Whether it's a bad breakup, health issues, family problems or stress about school in general, we're all bound to witness our roommates struggling at some point. As the people they're living with and possibly their closest friends, it's important to not only notice this, but to acknowledge it in a way that makes them feel better about the situation. Here are eight things you can do to help your roomie through a tough time.
1. Let them know you care.
This doesn't have to be a big extravaganza where you serenade them or buy them a Prada bag. Simply tell them you care about their well-being and let them know they can rely on you. This will make a bigger impact than most of us realize, because when you feel alone and stressed, someone saying they care can ease the emotional burden a lot.
2. Make their favorite food.
Actions speak louder than words. Find their favorite recipe and whip it up for them. Not only will their satisfied tastebuds distract them from whatever is going on in their life, but they'll genuinely appreciate knowing that you care enough to do something like this for them.
3. Leave inspirational quotes on post-it notes for them.
If they're a sucker for inspirational quotes, like me, this may be your key to making them smile for a moment. Find their favorite quotes, or quotes you think they'd like, and leave them on their door or in their bag. Waking up to an uplifting message from a friend is a healthy way for someone to start their day.
4. Do one of their chores for them.
If you know they've had a long day and all they want to do is watch Netflix or take a nap, offer to help them out by taking out the garbage or doing their dishes after they finish eating. It doesn't take much effort from you, but it can make a world of difference in how they're feeling that day.
5. Plan a movie night with their favorite movie.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is drop all your plans for the night and stay in with your roomie. When they come home from class looking down, let them know that you have popcorn in the cupboard and that you two can watch a movie and forget about everything else for the night. Sometimes, people need a little push to take some well-deserved relaxation time.
6. Play their favorite song when you're making dinner.
If you two are casually making some food while listening to music, add a few songs they like to your playlist. Music has been scientifically proven to improve mood, so they're likely to perk up when they hear a song they like. Who knows, it may even lead to singing at the top of your lungs and dancing around the kitchen while your food is forgotten.
7. Ask them to exercise with you.
If you like exercising, ask them to come along with you. Exercise releases endorphins into your body, which help to improve your mood immediately after working out. This could elevate their positive feelings and give them a reason or two to smile. If they're not in the mood for moving around much, offer something slow like a walk or yoga, to get them moving.
8. Play a joke on them.
Caution: This only applies to people who use humor to help deal with negative circumstances, AND it should be a nice joke. For example, if one of my friends decided to put a whoopie cushion underneath my seat, I'd probably roll my eyes and crack a smile at them because it's so lame that it's funny. Do something to make them laugh for a few minutes – whether it be through making fart noises or leaving a small surprise in their room. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone and give them a reason to stress, humor can be a good tool to cope.
It's hard to watch the people we care about struggle, but sometimes the best thing we can do is sit back, give them space and offer them support when they need it. Small gestures like these are good ways to let them know you care, without being too overbearing about it. Never try to make them talk about something they don't want to talk about – let them take this experience at their own pace.
A side note: If you are concerned that your roommate needs help from a professional, talk with a trusted adult to see what you should do. We may be young adults and legally able to make our own decisions, but it's still important to discuss options with others who are more experienced than us.
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