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Last Updated on December 19, 2022
Trauma is something that unfortunately happens to everyone at one point or another in their lives. In fact, over eight million Americans 18 and older have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD,) according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, so it’s important that emotions are addressed no matter how old we are.
Traumatic events can define who we are and can be very difficult to work through, even when we think we’ve survived our most difficult times. Even when visible scars have faded, psychological pain can linger.
As such, it’s only natural that we want to help our friends when they experience trauma and go through difficult times in their lives. But knowing how to be supportive without making them feel awkward can be challenging, especially if their trauma is recent and something we haven’t personally experienced. Here are some tips for supporting a friend who’s recently experienced trauma.
Know Your Limitations
You may want to do everything in your power to help your friend, but you should realize that you can’t offer every kind of help. You are only one person with your own experience in life, so use what you know to support your friend. Don’t try to be a superhero who should be able to do everything.
Offer Unconditional Support
Although you can’t do everything for your friends in need, you can still offer your support unconditionally. They should know that you’re always there for them, not only when they’re willing to open up or discuss important things. Sometimes, you just need to be there when they want companionship.
Above all, you should be available for your friend. The time, location, or reason shouldn’t matter—just be available. Being available when a friend needs you can mean the world to them.
Self-care is often the last thing that a person who has faced a traumatic event will think of. As a good friend, you should be the voice of reason they hear that makes sure they take care of themself.
The state of your environment can affect your mood, according to Very Well Mind. Did you know that a carpet can be as much as 4,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat? Help your friend avoid the manifestation of a dirty physical environment.
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, cleaning and a clean home can help reduce anxiety and stress as well as reduce the symptoms of depression. Keep that in mind when helping a friend who is going through a difficult situation.
Assure your friends that their reactions are normal. Everyone reacts to trauma differently, and there is no right or wrong way to respond. They may feel guilty about being sad or depressed, but you need to reassure them that it’s natural to feel that way and that they have the right to feel all the emotions they’re experiencing.
Show Your Love
Your friends need to know that you love them no matter what, and you need to show that you care. Your gestures don’t need to be fancy or big. Something as simple as a bouquet of cheerful flowers can be enough to make your friend’s day a little bit better. With more than 32,000 flower businesses in the United States, there are so many lovely arrangements to choose from!
No matter what your friend is going through, it will take hard work to support them. Remember, they’re likely in a scary place in their lives and even if you can’t do anything to change their situation, just being there will already mean something to them.