Whenever we feel down or discouraged, it helps to know that a friend is just a phone call or email away. And a good friend will know just the thing that can cheer us up and get us going again, whether it’s a corny joke or delicious batch of brownies.
If you have a friend who needs occasional encouragement, here are a few reminders about the universal kinds of things that often help people to feel special or get their minds off their troubles:
- Uplifting words. Language plays a special role in affecting our emotions for good or for ill. We cringe under criticism and gleam when praised. Some folks are more attuned to words than others. If that is how your friend is, shower her with encouraging notes, thoughtful cards, or even a personally written poem. She is bound to feel valued when you take the time to pour your regard into words for her in a special and meaningful way.
- Small tokens. Other people appreciate a tangible memento of a friend’s care. If you live at a distance from a pal who is down, send a cookie basket or a bouquet of flowers. Or if you live nearby, drop off a book, a gift certificate, or a home-cooked meal. The evidence of your friendship will warm his heart and hold you in his thoughts for days and weeks to come. So when you can’t be there at all or stay long when you drop by, leave a small gift as a reminder of your visit and your affection.
- Physical expressions. Look your friend in the eyes and smile deeply. Give her a hug, side to side, or face to face. Clasp hands. Kiss her cheek, head, forehead, or hand. Walk in the park together to enjoy the scenery or hike a rigorous trial to work through pent-up stress. Be there, figuratively and literally, for a friend you truly care about. But be careful and perhaps reserved to avoid stirring unreturned feelings if your friend is of the opposite sex.
- Do something. Call to offer your services or pitch in where needed. Mop a floor, do the laundry, cook a meal, or bathe a child. Stop at the store, pick up dry cleaning, or mow the lawn. Spending time helping someone who does not feel up to the task leaves evidence behind of your friendship commitment for your friend to enjoy.
- Give the gift of time. Sit by your friend’s side and merely listen as she pours out heartfelt feelings. Accompany her to a doctor’s visit or to consult an attorney. Offer to go wherever she likes for an evening out. Take a country drive or a city walking tour to see something new and get her mind off her troubles.
Sometimes it seems easier to throw a card in the mail or avoid a friend’s phone call when you know she’s depressed. But taking time to invest in a friend when she needs someone to lean on will leave you both feeling better and your friendship more solid than ever. After all, isn’t that what friends are for?