Have you ever tried to lift the spirits of an unhappy friend with no success, or mistakenly made them feel worse? We’ve all been in that position at some point and it sucks. Not only is your friend still blue, but you’re feeling like a loser for not being a better friend. First of all, you’re never a loser for wanting to help a friend in need. Secondly, get over yourself. It’s about your friend not you and that can be the root of the problem.
When you are thinking of ways to help a friend feel better, your thoughts may go to things that make YOU feel better. What works for you may not work for your friend. It’s like being a good gift giver; you have to think about what the other person would be happy to receive. To find the perfect way to cheer your friend up, use one of these ideas:
1. Let Your Friend Vent
Sometimes all people need to feel better is to get their problems off their chest. Allow your friend to talk about what is bothering them without interruption, judgment or offering advice. This is not the time to point out helpful suggestions or ways they could have done things differently. Unless your friend asks for advice, do not give it. Also, don’t tell them that you know how they feel. People experience things through their own personal filters. What would be a mild irritation for you could be a major catastrophe for your friend. Plus, it’s not about you. It’s about them. Just listen and allow them whatever histrionics they throw your way. Their frustration is not pointed at you, they are freaking out about their problem.
2. Let Them Know You Care
When people are in a funk, they may not reach out for help either because they don’t want to burden others with their problems or they don’t feel that anyone will care. Just by reaching out to your friend to remind them that you are there for them can brighten their mood.
3. Pay Them a Visit
So much is lost when we speak to people on the phone or through texts and messaging. When people communicate 80% is through visual communication via hand gestures, facial expressions and body language. That is a huge amount of information that we are missing. Having a face to face with your friend will not only make them feel better by seeing you, but you will also be able to communicate much better.
4. Give Them a Hug
The growing use of technology is having an enormous effect on our mental health. People need human contact. Newborns will die without human touch and adults will suffer physical and mental health issues. Giving your friend a hug or a caring touch will go a long way in helping them feel better.
5. Send a Note of Encouragement
An actual card that is sent by old fashion snail mail is preferable, but even an e-card can bring a smile to someone’s face. Taking the time to let them know that you care is the important thing.
6. Make them Laugh
Send a funny picture, video or silly voicemail message. Laughter is the best medicine as they say.
Talking about crazy things that you’ve done together in the past is a great way to lift someone’s spirits. Remind them that life doesn’t always suck and good times are there to be had. If you can focus on a story that gets them talking about stupid things that you have done, that’s even better. A little self-deprecation is worth your friend’s happiness.
8. Take Them Out
Sometimes a change in scenery makes all the difference in the world. Going out on a nice sunny day is optimal to get those “feel good” chemicals flowing, but just being more social is helpful in getting someone out of their funk.
9. Send Them a Care Package
If you can’t be there in person send your friend a package with things to make them feel better. Send some of their favorite things, a CD with upbeat music or a cuddly teddy bear. Most people haven’t received a care package since college or summer camp.
10. Feed Them
When people are down they either eat more or don’t eat enough. Either way providing your friend’s favorite meal or comfort food when they are down will be helpful. Again if you’re not able to be there in person, have the food delivered to them from a nearby restaurant.
11. Get Others Involved
Enlist other friends to help. It’s always nice to know that you’re not alone and that you have a group of friends who are there to pick you up when you’re feeling down.
12. Go for a Walk
Taking a walk will be beneficial in many ways. The fresh air and exercise will help clear your friend’s mind and release endorphins. Walking will also provide enough of an activity to allow your friend the choice of talking or just walking in comfortable silence.
13. Play Games
Take some board games or cards to your friend’s house and spend time just playing. It will be a great distraction that will be fun for you both.
14. Watch Movies
Have a movie marathon or watch your friend’s favorite television series.
15. Do Arts and Crafts
Spend the day making something. It can be very therapeutic to do something creative. If neither of you have a flare for the arts, do a project that is simple or meant for kids to do. It will have the same effect no matter your skill level.
16. Have a Spa Day
If it’s not in your budget to take your friend for a day at the spa, take supplies over for at-home spa treatments. Take turns doing each other’s nails and spreading weird goo on your faces.
17. Be Silly
Be willing to make a fool out of yourself for the sake of your friend’s happiness. Do karaoke or something equally embarrassing. Simply spend the day acting silly and making your friend laugh.
18. Go Dancing
Either get a group together or just take your friend to her favorite spot to dance the night away.
19. Go Shopping
It’s called retail therapy for a reason.
20. Have a Pajama Party
This a great thing to do after going dancing or combine some of the other activities like spa time or a movie marathon and make an entire night of it. When we’re feeling down nighttime can be the hardest and most lonely time.
21. Surprise Them
Leave small gifts or cards for them to find. When they are out, put glow in the dark stars on their bedroom ceiling, flowers in every room or candles and bubble bath in their bathroom.
22. Do Something Extreme
Get your friend’s adrenaline pumping by taking them skydiving, bungee jumping or even to an amusement park to ride roller coasters.
23. Learn Something New
Find something new for you and your friend to learn. Learning new things gives us a sense of accomplishment and achievement.
The best way to feel better is to help someone else. Find a charity for you and your friend to volunteer your time.
25. Help Them Redecorate
Help your friend rearrange their furniture or paint their bedroom a new color.
26. Go for a Drive
There’s nothing like taking a road trip with your friends. If an impromptu vacation is out of the question, turn up the radio and take a drive through a scenic part of town or go exploring.
27. Play Tourist
Take your friend out to play tourist in your own town or a town nearby. Go through the little tourist-y shops and buy cheap “souvenirs”, sit at outdoor restaurant and people-watch and visit tourist attractions.
28. Give Them a Plant
Instead of giving cut flowers that will die in a few days, give your friend a nice houseplant. They will enjoy it much longer.
29. Give Them New PJ’s
Remember how fun it was to get new pajamas when you were little? We forget the enjoyment new pajamas can bring as we grow older. Get your friend new PJ’s that are fun, soft or sexy, whichever they will appreciate the most. If they are going to be sitting around their house being sad, they may as well have something new to wear while they do it.
30. Tell Them You Love Them
We sometimes take our friends for granted and don’t tell them how we feel often enough. Some jerk you dated for a while probably heard you say “I love you” more times than you’ve told your lifelong friend.
31. Ask What They Need
It’s ok to ask your friend what they need. Not being a psychic doesn’t make you a bad friend.
Honing your skills of observation and intuition will go a long way in helping you figure out what your friend needs. If you try to cheer your friend up and it isn’t working, don’t take it personally. Either try something different or give your friend a break. They may simply need to be sad for a while, and that’s ok. Let them know that you are there when they need you. That’s all anyone can ask for in a good friend.