In a year that has been a punish for most, the act of telling people you are not OK is just as important as asking the question R U OK? says Bodhi owner Heaven Leigh.
2020. What a year it’s been. The unprecedented challenges brought on by the global pandemic have caused widespread disruption, putting pressure on each of us in some way. With R U OK? Day upon us (10 September), this may just be the year where this question is more important to ask than ever.
When I recently saw my beautician, I casually asked how she was holding up with everything since the pandemic started. I wasn’t at all prepared for her response. It was like opening a floodgate.
For the next hour, she poured out her fears, frustrations and stresses of trying to cope with her business being affected by the closures, the pressures of raising a young family while also financially supporting her elderly parents abroad.
With social distancing in play, I was unable to do what would normally come naturally to me - reach out and give her a big hug.
As a person who loves to solve problems, my first instinct is to always try and fix things. But I’ve come to realise that you can’t always be the fixer, and sometimes the best you can do for someone is to listen.
So, that’s what I did. I sat with an open mind and listened to her. I felt like it was important to let her know she had been heard.
I shared some of my own experiences with her and explained that although I will never truly know exactly how it feels to be in her position, I too had gone through difficult times. I shared with her some of the things that had helped me get through things in the past.
I let her know she wasn’t alone and that if she ever just wanted a friendly ear I was always around to chat to, and if there was anything I could do to help, I would.
I think we both walked out of there that day feeling better, lighter and more connected to another human being. I may not have solved her problems, but it did make me realise how important it is to be there for one another.
It also made me realise that if someone does reach out and ask how you are, the act of admitting you are not OK is just as important as asking the question R U OK?
Take the opportunity to share your concerns and thoughts. Be honest and embrace your vulnerabilities. You’re not alone. So many of us are struggling with life, especially this year. It’s ok not to be ok.
It’s great to know that there are people around us willing to have meaningful conversations and show their support, if only just to listen.
For some self-care tips and ways to lighten your load, take a look at our blog here on 10 ways to improve your mental wellbeing.
If you want to know more about how to ask if you’re OK, or if you are struggling and are feeling overwhelmed, here are some free help and counselling resources and organisations to reach out to:
Beyond Blue: www.beyondblue.org.au
Kids Help Line: kidshelpline.com.au