We all know that a good support network is crucial to get you through difficult periods within your life. According to Time Magazine, many studies have demonstrated that good quality friendships are strongly associated with better physical and mental health. But sometimes, getting precisely what you need from friends at a point of crisis can be troublesome. Well, intentioned friends may call the tone of their conversation wrong; a friend may try to give you space when what you need is a chat or vice-versa. The key to any good friendship is communication, so be prepared to ask for what you need. If you can’t figure that out for yourself right now, here are a few ideas to get you started.
The Pamper Session
In Lizzo’s instant pop classic, Truth Hurts, she talks of how her ‘Best friend sat me down in the salon chair’ after a bad break up. Sometimes that is what we all need. A friend who can boost your confidence and remind you of your self worth with a pamper session. Looking good can boost your confidence and help you feel more like yourself after an incredibly challenging time. IF you feel like you need to be reminded just how wonderful and unique you are, reach out to some close friends and ask for a pamper or a makeover. The chances are, they will be excited at the opportunity to boost your confidence. If you want to blow off some steam, make a night of the whole session, head to your favorite nightclub, and treat yourself like the VIP you are by ordering the table bottle service. Even if you don’t feel like partying immediately, a quieter night out, with some food and drinks with your friends, can also remind you how loved you are.
Ask for Letters
A letter is an underused art form, but a brilliant letter from a friend can lift your spirits. If you ever had a pen pal when you were younger, you will know the small thrill you get when a letter lands on your doorstep. A note also takes time and care. Handwriting shows effort and is more likely to be kept than a quick email or text. Ask your friends to write you a letter that will boost your confidence, or build your self-esteem, or whatever you may need. You could ask them to write about a happy memory you share or the quality they admire in you. Having each friend take time to consider a letter will no doubt make it poignant. These treasured possessions can be kept and returned to whenever you are feeling low. If you ask a few friends, the chances are the letters will be staggered when they arrive, motivating you to get up in the morning to check your letterbox.
Ask for Help Around The Home
It might feel like a big ask, but if a friend has the capacity, they will be happy to help. There are times when we feel overwhelmed, and the prospect of washing the dishes or cooking a meal is too much. Asking a friend to help at these times is allowed. You can ask politely and make it clear that they should only help if they have the capacity. But if you have a friend that loves to cook, they may be only too happy to make a few extra portions of a favorite dish that you can stick in your freezer. A few chores might take some of the strain out of your day if your work is incredibly busy or if you have had a new baby, for instance. Friends support can be efficient in this way. Ticking jobs off your list may be an effortless way for a friend to help, especially if they have lots of spare time or enjoy a particular household chore. Remember, you can always give back the favor when you have more capacity too.
Ask for Motivation
Whether you want to run a marathon, achieve a job promotion, or get out of the house more. Depending on your mental health and resilience, these tasks may seem easy or impossible. Everyone needs a motivator from time to time. That’s what keeps personal trainers in the business. Your friends can do this for you by checking in regularly to see how you are progressing towards your goal and motivate you by offering small rewards such as a glass of wine or the promise of a movie night. Motivating friends can encourage you to break through barriers that might otherwise seem insurmountable. Rely on your friend’s strengths too. If you have one gym bunny friend, ask them for their best tips and playlists. Even ask if you can join them for a session or two. Likewise, if you have a friend who has faced similar mental health challenges, ask them what they relied on and what benefited them most to stay motivated.
Give it Back
The most beautiful thing about all of these suggestions is that you can do them too. Giving and volunteering help to others can contribute to good mental health and even longer life. If you are the type of person who loves to find the perfect Christmas present, then you should spread that joy throughout the year. If you notice a friend is struggling or that they deserve congratulations, think of a way to show them your affection. Write a letter to give someone a boost, and you will feel the thrill of knowing it will have brightened up their day.
Finally, remember your friends are your friends because they like you and want to spend time with you. It is not a problem to ask for things. You will be amazed at how readily your friends will want to help. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do with a friend that is struggling. Reaching out and asking for support is a vital element of self-care, and your friend will love to know that they are giving you precisely what you need in a time of struggle.