How to help a sick person feel better

Last Updated: May 6, 2021

This article was co-authored by Ran D. Anbar, MD, FAAP. Dr. Ran D. Anbar is a pediatric medical counselor and is board certified in both pediatric pulmonology and general pediatrics, offering clinical hypnosis and counseling services at Center Point Medicine in La Jolla, California and Syracuse, New York. With over 30 years of medical training and practice, Dr. Anbar has also served as a professor of pediatrics and medicine and the Director of pediatric pulmonology at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Dr. Anbar holds a BS in Biology and Psychology from the University of California, San Diego and an MD from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Dr. Anbar completed his pediatric residency and pediatric pulmonary fellowship training at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and is also a past President, fellow and approved consultant of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.

This article has been viewed 554,856 times.

The quality of care a sick person receives during recovery from an illness is one of the most important steps to getting better. You may have a friend or family member who is suffering from a bad cold, an illness, or an infection. Once the person receives medication from their doctor, they may be instructed to stay at home, rest up, and get better. You can provide care for a sick person by using kind and comforting words, and by using caring actions to ensure that they undergo a speedy recovery.

Home > Tips > Wellness Tips > 5 Ways to Feel Better When You’re Sick

It seems like just about everyone has gone through the flu this year! Try out these 5 ways to feel better when you’re sick.

This article with 5 Ways to Feel Better When You’re Sick is part of a sponsored article written by me on behalf of SheSpeaks/P&G. #ReliefIsHere

Earlier this cold season I posted an article with 11 ways to avoid getting a cold or the flu, but what do you do when you’re already sick? When you have a virus, there’s no magical pill, but there are several ways to help yourself feel better and help alleviate those icky symptoms. Check out these 5 ways to feel better when you’re sick.

How to help a sick person feel better

1. Get as much rest as you can. When you rest, you give your body the ability to really concentrate on defeating the virus you caught instead of whatever activity you’d otherwise be doing. So whether it’s lounging on the couch watching TV or curled up in bed asleep, make sure to get as much rest as you can.

2. Stay well hydrated. Staying hydrated is important to do every day, but it’s even more important when you’re sick. Not only does it help your body function, but it also helps to thin mucous when you’re congested.

3. Eat plenty of bone broth or stock. Bone broths and stocks is some of the most healthy things you can consume. Not only will the warm steamy broth help you feel better and help ease a sore throat, but it’s also packed full of nutrients to help you get over the illness.

4. Behold, the power of steam! Whether it’s a steaming mug of tea with honey, a hot shower, or warm bath, steam can do wonders to help you feel better when sick. It can help ease sore throats and help you breathe easier when congested. Plus a hot shower or warm bath can also help relieve aches common with the flu.

How to help a sick person feel better

5. Use a medication to help alleviate your symptoms. Sometimes you just don’t have the time to lounge around and wait for sickness to pass. Luckily, there are a variety of medications available these days to help you feel better and get what you need to done. My go-tos have always been DayQuil and NyQuil. I love that DayQuil helps me to feel better and be able to concentrate on what I need to get done without feeling like I’m living in a haze. NyQuil is great for those nights where you feel super drainer but can’t sleep or constantly wake yourself up with a stuffy nose.

How to help a sick person feel better

Recently I was browsing the aisles of Walmart to stock up on some “flu feel betters” since Mr. Savvy’s office had an outbreak of the flu and was happy to see that Vicks DayQuil and Nyquil are now available in a new maximum strength Severe formula. The NyQuil formula also now has a decongestant! Now you can tell your cough, congestion, fever, sore throat and more to take a hike while you get back to your day.

When you start to feel unwell, what steps should you take to get better? Do you immediately call the doctor and schedule an appointment? Do you take medication for your illness to treat it as soon as you start to feel unwell?

There are a lot of steps you can take to simply feel better. Do you know how to feel better when you’re sick? Knowing some basic healthy measures you can do can make a huge difference, and even if you aren’t fully better yet, just doing these things can improve the way you feel.

