With the ongoing pandemic, we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in the cases of anxiety, depression, a sense of uncertainty, increased stress levels, and frustration.
Most of us might be able to identify the impact of the pandemic on our mental health and emotional well-being and can recognise the importance of being there for each other. Yet, we find ourselves not knowing exactly how to go about providing this support to others. It happens a lot of times that the words of advice even when given with the best of intentions, may also be rejected or be perceived as being intruding on the other person.
The following points can help us when we want to be supportive towards someone experiencing a problem, but we are not sure how to.
Provide a listening ear
Give the person a chance to talk about the problem. Do not cross-examine or form opinions. Communicate that you are genuinely concerned and support them. Being empathetic can be the best thing to do. It is known as the ability to think and feel from the other person’s perspective. Often known as “stepping” inside the other person’s shoe. This is just looking at how the other must be feeling before we converse with them. Let them share their feelings and thoughts without giving them unsolicited advice they didn't ask for. Giving them a chance to vent out their feelings and emotions will help the person reduce the burden by sharing it with someone who is concerned.
Don’t indulge in the blame game
All of us need to understand that people going through such phases need to be worked with patience, whether they are young or old. There is a need to keep in mind that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Instead, think about ways as to how one can help them in their phase of life and not just put blame on them. We all know that difficult times require timely professional interventions including proper psychiatric medications as well as counselling to help the individual in distress alleviation as well as resuming functionality across personal, social as well as occupational spheres.
Do not advise
Don’t advise them to just simply exert their willpower to overcome difficult times easily. The role of professional treatment, including both pharmacological medications, as well as psychological therapies, is vital for the treatment of mental illnesses. So as soon as possible, ask them to reach out for help. Encourage help-seeking behaviour.
Master the art of asking questions and talk
This is one of the most important points to be kept in mind. Do not hesitate to ask how someone is doing in difficult times as it is crucial to give each person a chance to express how they feel and release their pent-up emotions. The right questions will help you get to the root of their problems. It is just a myth that talking about the problem exacerbates the situation. This will help in venting out feelings.
Use statements like, "tell me about . . .” or “What’s it like for you when . . .” This will set the tone of respectful curiosity and encourage deeper, richer responses from the speaker.
Accept That Empathy Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Learning how to improve skills such as patience, keen listening, and asking thoughtful questions takes time. The more you interact and become comfortable, the easier it becomes to know each other better.
Empathy is the need of the hour, but it is particularly vital during these testing times. Practising empathy not only opens your mind to what others are experiencing but can also provide social connectedness that can help combat feelings of isolation in the longer run.
It is important to remember that everyone is in this together—think of others, reach out to your near and dear ones, however you can, and remember to ask for professional help if you require it. You can access the self-help content available in our curated content library to learn more about being empathetic and also rendering support to your loved ones. You and your loved ones can even reach out when things get overwhelming and drop a message in HappiCHAT whenever you feel like venting and sharing your feelings.