By Rosie Angel-Clark, Eve Coleman, Elena Venturelli and Sanjana Idnani, Wellbeing Editorial Team
The Croft // With a second lockdown beginning today, it is more important than ever that we're there for each other. It's a good idea to check up on all your friends – even the ones who are unshakeably upbeat – and let them know that you're there to support them. Here are some ideas from the Wellbeing team on how to look after each other.
Schedule in some quality time
As we enter lockdown again, keeping up quality bonding time can be one of the best ways to support your friends! Just a quick video call could make someone's day and if you want to get creative, encourage each other to get dressed up and ready and have a virtual ‘outing’. Just the routine of getting ready for something different can be so grounding and could help avoid a lockdown lull.
This quality time will be one of the best ways to ensure you and your friends don’t get too isolated while at home and help maintain that sense of a Bristol student community.
Figure out what your friends’ love languages are
It can be quite hard to know what to do or say if your friend is in need of emotional support. One way to understand your friend’s needs is by figuring out what their ‘love language’ is. You can categorise the way different people receive love into five love languages: touch, gifts, words of affirmation, time spent, and acts of service.
Think about which ones make your friend happiest. If you really don’t know which of these resonates more with them, think about the way they show love to other people. If you know what someone’s love language is, the smallest gesture can make a world of difference.
Let your friends vent in the ways that suit them
In friendships, it’s important to note that different people seek different forms of help from their friends. Some people share what they’re going through and seek to work through the problem with someone else. Others, like myself, often just want to verbalise the scrambled thoughts in their head to someone that they trust and to feel that they have been truly listened to.
As we enter into this second lockdown, many people will be struggling with loneliness and mental health. Now, more than ever, it is incredibly important to check in with your friends – making that extra effort to gauge what is going on beneath the surface. Being a good listener is something that we can all work on – starting with asking our friends what they would most appreciate when they approach us for help: advice, related experience, or simply a sympathetic ear.
Remember to treat yourself well too
We’re always told that in order to look after others, we have to look after ourselves first. This makes sense, but in practice it can be really difficult. When you care about someone it’s easy to let yourself forget to put boundaries in place, or to feel like you shouldn’t have them at all, and you can end up coming away from conversations feeling drained. The way to avoid this is to make sure you look after yourself too.
Take the time to be with yourself and to speak to other friends (even if it's virtually for the moment), and make all the things you love doing a priority. Take yourself for a walk, cook something you like, try a five-minute meditation, read for pleasure (easier said than done sometimes when you're doing an English degree!), or whatever appeals to you.
By doing these sorts of things you’ll build yourself up so you have the energy to support your friends when they need you, and you’ll be a stronger, more effective shoulder to lean on.
Featured image: Epigram / Alice Proctor
If you're struggling with your mental health or you're worried about a friend, here are some resources that may be of help:
- Samaritans – 116 123
- Mind infoline – 0300 1233393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
- Bristol Nightline – 01179 266266 (8pm-midnight, term-time)
- Bristol Mind Mental Health Crisis Line – 0300 5550334 (24/7)
- Bristol MindLine – 0808 8080330 (7pm-11pm)
- Nilaari BAME counselling service – 01179 625742
- VitaMinds NHS Talking Therapies Service
- Off The Record (for 11-25 year olds) for online self-help resources