Get Enough Vitamins Each Day

You need plenty of Vitamins each day, and it’s very likely that you’re not getting enough if you are feeling unwell. A lot of the basic nutrients that are supposed to be included in our diet help keep us from getting sick and empower us to feel better when we are unwell.

Here’s a list of some of the vitamins and other nutrients that should be a part of your diet:

  • Calcium
  • Fluoride
  • Folic acid
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E

How much of those are you actually getting in your diet right now? Your food may not be providing you with adequate nutrition, and to supplement, you can take a daily vitamin or multivitamin. You can also change up your diet to ensure that there are enough nutrients in what you’re eating. That can be a little trickier, but it really is the best way to get the nutrients that your body needs.

How to feel better when sick? Don’t just take vitamins to keep from getting sick. Continue to take them while you are sick. In many cases, your doctor may recommend that you increase some of your vitamin doses when you are ill.

Get Plenty of Rest

If you’re not getting enough sleep, that can open your body up to infection and disease. A tired body is one that will have trouble fighting off an infection, and it will likely have a weak immune system. One of the best ways how to feel better when you’re sick is to get plenty of rest. That doesn’t just mena sleeping extra, but it also means taking things easy.

It means slowing down your schedule, perhaps taking days off from work. It means getting plenty of bed rest and not overexerting yourself. The average recommended amount of sleep when you are well is 7 to 8 hours a day. When you are sick, you should increase the amount of sleep you are getting.

This is one of the most effective ways how to feel better when your sick. When you sleep is when your body does most of the healing and recuperation. If you’re not sleeping, you’re very unlikely to get better. It may even be necessary to use medication that helps you sleep to ensure you’re getting enough rest while your body is trying to recover.

Drink Plenty of Water

Water makes up about 70% of your body. It makes sense then that if you don’t have enough water in your body, it won’t be able to function properly. When you’re dehydrated, your organs start to malfunction. Your body needs plenty of water each day in order to feel at its best. This is even more important when you are not feeling well.

How to make someone feel better when they are sick? You can make sure they are drinking plenty of liquids. Water is important, as well as juice or Gatorade to help provide sugar and electrolytes so that they have some energy. Sweet but healthy drinks like juice and Gatorade are great for rejuvenating the body and giving it some short-term energy.

You should avoid drinking beverages like soda, milkshakes, and energy drinks. These can do more harm than good and should not be used as a substitute for water or other healthy beverages.

Hot drinks, particularly herbal teas, can be very helpful for people who are feeling unwell. If you’re looking for how to feel better when sick to your stomach, a hot beverage can make a big difference. It can settle your stomach and help with feelings of nausea, cramps, gassiness, and abdominal pain. Coffee is okay to drink when you’re sick, as long as you’re drinking it in limited amounts. Remember that you do need plenty of sleep when you are sick, and too much coffee may keep you awake and prevent you from getting adequate sleep.

Herbal teas like green tea, lemongrass tea, and others are not just calming to your stomach, but they can also soothe your throat and provide other medicinal benefits as well. If you want to know how to make yourself feel better when sick, drinking some hot tea can make a world of difference. If you don’t have tea available, simply hot water or hot chocolate can be helpful as well. Be careful about drinking anything with too much sugar, as that may not be the best thing for you as you recover.

Get Plenty of Fresh Air

What also helps when you’re feeling ill is to spend some time outside or at least opening the windows in your room. Fresh air does wonders for someone who isn’t feeling very well.

It can actually hurt your ability to recover from an illness if you’re staying indoors all the time, particularly in a closed off, stuffy room. The lack of fresh air can be stifling and can make you feel even worse. You may be taking your vitamins, taking medication, getting plenty of rest and eating well, but if you’re not getting fresh air, you won’t get well as quickly as you should.

On that same note, sunshine is good for you as well. It provides nutrients to your body and stimulates your skin. Sunshine and fresh air work together to help you feel great. Even if you can’t go for a walk or get off your property while you’re unwell, you may be able to step outdoors for a bit and soak up some of that sunshine and fresh air.

