Asking for the Support You Need During COVID-19
Updated: Apr 3, 2020
Cassandra LeClair, PhD
Our need for support varies from person to person. Often, these needs are met through interactions with friends, coworkers, family members, and neighbors, among others. As we go about our normal routines, we become accustomed to these patterns, and we may not realize the ways people support us until something drastic changes.
I think we can all agree things have drastically changed in our world in a short amount of time. The daily life you once led is disrupted, and you may be struggling to find a new routine. You may even feel a lack of support, but you may not even know exactly why. Perhaps, you want to ask for help, but you aren’t sure where to begin, or even if you should because so many are suffering.
Sometimes we have help, but it doesn’t feel helpful. Do you ever get annoyed when someone tries to do something for you? Does it bother you when people try to solve your problems? It might be because you want help, but not the kind they are offering. Support is individual and looks different to people. That is why it is important to ask for what you need so that you feel supported in a way that is helpful and comforting to you.
One reason we don’t ask for help is that we aren’t taught how to articulate our needs. We also fall into the trap of expecting our relational partners to know what we need, without really asking them specifically.
Now, more than ever, it is important to learn how to talk about your individuals needs for support. What you need to feel supported today may be different than what you needed a few weeks ago. Try to pinpoint areas where you can seek support that will help you through this stressful time.
It may be helpful to take time to think about what being supported means to you. Does it mean problem solving? Does it mean help with tasks? Does it mean financial support? Does it mean a pep talk? Does it mean you want someone to listen?
It is important to recognize that others may need something different than you do. We have to work to provide others what they need and not fall back on what we are comfortable providing.
Along with that, when giving support, know the boundaries of what you can provide. We often rush to help others when we have fear and uncertainty. It is natural to want to do something in a time you feel helpless. Before you reach out to help others, make sure you are taking time to get the support you need. If you feel emotionally drained, it is ok to tell a friend that you cannot talk to them. If you are on a strict budget, it is understandable that you would be unable to purchase gift cards, even if you want to help a local business.
Rather than focus on what you can’t give, focus on what you can. Tell people your limitations and let them know what you can provide. Keeping yourself healthy, and maintaining good boundaries, will help you provide more effective support, while making sure you take care of your own needs.
Continue to reach out and ask others how they are doing. Tell them you are thinking of them. If they are facing challenges, tell them you are sorry for how difficult this must be. Do not minimize their feelings and emotions, even if they differ from your own.
We have different ways of handling stress. We do not all cope in the same way. By adapting to other’s needs and articulating your own, you can deepen your connections through mutual respect and understanding.
Cassandra LeClair, PhD, is a Communication Studies professor at Texas State University. Her mission is to educate individuals on how to have effective and healthy communication to enhance their relationships. Cassandra lives in New Braunfels, TX with her two children.
Dr. LeClair is the author of the book Being Whole: Healing from Trauma and Reclaiming My Voice. It is available on Amazon using the link:
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