Years ago, a friend paid me a lovely compliment by telling me that I was 'really good at staying in touch with people'. She's right, in that I do like to check in and have meaningful conversations with friends and family on a regular basis. Not only does it ease my mind to know that folks are okay, it also helps to keep those relationships strong. So, how are you today?
Watching Gruen on the ABC last night, and scrolling through social media this morning, reminded me that today is RUOK day - a national day of action and a reminder to regularly check in with family, friends and workmates.
For those who may not be aware, RUOK is a national charity that aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them, and support anyone struggling with life. The organisation's vision is a world where everyone is connected, and protected from suicide.
To my mind, it seems strange that we need to be reminded to do that - but there you go, it seems we do, or at least some of us do.
Key messages and calls to action for #RUOK day include the fact that we’re stronger together, so we should make time for the people who matter to us. It's time to reconnect with someone you have lost touch with; be aware that you have got what it takes to support a mate; and trust your gut instinct and start a conversation if you think someone’s not okay.
To help someone open up, find a time and place that works for you both. Make sure you yourself are in a good headspace, so that you’re not looking distracted or stressed. Ask them 'are you ok?' or 'how you going?' If a the friend or loved one brushes off your concerns, don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper. Be gentle, but do ask.
If your friend or loved one is not okay, take the time to listen to what they have to say. Don’t judge them, and don't rush the conversation. Encourage them to think about things they might do to manage the load. Let them know that you are there for them, and be sure to check in with them again soon.
Share a time in your life that someone was there for you when it made a difference - no matter how big or small. Focus on the positives, so that people are inspired by your example. Share specific things that they said or did that helped you out in your time of need.
Importantly, it is recommended that you avoid focussing on specific suicide references (especially location and method), so as not to reinforce thoughts of risky behaviour.
And finally, always remember: one kind word can change someone's entire day. Do it, please... and not just on #RUOK day, but every single day.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.