How to ask for help when you’re stressed – an eight-step guide
Although we all react to stress in different ways, it definitely affects everyone at some point in our lives. Stress can be overwhelming and if something is worrying us, we tend to bottle it up. However, a really useful way to manage stress is to share your concerns and ask for help. It may be difficult to discuss what’s bothering you, but if ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, you’ll probably feel better simply talking to someone.
If you’re struggling to figure out how, or to build the confidence to reach out to someone, the following tips may help:
1. Accept that you need help
The best way to approach an uncomfortable task is to start slow. Begin by accepting that you need help from someone (who is not you). Even the least flustered of us require a helping hand from time-to-time and advice from others can offer a different perspective. Instead of resisting help, accept that this is something hugely beneficial to you.
2. Identify the cause of your stress
If you're feeling stressed, whether it be by your school life or something personal, it’s vital that you identify the cause. Write down how you’re feeling, maybe as a journal entry or a mind map, and work out from there as to what the issue may be. It’s helpful to try and breakdown the issue on your own, identifying the bit that’s of concern, so you can approach someone else with what you’ve found. Experiences you’ve had as part of your DofE might be able to help, as you’ve ‘problem-solved’ throughout your programme.
3. Forget the stigma
Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, nor is it saying that you feel a bit helpless or unable to do something. As you learn with DofE, relying on others and being a part of a team makes you stronger, and feel supported. Forget about feeling like a burden, and this will help you begin accepting help from others.
4. Decide who you’d like to speak with
A good support system of friends and family can ease a lot of worries, but you might not feel totally comfortable sharing your anxieties with them. There are a number of people you might want to consider speaking to about asking for help when you’re stressed. This could be your parent, friend (or a DofE group mate), teacher, DofE Leader, grandparent etc. Identify who it is that you feel most comfortable with and approach them. They can help you see things in a different way and offer their support.
5. Envisage what outcome you’d like
When approaching a new exercise or task, it’s helpful to imagine the goal – you’ve probably done so with your DofE expedition or Award achievement. Think about the outcome that you’d like, and this will help you focus on asking in a clear and concise way. Do you want to be listened to? Do you want practical advice or emotional support? Write down those goals to help you visualise.
6. Pick a time and a place
Choose a time and place where you feel most comfortable. Getting outside and clearing your head can help take your mind off the worries you’ve built up. You might consider taking a walk with the person you’d like to speak with, so you can talk uninterrupted in a relaxed environment.
7. Ask for help
With the confidence you’ve gained from these steps, don’t be afraid to ask for help to alleviate the stress you’re feeling. Remember – it’s important to know that you’re not struggling on your own. You could share your notes on the causes of your stress and help them understand why you’re feeling the way you are. Explain how you feel and what support you would like. Ultimately, let them help you!
8. Help others
A great way to learn about asking for help when you’re stressed is by being the support system for others who may be in a similar situation. This can be as simple as reminding a friend that you’re there if they need or could be part of your DofE volunteering. Helping others through your DofE volunteering will not only make you feel better about yourself, but also have a lasting positive impact on them.