You’re Not Alone: How to Ask For Help When You’re NOT OK

Last Update on June 7, 2024 : Published on June 9, 2024
how to Ask For Help When Youre NOT OK

Lately, when someone asks me how I’m doing, the first thing that pops into my head is “Not fine”, but when I open my mouth to reply, it comes out as “I’m OK”. Life is unpredictable, with its highs and lows, and everything topsy-turvy in between. I have experienced (and I’m guessing so have you) those moments when everything feels…meh.

Throughout it all, the emotions keep churning and bubbling beneath the surface. On the outside, we might present a brave front, telling others “I’m fine!” – but on the inside, we’re anything but fine.

Why is it so darn hard to talk about our feelings? Why is it so hard to ask for help when we need it? Why can’t we ask for help when we’re not feeling OK?

In this article, we’re taking a look at the importance of talking about our feelings and how to ask for help when you’re not OK. Whether it’s with a friend, a family member, or a stranger, read how you can talk about your feelings and ask for help.

Talking About Our Feelings…

We all have a pressure cooker in our kitchens, right? Now imagine water simmering in it, the temperature rising steadily. If you leave the pressure cooker unchecked, the pressure builds and eventually explodes. Our emotions are the same. Ignoring them or bottling them up can cause them to go KABOOM, someday. It could be anger outbursts, nervous breakdowns, or even physical sickness.

Talking about your feelings, especially when you’re not OK, can act as the release valve. Verbalizing your fears and anxieties can allow you to process them healthily. It can make confusing situations clear and help you identify your triggers.

Beyond emotional benefits, there’s the power of connection. Sharing your vulnerabilities can create a sense of empathy and strengthen your relationships with your loved ones. When you open up, you allow others to see the real you. In return, you create a safe space for them to be the same.

Now, let’s take a look at how to ask for help from friends, family, and strangers, and what your next steps should be.

How to Ask For Help From a Friend?

Sometimes, talking feels like the last thing you want to do. Trust me, I get it. There are times when I don’t want to talk to anybody, shut my windows, and sleep. You feel drained, overwhelmed, or simply too tired to open up about your emotions.

That’s OK. Here’s how you can acknowledge your struggles without getting in too deep;

  • Acknowledge help. A simple “Thanks for asking” shows your appreciation for their concern.
  • Be honest. When a friend asks, “How’re you doing?” be honest and say, “I’m not doing great” or “Things are a bit rough at the moment.”
  • Set boundaries. Let your friends know you’ll talk to them when you’re ready. Say, “I’ll chat about it later. I just need some time.”

Some examples of what you can do when you’re not OK (with friends)…

  • “Hey, thanks for asking. I’m not doing so well right now, but I’ll talk to you when I feel up to it.”
  • “Things have been tough lately, but I’m not ready to talk about them. Maybe we can grab lunch next week and talk about things?”

Know that you don’t have to shut your friends completely. A day of hanging out with them and doing a low-key and relaxing activity can be enough.

How to Ask For Help From Family?

Opening up about your feelings is scary, and even more so when it comes to your family. There’s always a chance that your feelings will be either invalidated or outright rejected.

Here’s how you can ask for help if it’s your family;

  • Start small. Ease into the conversation by mentioning how you’ve been feeling a little off lately.
  • Be specific. The more details you share, the better your loved ones will be able to understand your concerns.
  • Use “I” statements. Own up to your feelings by using “I” statements. These kinds of openings also remove blame from others and foster a sense of self-responsibility.

Some examples of what you can do when you’re not OK (with family)…

  • “Hey, I’ve been feeling blue lately, and I need to talk to someone about my feelings.”
  • “There’s something on my mind, and I was hoping I could get your thoughts on it.”
  • “I’m struggling with something, and I’d like your support in that…”

Know that asking for help is a two-way street. You need to share your feelings, but also actively listen when your loved ones respond. Be open to their perspectives, too.

How to Ask For Help From a Stranger?

Talking to a stranger about your feelings can be daunting, but sometimes you need an impartial ear. Sometimes, a stranger can be a casual acquaintance or someone you’ve met just a couple of times.

Here are some things you can say and do when asking for help from a stranger;

  • Start casually. Strike a casual conversation about something neutral, like the weather or a shared experience.
  • Ease into the conversation. Briefly mention what you’re going through and could use a listening ear.
  • Gauge their reaction. If your acquaintance or the person you’re talking to seems receptive, then continue. If not, then thank them for their time and move on.
  • Keep it short. While it’s important to be honest, avoid overwhelming others with an emotional download. Keep things short.

Some examples of what to do when you’re not OK (with a stranger or a passing acquaintance)…

“Hey, excuse me. I don’t mean to intrude, but I’m having a rough time and could use someone to talk to for a few minutes. Would you mind?”

Keep in mind that this could also be a good conversation starter if you’re reaching out to a counselor or volunteer over hotlines or support helplines. Strangers or acquaintances can offer a surprising sense of connection and, sometimes even, some good advice.

What to Do When You’re NOT OK?

Talking about your feelings is the first step toward healing, but sometimes, you might need some additional support. Here’s what you can do when you’re not doing OK and need help;

  • Practice self-care. Make time for activities that make you feel better about yourself. You can exercise, spend time in nature, or indulge in a hobby.
  • Develop coping skills. You can also develop healthy coping skills such as journaling, meditation, or creative expression to express what’s on your mind.
  • Seek professional help. Therapy, in most cases, can offer a safe space to explore and process your feelings. A trained therapist or counselor can help you understand your feelings and how to process them.

Many resources are also available to help you through tough times. You can reach out to your nearest helpline or hotline if you need help. Other resources can include;

Wrap Up…

Talking about your feelings and asking for help when depressed or not doing OK is an act of love and self-care. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about reaching out for help. When you ask for help, it allows you to process your feelings and emotions, seek the support of others, and build stronger connections with others.

Remember, you’re not alone. There are always people around you who care about you and are willing to help you out. Reach out, speak up, and take the first step toward healing yourself.

I hope this blog helped you understand how to ask for help when you’re NOT OK. Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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