15 Ways To Be There For Someone When They Need Support

We all know how it feels to need a helping hand, but when it comes to helping others in need, how can we be there for someone?

friend there for someone

Someone special in your life may be dealing with the loss of a family member, having a tough time financially, struggling with a mental health problem, or dealing with a number of other issues. So, how can we help them get through this tough time? 

Your friend or family member may have trouble asking for help, so being there for them without them having to ask can help them get through a little easier.

Now you may be wondering, how do you let someone know that you care?

It’s one thing to say the words but another to show them through your actions. So let’s explore some different ways to let others know you’re there for them.

How do you let someone know you care?

So how do you let someone know you care? You find someone going through difficult times and then reach out to them.

What does this look like in practice?

Well, it depends. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer because we’re all different. What’s caring for you may not be for someone else. 

So like the Care Bears, you must use your individual personality, strengths, and skills to find ways to help. However, first, you must learn to tell who needs help. Because those who need it the most often won’t ask.

Signs someone needs help

friends hand on shoulder

While you don’t have a magical Caring Meter to monitor your friends and loved ones, you can use your senses to identify when someone might need help. The Jed Foundation has some excellent resources on how to tell if your friend is struggling.

Of course, not every person in need will show the same signs, so keep an eye out and use your intuition. 

Here are a few common signs to pay attention to:

Signs You Can See

  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Sudden weight change
  • Bags under eyes
  • Isolation
  • Uncharacteristic outbursts
  • Changes in their social media posts

Signs You Can Hear

  • Talking about feeling overwhelmed
  • Lack of enthusiasm about things they’ve previously enjoyed
  • Constant negativity
  • Sharing suicidal thoughts
  • Changes in their tone of voice that make you think they’re not joking when they say something 

Once you’ve identified that someone needs help, it’s time to figure out how to show them love.

Different ways to be there for someone

friends hugging

There are several different things you can do to be there for someone who’s going through a rough patch. No matter the strategy you choose, the first time you reach out may feel awkward. 

However, once you put yourself out there a few times, connecting with others in this way becomes a lot easier. 

Here are some ways you can be there for the people in your life:

Emotionally Caring

Difficult times take a toll emotionally. One of the best ways to support someone through a hard time is to be a listening ear.

You can also offer emotional support by:

  • Showing empathy
  • Being supportive
  • Sharing similar experiences that you’ve had (not in a one-up kind of way, but in an empathetic manner) 
  • Texting to see how they’re feeling
  • Paying attention to their body language and facial expressions for clues
  • Encouraging them to talk to a family doctor or seek professional help if they’re struggling with mental health issues

Physically Caring

Sometimes, a hug or a shoulder to cry on is what your grieving friend needs. But a physical connection goes beyond that.

You can also be there for someone physically by:

  • Cooking meals for them
  • Helping with household chores
  • Taking them out for a distracting activity
  • Giving them a ride
  • Providing child care
  • Accompanying them to doctor or therapy appointments

Professionally Caring

When you work with someone or are their supervisor, you may feel out of place when it comes to helping them through tough times. But you can still show up in a meaningful way.

As professional support, you could:

  • Consider adjusting deadlines or covering one of their shifts
  • Offer other accommodations to make the situation more manageable
  • Try to understand the other person’s situation and offer support
  • Be a listening ear if they want to talk
  • Let them adjust their hours so they come in at different times of the day to accommodate therapy appointments
  • Recognize that the healing process takes time
  • Utilize the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s resources for workplaces
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While none of the above actions can solve all the problems, they can make someone feel loved and supported.

How To Be There For Someone: 15 Things To Do

15 ways to be there for someone

Now that we’ve discussed different ways to show you care let’s dive into some practical ideas for making it happen.

1. Ask if they’re okay

The simplest way to be there for someone is just to ask them how they’re doing.

People often forget that even the smallest gesture can make a huge difference. Just letting your friend know you are there for them and willing to listen when they need it can do wonders for their mental health.

However, some people in a tough situation automatically shrug off this question with “I’m fine.” 

That’s where your discernment comes in. If you suspect there’s more going on, don’t be too quick to write them off. You could be the one person who can open up a conversation and start the healing process.

2. Give them a break

Sometimes, a break from reality is all that’s needed to recharge their batteries.

If you know someone who needs some time off, offer to take care of some of their responsibilities while they take a break or a nap. Sleep can be one of the most important things during a rough patch, and so hard to get. 

3. be a sounding board

When people go through bad times, they need to talk to and vent their frustrations without judgment.

If your friend is struggling, offer to be their sounding board. Being able to talk can be therapeutic and cathartic.

4. Show them they’re appreciated 

Sometimes, people going through a tough time need to be reminded that there is still purpose in their lives and that they are needed. 

Show them appreciation through kind words, handwritten cards, or physical acts of kindness. Even a small gesture can do a lot to boost their morale.

