It’s always good to know how to comfort a friend or family member who’s feeling anxious or upset. Thanks to cellphones, we can even lend emotional support from far away. This is why it’s so important to know how to comfort someone over text.
The best way to comfort someone over text is by using the RUOK Method. This involves recognizing the problem, understanding how to best help, offering a listening ear, and keeping the conversation about them. Implemented correctly, the RUOK Method can be used to comfort someone from anywhere in the world.
If you haven’t heard of the RUOK Method before, don’t feel bad. This is actually a system that we’ve recently invented to help others comfort someone in need.
Read on to become an RUOK Method expert at comforting someone over text. If additional resources are required, feel free to check out our complete system for beating anxiety .
If you’re not sure how to best comfort a friend, it’s okay to ask. Maybe they could use some advice, maybe they just need to vent, or maybe they could use a hand around the house. Don’t guess; ask.
Last year, my cousin was badly hurt in a hit-and-run accident. He required emergency brain surgery which left his parents and the rest of us emotionally drained and stressed out. While he was in the hospital, many friends of the family pitched in to bring meals over or order dinner for the family.
These gestures went a long way. However, if these friends had merely said, “Please call me if you need anything” the response probably would have been something like “We’ll be okay, thank you for offering.” Don’t just offer to help. If you really want to make a difference, volunteer a specific kind of help and act on it.
“Everything happens for a reason” or “It was just his time” might work on a sympathy card, but it’s terrible as a text to comfort a friend. You might mean well, but it’s likely the tenth time today your friend got that same message.
Also, it can be a presumptuous way to apply your own worldview or religious beliefs to someone who may not find it helpful. If someone has just lost their child to a terminal disease, they probably don’t want to hear that it’s “All part of the plan.”
Comforting someone over text can be similar to comforting someone in person on some levels.
Ultimately, both scenarios rely on effective communication, empathy, and active listening skills. In both scenarios, your goal is to recognize and understand what your friend is going through, and then to help them resolve it.
However, there are also some challenges when trying to comfort a friend over text. Without visible body language, we have to make an extra effort to show that we are actively listening. Messages like “I understand how you’re feeling,” or asking specific questions can help demonstrate active listening over text. While you can’t hug a friend or family member over text, you can show them how important they are to you by telling them directly.
To keep the process of comforting a friend over text simple, I made the steps as easy to remember as possible. With the RUOK Method, we are effectively asking someone, “Are you okay?” (R-U-O-K). From there, we can figure out how to best assist them in calming down, cheering up, or feeling better.
We’ll walk you through each step. Afterward, keep reading for even more specific tips on how to craft the perfect text to comfort someone in various situations.
Step one of the RUOK Method is to recognize the problem. This means identifying exactly what your friend or family is going through. Knowing what someone else is going through or how they are feeling is the first step to helping them.
Potential reasons someone might need to be comforted:
If you’re not sure whether a friend, family member, or even a stranger could use some comforting or support – don’t be afraid to ask! A simple, “Are you okay?” can go a long way here.
Sometimes it’s nice to check in with friends even when they seem perfectly fine. You never know what someone is going through internally, and simply checking in is always appreciated.
Once you’ve recognized the problem, it’s time to try and understand how to best help. Maybe a friend reached out to you about something they’re going through, or maybe you reached out to them.
Either way, it’s important to understand that people cope with their emotions in different ways. What works to comfort and relieve stress in one person may not necessarily work for the next. Some people may need a hug and a good cry, while others just want someone to bounce their thoughts around with.
If you’re comforting a friend over text, you may know them well enough to understand how to help. If you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to ask them what they need or how you could best help. Personally, when a friend starts texting me about anxiety, frustration, or something making them upset, I ask outright how I can best contribute.
One of my best friends and I will often text each other throughout the day. We have an inside joke that doubles as a system that works for us. If he sends me a wall of text about a frustration he has, I’ll ask, “Are we just venting, or looking for solutions?”
This may sound funny, but it’s a valuable tool in any friendship or relationship.
Both of these can be effective coping mechanisms, and each has its proper time and place. But using the wrong method can frustrate a distressed friend even further! Don’t be afraid to directly ask how to comfort someone effectively.
The only way to really help someone over text, or otherwise, is to make sure they feel heard. If you’re comforting someone in-person, this is usually quite easy. Body language like eye contact and occasional nodding can help signal that someone has your full attention.
Demonstrating active listening can be a bit more complicated when comforting someone over text, however. With body language out of the picture, it becomes more important to occasionally signal that you are listening.
We can demonstrate active listening over text by responding promptly and asking topic-relevant and appropriate questions.
During the course of a normal conversation with a friend, we often shoot thoughts back and forth like a game of tennis. Normal conversation is usually lighthearted and quick-paced, and often bounces from topic to topic organically.
When comforting someone, the conversation should look a bit different. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak or seek opportunities to make the conversation about you. “I totally know what you’re going through, something similar happened to me…” is usually not the best way to comfort someone who is venting.
If you really wish to comfort someone, allow them the time they need on this topic of conversation. You will have plenty of other opportunities for jokes and light-hearted conversation. For now, just try your best to really be there and make this one conversation about them. It will be recognized and appreciated.
Knowing what to text someone with anxiety can go a long way in helping them stop an anxiety or panic attack. How can we comfort someone with anxiety over text?
When your friend is feeling anxious, they’re often going to be having a hard time thinking logically. Especially during a panic attack, scary thoughts are racing by too rapidly for us to break them down and manage them.
To comfort someone with anxiety over text, you’ll want to help take their mind off the worst-case scenario. Use the RUOK Method to figure out the best way to help. Most people who are feeling anxious will benefit from conversations geared toward positivity, logical thinking, and emotional distraction. Learning about anxiety will better equip you to help a friend who is experiencing it.
(Gift Idea: Don't Panic, Do This! 100+ Ways to Stop Panic Attacks and Anxiety helps readers learn over a hundred different methods for calming down and regaining control of their thoughts. I've given it to a number of my own friends and family members, and I think it makes a great gift!) 😉
Knowing how to comfort someone who is grieving can really help someone process their emotions and slowly move on in a healthy way. When someone is experiencing grief, the worst thing we can do is try and rush this emotion along. The best way to help someone who is grieving is to allow them to access and process their emotions in due time.
Don’t rush a grieving friend through this process. Also, don’t feel the need to combat the situation with logic the way we might with an anxious friend. Instead, you might invite your friend to share some memories about their dearly departed. While it can be bittersweet, celebrating the life and memories of a loved one who has passed away can be helpful.
Knowing how to comfort someone who is going through a breakup can be tricky. Relationships can be complicated, and these situations will vary based on many factors. Length of time and commitment to the relationship, having children or pets together, and the nature of the breakup will all play a role.
In these situations, the RUOK Method can really come in handy. If someone has recently been cheated on, they may just really need to vent. If the breakup was more complicated than that, your friend might need some advice. As always, don’t be afraid to ask how you can best help.