You want to be careful about getting wet or cold while you’re outdoors, though. If you’re not careful, you can actually make your condition worse. It’s a good idea to check the temperature and the weather before you spend time outside when you are ill.

Stay Warm

When the weather gets colder, it seems like more people get sick. That’s because their body is fighting off the chill and trying to keep them warm, and at the same time it is fighting off constant attacks from viruses and infections. The intense coldness of winter can give your body extra work to do, leaving it vulnerable to attack.

When you are sick, you want to make sure that your body isn’t exposed to even more extreme temperatures. You especially need to watch for anything that can make your body cold. Simply stepping out of your bed onto a tile floor in the morning can set your recovery back a little bit. Your body will be fighting the coldness of that floor, and it can be tough for the body to do that and fight off infection.

If you have to walk across the cold floor while you’re unwell, you can wear house shoes or socks to protect your feet. You may also want to wear a sweater or housecoat inside, if your home isn’t warm enough. A lot of people will put extra sheets or blankets on their bed to bundle up in at night when it gets very cold. Not everybody has central heating in their home, so these are ways that you can keep yourself feeling better and help your body to recover faster.

When you start to feel unwell, what steps should you take to get better? Do you immediately call the doctor and schedule an appointment? Do you take medication for your illness to treat it as soon as you start to feel unwell?

There are a lot of steps you can take to simply feel better. Do you know how to feel better when you’re sick? Knowing some basic healthy measures you can do can make a huge difference, and even if you aren’t fully better yet, just doing these things can improve the way you feel.

Get Enough Vitamins Each Day

You need plenty of Vitamins each day, and it’s very likely that you’re not getting enough if you are feeling unwell. A lot of the basic nutrients that are supposed to be included in our diet help keep us from getting sick and empower us to feel better when we are unwell.

Here’s a list of some of the vitamins and other nutrients that should be a part of your diet:

  • Calcium
  • Fluoride
  • Folic acid
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E

How much of those are you actually getting in your diet right now? Your food may not be providing you with adequate nutrition, and to supplement, you can take a daily vitamin or multivitamin. You can also change up your diet to ensure that there are enough nutrients in what you’re eating. That can be a little trickier, but it really is the best way to get the nutrients that your body needs.

How to feel better when sick? Don’t just take vitamins to keep from getting sick. Continue to take them while you are sick. In many cases, your doctor may recommend that you increase some of your vitamin doses when you are ill.

Get Plenty of Rest

If you’re not getting enough sleep, that can open your body up to infection and disease. A tired body is one that will have trouble fighting off an infection, and it will likely have a weak immune system. One of the best ways how to feel better when you’re sick is to get plenty of rest. That doesn’t just mena sleeping extra, but it also means taking things easy.

It means slowing down your schedule, perhaps taking days off from work. It means getting plenty of bed rest and not overexerting yourself. The average recommended amount of sleep when you are well is 7 to 8 hours a day. When you are sick, you should increase the amount of sleep you are getting.

This is one of the most effective ways how to feel better when your sick. When you sleep is when your body does most of the healing and recuperation. If you’re not sleeping, you’re very unlikely to get better. It may even be necessary to use medication that helps you sleep to ensure you’re getting enough rest while your body is trying to recover.

Drink Plenty of Water

Water makes up about 70% of your body. It makes sense then that if you don’t have enough water in your body, it won’t be able to function properly. When you’re dehydrated, your organs start to malfunction. Your body needs plenty of water each day in order to feel at its best. This is even more important when you are not feeling well.

How to make someone feel better when they are sick? You can make sure they are drinking plenty of liquids. Water is important, as well as juice or Gatorade to help provide sugar and electrolytes so that they have some energy. Sweet but healthy drinks like juice and Gatorade are great for rejuvenating the body and giving it some short-term energy.

You should avoid drinking beverages like soda, milkshakes, and energy drinks. These can do more harm than good and should not be used as a substitute for water or other healthy beverages.