Don’t know what to say? This post has examples of encouraging words you can share. 

5. Offer practical support

Sometimes the best way to show you care is by doing something practical and offering to help with things that can reduce your loved ones overall stress is key.

Offer to help with:

  • Laundry
  • Picking up groceries
  • Babysitting their kids
  • Driving them somewhere
  • Meal prepping
  • Any other helpful errands
  • Getting their house cleaned

Taking care of these tasks will show that you care and are there for them.

If you’re willing to offer practical help, don’t simply say, “Let me know if I can do something.” Instead, take the initiative and ask if you can do something specific for them. Then follow up and do it.

In a time of need, it’s much too difficult for your friend to remember who offered to help and to brainstorm ideas of what each person might be able to help with. 

6. Give them a call

Sometimes, people going through difficult times may forget that others care about them. A simple phone call can be a great reminder that they are not alone and that people are there for them. 

You don’t need to stay on the phone for hours or say anything profound, simply expressing your care can make all the difference. 

7. Send them a gift

A small token of appreciation can go a long way in showing someone you care.

Consider sending a handmade gift, a bouquet of flowers, or even a favorite chocolate bar to show you are thinking of them.

8. Mail an encouraging card

In today’s world of digital communication, a handwritten card stands out and can make someone’s day.

Writing an encouraging message in the card is a great way to let your friend know that you are there for them and care about their wellbeing.

9. Cook them dinner

Making someone dinner when they are going through a tough time shows that you care and appreciate them.

A homemade meal with lots of love and care can help provide some much-needed comfort in a hard situation.

However, this one might require some coordination with others in their lives. If they get too much food all at once, they might not be able to store everything. So, check in before taking this step.

Often a meal a week or two after a traumatic event can be incredibly helpful. 

You can also consider setting up a meal train for them so other mutual friends can participate. The MealTrain website makes it simple.

10. Do something fun

friends having fun

Sometimes, the best way out of a tough time is simply to get away from it all with a distracting activity.

Here are some fun activities you can take your friend on:

  • Walk and coffee
  • Dinner and a movie
  • Gallery for museum
  • Pottery class
  • Bowling
  • Hiking
  • Mani and pedi
  • Cooking class
  • Local festival

The key is to do something you know your friend loves – something that makes them feel great.

Showing them that you are willing to take time out of your day to have a good time with them can be the boost they need.

11. Be a good listener

There’s a big difference between just hearing what someone is saying and actively listening to them.

When your friend is sharing a difficult experience, make sure to give them your full attention and be present in the conversation.

In other words, be an active listener. Show that you understand what they are saying by responding genuinely and asking questions.

Note: Your friend may need more than just an ear, so make sure you know how to access the right resources for them if needed. If while listening, you get the sense that your friend is in immediate danger to themself or others or is having a mental health crisis, it is important to seek professional help, call 9-1-1 or other emergency services. You could be saving their life.

12. Respect their boundaries

Respecting someone’s boundaries is a key part of being there for someone in their times of need.

No matter how much you care about them, it’s important to remember that it is not your place to take control of their life or make the decisions for them. 

Instead, focus on providing support and understanding in a way that works for both of you.

Pay attention to their body language and ask how they’re feeling.

Some people really do want to be alone when they are going through a tough time, so make sure you’re respecting their boundaries and space if that’s how they feel.

13. Don’t gossip

The last thing someone needs when going through a difficult situation is for their business to be spread around by well-meaning friends. So, make sure you’re not talking to others about what your friend is sharing with you.

Gossiping about someone’s personal life can only cause more distress for them and is a breach of trust.

Be a true friend and only break that trust if you’re genuinely concerned about someone and need to talk to professionals. 

14. Recommend a support group

Support groups can be a great way for people to connect with each other and get the help they need.

If you think your friend may benefit from talking to others in a similar situation, gently recommend that they join an online or local support group. 

There are many out there, so to be extra helpful, try to do your research first so you can recommend a specific group. Have details about when and where the group meets to make it simple for your friend.

15. Offer advice

If your friend is going through a tough time, you may have the urge to offer advice. This can be incredibly helpful and supportive, especially from someone who has gone through a similar situation.

However, unsolicited advice can be overwhelming and even patronizing.

Instead, ask if your friend wants advice or help from you before offering it. 

How To Be There For Someone: Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, being there for someone comes down to one thing: showing you care.

Whether through a thoughtful gift, texting to check in on them, or taking time out of your day to spend together — it’s all about expressing your love and concern.

Remember, even if you don’t know exactly what to say or do, the fact that you’re trying will mean a lot. So don’t be afraid to reach out and let someone know you’re there for them. 

When A friend is going through a tough time, what’s your favourite way to be there for them?

Share in the comments below…

Related Mental Health Resources:


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