Words to the Stressed: Discover the Amazing Power of Asking for Help

The four little words “can you help me?” weren’t always easy for Care Coordinator Lesley Clark to get out. But then she discovered their power. See what they can do for you.


Nearly two decades ago, long before she worked for Wellthy, care coordinator Lesley Clark was the head of mammography at a busy city hospital in Austin, Texas. It was rewarding, but nobody would call the pace leisurely, especially since the department was often short staffed. “I was aware that if I called in sick, women who had appointments for mammograms that day would be re-scheduled for three months out. Carrying that weight was really heavy.” Then along came her first child, and the next arrived less than two years later.

Clark is the type of person who’s born to care—“I’ve always known I wanted to help people,” she says—and she’s good at it. But she eventually found herself in the competence trap. “I like doing everything myself,” Clark says. But between work and childcare demands, “I got to this place where I realized I had nothing left to give—you can’t pour water from an empty cup. I realized that in order to do what I needed to do, I needed to let people help me,” she says.

First step: “I asked for more help from my husband, and we figured out how to share responsibilities,” she says. Then, she found mom’s groups on Facebook that pointed her to resources and offered tips on managing daily tasks. “When you ask people, ‘can you help me with something?,’ I find that they really want to help you.”

Now a care coordinator at Wellthy, she recognizes that caregivers are often prone to do the same thing she did way back then: avoid asking for help or try to do everything on their own. That’s like refusing the keys to a lower-stress world. “As a caregiver, you’re incredibly emotionally invested. So when someone says no to something, you’re crushed,” she says. At Wellthy, for instance, when you hand over some of the work, not only do the coordinators know what to ask, “they’re in a more neutral place, and won’t take “no” for an answer,” Clark says. And because of their training and experience, they may find options you didn’t even know to ask for.

“People often don’t want to ask for help. And they don’t realize that people are sincere when they offer to lend a hand,” she says. So test out one of Clark’s new favorite (and effective!) phrases: “I’m wondering if you can help me with something.” See where it leads you.