Helping Others Cope With Stress

Do you see friends or family members under stress? Signs of stress may include trouble sleeping, headaches, digestive issues, chest pain, tense muscles, loss of sexual desire and/or ability, colds and other illness, and lack of energy. Do you wonder if there is anything you can do to help them?

Here are some ideas to assist you:

  • Show them you care by taking time to offer to listen. It’s helpful to reiterate what they are saying to you, to help show them you understand. This is called mirroring and shows empathy. For example, after they say something, you could say “Let me see if I got that.” and reiterate what you heard.
  • Be curious without being too probing or too personal. Allow them to lead how private they want the conversation to become.
  • Avoid negativity or judgement. This will help them feel safe about sharing their feelings in an honest manner. Feeling safe will allow them to open up.
  • Try to find the root of the problem. For example, in Functional Medicine, there is a common analogy used: if you have pain from a tack, it could take a lot of aspirin to feel better, so it’s better to get rid of the tack.
  • Help them think rationally about the problem(s) they are encountering.
  • Be encouraging and let them know if you would be happy to continue a dialogue on other occasions. Once they open up a little, more emotions may come forth and they may wish to talk again.
  • Offer appreciation for them. This can really help lift someone’s spirits. It can take only a few seconds by sending them a quick text message. Make it fun by adding Emojis! Or, send a special card through the mail. It may take a few days, but will surprise them, and it can be put on their desk or somewhere else that will be a reminder to brighten their days.
  • If you think their stress is severe or has been ongoing for a long time, you may want to suggest they seek professional help…some hotlines are even 24/7.

Photo credit: Gratisography

Written by Kim Baur. She is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach at