How to Motivate a Friend Who Has the Blues

When you have a friend who is down in the dumps, feeling "tired" all the time and won't venture out anymore, what should you do to help? It can be challenging to get them motivated and ready to head out of their house for any activity if they're really down. While we all get like this at times, if this lethargy and reclusive behavior goes on for a long time, you can play an important role as a friend to help your friend overcome such a slump. This article provides some suggestions to help you motivate your friend to hurdle some of those blues and spend some time being active.


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    Ask them what's up. If you're not already aware of their problem (such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job, etc.), it's important to understand what is demotivating them first. If you are aware, you'll be ready to offer advice and help that is aimed at successfully helping them through their distress.
    • Some people might be reluctant to talk about what's bothering is. Reassure your friend that whatever it is, they can tell you whenever they're ready.
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    Ask your friend what sort of help they might want from you. That way, you can be of real assistance should they come up with exact needs. This won't always happen, of course, but it is worth asking so as to not appear to be running roughshod over their own wants and ignoring their feelings.
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    Start working on getting your friend active. Once you're aware of the underlying reasons and whether or not they have any concrete needs in mind, it's time to turn into "helper motivational mode". Write down a list of things that you know they used to enjoy doing. Assess this list against:
    • Likelihood of your friend's current interest in former activities (for example, if they loved motorcycling but a buddy died while out motorcycling together, your friend may not want to try it again for a while)
    • Cost (maybe you can shout an unemployed friend or remind them of free activity opportunities)
    • Availability of activity (is it close, far away, convenient or otherwise?)
    • Your ability to be involved (e.g., going to the event/activity with your friend, dropping off and picking up your friend, taking others as well, etc.)
    • Need for regular dedication (e.g., joining a club, sports team, etc.) and the likelihood of your friend sticking with this
    • Other factors that you can think of that might impinge on the success or otherwise of your helper plan.
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    Choose an activity that you think will work as a starting step. The activity needs to be doable in a short period of time to begin with; you can build up to more active, lengthy activities as your friend's motivation begins to return. Choose whatever will not make your friend feel exhausted, worried, or afraid to do.
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    Offer to spend some quality time with your friend. It might be a movie night-in together, a dinner together at your house, a walk down the beach together, a shopping trip, etc. It is most important that you make yourself available for your friend so that they can be with someone that they trust and can rely upon.
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    Keep building up the motivational activities. One time a week, two times a week, three times a week, etc. As you see your friend becoming more motivated again and feeling safe and comfortable in getting out and about, gradually curtail some of your involvement. You might, for instance, offer to drive them to their Pilates class but not to join in with it anymore.
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    Keep in touch. As well as activities, stay in touch by phone, texting, email, and small, short notes that praise your friend's good points. Let your friend know that you care, that you're available when needed, and that there is always light at the end of a bad period of life. And mostly, that friends are there for the long haul.


  • Sometimes a friend-in-need also needs professional help. If you feel that they are suffering from depression, anxiety, phobias, etc., help them to get professional care and advice. Although you can be supportive, your friend will need independent help to take care of such issues and even if you are a fully trained psychologist, this isn't a role for you to undertake as a friend! It can be good to help them see that feeling really low for a long time can be fixed and is not something they should have to put up with. At the very least, convince your friend to see a doctor if the blues persist.


  • Be careful not to lose patience or try to force your friend into a different pattern of behavior by saying something like "Get over it". Not only does this sound discouraging to someone who is having difficulty dealing with the blues, but it can also have an added, negative effect of making you appear insensitive and unsupportive, possibly leading your friend to stop listening to you or coming to you for help.

A "get over it statement" may also be damaging to someone who may be suffering from something more serious, such as clinical depression.

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