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21 Ways to Offer 'Wordless' Support to Your Loved Ones

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Contrary to popular belief, supporting someone doesn’t always mean doing so with words, such as by offering advice. There are little, silent ways we can give and receive support when someone is struggling, and — in my opinion, at least — these can even be more effective and mean more.

When I’m struggling with depression or trauma, a hug means the world to me (and the science of hugs backs me up). If I’m feeling lonely or unloved, having someone send a quick message to say they’re thinking of me, or share a video or product they’ll know I’ll like, is enough to pull me out of my funk even a little bit. Love languages play a huge part in mental health support, so touch, food, and loving gestures all play a role in supporting loved ones living with a mental health condition.

We recently asked our mental health community for their favorite forms of “wordless” support and compiled the answers here. Cats, hugs, and food galore!

Take a read at the below and let us know in the comments: How do you like to be supported?

“Cuddles with my cats.” — @joiedevivre

“What I love and need is a quick text or phone call just to say hi.” — @phc452

“A hug or bringing me my favorite flowers or even candy. Means so much when someone shows they care. I don’t always accept it well but am trying!” — @mel_42

“My wordless support is expressed thru close proximity to another ‘safe’ body. A light touch, a hug, with nothing expected from me: no questions to answer, just a hand squeeze back allows me to feel supported and loved.” — @mightyknees96

“Just sitting quietly with me or even just let me lay down (especially when I have my flare-up).” — @luna_nightingale

“When my friends give me the heart reaction when I text them. When my cat comes and sits on my lap when I am having a bad episode.” — @pekoe_and_ophelia

“A gift of food.” — @texassonrisa

“Hugs, cuddles, snuggles. Some form of contact from another living being.” — @sadbearissad

“When someone close reaches over, and squeezes and holds your hand and stays close in silence, as if opening a door, ready to listen should you feel the need or readiness to say anything.” — @flower_tm

“Coffee out in the car, or a walk in the woods actually with someone” — @erinboogati

“When I am having an emotional flashback at night and my husband notices (I try to cry as silently as possible or I get up), he sticks his hands under my blanket and takes my hands into his. That makes an EF go away within minutes. When during the day, he puts his arms around me and holds me tight. Same thing: EF is gone within minutes. Otherwise, it could go on for hours. Helps me so much!” — @weebit

“Just sitting with me in silence, a reminder that I’m not alone, and that they will be there when (if) I am ready to talk.” — @tarashort

“I have one friend who will just send a smile emoji when she knows I’m having a hard time. Just that single smile means a lot, reminding me to smile when I don’t really feel like it.” — @newkidney1

“When someone brings over a meal or cookies. That really helps and blesses me.” — @pattigrove

“Hugs. 100%. I often feel like I’m literally going to fall apart, and hugs feel like there’s someone willing to help hold me together.” — @kyliera

“The ‘all-knowing’ gaze I get from my companion dog, Grady. She seems to know everything and I’m cool with that.” — @debbiejohnson15

“I have no one in my life who is on a ‘touching’ basis (I miss it, but it’s OK). I look to my connections online who understand where I’m coming from to simply hear me. Even an emoji means a lot.” — @laureljbach

“I can’t because of my OCD, but if that weren’t an issue, it would be a hug. Letting me cry on a shoulder. Since that’s not really an option, and it has to be wordless, I’d say, buying me something to eat or paying for a purchase I’m making. I’ve had a couple of times when people paid for my dinner, and it was really nice of them because it freed me to buy something else I needed or even wanted. I didn’t ask them (one was anonymous), but I felt like someone cared.” — @horrorfan

“Cards. I make and send cards all the time.” — @cindyellenr

“Sitting beside me quietly is great. Also, I once cried on the train and the stranger beside me offered me a tissue without a word. Emojis, GIFs, virtual hugs, make me a hot drink, help me charge my phone, offer me some food, get me a car home… all these are great.” — @mtnothingness

“Food! Bringing me a hot cup of tea, a pastry bought because you know it’s my favorite, or putting a condiment I like near my plate when setting the table.” — @loesb

Getty Images photo via LSOphoto

Originally published: June 13, 2022
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