Life often gives us lemons. Therefore, support helps us to overcome the hardships. Except, what if it’s not you who is feeling blue but your close mate? So, how to cheer up a friend who’s upset? Sometimes, attempts to make our best pal feel better can become tricky – it involves an uncomfortable level of intimacy and vulnerability on both sides.
We are lucky to have a buddy around in the moments of turmoil. After all, that’s what friends are for, right? Therefore, we don’t want to let our bestie plop themselves on a couch and watch TV alone. But, there’re times when we can neither find the right words nor come up with ideas on how to cheer up a friend.
Let them vent
Usually, a pair of ears is all we need. Rather than pointing out silver linings or trying to make your pal keep the chin up – pay attention to what they are saying and validate what they are feeling. Make a genuine attempt to communicate that their frustration is understandable and reasonable – this might, at least, make them feel heard.
It’s tempting to stay indoors and cry the heart out. But, try to encourage your mate to take a walk together to breathe fresh air. Get that heart pumping blood to the brain! Serotonin is affected by the amount of oxygen we breathe in. Scientists encourage that we really stop and smell the flowers. Walking through the park helps us to feel calmer and happier, especially when we catch the scent of freshly cut grass. Even during cold winter days, fresh oxygen energizes the body and improves our mood.
Spontaneous trip together
This doesn’t have to be a very long vacation. Even a few days road trip, a weekend away from the “usual habitat” will bring excitement. As we begin to experience newness in our lives, joy grows in our hearts.
The power of one meal
Your pal is a foodie – take them grocery shopping followed by cooking a meal together. Our gut is deeply connected to our mental wellbeing. This is why so often we opt for “comfort food” – a temporary fix that often makes us feel even more sluggish. And also why recipes that contain lots of vegetables, grains and lentils, fiber and natural carbohydrates will go a long way towards a better mood.
Laughter is the best medicine
As Victor Hugo once said, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face”. If you are gifted with a good sense of humor – use it. Otherwise, take them to a stand-up comedy show or go see a funny movie. It might be one of the best ways to cheer up a sad friend.
Watch a game
Even if your pal doesn’t care about sports, find a way to snag a ticket. Take them to a last-minute hockey game or a homecoming football tournament. The atmosphere in the stadium is so powerful – it’s contagious. You will unwillingly start cheering and jumping off the seat when the teams score.
If your buddy is a “die-hard” games fan – even better! There’s no place as exhilarating as the stadium where players give it their all on the field. The communal atmosphere, the buzz, the feeling of thousands of people cheering as one brings excitement.
Touching is a language. A hug could be truly healing for your upset friend. By embracing, you literally give your mate a shoulder to cry and send a signal that you are here for them.
What to avoid?
Your heavy-duty approach to cheer up best friend can backfire. There are a few things to stay away from:
- Don’t give advice, unless you are asked to. More often than not, we know what we should do. Your help is in listening – not giving the solution.
- Don’t be artificially upbeat. This might make your bestie more distant. Many of our errors in this arena come from overthinking what kind of pick-me-up things to do. Oftentimes, to cheer up a friend – convey that you care and that they’re not alone.
- Don’t assume that your mate will tell you what to do to make them feel better.
Whether you want to spoil your bestie with a little gift, plan to arrange a surprise BBQ party or are aspired to send a handwritten letter – overcome the urge to make everything bright and cheerful. Also, when you start questioning the effectiveness of your actions – stop those racing thoughts! You know your friend – you two aren’t strangers. The best thing you can do is acknowledge their feelings and be willing to help – the rest will follow.