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Here's how to support someone who is struggling.

Key points – How to support a struggling friend

  1. Being supportive isn’t easy. Many people struggle to know the right thing to say or do to help.

  2. Providing support is a skill you can learn. There are evidence-based strategies you can use. What’s more, providing the right kind of support is good both for your friends and for you.

  3. Resist the urge to downplay your friend’s problems. Instead, aim to be compassionate and responsive to how your friend is feeling.

  4. Ask questions and really listen. Most of us aren’t as good at empathy as we think – so find out how your friend feels and show you’re paying attention.

  5. Give emotional support first, cognitive support second. Validate your friend’s feelings, and only then help them to see things in a more positive light.

  6. Don’t take charge. Avoid being directive about your opinions; instead, encourage your friend to come up with potential solutions so they feel in control of the problem.

  7. Avoid venting together. Dwelling on problems with your friend without looking for a solution is known as co-rumination. Use distraction to break out of these negative spirals.

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