If you have a friend who’s feeling down, the natural reaction is to try to cheer them up. But how exactly should you do that? Maybe you can tell a joke, but then again a friend who’s down in the dumps may not be receptive to your cheesy one-liners and gags.
But you can try some of these proven ways of uplifting someone’s mood instead. These are the tried and true methods that can brighten anyone’s day.
1. Offer A Hug
Doesn’t it feel good for you when you get a hug? For someone down in the dumps, such a feeling can be very therapeutic. This has been confirmed by various scientific studies, as it’s been found that the body releases oxytocin hormones when you wrap your arms around another person. This oxytocin is also known as the “cuddle hormone” and when you hug a depressed friend you both get the benefits.
2. Lend Them Your Ear
Do you know how some people to counselors and therapists so they have someone to talk to who can listen to them? Sometimes listening is all that you need to do to help someone overcome their negative emotions. They can vent their feelings, and they’re not ignored. You don’t even need to offer solutions to their problems—all you need to do is to listen to show you care. Your buddy feels less alone, and that certainly helps.
3. Try a Nice Cup of Tea or Coffee
Any warm drink will do when you spend time with your depressed buddy. Start with the hug, then go for tea and coffee while you listen to them complain and vent about their troubles. The warm drink is crucial; scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder discovered that the effects of a warm drink are quite similar to the effects of a hug.
4. Bake Them a Yummy Treat
You have lots of baked goods you can try to make. You can try cakes, brownies, cookies, and cinnamon rolls just to name a few. The yummy goodness really helps, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that your friend realizes that they have someone in their life who’s willing to go to all that effort.
Also, baking promotes your own well-being as well. Baking is in some ways a bit like meditation, and it’s also a nice creative outlet for you to let out stress.
5. Treat Them to a Meal
If you don’t even have the culinary skills to boil water, you can still just take your sad friend out for a nice meal. Just make sure that you go for healthy food so you and your friend don’t end up with too many extra pounds later on. Now that can be depressing.
6. Spend a Night Out (or even a Night In)
Maybe you can go out to you and your friend’s favorite nightspot to help perk up their moods. If your depressed buddy isn’t in the mood to go out, offer to spend the night in with them as well. Maybe you can binge-watch your favorite TV shows and movies, though it’s best if you watch more cheerful shows. A little bit of ice cream while watching won’t hurt either, though popcorn is also a nice alternative.
7. Go Out for a Few Drinks
We’re not saying that you get your buddy drunk since alcohol is technically a depressant. But a few drinks may help your friend relax, and the alcohol can encourage them to talk about what’s bothering them. Some people even get the giggles when under the influence of alcohol.
8. Send Flowers
Flowers aren’t just for guys to send to women they’re attracted to. You can also send them to a friend who’s feeling down. Rutgers University researchers have recently confirmed that flowers are in fact very effective in boosting people’s spirits. People feel a bit of excitement after receiving flowers, and they also report a reduction in their feelings of agitation, anxiety, and depression.
9. Offer the Soothing Scent of Essential Oils
Smells can be a lot more comforting than you may have suspected, and essential oils, in particular, can be very effective in uplifting a pal’s mood and calming their nerves. Try bergamot, which can cheer up your friend while it counters their irritability. A 2017 scientific study discovered that the spicy floral scent of bergamot can make someone feel a lot more positive.
Patchouli oil can help relax them, while chamomile can minimize their anxiety. And while you’re at it, try these scents for your own home as well.
10. Treat Them to a Day at the Spa
A massage and a facial can be super-relaxing, there’s no doubt about that. A stay at a spa can reduce anxiety levels. It can even boost immunity, and feeling healthy is much better for the mood that feeling sick. If there are no good spas in the neighborhood, see if you can have a professional make a home visit.
11. Offer to Do A Simple Task
When people are in a stressful period of their life, it’s very common for them to feel daunted by even the simplest tasks. This is especially true for periods of mourning. But instead of just offering your sympathies and a generic instruction to let you know if they need anything, you can instead do something right away.
You can offer to clean their house, or perhaps just the bathroom. Other tasks you can do for them include doing the laundry, picking up the groceries, or babysitting the kids. When your friend is going through a trying time, doing these tasks for them can be very comforting.
12. Help Them to Vent Their Rage
Some people tend to break things when they get upset. It’s actually quite satisfying, even though it can be rather worrisome for the others around them. Nowadays, you may be able to lead your friend to an available “rage room” for rent. These are services with rooms with items you’re allowed to break so you can reduce your stress.
You can also suggest to your friend to try a new style of yoga called “rage yoga”. In this version, you’re encouraged to scream and curse while you go through your yoga poses.
13. Go Volunteer Together
It may seem strange to try to reduce stress by adding another task to the list of things you need to do. But when your friend is undergoing some bad times, you can suggest that the two of you can volunteer to do good things in the neighborhood. Various scientific studies have confirmed that doing good feels good. It enhances the feeling of well-being, it reduces the symptoms of depression, and it encourages greater satisfaction with life.
You can find a list of charitable organizations in your local neighborhood and offer your services. Maybe you can collect clothes for the homeless or serve up some food at a soup kitchen. You may also want to try working at a local animal shelter.
14. Enroll in a Class Together
This doesn’t have to a super-serious academic class so that your friend can get their Ph.D. Instead, maybe you can try something easy and fun. Maybe you can both learn how to make a pizza, or you find out what it’s like to sketch nude models. Your efforts to learn a fun activity can calm you down, while such a class can also increase your feelings of self-worth and well-being. Besides, once your friend actually learns something the feeling of accomplishment can be very effective in dispelling gloomy moods.
15. Lend Them Your Pet Dog or Cat
If you have a pet dog or cat and your sad buddy doesn’t, maybe it’s because you know something they don’t. Owners of dogs and cats know that these pets can be very soothing. It encourages a more upbeat outlook in life. In fact, scientists have even found out that the simple act of petting a dog can boost levels of oxytocin (the “cuddle hormone”) while it reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
Bringing pets to the workplace is known to result in lots of benefits too. These include reducing stress, promoting camaraderie, and boosting work productivity. So, if your friend is feeling down, get your pet dog and cat to help, or just lead them to the nearest dog park.
16. Pay Them a Compliment
Sometimes all a person needs to feel better is to hear someone give them a sincere compliment. As long as it’s genuine, it can surely help. Often a person feels down because they feel inadequate or under-appreciated, and it’s nice for them to hear that other people realize their good qualities as well.
17. Tell a Joke
Maybe you heard or read a joke online and you couldn’t help but smile or giggle. Save these gems for a rainy day when your buddy is feeling down. After listening to them vent while enjoying a nice cup of tea, tell a joke in a way that’s unexpected and surprising. If you know the kind of joke your friend enjoys, then the right joke can make them laugh even when they’re determined to be depressed!