Hot drinks, particularly herbal teas, can be very helpful for people who are feeling unwell. If you’re looking for how to feel better when sick to your stomach, a hot beverage can make a big difference. It can settle your stomach and help with feelings of nausea, cramps, gassiness, and abdominal pain. Coffee is okay to drink when you’re sick, as long as you’re drinking it in limited amounts. Remember that you do need plenty of sleep when you are sick, and too much coffee may keep you awake and prevent you from getting adequate sleep.

Herbal teas like green tea, lemongrass tea, and others are not just calming to your stomach, but they can also soothe your throat and provide other medicinal benefits as well. If you want to know how to make yourself feel better when sick, drinking some hot tea can make a world of difference. If you don’t have tea available, simply hot water or hot chocolate can be helpful as well. Be careful about drinking anything with too much sugar, as that may not be the best thing for you as you recover.

Get Plenty of Fresh Air

What also helps when you’re feeling ill is to spend some time outside or at least opening the windows in your room. Fresh air does wonders for someone who isn’t feeling very well.

It can actually hurt your ability to recover from an illness if you’re staying indoors all the time, particularly in a closed off, stuffy room. The lack of fresh air can be stifling and can make you feel even worse. You may be taking your vitamins, taking medication, getting plenty of rest and eating well, but if you’re not getting fresh air, you won’t get well as quickly as you should.

On that same note, sunshine is good for you as well. It provides nutrients to your body and stimulates your skin. Sunshine and fresh air work together to help you feel great. Even if you can’t go for a walk or get off your property while you’re unwell, you may be able to step outdoors for a bit and soak up some of that sunshine and fresh air.

You want to be careful about getting wet or cold while you’re outdoors, though. If you’re not careful, you can actually make your condition worse. It’s a good idea to check the temperature and the weather before you spend time outside when you are ill.

Stay Warm

When the weather gets colder, it seems like more people get sick. That’s because their body is fighting off the chill and trying to keep them warm, and at the same time it is fighting off constant attacks from viruses and infections. The intense coldness of winter can give your body extra work to do, leaving it vulnerable to attack.

When you are sick, you want to make sure that your body isn’t exposed to even more extreme temperatures. You especially need to watch for anything that can make your body cold. Simply stepping out of your bed onto a tile floor in the morning can set your recovery back a little bit. Your body will be fighting the coldness of that floor, and it can be tough for the body to do that and fight off infection.

If you have to walk across the cold floor while you’re unwell, you can wear house shoes or socks to protect your feet. You may also want to wear a sweater or housecoat inside, if your home isn’t warm enough. A lot of people will put extra sheets or blankets on their bed to bundle up in at night when it gets very cold. Not everybody has central heating in their home, so these are ways that you can keep yourself feeling better and help your body to recover faster.

No medical degree required.

The only thing worse than being sick is when your SO is under the weather. And no, not because you might catch whatever they have. If the person you care about most is feeling crappy, then you probably can’t help but feel their pain. There are plenty of things you can do to make an ailing SO feel better — like bring them soup, watch their favorite movies with them, or give them a foot massage — but sometimes even a simple text can make them smile. Coming up with texts to send your partner when they’re sick can be tricky, but there are better ways to check in on your SO than texting, “How are you feeling?” once an hour.

Comforting a sick person over text doesn’t require professional medical training. Sometimes all it takes is finding little ways to let them know you’re thinking about them and that you care. Only you can know what sort of gesture your partner will appreciate most, but almost anyone on bedrest could use a message that will make them smile. And not to be insensitive, but your partner might just be contagious, so sending a text might be your best move anyway. Here are just a few comforting messages to make your sick partner feel better over text in no time.

Everyone needs some sympathy when they’re sick, but a little levity might do your partner more good than your pity will. Sending goofy memes, GIFs, and selfies could do a lot to bolster your SO’s spirits, and if those don’t do the trick, perhaps try one of these light-hearted texts instead.

