Do you sometimes struggle to be a good friend? I mean, sometimes having friends is great but other times these relationships get tricky. This is especially true when your friends struggle in the area of mental health. Today, many teens and young adults are struggling with anxiety. There’s many ways to describe anxiety (and you can find a helpful visual here) but it’s basically when your friend feels overwhelmed all the time because of many things going on in their life that may be out of their control. And perhaps some of your friends are facing other issues like an eating disorder, depression and thoughts of suicide. So how do you be a good friend in times like these?
Below, we’ve described 4 ways for you to tell your friends that you really care about them. We can’t tell you how to cure your friends who are struggling with anxiety (or any of the other issues mentioned above). However, if your relationships could use an encouragement boost, here are 4 ways to practically reach your friends:
Send them an encouraging text
“Hey, I know you’re going through a tough time; how can I help you?”
“I really care about you and want to know: how are you really doing today?”
“It’s midterms and I know you have a lot on your plate; want to get together this week to study?”
I always smile when my friends send me texts like these and I know that it works both ways. Try reaching out to your friends through texting. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help them. Sometimes there won’t be anything you can do to fix the situation. But it could mean a lot to your friend to know that you’re still with them during this time.
Share Cool Stuff With them
Maybe your friend is struggling with anxiety because of something specific. That specific thing can be a new change in their life like starting at a new college, or being new to a city. If you know this, try sharing something with them that speaks directly into their situation. We don’t expect you to be a psychologist who will perfectly guide them through a tough time. But maybe there’s something online you can find that will give them helpful tips about a specific issue? If there is, share it with your friend; they might really appreciate you not only being there but pointing them in the right direction.
Schedule time together
When was the last time you had ice cream with your best friend? Or if ice cream isn’t your thing, when was the last time you did something else together, like gaming or going to the movies? If it feels like that was a million years ago, we think that’s normal. It’s normal because we get busy and anxious doing a lot of things for school, work, youth group, etc. That means that if you really need that ice cream time, you’re gonna have to schedule it around all your other commitments. So we’re challenging you to shoot a text to your friend, figure out when you can both do something together, plan it out, and then stick to it! It could do your friendship a whole lot of good!
Be friends even when you disagree
Do you ever find it really tough to befriend those who aren’t Christians? If you are, we’ve got some advice here on why you should keep persevering in this tough area. But our main encouragement is this: yes, your friends who don’t believe the Gospel may disagree with you on a lot of things. But just like you, they need to know that in times of anxiety, Christ loves us just as we are. Try talking to an adult about this and pray together about how to be a good friend while still honouring God. I pray God helps you be faithful to him first, while being a true friend and light in their life.
Struggling with Anxiety on World Mental Health Day
When I was in high school, a girl who was on my track team had a really serious eating disorder. I was completely clueless about how to help her. I’d heard and read about this issue a bunch but it was so weird that someone close to me was experiencing this.
Maybe you’ve heard a lot about anxiety and just like me, you feel powerless about how to help your friend. And that’s why we wrote this post: not so that you could solve all your friends’ problems but to equip you with some helpful tips to encourage them. So this World Mental Health day, we encourage you to reach out to your friend and let them know that despite all that’s going on, they are truly loved!