therapist. It’s easier than ever, with most practitioners offering online sessions, where they can tailor advice and strategies to them specifically.
This post was written by Kevin Vun, Indigo Psychotherapist/Counsellor. You can learn more about Kevin and book in a session with him here.