  • Could you hurry up and get better so we can go back to making out?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how contagious are you? I just want to know if I should wear a mask when I come over.
  • Sorry if this is super sappy, but I’d do anything to make you feel less crappy.
  • How do you make a tissue dance? You put a little boogie in it. Hope you’re feeling less stuffed up today.
  • Don’t get me wrong, you still look super cute when you’re sick, but healthy is definitely a better look for you. Get better soon for both of our sakes!
  • “I love you even when you’re sick and look disgusting.” — Love Actually, but also me to you RN.
  • Shorty, I’ma only tell you this once, you the illest… but srsly, get better soon.
  • I hope you make haste in obtaining a deep hole in the ground filled with water. (Translation: Get well soon.)
  • Hey, why don’t cows get sick? Because they have strong immoooonue systems. LOL.

You know what they say: A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, and sending your partner a super-sweet text is sure to ease their pain. Don’t be afraid to get a little sappy — even if you and your partner aren’t touchy-feely types, sending one of these adorable texts will probably make their day regardless.

  • Thinking about you sick in bed makes my heart ache. I really hope you’re feeling better soon.
  • Please enjoy this TikTok of a dog sneezing. Hopefully it makes you smile.
  • If hugs and kisses were medicine, then I would send you infinite Xs and Os.
  • Guess what? Even when you’re sick, you’re still the cutest person I know.
  • Even though I’m not with you, I hope you know I’ll be thinking about you and hoping you get better all day long.
  • If I had one wish, it would be to have you feeling рџ’Ї again.
  • Wishing I could kiss you through the phone.
  • Sending you good vibes and infinite kiss emojis 😘.

Funny texts and sweet texts go a long way towards lifting your SO’s spirits, but if you really want to help your partner out, then send them a text asking about practical matters. They’re probably not up for talking on the phone, but if you text to ask what you can do, you can figure out a concrete way to do them a favor (and you’ll save them from having to ask you themselves).

  • Do you need any errands done? Let me take something off your plate while you rest up and get better.
  • Need more tissues? Medicine? Gatorade? Make a list of everything you need and I’ll bring it over.
  • Are you up for a movie marathon? Pick your three favorites and we can watch them together.
  • What is bothering you the most right now? Let me ask around and see if anyone has any advice on how to alleviate that symptom.
  • Is there anything I can do to make you feel better? Just say the word.
  • I’m ordering Uber Eats for you. Pick a food genre and your dream meal will arrive shortly.
  • If you’re up for a FaceTime, I’m down to let you complain as much as you’d like.
  • Want me to come over and play personal assistant? I’m happy to help you out with anything you need.

You might actually have a medical degree, but even if you don’t, you can make a sick partner smile by sending a simple, thoughtful text. Your partner is sure to remember the gesture and return the favor next time you’re feeling under the weather.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.

How to help a sick person feel better

We’re smack in the middle of cold and flu season right now.

Our workplaces resound with the honks of blowing noses. Try to go to a movie and all you’ll be able to hear is coughing—and if you have kids, they’ve brought home at least four colds and probably a stomach virus by now.

Unfortunately, none of us are totally immune and even the healthiest among us will sometimes get sick.

When we get sick, we’re all told a bunch of ridiculous remedies that are sworn to make us better immediately. They won’t.

My doctor says that with medication it takes seven days to cure the common cold and without it, it’ll take a week to get better. The only cure is time. Sorry. There are, however, a lot of remedies that will provide some comfort, and I’d like to share my favorites in case you are under the weather.

Remember, I’m not a medical professional, so always check with your doctor if you’re not sure if something is safe or right for you.

1. Lemon Honey Tea: People believe this cures everything from strep to tuberculosis. It doesn’t cure anything, but it tastes good and soothes a sore throat better than pretty much anything else. I usually add a slice of ginger, especially if my stomach is acting up and I’ll sip this all day long when I have a cold or a flu.

2. Elderberry Syrup: I make sure I always have a bottle of this on hand because elderberry has been proven to shorten the duration of colds and flus and it’s an excellent immune booster. An added bonus is that it tastes fantastic (kids love it) and it’s great for coating a dry, sore throat. Take elderberry syrup straight or stir a couple teaspoons into boiling water for a pleasant tea.

