6 Simple Things You Can Do to Cheer Someone Up
It can be hard to know how to be there for someone who is going through a hard time. Many of us who have gone through a loss, period of depression, or other significant emotionally challenging experience, know that one of the biggest struggles is the sense of alienation and isolation.
That isolation is not necessarily a result of actual physical aloneness, but rather, it can be the result of loved ones not knowing how to connect or be with the person who is suffering in a meaningful and impactful way. So we thought we’d share these 6 simple ways to genuinely be there for someone, and maybe even brighten their day.
1) Really Listen
It might seem pretty straightforward, but often when we think we are listening, we really aren’t. Sitting and listening, really listening, when someone is in pain, can be a difficult thing. It is hard not to want to jump in and find a way to fix it, to tell the person not to be sad, that it isn’t that bad, that this too shall pass, that there’s a silver lining. Resist this impulse, at least for a while.
Let your friend or family member have their feelings. Let them be sad. Don’t offer advice or solutions unless they explicitly ask for it. Just be present there with them, make space for the things they need to say, and ask the kind of questions that are open and encourage them to keep talking. That is the best way to make someone feel heard and empathized with, and it really can be a huge relief.
2) Change Spaces
If they can manage it, try to get the person out of the house. Distraction for a bit can be good. Going for a walk in nature can be particularly healing, but if that isn’t appealing or possible, doing something new like seeing an exhibit they might like, going to a cafe, or maybe even checking out a pottery or painting workshop are all good ideas. Basically, try to encourage a shift in environment, spending quality time together doing something creative and inspiring.
3) Meaningful Gifting
For the most part, unexpected gifts really do cheer people up. Particularly if they show you’ve thought of the person and reflect that. This doesn’t mean something expensive, and it doesn’t even mean something bought. A handmade gift is personal and shows time taken. It could even be cookies you’ve baked, a framed picture of you both ‘back in the day’, a book you know they have been searching for, or a copy of their favorite funny movie.
4) Laugh Hard
Speaking of a favorite funny movie. Just because someone is going through a difficult time, doesn’t mean there can’t be moments punctuated with laughter. A good belly laugh can be an incredible release of pent up emotions in the body. Another way of connecting and maybe also a little bit of distraction, is sharing time over a funny film, TV show, standup comic, or even over amusing stories, can all feel a little healing, even for a few moments. That being said, don’t force it!
5) Lift a Burden
When someone is really struggling, getting through even the most basic day-to-day chores can be draining. Sometimes the nicest thing you can do for someone is take something off their list. Do their dishes if you’ve noticed them piling up, bring them over a bag of groceries, make a meal to share, or even throw in a load of their laundry. These little gestures can mean the world, and it’s a way of giving someone the space to be where they are.
6) The Power of Touch
People need touch. Touch releases our happy hormones, and can be incredibly soothing. Offering a literal shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, or a really good warm hug can be a powerful thing. Even sitting beside someone, in close physical proximity, has impact. Of course, keep in mind not everyone is comfortable with contact, particularly unexpectedly or sometimes even especially in vulnerable moments. So it is always good to ask if you aren’t familiar enough with the person to just ‘know’.
Many of our points above encourage letting people have their feelings. That being said, if you feel someone has been deteriorating, or is in a deepening and extended depression, taking steps toward intervening or encouraging them to get professional help is something to keep in mind. Also, being there for our loved ones is incredibly important, but make sure you know your limits and make sure to take care of yourself!