You see them everywhere -- at the pool, coffee shop, fitness center and sometimes even the mirror! The red eyes, messy hair, and furrowed eyebrows give them away. They're good people having a bad day and there's seemingly nothing you can do about it. But take heart. When that scowling face belongs to someone you know and love, you can make a difference. Help her get her mind off her troubles and do something together you know she'll enjoy.
The best thing you can do with a friend having a bad day is to do exactly what she wants to do. Ask her directly what activity would help her feel better. Include a few suggestions -- but don't try to push your own plans on your friend. Before recommending specific activities, ask yourself what you already know about her. What hobbies does she enjoy most? Is she an introvert or extrovert? Keep in mind that extroverts gain energy from crowds of people while introverts lose energy. Let your friend's requests and personality be your guide.
If your friend's bad day is stress-related, head to the track, gym or park to release some endorphins. The medical professionals at MayoClinic.com call these hormones your "brain's feel-good transmitters" and recommend activating them through physical exercise in order to help improve a bad mood. Choose a physical activity you both enjoy, first, taking into account the fitness level of your friend. If you plan to talk during physical activity, keep it simple. A steady walk or bike ride is a safer bet than a high-concentration activity like rock climbing.
When worries plague the mind, sometimes a distraction is in order. Take your friend to your local playhouse or movie theater to draw him into someone else's story. It could be just the reprieve he needs to help clear his head and regain perspective. If your friend enjoys fashion, offer a jaunt to the mall for some "retail therapy." A cozy evening inside is free and can fit the bill just as well. Rent or hunt down your favorite movies and pop some popcorn to build your friend's spirit as well as your friendship.
Sometimes all a discouraged friend needs to do is unload their heart to a listening ear. Make yours available over good food at a favorite restaurant, ice-cream at your local frozen treat stand or a steaming cup of Joe at a charming coffee shop. Plan to listen for as long as your friend needs to talk, but when it's your turn to share, take caution. New York City-based psychologist Frank M. Lachmannm told the editors at Real Simple Magazine that a sign of good friendship is to listen more than give advice. Ask open-ended questions but keep your theories to yourself.
- Sean Murphy/Lifesize/Getty Images