If you’re like most people, your go-to response when comforting someone experiencing a crisis is to wrap them up in a big hug. But if you can’t do this for whatever reason, you might feel hopeless, anxious, and at a loss of options. While it’s already challenging supporting someone nearby – words are never enough, and advice can often make things worse – supporting from afar can feel like an uphill battle. Thankfully, with a few creative tips and technological benefits, you can learn how to comfort someone from far away and make your love known, no matter the time zone.
How to comfort someone from far away: Emotional tips
Before we dive into creative tips, learning to comfort someone emotionally is sometimes more important than sending a care package or flowers.
1. Give them space to share
When comforting someone, allow them the space to vent. Instead of providing advice, pointing out the positives, or telling them to be strong, keep the focus on their experience and let them know you are there for them. The more you allow them the freedom to share their feelings, the more compassion and empathy you provide to aid their healing.
2. Talk less
If your loved one is going through a challenging time, you may think you need to provide words of encouragement. But when trauma occurs, the best thing you can do is listen. Listening is the most powerful way to comfort someone, whether you’re physically nearby or far away. It allows your loved ones to express themselves, vent, share their emotions, and feel connected to a friend in a time when they feel the loneliest.
3. Focus on them
Rather than shifting the conversation to discuss a similar tragedy and putting the spotlight on you, provide empathy by repeating their emotions. For example, after your loved one shares, you could say, “It sounds like you’re feeling ….” and insert an appropriate emotion. Not only will repeating back what they feel show them you’re listening, but it will also remind them that they’re not alone.
4. Share less
You may want to share a similar experience and your resulting feelings, but remember everyone experiences everything differently. Even if your intentions are positive, talking about your story could cause friction in your relationship. Instead, you can provide compassionate statements such as ” “I’m so sorry.” “I can see that this is very hard on you.” and “I’m here for you”.
How to comfort someone from far away: Creative tips
From face-time, sharing a funny meme, and offering practical help, the following suggestions will bring light and happiness to a loved one in need.
1. Use the available technology
Luckily, we live in a time where we have endless ways to communicate. Send a message, face-time, use Skype or dm. Even if you can’t see them in person, consistent communication will provide added comfort during a difficult time.
2. Complete practical acts of care
Is your loved one sick and unable to run errands, clean their home, or buy groceries? Help reduce stress in their life by ordering these services for them. They will appreciate the sentiment and will feel more secure, loved, and relaxed knowing they have your support.
3. Send a care package
When you can’t physically comfort someone, sending a care package of some of their favorite things lets them know you’re thinking about them. It delivers empathy, sympathy, and a surprise they’re not expecting. For example, gather small comfort items such as hot chocolate, gift cards, adult coloring books, candy, a sleeping mask, or a heat pack. Whether they are sick or suffering a major life change, opening a care package from you will bring a smile.
4. Night-time vent
If your friend or loved one feels depressed or anxious, schedule calls at night to comfort them. Loneliness, anxiety, and depression can worsen at night and prevent someone from receiving deep sleep. A phone call at night provides them an opportunity to vent, catch up, and receive a mood-booster before falling asleep.
5. Binge watch together
Thankfully, the benefits of technology include long-distance movie nights. Watching a TV series, comedy standup, or even a sporting event is a great idea to connect despite different time zones.
6. Send something funny
Did you recently watch a cute animal video or see a funny meme while scrolling? Don’t hold back and share it with your loved one. Save videos, stories, jokes, and anything bright and adorable and send it their way. Although you’re apart, making an effort to send something light-hearted will brighten their day.
7. Create a video
Being sick or sad can feel boring and downright depressing. Especially if someone is homesick and missing their friends and family. Remind them of home by creating a video of yourself. You can also include other people they know to make it extra special.
8. Send flowers
Instead of racking your brain trying to discover a comforting gesture, go traditional and send flowers! With the wonders of the internet, you can track down any delivery service and find a bouquet. Even better, there are tons of sustainable options that relay a kind gesture as well as giving back to mother nature.
9. Order their favorite meal
You may not be able to cook for them in person or eat together side-by-side, but you can order their favorite go-to dish. Not only will it relieve stress from having to struggle with what to cook for dinner, but you can also face-time and eat dinner virtually. It will provide a sense of companionship during lonely nights.
10. Coordinate schedules
Time zone differences and work commitments can certainly make reaching out difficult. To ease the process, find a reoccurring day and time to meet regularly. Having this consistent chat can do wonders for both of you.
11. Send a comfort item
We all know hugs are often the best cure. But if you can’t physically comfort someone, get creative and send a comfort object. For example, a weighted blanket, pillow, or stuffed animal can provide feelings of security, ease loneliness, and help navigate change.
12. Plan a visit
When you’re at your limits and nothing else seems to be helping, close the space and book a trip. Seeing a friendly face and being reminded of love in your life can significantly impact someone’s mental and physical health. While distance has the capacity of making the heart grow fonder, reuniting in person can be the best solution to showing how to comfort someone from far away.
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