3. Zinc Lozenges: Also proven to shorten the duration of the common cold. Try them and see if they work for you. Just be careful to suck the lozenges slowly and on a full stomach because zinc can make some people a little nauseated.

4. Slippery Elm: This herb has several uses and can be found in many forms from liquid, capsules to lozenges. Often it is a main ingredient in natural cough remedies because of its demulcent properties. That means it helps coat and protect the mucous membranes inside your body and that makes slippery elm perfect for a dry, hacking cough. During cold season I never go anywhere without my packet of slippery elm lozenges.

5. Epsom Salts Baths: Epsom salts always seem to make me feel better. Add at least a full cup to hot bathwater, and go for a long soak. I like my baths to be very hot and I prefer to add a few drops of essential oils so it smells good and I can pretend I’m in a spa. Lavender is my favorite. Epsom salts reduce inflammation and draw toxins out of your body, so if you only do one thing when you’re sick, try this.

6. Stick a Heating Pad in Your Bed: Under you, on your stomach, whatever. I like to rest my head on the heating pad when I get bad headaches and it really helps. Just don’t fall asleep and burn your face and then blame me. If you don’t have a heating pad, a hot water bottle is just as good.

7. Tiger Balm: This wonderful, clove-scented product is wonderful to massage into achy joints and I rub a dab on my temples or forehead if I have a headache, but watch out because sometimes the vapors can make your eyes water or cause temporary redness on your skin.

8. Smoothies make everything better: Throw some frozen fruit, a little juice, almond milk or coconut milk into a blender and slurp away. In our house, we like smoothies when we can’t stomach much else. Another big treat is to stir together a slushy out of fruit sorbet and lime flavored seltzer water.

9. Hot Yoga: Hot yoga does wonders for me when I have a head cold. I like to set up my mat next to the humidifiers and sprinkle of few drops of eucalyptus on my towel. Then, I take it very slowly and gently, modifying the asanas and taking plenty of breaks in child’s pose. Be careful to stay extra-hydrated and don’t practice if you have a fever, stomach bug or the flu. You want to avoid over-exertion and you don’t want to get your fellow yogis sick.

10. Asian Soups: Most people swear by chicken soup, but when I’m sick I like tom yum, pho and miso the best. The garlic, ginger, lemongrass and hot peppers really help to ease congestion and warm you up, plus they’re delicious.

11. Sunshine and Fresh Air: Never underestimate the healing powers of the outdoors. Take some time to sit outside in the sun or if you’re feeling up to it, go for a short, slow walk. If it’s cold outside, make sure you bundle up appropriately.

12. Moisturize: When you have a bad cold or the flu, your nose is going to get raw and red. You’ll have miserably chapped lips, so don’t neglect these parts of your body. Lanolin is a miracle moisturizer and you can find it in tubes in the breastfeeding supply section of most large stores. Dab it on your nose for instant pain relief. Vegan alternatives that are equally excellent for chapped skin are rosehip seed oil, coconut oil and argan oil, and beware of most commercial lip balms because they contain ingredients that can actually dry your skin more. Avoid any product containing castor oil when your lips are chapped.

13. TV—You’re sick: This is the perfect excuse to sit around and do nothing but watch movies. Alas, I have a three year old so I don’t get to do this much, but I can dream. One day she’ll be old enough to appreciate Wes Anderson with Mommy.

14. Turmeric: This root, and the spice made from it, contains strong anti-inflammatory properties. Work fresh or dried turmeric into your diet however and whenever you can, every day. Try this yummy warm beverage when you aren’t well.

15. Burning Essential Oil: When someone in my house is sick I like to put eucalyptus, peppermint or lavender oil in my oil burner and light it up. It freshens the house, promotes a healing atmosphere and soothes the sinuses.

