Mandatory Disclosure

How to care for your friends

# How to care for your friends?

Mugdha Chandorkar, School Counselor

  • Ways to check in instead of asking ‘How are you?’

I have been thinking recently, why I dislike this question ‘How are you doing?’ Well, it’s often difficult to put it in words how I am actually feeling. Sometimes I might not want to figure out because it’s a vague question.

So here are some ways to let someone know you care without putting them on the spot.

  1. Offer some insight into how you are feeling first.
    • “I have been having hard time sleeping and focusing on studies. I will be okay, but its hard. How have you been feeling recently?”
  1. Ask something specific.
    • “How have you been thinking about?”
    • “How was your day?”
    • “How does it feel to be you right now?”
  1. Offer an activity together.”
    • “Want to watch movie together?”
  1. Be curious.
    • “I am wondering what’s working for you to cope right now?”
    • “Have you read any good books / watched shows recently?
  1. Offer support
    • “I hope you are okay! But I am here for you if you want to talk about anything.”
  1. Simply hold space.
    • “I care about you. And you are in my thoughts. No need to respond. Just wanted to let you know.”
  • Things to say when someone shares something unsafe.

Its usually difficult to just sit with someone in their pain. Most of us aren’t taught to hold space, but it’s a skill worth practicing. Here are some ways to create safe space for your friends who are dealing with difficulties.

Unhelpful reply

“Oh No! It will be fine!”

“Oh, No! Don’t cry!”

“God knows that you can handle this, only reason you are in this problem.”

“Well, When I went through that..”

What you can say instead –

“That must be so hard”

“That makes so much sense you would be upset”

“Would it be okay if I come by later for a walk, or brought some food?”

“I really care about you. How can I offer support?”

Ways to check in before you share your problems-
Our friends are not our therapists. It takes so much energy to listening to someone else’s problem. So, before we unpack our troubles on someone else its important to check in if they are emotionally available and preparing them is equally important too.

Also try and understand its also okay to get a clear ‘No’. we all are dealing with our own problems, give the listener some space and come back later!

  1. “Do you have the space for me to listen to me right now? It’s okay if you don’t.”
  2. “I had a tough day today, are you able to hold space for me right now?”
  3. “I am struggling and would love to unpack some things with you, do you have the capacity for that right now?”
  4. “I have been emotionally exhausted and feeling heavy since past few days. But I also want to be mindful about your time and energy. Is this a good time?”
  5. “I could really use someone to vent today. Do you happen to be available?”
  6. “Do you have a few minutes? I’d love to get some things off my chest. I know it’s a big ask and it’s okay if don’t have the capacity right now.”