I'm not doing very well in my private life

It's good that you're here. Talking about stress makes you feel better. These conversation tips will help.

All of us are sometimes fearful, unfocused, angry, listless or sad – that's normal. If relationship stress, family disharmony or other worries persist, it can all get on top of you.

If you:

  • have persistently had trouble sleeping at night because your worries go round and round in your head
  • constantly get into arguments about nothing
  • have been feeling lethargic and sad
  • have been feeling that everything is getting on top of you

Then it is time to take action

Talking helps

The first step towards alleviating anxieties and negative feelings is to talk about them. If you do nothing, your worries get more and more pressing – and that can make you seriously ill. That's why if you're not fine, it's important to talk about it.

Talking reduces stress and gives us strength

Talking alone won't make your problems go away – but it does make them less stressful, inspiring fresh hope or making it possible for you to get help.

It's normal to feel uncertain

Many people are afraid of talking about personal problems, perhaps because they are afraid of being thought weird or a failure. But the ability to talk about your weaknesses is a sign of strength. And also: people around you may often sense that something isn't right, but lack the confidence to broach the subject with you. It helps if you make the first move.

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«Having experienced post-natal depression, Lisa wants mothers to realise that parenting isn’t always perfect, and that too often, people choose to suffer in silence.»

Lisa's Story

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«Before I opened up about it, it was all bottling up inside. The more talking of it, the more we can do as a community.»

Joe, dairy farmer

Start a conversation

Pick somebody you trust

It may be somebody you're close to, but it doesn't have to be. Sometimes it's easier to talk to someone you're not close to, perhaps a fellow member of a club or a neighbour.

Pick a suitable time.

An in-depth conversation takes time, so don't start it if either of you has to be somewhere in ten minutes' time. Sometimes it helps to ask when the person has time for a conversation.

I'd like to have a quiet word with you. When would be a good time?

Find a suitable place

where you won't be disturbed and you both feel at ease. Many people find it easier to talk about difficult things while walking, so a walk in the woods may be a good opportunity.

Shall we go for a stroll?

Incidentally: it doesn't have to start off as a personal discussion. If you'd like your first attempt to be anonymous, Die Dargebotene Hand/La Main Tendue on 143 will always provide a sympathetic ear.

Conversation tips

There's nothing to be ashamed of

We all have difficult times in life. Wanting to talk about them is courageous and exemplary.

People close to you may be keeping quiet out of uncertainty

Do you wonder why none of your friends and family has noticed that you're having problems? The reason for that is usually not lack of interest or concern. Many people are afraid that you might find it offensive or insulting if they raised possible problems with you. Or they may simply not know how to start the conversation.

You will make it easier for them if you do so yourself

Talk about your feelings, and try to tell them what might help you. That will open the door to your partner, friends and family, enabling them to take action.

It's OK if it doesn't work

It's possible that your invitation to have a word won't be taken up. This may not be easy, but don't take it personally. The other person may simply be preoccupied with something else, or feel overburdened. Enquire when would be a good time, or ask somebody else.

OK, I understand. Would some other time suit you better?

The conversation

You might start it like this:

I haven't been feeling good lately.

Things aren't that good for me. Can I talk to you?

I have a few problems at the moment. It would be nice to talk to someone about them.

Try to put across how you're feeling

Other people can't read your mind or sense your feelings. The more you tell them about yourself, the easier it will be for them to understand what's wrong. Being understood has an alleviating effect.

Silences are not a problem

Everybody sometimes has trouble finding words when talking about difficult situations. Don't be in a hurry to end pauses and silences. To get the conversation going again, it sometimes helps to say:

At the moment I don't know what to say either.

Know your own limitations

If you feel it's all getting on top of you, you can end the conversation at any time. You might say:

I feel everything is getting on top of me at the moment. I'd prefer to talk about it some other time.

Don’t get angry about impractical suggestions

With the best of intentions, the other person may make lots of suggestions that are no help at all to you at the moment. Try to see the good intentions behind the suggestions. You might say:

You don't have to suggest solutions. You're helping me just by listening.


I'll think about what you say. I'll come back to you about it if I feel it could help.

Give feedback

You can assume that the other person is unsure of whether they are conducting themselves correctly in the conversation. If you feel at ease, say so. That makes the conversation easier. You might say, for example:

It's really nice that you’re listening to me.

Ask for practical help if possible

Nobody can make your problems go away at the touch of a button. But little things can help a lot, like help with housework or childcare, going jogging or to the cinema together. If you know what would help you, don't keep it to yourself. It will help the other person to know how they might support you.

You don't need to solve my problems. But if you could look after the children for an hour or two now and again, that would help a lot.

Accept the other person's limitations

Ideally you will find the other person to be open and understanding: a good listener. But it's entirely possible that the other person has too much on their plate. You need to respect that. And this may be the right time to see a specialist.

After the conversation

Talking isn't always any help on its own

Talking to people around you is certainly important and stress-relieving, but it's not always enough.

See a specialist

If things haven't improved for you after a while, you should seek help from a specialist. The root cause of your situation may be an illness. The sooner you seek professional help, the quicker you'll be back to normal – because mental illnesses are treatable.

Strengthen your defences

You can strengthen your mental health, mobilizing your natural defences against stress. Possible stimuli for you: