When a close friend is going through a difficult situation, it is only natural to want to help in any way, shape, or form. However, intentions are often not enough to really help a person during a difficult time. Stop and think about a time when you needed someone there for you. That person’s support might have been nice, but you might have needed more or less in some cases. Here are a variety of ways that you can begin to support a friend the right way.

Listen

According to Life Hacker, often the first mistake a person makes when consoling a friend during a difficult time is not listening to them first. It’s easy to jump to conclusions, to form your own opinions and to share your past experiences, but making the conversation about you should not be what is done first. In the mind of the other person, nobody understands what they are going through. Quick assumptions can quickly turn the act of friendship into a hostile confrontation. Therefore, it is incredibly important to stop and to allow the other person to tell you about their issues. It may be tough to hold back your judgment on the situation, but time to vent is often what your friend needs. Often, allowing people to say everything they are holding within them is enough to bring them out of their slumps. If it’s not, simply listening is still a great place to start when opening the channels of communication.

Send Them a Gift

As much as we want to be there for our friends, life gets in the way. You might be traveling for business or living in an entirely different city. However, you still want to help them out in some way. Sending them a gift is a great way to be there for someone, even if you can’t be present physically. According to Spoonful of Comfort, you should make sure the gift is appropriate for the situation so that it doesn’t come off as insensitive or unthoughtful. Someone going through a break-up or a career disappointment may like a nice handwritten letter and maybe some gift cards for a spa treatment. This not only shows your friend that you are thinking about them, but it also provides that person with the ability to go somewhere and relax for a while. This, of course, would not be an appropriate gift for someone who has just experienced a death in the family. Flowers, handwritten letters, and even small remembrance jewelry may be your best bet in those types of situations.

Give Them Space

You might not like this one, but it is often best for you to give your friend space during difficult times. Sometimes people just need some time for themselves. Thinking, writing, and reflecting on certain situations can go a long way. It should be noted that you can still keep an eye out on your friends. Simply make sure that they are healthy and not harming themselves in any way.

Don’t Over Promise

When your friends are in need of support, it is easy to want to give them the world. This can lead to promises you simply can’t keep. Stop and think about the things you can provide and what you can’t. After all, promising the world and then going back on your promises can leave your friend in a worse spot than before.

Guide Them

When a person is in a state of mental fatigue as often happens during difficult times, it can be difficult to navigate the way out. Therefore, as a friend, you must be there to guide the other person in the right direction. This does not mean you should rush him or her through pain but rather you should aid your friend in making positive decisions. For example, friends might have the urge to lock themselves in their homes for days. Instead, take them to the park and walk and talk with them. Another path you can guide them through is their nutrition. People tend not to make the best of food choices when they are down. Therefore, you may be able to steer your friends towards consuming healthy foods. After all, food can determine how you feel as well.

Don’t Wait to Be Asked for Help

It is most people’s nature not to want to bother anyone with their issues. Therefore, it is incredibly important not to wait to be asked for help. The fact is that your friends do need your help, but will they ask for it? Probably not. Instead, be the first one to initiate the contact. Even if they refuse, still provide them with your information, and let them know that you are there for them any time they need someone to talk to. This offer can go a long way.

There is nothing more important for a person going through a difficult time than having someone there for support. This is why you, as the friend, must make sure that your aid is not in vain and that it will provide them with actual results. Simply adhere to the list above to begin formulating the best approach the next time a friend needs your support.

You might also be interested in this article: Tactful Tips for Talking About Mental Health