16. Eucalyptus Spray: I use this kind, but there are many, or you can make your own by placing eucalyptus oil and water in a spray bottle. I’m addicted to it. I spray it on myself, in the air, in the shower, over my bath when I’m soaking, in the car. I love it.

17. Fresh Eucalyptus: You can usually find fresh bunches of eucalyptus wherever flowers are sold. Lightly crush the leaves and stems to release their oils and then hang the branches upside down in your shower.

18. Give yourself permission to be sick: We live in a hectic society and most of us don’t take enough time to settle down and rejuvenate our bodies and our spirits. When we get sick, we feel guilty if we need to stop running around, or if we have to say no or cancel obligations, but taking a break to heal is essential and you deserve this down time.

19. Don’t blame yourself: You didn’t do anything wrong to cause yourself to get sick and guilt will make you feel worse. It’s not because you didn’t exercise or meditate enough or take the right combination of supplements. Sometimes we just get sick. End of story. This is your time to be ill and understand that it is temporary and soon you will be well again and back to your regularly scheduled activities.

How to help a sick person feel better

If someone is facing a health emergency or terminal illness, it can be difficult to know the right thing to say. Do you tell them everything will be OK? Change the subject? Share the story of your Aunt Sally, who died of cancer 10 years ago?

The best response is something along the lines of, “I’m so sorry to hear the news. I’ll be here to support you in any way I can,” sociologists told Live Science. But you’d be smart to tweak this message on a person-by-person basis.

“There are no easy answers to what you should say or what you should do,” said Amanda Gengler, an assistant professor of sociology at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. [7 Ways to Recognize Depression in 20-Somethings]

If the person is a close friend, family member or even an acquaintance, contact them as you normally would, by phone or email, for instance, the experts said.

“The best advice I can give is to offer to help in concrete ways,” Gengler told Live Science. Often, people will say they can help, but the sick person has no idea what they are willing to do. It’s easier for someone to take you up on a specific offer to babysit, drive them to treatment, or deliver groceries or meals, she said.

Sometimes, the sick person might just want to binge-watch Netflix for 3 hours with you. “Ask if they want company, or if they would rather have some time alone,” Gengler said.

While it’s good to reach out, be mindful that the person might be receiving dozens of well wishes, and that it’s hard to respond to all of them. Don’t expect an immediate, or even any, response.

“If the person reaches out, great,” Gengler told Live Science. “And if not, don’t get angry about it. Don’t make this about you.”

There are many reasons a sick person might not answer. They might feel too sick or tired. Also, while it’s nice to get sympathetic messages from friends, it also can be emotionally exhausting. Countless somber reactions can emphasize the gravity of the situation, Gengler said.

“There’s no easy solution to this, because the answer would obviously not be for other people to be flippant about an extremely catastrophic situation that someone is facing,” she said.

But there is a way to take off the pressure. If you’re emailing, you can include, “You don’t have to answer this, but I’m here if you need me,” said Deborah Carr, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

What NOT to do

If you learn that a friend is sick, don’t evade them, Carr advised.

“In general, people avoid circumstances that make them uncomfortable,” she said. “We’re so worried that we’re going to do the wrong thing or say the wrong thing, and so people often go underground.”

But that’s problematic, Carr said. “The most important factor that helps people deal with any problem, from terminal illness to divorce, is social support,” she said. “It’s really important that people are there — just simply showing up can be really powerful.” [5 Ways to Foster Self-Compassion in Your Child]

After reaching out, don’t minimize their situation by saying, “Look on the bright side: At least it’s not X,” or “Don’t worry; it will be all right,” the sociologists said. Also, don’t try to one-up them by talking about someone who is worse off, they added.

“You don’t want to invalidate their concern — that’s going to shut the conversation down,” said Linda Francis, an associate professor of sociology at Cleveland State University. “Because, quite possibly, everything isn’t going to be all right. Any kind of forced or false cheerfulness is going to make the speaker feel better; it’s not going to make the sufferer feel better.”

Instead, you can validate their situation by saying, “I’m so sorry; how awful,” Francis said.

