Based on a recent article that was about gifts you can give to job seekers, I wondered if there was anything we could do to help anyone who is struggling with life, either through overwork, overwhelm, overbearing family or just basically struggling with the stresses and strains of modern life. It could be through job seeking, starting a business, family issues, stressful jobs or just life. Whatever it is, everyone needs a little help now and again. So what can we do?
I don’t feel that it is possible to buy physical stuff to give as gifts, but we can certainly give ourselves, our time, our empathy, our love and support. Maybe that is the greatest gift of all.
The original article I read that inspired this post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/gifts-job-seekers-dr-tracey-wilen
I have compiled a list of things that I think would be most helpful. It is not exhaustive and if you have anything you think should be added, drop me a line and I may add it.
1) Listen to them.
Make it very clear to someone struggling that you are there to listen, not to judge, just to listen, hold space for someone. Don’t give advice, just be there for someone. Be a lifebuoy.
2) Help them prioritise.
When overwhelmed, it can be like putting fires out constantly. Then, it can be hard to see the woods for the trees (Old English expression, meaning you can’t see the whole situation clearly because you’re looking too closely at small details, or because you’re too closely involved.) Maybe encourage them to look at the bigger picture?
3) Send someone a card, or a letter or a little present.
just to show you were thinking of them.J
4) Invite them round to dinner.
If you see someone struggling, invite them round to for a drink or dinner. You may make all the difference in the world.
5) Offer to be an accountability buddy or set up a local support group if several people are struggling
If someone hasn’t been out in a long time, maybe you could babysit for an hour or an evening or a morning so they can go off and shop or go to the cinema, out for a meal, go for a massage, whatever.
7) Go for a walk with them.
Invite them out for a stroll locally, just to get out of the house. Even better if you can get into nature, some woods or some fields. Just get some fresh air.
8) Encourage them, praise them, tell them they are doing well. Tell them how much they mean to you
9) Do something physically for them
Put them in contact with someone who can help? Would it help if you made a call for them? Do you know someone who may have the answer they need?
10) Talk to them, gently, ask them questions to see what the problem is.
Questions you can ask them include:
“Have you talked to anyone else about this?”
“Would you like to get some help?”
“Would you like me to come with you?”
Conversation starters could be something like:
“I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”
“Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”
“I wanted to check in with you because you have seemed pretty down lately.”
Repeat back what they say to show you understand, and ask more questions.
Or you can simply say:
“Tell me what I can do now to help you”
11) Text or call someone today.
Think about someone who may be struggling and tell them that you were thinking of them and maybe you should meet up for a coffee or a lunch sometime.
12) Focus on your friend’s feelings instead of trying to solve the problem – it can be of more help and shows you care.
Respect what they tell you. Sometimes it’s easy to want to try and fix a person’s problems, or give them advice. Let them make their own decisions. Help them think of all the options, but leave the choice to them.
13) Lend them helpful books?
Do you have any books you could lend them that may help?
14) Take a healthy cooked meal round to them or cook together, pass on your favourite recipe.
When under pressure, depressed or struggling, healthy food can be the last thing on the menu.
15) Can you afford to help financially?
Personally I don’t lend money, I give it (if I can afford it), that way the pressure is off, if there are no expectations to return the money. If I get it back, fab, if not, no loss, and no loss of friendship.
If money is the issue, maybe you could help them with a budget?
16) Can you help them on one specific thing?
It could be anything, helping them declutter, or giving them a ride to the dump or to Ikea, or to put a shelf up. Something that they have been putting off for a while.
17) Can you mow their lawn? Take home some laundry?
Help them catch up with tasks in the home they have been putting off?
18) Buy them a diary or journal
So they can write down their feelings or simply to do a brain dump and get everything down on paper everything that is going through their head.
19) Ask them if they are have been to the doctors or if they think they need professional help? (if they are seriously struggling emotionally). Maybe they just need a tonic to start with.
20) Lead by example
Show also that you make mistakes and struggle sometimes and that it is only human, but if you can show a healthy attitude to things that can inspire.
21) Connect them to the right people.
Tell them that sometimes life sucks and that there are organisations that can help if they need it. You can find the local information for them and pass it on if they won’t talk to you.
22) Encourage them to Meditate or practice Mindfulness.
This helps stop the overwhelm, bring a few moments of calm to an otherwise stormy life and allows you to see things from another perspective. See Headspace
Be kind, always, for everyone is fighting their own battle. If people act irrationally or not in a way you expect, often there is a background story. Be kind, they may need it more than you realise. Reach out to them.