You’ve been there. You run into a friend and can see on their face the struggle they are in, but you have no idea what do say or do.
The dreaded Awkward Zone.
It happens to all of us and nine times out of 10, we will avoid doing what needs to be done. They need you, and deep down you know that. But you are busy and it’s awkward, so you avoid it. This cycle is inadvertently contributing to our mental health and loneliness epidemics.
It’s just not OK to ignore this anymore. Too many people are alone in their pain. Our mental health community can’t handle the inundation of need for care. And in reality, many who are struggling just need a friend who knows what to do.
We all need to be that friend. To break through the awkwardness and the busyness of our lives and help that co-worker or classmate or cousin.
Here are some things you can say and do. It’s simple stuff, but it does require your time, your heart and your willingness to break through the Awkward Zone.
Find which of these resonates with you and then act. Again and again and again.
1. Do you need a hug or someone to talk to?
2. When you are ready to talk, I’ll be here for you. Always, no matter what.
3. I’m bringing you lunch today. Do you still love minestrone soup?
4. Do you want to tell me about it?
5. I’m so sorry for what you’re dealing with, do you need a hug or a friend?
6. I don’t know what to say, but I can promise I’m a good listener.
7. Do you have time for a walk today?
8. My shoulder is here, right now. Cry, scream, say whatever you need to say, I’m just here to listen.
9. I’m going to pop over to do your dishes and just hang out with you. What time is good?
10. No matter how bad things are, I’m here. Please tell me what you need.
11. I’m at the store and have grabbed some milk and chocolate mint ice cream for you, what else do you need?
12. I haven’t heard from you in a while, tell me what’s going on.
13. What day this week would be the best day for me to bring you by dinner?
14. Hey, hi. What’s up? It’s been a while since I’ve seen or heard from you. You OK?
15. Let’s go over here and get some hot tea or coffee and rest for a few minutes.
16. Can we talk? Whatever is going on, I’ve got your back.
17. Can I come over and just be with you? We can play a game or watch a movie or just chat if you’re up for it?
18. I have no idea how you’re feeling right now, but I really care and I’m here.
19. Do you have anyone to plow your driveway and shovel your sidewalk and porch?
20. I love you. I’m here.
21. What would help you today?
22. How is this week going for you?
23. Do you need to sit down and rest for a bit?
24. I’m free today at 12 and am going to pop over. If you are not up for seeing me, I understand, but I’ll be there with a vanilla latte.
25. You are not alone. I am here and I care.
When you care for others, you will care for yourself. One of the best feelings in the world is when you help someone who needs a friend. It builds you both up. It deepens your friendship.
If you would like to know more, please check out my book “Paws to Comfort.” It is a beautiful visual guide showing how dogs model the critical skill of comfort and helping you uncover the best ways to comfort others. It provides specific tips, tools and strategies to find your personal comfort profile and action plan.
Together, we can help mend our disconnected world.
Comfort on my friends, comfort on!
A version of this article was originally published on Inspiring Comfort.