How to ask for help when you’re overwhelmed

Whether it’s a logistical issue, like finding someone to pick up your packages when you’re sick, or emotional ones, like coping with anxiety or depression when you’re home alone, the pandemic has brought to light a situation that can be uncomfortable and difficult for a lot of people: asking for help. The reluctance to reach out for help is common, but it is even more so during a global health crisis like this one. Asking for any kind of aid can feel like an admission that you may have lost control of your situation, or you may feel that your problems aren’t as grave as those others may be facing. Whether you’re facing anxiety, struggling to work from home or caring for those that may be sick, it may be best to ask someone for help before the feelings overwhelm you. But, why is it to hard and how can we make it easier? We spoke to the pros for their take. 

Why is it hard to ask for help in the first place?

Most pros say that people may not ask for help—even if they just need someone to watch their kids for a few hours or need to borrow some milk—because there is an assumption that the other person may decline. It can feel vulnerable to admit to needing assistance, and most people worry about being a burden. “A part of being human is realising it is normal and okay to need and ask for help, especially during this time of extreme uncertainty and grief. An essential part of this process, even before taking the step to ask, is to first hone in on what is it that you need right now. Is it mental health support, a work-life balance, more support at home or with your partner and/or friends, for example?  It’s the understanding that lends clarity and makes it less scary,” says Dishaa Desaii, a psychologist at Mpower. 

How to ask for help when you really need it 

First, identify your support system. “Once you have identified what is it that you need, the next step can be is to think of your support touch points. This could include people in your immediate circle of support (family, your partner, friends), your bosses and colleagues at work or a mental health professional. Thinking of these support touch points will help you to think about how they can support you and how you would like them to support you. All of these serve very different and very essential purposes to help you cope with feeling overwhelmed,” adds Desaii.

It is best to choose a mode of communication in which you can express and articulate your feelings best, says psychologist Tanya Percy Vasunia. Whether it’s email, a phone call, texts or an in-person conversation, pick the medium you feel most comfortable in. Before you reach out, she suggests checking in with your support system to ask whether they are available to hold space for your feelings at this time. This can help you feel more comfortable asking for help, and can help you feel less like a burden when you know that the other person has consented already. “Reach out to people and be direct. You might tell them that you’re feeling overwhelmed, and then they can share whether they feel comfortable with this kind of conversation,” she says. She also suggests checking in on the other person too, making sure that your feelings didn’t stress or overwhelm them too much either. “If the person on the other end suggests speaking to a professional instead of them, be open to that option,” says Vasunia.

If you need help with picking up groceries or taking something off your plate at work, it is important to know—and understand—that while you think most people will decline, they’re more likely to say yes. In fact, a study showed that when participants requested help, people cooperated and lent a hand way more than they said no if they were able to. You may also feel better about reaching out if you know that you have supported others too—ask others what you can help them with, so if you feel comfortable asking them when you need, say researchers and psychologists. Also, know that you’re not the only one in need, especially now. Since many are reaching out and speaking out to try to help each other, the feeling of “we’re all in this together” might help considerably.

The article was first published in Vogue 



  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *