Friendship is not just about going to parties together, sharing the same sense of humor, having similar hobbies or complimenting the other person’s clothes. Having a friend also means being there in bad times..
And a good part of the added value of having friends is that it is these people who, in bad times, can be more successful when it comes to encouraging and comforting others: they have a common history, they have references that they both know, and above all They are all more likely to know the emotional tone that is needed at that moment. In other words, they can act as a psychological scalpel that helps remove what causes discomfort.
In this article we will talk precisely about that: how to comfort and calm a friend in needeither because you are sad or because you are experiencing anxiety.
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Tips to calm a friend who is going through bad times
First of all, we must take into account that both the causes of discomfort and the effects that this situation has produced can be very broad, and what we should do will depend on the way in which we adapt to those circumstances. Mainly, these causes and effects of possible discomfort are divided into two categories: sadness, with depressive or almost depressive symptoms on the one hand, and anxiety, on the other.
Episodes of sadness are characterized by the following:
- Search for relative solitude.
- Pessimistic interpretation of the past, present and future.
- Ideas about oneself increase that undermine self-esteem.
- Perception that the world is a cruel and merciless place.
On the other hand, anxiety episodes go hand in hand with the following:
- Constant shaking and movement.
- Search for a discreet place, somewhat secluded or isolated.
- Pessimistic interpretation about the future.
- Compensatory behaviors increasesuch as binge eating or tics or manias (touching the nose, hair…).
How to calm a friend who feels sad
When calming down a friend who go through a moment of sadnessfollow these guidelines.
1. Don’t trivialize the reason for your emotional pain
This is a mistake that is often made, and it consists of trying to convince the other person that they really shouldn’t be so sad. The only flaw of this is making that person feel more isolated and that no one understands them, since denying feelings makes no sense.
Instead, assume that even if you don’t really understand the cause of their pain, you are there for whatever I need.
2. Break the isolation tune
You should not force the other person to go out to a place where there are more people or more activity, even if it is to “cheer them up.” The person who is sad is where they want to be, and we must respect that. However, What we can do is break their emotional isolation (as long as you do not tell us otherwise) is to make it clear that you are counting on us.
This will have to be communicated in a clear way but without taking center stage. Something as simple as saying it literally will do, but for that you also have to demonstrate it by arguing, for example, that the same thing happened in past crises. In any case, there is no need to dwell on it.
3. Offer unconditional company
If the other person is willing to have you by their side at that moment and you don’t really know why they are sad, you can ask them if they want to explain it to you, but if they don’t want to, don’t insist. The important thing is not you, but that someone you intend to help. Make it clear that you are there to accompany your friend and try to help as much as possibleand not out of commitment or curiosity.
4. Seek physical contact, but not suddenly
If it is possible to physically touch the other person, it is positive to do so. However, it is not advisable to do it suddenly, since that would go against emotional harmony. It is best to do this when you have already made some progress in the previous steps.
5. If you advise, do it as a friend, not as a technician
In cases where it is appropriate to give advice, do not give it as a specialist on the subject would do, ignoring the emotional state of the other person and transmitting instructions. In moments when we are sad we do not obey these logics, because we lack courage and strength.
Instead, he advises just as a friend would. That is to say, putting your emotional state and how you want to feel in the spotlightand offering ways to help, not perfect and ideal solutions of what the theory books dictate.
How to calm a friend with anxiety
When comforting a friend who is experiencing an anxious situation, these are the guidelines to follow.
1. Act to focus
The attention of those who suffer from anxiety must shift from worry about the future to awareness of the present.
To do this, if you are having a very intense crisis, it is advisable to even physically grab that person and try to make eye contact with you, not only so that the activation of the body produced by the movement prevents her from focusing, but also so that she knows that there is someone who supports her. In cases of less intense anxiety, eye contact is simply established and the child is asked to pay attention to what we are going to say.
2. Appeal to have a constructive attitude
Next, since we have already acted on his body by making him stop moving and direct his eyes towards our gaze, we act on his ideas. What needs to be said is that even if you notice that the situation seems to be overwhelming you, something can be done about it and, to do so, You have to give up thinking about catastrophic predictions all the time..
3. Wait for him to calm down a bit and make an action plan
The previous steps will help that friend calm down a little, but they will not eliminate their worries from the root. To do this, you have to give a “mental alternative” to your tendency to make predictions, which means that An action plan must be provided, even if it is a simple one..
This action plan must be made up of very specific actions and deadlines, so that these milestones attract that friend’s full attention and get them out of the habit of thinking obsessively.
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4. Do an imagination exercise
Now that there is a plan to follow to solve the problem as much as possible, you can finish the job causing him to associate that sequence of actions with a positive state of mind.
To do this, talk about what will happen if you follow these guidelines faithfully and without missing deadlines: the situation will be much better than the present (and of course, than the future you imagined, but this is implicit and you should not remind them). so I don’t think about it again.) For example, if anxiety is produced by an oral presentation in front of many people, imagine the classroom with its audience and your friend giving a talk successfully, maintaining the audience’s interest. It is important that it is a reasonable and credible situation.