Friendship is a beautiful thing—childhood friends, friends from school or college days, friendships formed through work, and other stages of life. Sometimes friends are made in the least expected places, bonding through pain, hardship, and times of suffering. Reaching out for help is not easy, nor is reaching out for social support when struggling with depression or anxiety.
When one is struggling with mental health, it can be difficult to maintain friendships. Yet, this is a time when we need support from friends. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, who are three people that you could call right now? When is the last time that you reached out to someone? Has it been in the last day, last week, last month?
We all have a need for social connection, through the good times and through the bad. It is especially important to maintain friendships while feeling depressed, anxious, etc.
Here are Three Ways to Maintain Friendships:
- Take a Step to be Vulnerable and Reach Out
• Start with small steps. Sending a simple text or making a phone call is a great start.
• A good starting point is to reach out to the top three names that come to your mind.
• Be open about what you are feeling and what would be helpful, perhaps just someone to listen.
• If you are lacking social supports, reach out to community supports or a mental health resource line. https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/get-help/mental-health
- Take Care of Your Mental Health
• A good friend can offer support but will not be able to “fix” your depression, anxiety, etc.
• Separate yourself from your mental health. For example, I am a person who is feeling depressed vs. I am depressed.
• Practice coping skills that encourage being able to tolerate negative emotions and build on social connection. One of my favorites is listed here: https://www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/accepts.html
- Recognize that you are Important to Others
• Sometimes people are reluctant to reach out to friends as to not “burden” or stress out others. Although it may not feel like it during times of struggle, your friendship is a precious gift.
• Friendships give and take. How would you respond to a friend? Showing and receiving kindness, patience, and understanding are qualities of a great friendship.
“You are a piece of the puzzle of someone else’s life. You may never know where you fit, but others will fill the holes in their lives with pieces of you.” -Bonnie Arbor
Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC
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