4 Ways to Support Each Other Through Difficult Times

Often times, we turn to those around us for support during difficult times, and as community members, friends, and family, we come together and use our light and strength to help those around us to heal, and grow. It is important that we know how to help each other process and heal during times when healing is challenging, because only by working together can we ensure that all members of our community are strong and happy. Below are some ways that we can begin to work together to support each other.

 

Listen

And realize that not everything needs a response or a story about you. Sometimes it can help people to know that others have felt or are feeling the same way as they do, or to hear your thoughts about what they are experiencing, but sometimes it’s best to just allow space for people to share their feelings and thoughts, without comment. This can be hard, but sometimes the most powerful thing you can do, is listen without comment.

 

Ask questions

Don’t assume that you know what someone is thinking or feeling, make sure to ask questions. By asking questions you show that you are interested and care about what people are feeling and experiencing. Let people tell you what is happening, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you do not understand. The more information you have the better you are equipped to assist someone. On that same note though, try not to badger someone with questions. Sometimes people don’t know how they feel or why. It’s a fine line between asking enough questions and asking too many. Which takes us to our next point…

 

Recognize the situation

Sometimes the situation doesn’t call for talking, sometimes people just need a distraction. A movie, or music, or just someone to play video games or eat food with with. Often times we put all the focus on making people talk or share, and sometimes that’s the worst thing we can do. If you don’t know how to help ask. “How can I help?” And recognize that sometimes people need space alone, and that’s ok too.

 

Learn the difference between empathy and sympathy

This video is a good place to start.

Sympathy can been seen as being able to recognize that another person is hurting, while empathy is being able to recognize how it feels to be hurting as someone else is. We might not always have the personal experience to truly understand how someone is feeling, but we can still empathize, and that empathy allows us to form a deep connection with someone and use that connection as a bridge between you. Empathy allows you to connect more meaningfully with the people around you.

 

Create opportunities for involvement

But don’t require it. Sometimes it can take a while for some of us to work up the energy to leave the house, or be around other people. By creating opportunities to spend time together,  by not requiring it you are saying, “I would love to see you and spend time with you, but it’s totally ok if you are not in that space right now.” It can be difficult when we have been trying to spend time with someone who we care about, who is just not in the space right now to participate, but remember that having that opportunity for involvement can mean a lot to a person even if they don’t always take it.

Allow time for your self care

Make sure to take time to allow yourself to process. Sometimes we can get so caught up in being there for those around us that we forget to take the time to take care of ourselves. Remember to set your personal boundaries, which can be hard, especially when we feel that someone is relying on us. Keep in mind that you are not your friends therapist or doctor, you are their friend. It is important that you recognize that helping a friend through a difficult time is no excuse for someone to take advantage of you or to start unhealthy or abusive habits. Remember to speak up when you need to, and leave room for others to speak up when they need to also.

As things around the world continue to change it is important that we come together to support each other as we continue to grow and shine.

We’d like to know how you support those you care about during difficult times. Please let us know in the comments or continue the conversation with us on on Facebook and Twitter . We look forward to connecting!

Positive Coping Strategies for Enduring Distress

While building strong self-care habits is important for long-term or overall mental wellness, they don’t happen overnight, and sometimes you need strategies that can be implemented right now. When we are in moments of distress, emotions and panic have a tendency to take over. In these moments, it’s helpful to acknowledge the feelings and then turn to coping skills—the strategies we use to deal with stressors and difficult situations.

 

Below are a few categories and examples of positive coping skills; use them to inspire you to recognize effective coping strategies that you may employ for yourself during times of distress.

 

Self-Soothing

Comfort your senses with things that are calming, pleasant, or simply appealing to you.

  • Find something that’s soft to the touch or has a texture that brings you joy. Hold it and feel it in your hands or on your body. For example, your favorite blanket, a treasured stuffed animal, cool stones, or even trinkets that remind you of a fond memory.
  • Put on some good music. You could even make playlists for various moods so you have music ready to go. If you’re a musician yourself, play something. Listen to guided meditations, like this Black Lives Matter Meditation for Healing Racial Trauma. Find a podcast that is uplifting or soothing to you.
  • Eat something yummy.
  • Look at some pretty artwork. Scroll through pictures of friends and loved ones. Keep a board of your favorite pictures on your wall. Save a small picture of something (or someone) cute or nice or lovely in your wallet.
  • Find a smell that’s calming and really notice it. Light some candles or burn some incense. Put on some fragrances you love.

Distractions

Take your mind away from the distress for the moment to save yourself from becoming overwhelmed.

  • Read a book.
  • Watch a movie or TV show you like.
  • Hang out with a friend.
  • Play a video game.
  • Clean or organize your environment.
  • Play with or care for an animal companion.
  • Exercise or play sports.

Opposite Impulse

Balance the inputs in your personal world by actively seeking something that fills an “opposite” emotion.

  • Watching funny videos. Like this one.
  • Reading affirmations.
  • Do something to help someone else.
  • Encourage others.
  • Make a gratitude list.

Emotional Awareness

Identify and externalize your feelings.

  • Write in your journal about what’s going on.
  • Express your emotions through art (visual, musical, crafting, etc).
  • Talk with someone you trust—a friend, a therapist, a family member.
  • Re-interrogate and manage your expectations of the situation.
  • Allow yourself space and time to cry, laugh, scream, or whatever you need.

Mindfulness

Accept and validate your feelings.

  • Meditate.
  • Practice breathing exercises.
  • Prioritize peacefulness and relaxation.
  • Acknowledge your feelings as “guests” in your house, and sit with them until they leave.
  • Take a shower, take a walk, or go for a drive.

Crisis Plan

Keep contact information for loved ones, support networks, and hotlines easily accessible.

  • Keep your friends on speed dial.
  • Look up local or national hotline services that are available to you. These may be phone, text, or chat services.

 

For many of these coping strategies, it may be particularly helpful to make some preparations ahead of time. Having encouraging reminders, positive affirmations, and fond pictures visible around the spaces you spend the most time in makes it easy to use them to ground yourself. Preparing playlists for different moods saves you from digging up the songs you want to hear in the moment. You could even put together a small “self-care first aid kit” with small bits from each strategy to keep in your room or even your bag; it could contain a small snack or candy you like, a scented item, positive affirmations, trinkets and reminders, pictures, etc.

 

If you are interested in building a coping skills firsr aid kit with allgo’s Health and Wellness program, join us on June 14th, 2017 from 6:00 to 8:00 at allgo!