Chatham Chats: Supporting others while handling adversity

Chatham Chats is the advice column by the Communiqué staff. This series is a safe space for students to ask questions regarding any problems they may be facing.

Chatham Chats: Supporting others while handling adversity

I have friends that continue to come to me for help and support when they are having a bad day or struggling with something in their life. I love the fact that they feel safe coming to me and want to talk to me about things, but sometimes I have a lot on my plate and can’t handle trying to solve the problems of others while still focusing on my own well-being. Do you have any recommendations on how to be a supportive and caring friend while still maintaining your boundaries and making sure to prioritize your own mental health?

– Concerned Friend


I would first like to say that it’s great that you have created a safe and welcoming environment for your friends. I’m sure that they appreciate having a support system that they can rely on in tough times. 

Helping friends and supporting others is a great act of kindness. However, you need to prioritize your own mental health. Odds are, if you’re not in the right headspace, you won’t be able to fully be there for those who are seeking your help. 

Whenever you need a mental break (or just a break in general), I would suggest logging off your phone and computer for a while. Going off grid is a great way to destress and get some distance from other people’s problems. Without the constant presence of technology, you have a bit of a break from those messaging you, and it will establish the understanding that you will answer their messages when you’re ready to talk.

If people are seeking you out in-person, there is nothing wrong with asking to talk about their troubles later or another time. Boundaries are needed in every relationship, establishing them does not make you a bad friend. Oftentimes, boundaries are what’s best for both parties  to thrive. 

It is incredibly easy to become wrapped up in other people’s struggles and lose focus on your own well-being. Make sure to check in with yourself as we head into finals week!


A Helping Hand

Have a question for Chatham Chats? Check out the guidelines for submitting it.