Thursday, September 8, 2022, is R U 🙂K? Day, a national day of action that encourages Australians to contact their loved ones who may be having a difficult time and checking in on their wellbeing by asking them, "are you okay?".
For 2022, the message of R U 🙂K? Day is 'Ask R U OK? No qualifications are needed', which means that you don't need to be an expert to have a proper conversation with someone who is struggling and that listening to them might just be what they need to help them through.
As it's important to properly converse and listen to someone who is going through some tough times, we're going to go into some tips on how to get the conversation going, how to listen, and what you can do.
Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.
Know when you may need to ask "are you okay?"
People in your orbit may not always tell you right away if something is troubling them, so it's important to make others comfortable with opening up to you as part of your everyday relationships. When it comes to knowing when to check in on someone, keep an eye out for any behavioural changes with regards to what they're saying or doing, such as:
Sounding confused or irrational
Expressing their feelings of being a burden or feeling out of control
Being more critical of others or self-critical
A lack of motivation or energy
Changes to their usual routine or patterns
A lack of interest in something they used to enjoy.
Make sure you are ready
It's awesome to check in on someone if they're struggling, but are YOU prepared and ready to have that conversation? For the conversation to be helpful and meaningful, it's equally important to make sure that you're in a good headspace where you are willing to genuinely listen and you're prepared to properly deal with heavy subject matter. It's ok not to have all the answers - that's not a prerequisite for checking in!
Once you're ready, it's all about making the other person comfortable. Pick a good time for them to have a meaningful chat and choose somewhere private where you'll both be comfortable.
Listen with an open mind and validate
Be prepared to listen and don't try to solve any problems right away. It's important to not rush or interrupt the person when they're speaking. Let them speak in their own time and encourage them to explain things further if needed. Asking open ended questions are a good way to help people explain what's going on and what they're feeling, such as "How long have you been feeling like this?", "How are you coping?" and "How has it affected you?"
Once the person has opened up, it's important to validate their feelings. This means that we show them that their feelings are seen and heard by us, and it's ok for them to feel like that, even if we would feel different in the same situation. Comparing their situation to others or trying to find a silver lining often feels very invalidating. Imagine telling someone about something you're really struggling with and hearing "Could be worse!" or "Some people have it so much harder than you!" in reply. Probably wouldn't help, right?
Just listening is enough
Often we feel that if someone is going through a tough time, we need to have the answers or fix the problems to somehow remove their suffering. This is not the case! Mostly, people want to feel seen and heard, so just making sure you are being there without judgment is often the best you can do. Once they feel calm and cared for, they will be able to find a way to manage better.
Of course, sometimes people do ask for our help, and then it's our job to check in with ourselves and see whether we have the resources to do that. It's ok to say no! Or to offer what help you can provide instead, if what they're asking feels too much.
Suggest seeking help - but don't push
Sometimes it's very clear that someone needs help, and it can be extremely frustrating to watch from the sidelines if they refuse to get it. It might be helpful to suggest that someone seeks help, and maybe even normalise this by providing your own positive experiences of seeking help.
Sometimes, however, this person will not be ready to seek help. If you try and push them, it's unlikely to change their mind. Instead, they'll feel stressed and you'll feel frustrated. Be patient, lend them an ear, and seek your own help if it's feeling too much. Ultimately, we all have responsibility to seek help for our own struggles, not to be in charge of others'.
Once you've had your conversation, it's important to check in on them and see how they're doing. Understand that it can take some people a long time before they're ready to see a health professional, so it's important to not rush them. Just stay in touch and be there for them as that can help make a real difference.
If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.
Information sourced from: R U OK? Day
Image credit: R U OK? Day
All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.