Then again, it’s hard to know how someone will react. One mother at a Ronald McDonald House whom Gengler interviewed disliked it when people said, “I don’t know how you do it,” Gengler recalled. “She thought, ‘I’m a mom; you’re a mom — of course you do whatever you can to save your kids.'”

After expressing concern and support, you can ask general questions, such as “How are you doing this week?” This allows the other person to take control of the conversation and share as much or as little as they want. In addition, don’t give unsolicited advice, the experts said.

“It’s OK to be encouraging, as long as you’re not being unrealistic,” Francis said. “The important thing is just to express your concern.”

When Anna Grace Downs was in the intensive care unit being treated for COVID-19 the nurses, nursing assistants and technicians offered comfort and support when no one could visit her. Even though friends and family couldn’t physically be there, they found other ways to comfort her while she was in the hospital and afterward.

“My own personal world was rocked, as my dad would say,” the 26-year-old medical student in Lexington, Kentucky, told TODAY. “When you’re that sick, it’s really hard to even process what is going on. Since I’ve been home that has given me time to process what happened and how quickly it happened and everything.”

Even a short text could boost her mood.

“So many people have reached out and have made my recovery so much easier,” she told TODAY via Facebook Messenger.

Downs and others who have recovered from coronavirus share things that loved ones did for them that helped them during their illnesses.

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1. Meal and grocery delivery

Making meals and eating is often the last thing on the minds of people recovering from COVID-19. Yet, they still need food.

“When I was in the hospital, I wasn’t thinking about that because my meals were coming to me,” Danielle Sol, 35 of Long Island, told TODAY, who along with her husband had coronavirus. “Once I got home that first night my friend Erica said ‘Oh I ordered food for you. It will be there in 30 minutes.’”

And, she had just delivered a baby so meals were a welcome relief.

“I cannot tell you how amazing that was that I didn’t have to think about how are we going to eat,” she said.

Downs agreed. People dropped off food to her parents when she was in the hospital and that continued when she returned. But she especially appreciated the meals her mom prepared as she recovered at home.

“When I was still in isolation, my mom would cook and arrange food on a tray for me and my dad would bring it up to me, and that made me feel special and cared for while I was stuck in my room,” she said.

Mallory Pease, who like Sol had coronavirus and gave birth, said that “meals in labeled containers (or containers you can throw away)” and grocery drop offs made her recovery easier.

2. Calls, video chats, texts, window visits

Even a text “hello” goes a long way.

“A lot of people were hesitant to reach out to me because they didn’t want to bother me, but even if I couldn’t respond to texts or talk for long, it meant a lot to me,” Downs said.

At first, Sol didn’t want people to say too many nice things because it would cause her to burst into tears. Once she felt less emotional, the kind words helped her as she recovered.

“Hearing them tell me that they were proud of me … it really makes you think, ‘Yeah, I can do this,’” Sol said.

People visited Peace and her daughter Alivia and stood outside the window to see them. Just a few minutes of face-to-face time invigorated her.

“The window visits helped a lot just to see people in real life and not on a screen. It was just a relief to be near people you love and see their faces. It is exciting to see each other,” she said via text.

3. TV and movie suggestions

It might sound simple but recovering from coronavirus requires loads of rest and a lot of alone time. Having good TV and movie recommendations helps isolated, convalescing people pass the time.

“It was very lonely,” Pease told TODAY. “I would just wake up, eat dinner and go to bed. I had zero energy.”

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4. Thoughtful gifts

When Sol came home with her son, Jonah, she worried about him gaining weight. Most of his doctor’s appointments were virtual so she wasn’t sure if he was growing as needed. So a friend dropped off a baby scale and that eased her fears. People delivered clothes and that also helped. Downs received flowers that brightened her mood.

“People would really just text my parents and say, ‘I left something on your front porch,’ which was so nice,” Downs said. “We received many cards, too.”

5. Prayers

When Downs’ family worried about her, prayers helped them.

“My parents’ church friends came by to pray with them when I was at my sickest,” she explained.