Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW


8 Things to Say to Someone When They’re Stressed

PUBLISHED Jun 11th, 2020 & UPDATED ON Feb 14th, 2023

At this point, it seems like “stressed” is a permanent state of being. Whether you’re stressed about the current state of the world, work, school, finances, relationships, or anything else, it can be overwhelming and, frankly, exhausting. Luckily, having a support system you can count on is one way to lighten the load. 

Part of being a good support system is just being there. The next part is knowing what to say. That’s the trickier of the two because everyone responds to stress differently. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of 8 things to say to someone when they’re stressed.

1. “You’re not alone.”

Every single person has been stressed at some point in their life. And it sucks. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there for them, give them the space to talk then remind them that they’re not alone. Remind them that you’ll be there for them every step of the way.

2. “I’m your #1 fan!”

Let’s be honest, we all love words of encouragement. In times of need, words of encouragement can give those we love the motivation to keep going when times get tough. It’s also a beautiful reminder that they always have people cheering them on. The job of the #1 fan (that’s you) is to never let them forget how amazing they are. Try leaving post-it notes, texts, and/or voicemails so that your support is with them wherever they go.

3. “It’s ok to take a break.”

Stress makes you think that you always have to be ON. But sometimes you hit a point where you feel like you just can’t go anymore. That’s ok. 

As an outside voice, you can remind them that it’s ok to take a break. Taking a break is actually really healthy and leads to more productivity when you return to the task. So when you see someone pushing themselves to the point of burnout, gently remind them about the benefits of a quick refresh.

*And if someone asks why you’re not working on your term paper that’s due in 26.76 hours, just tell them that YOU WERE ON A BREAKKKK! Ross Geller would be very proud.

4. “How can I help?”

You: Can I help you with anything?

Them: No, I’m ok. Thanks.

You: Alright, let me know.

I think we’ve all experienced this exchange before. Instead of asking if you can help, try asking how you can help. This rephrases the question and makes it easier for them to visualize different ways you could be there for them. 

It also lets them know that you’re willing to help in any way they need. If they need someone to switch their laundry, that’s you. If they need someone to read over their project, that’s you. If they need someone to get them ice cream, that’s you. 

5. “Your feelings are valid.”

When you’re stressed, one of the worst things that can happen is someone diminishing your feelings. Don’t. Just don’t. Even if you think you know the person, in reality, you may only know the tip of the iceberg of what they’re going through. Offer support without judgement. Acknowledge the fact that everyone deals with stress differently and remind them that whatever they’re feeling is perfectly valid.

6. “You’ve done it before! You can do it again.”

As humans, we sometimes forget how strong and resilient we are. Try to remind them of all the things they thought they couldn’t do and all of the challenges they’ve overcome in the past. Remind them that they’ve done all of this incredible stuff before, so this time will be no different. Maybe all they need is a new perspective on failure and success.

7. “Focus on one thing at a time.”

Work, appointments, groceries, bills. When you start thinking about everything you have to get done, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. Instead, remind them to focus on one thing at a time. Suddenly their list becomes more manageable and they can focus their attention on finishing one task before worrying about any others. If one thing at a time is too much, they can try one hour at a time or even one minute at a time.

8. “I’m here if you want to talk.”

Last but CERTAINLY not least. Letting someone know that you’re available to talk opens up a safe space for them to share what they’re going through. 

In these circumstances, as important as it is to listen, it’s also important to not interrupt. Sometimes all they need is a good rant, and they won’t get that if you’re chiming in every two seconds. Try to hold onto your questions or comments until the end. Do your best to figure out how to be a better listener.

We’ve all been there. Stress is a part of being human. With these tips, you’ll be better equipped to support colleagues, friends, loved ones, and yourself when tough times come around.


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