Stress Management Relationship Stress How to Help a Friend in Crisis By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD Twitter Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on January 18, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Steve Debenport/Getty Images Times of crisis and stress strike unexpectedly and hit hard. Because of the physical and emotional effects of stress, it’s important for us to have some stress management strategies in place when a crisis does hit. Because the effects of stress can be contagious, relieving stress shouldn’t be a burden for anyone to carry alone. Having a friend during a stressful life event can make a huge difference. Helping Your Friend De-Stress During a Crisis But knowing how to help a friend, however, can be tricky. Here are some strategies for offering support to family members and friends in need: Bring Food There’s a reason why bringing food is the classic "good neighbor gesture:" It’s appropriate for a wide range of relationships, from very close to a mere acquaintance, and it really does help people feel better when they’re going through a crisis. Bring your own meal and drop it off, or help coordinate the food-bringing efforts of your group (so the whole neighborhood doesn’t all show up with food on the same night), and you’re doing a real service. Lend a Hand When people experience crisis, they’re often overwhelmed. Just getting from one day to the next can be challenging and draining. Offering to lend whatever type of hand they might need can be a wonderful way of supporting your friend. Whether it’s taking out the trash for a neighbor, grocery shopping for a friend, or taking your mom’s dog to the vet, helping with the daily tasks that may prove to be too much for someone in crisis is an excellent way to help. Get Them Out When faced with an illness or crisis, or when you’re a caregiver, it’s possible to become so consumed with the crisis that it’s difficult to get out and do things that would relieve stress, like exercising or seeing a movie. As a supportive friend, sometimes it helps just to take a loved one out and help then get away for a few hours. Taking someone to dinner, for a walk in the park, or to see an uplifting film can be a fun way to lend support. Provide an Ear Sometimes you can’t find a solution or fix people’s problems. Sometimes all you can do is listen. Fortunately, that’s enough to make a big difference most of the time. (In fact, sometimes a good, supportive listener is far more comforting than the best advice-giver!) Lending a supportive ear or a shoulder to cry on can be more difficult than it sounds (which is part of why therapists are in demand), but it can be transformative to the friend who needs a good listener. Point Them to Resources If you’re close enough with someone, and you see that they may need more support than you can provide, you may want to point them in the direction of other resources in addition to offering what help you can. Helping them find a therapist or support group, or other resources available in the community, can be beneficial for people who are too overwhelmed to look on their own, or need an outside perspective to recognize when they need additional help. Even small gestures can help a friend or neighbor manage a very difficult time. Being there can help them de-stress and help their health. Midlife Crisis: Why We Reevaluate Our Lives at the Halfway Mark By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Stress Management Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.