The people closest to you will often be the ones who first notice that you have begun to behave differently.
You can do something
If you are close to someone suffering from stress, you can help bring their attention to the concrete changes you have noticed.
"Help open the stress sufferer's eyes to the situation". Psychologist, Falck Healthcare
Ask or offer to help
Just as with family, as a colleague you are part of the stress sufferer's daily life and also a witness to the behavioural changes that indicate a person has been hit by stress. As a colleague you can help the stress sufferer in several ways. Ask your colleague how things are going and what you can do to help the person with their work tasks.
Say it as a clear offer so that the person actually "dares" to accept the offer of help.
Be careful not to take over completely as this can give the person a sense that they cannot cope with anything themselves.
Set some time aside for when you ask the stress sufferer how things are.
If he or she does want to share their thoughts with you, it is nice to be able to listen calmly.
If you do not have the time to listen properly, suggest another time to continue the conversation.
Be careful with advice
It may be tempting to try to resolve the situation for the stress sufferer with good advice. A person suffering from stress, however, will often reject the advice as they may have a feeling that no matter what they do it will be no use. The stress sufferer can in the worst case conclude that their problems are completely unresolvable when none of your list of solutions seems to help.
Help to find help
What you can do instead is to find out where the stress sufferer can get help, for example, from colleagues, management, through HR or professionally.
Where can you look for help?
Stress sufferers can get help from their own doctor, who can also inform them of stress treatment options in the local area.
How to help as a leader.
The first thing you as a boss can do is to clearly acknowledge and show that you have seen, heard and understood that the employee is under pressure and needs immediate re-adjustment and prioritisation of work tasks. Do this together, and remember that stress sufferers have difficulty in judging for themselves how much they can actually handle physically and mentally. Show right from the start that you are confident that the person has the necessary strength to get back on top of things again.
Make concrete, specific agreements so that the stress sufferer is in no doubt about where, when and how you as a manager expect him or her to complete their tasks in the period where you have "lightened the load".
If possible, write the agreements down so that the stress sufferer has something tangible to hold onto and you both have something to follow up on.
There are various legislated regulations and recommendations for conducting sick leave interviews. In addition to which the individual company may have a policy on the topic which you as manager can look to for support.
Return from sick leave
Ensure that colleagues have realistic expectations about the returning person's capacity for work. Do not place the stress sufferer in "fragile light" and highlight the resources he or she possesses. Invite the person to departmental meetings or shared breakfasts before the actual return date. It can be difficult to return after a lengthy absence from the workplace.
Clear desk and inbox
Remember, it takes time for a stress sufferer to return fully to work again, and that he or she cannot necessarily perform exactly the same tasks as before or at the same pace.
With strong backup most people, however, succeed in regaining their usual work capacity and well-being. Some become even better at focusing on tasks, prioritising and taking care of themselves and others.
How to help as a relative.
Share your experiences
A close relative's observations or comments are frequently the thing that stress sufferers afterwards credit with being the first step towards insight into their situation. As someone suffering from stress, you become habituated to the new state so it can be difficult to see the changes yourself. It just feels natural or understandable to be more irritable, for example, or more tired and worn out or sadder.
When the stress sufferer realise that he or she face demands that exceed their resources, the person possibly needs your help to talk about the actual burden/load that is causing stress.
Help to create an overview
The person may need your help to investigate the possibilities of professional help and to contact someone who can help. Even small tasks can seem insurmountable for someone with stress so it can be a great help if you make a concrete plan together for what the person should do, and what can be dropped.
Highlight the good things
Many people with stress experience looking clearly at the situation with a feeling of frustration and defeat. Many experience a great emptiness, powerlessness and that they no longer recognise themselves or their reactions.
As someone close, you can support them by reminding them what they actually can do and do. You can ask how they feel about being stressed and what you can do to help them get better and be "themselves" again.
Read more about how other people have dealt with stress here.