Kyabram Free Press

Ask yourself the question

- By Caitlyn Grant

With Victorians having enduring the longest Covid-19-enforced lockdowns in Australia, are any of us actually okay?

Maybe. Maybe not. But you really do need to ask the question: “Are you okay?"

They are three little words that need to be asked a hell of a lot more — because there's no doubt that after the past 18 months, many of us are not okay.

But sometimes the barrier between you asking someone if they're okay or not is actually your own mental health.

So, how do you look out for number one while you’re worrying about number two, three, four and more?

A huge part of nurturing your own mental health includes what you surround yourself with physically; the content you consume, your diet, beliefs, and of course, spending time with friends and family.

Unfortunat­ely, complying with lockdown has meant all of the above has taken a large hit and — even if it’s yourself — it’s hard to tell if someone is doing it tough.

So again we ask ourselves — how do I look out for number one while I’m worrying about everyone I love?

Clinical psychologi­st Dr Cara Tucker of Thrive Wellness and

Consulting said the only way to properly give to others was by filling up your own cup first.

“We can’t control external variables but what we can do is control internal variables, thinking, ‘how am I feeling? What can I do to help me?’” she said.

Take the time to do things you enjoy. Sitting with yourself is an important element of being grounded and able to help someone else, Dr Tucker said.

And finally, when you are ready to ask the questions, be prepared to listen to the answers.

“Feelings can be feelings, they don’t have to be an action. Being able to express true feelings is so important," Dr Tucker said.

Research shows 80 per cent of those who have recently spoken up about issues troubling them feel more supported.

R U OK? chief executive Katherine Newton emphasises the importance of preventati­ve conversati­ons.

“Sometimes it won’t be obvious that someone is having a hard time but we know when we ask early and in a genuine way, we can help someone who might be struggling feel connected and supported, long before they are in crisis,” she said.

Of course it can be scary — not just opening up but asking the questions.

Starting a conversati­on around mental health isn’t always easy, but doing so could save a life.

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Now’s the time to check in your friends’ mental health.
Make the connection: Now’s the time to check in your friends’ mental health.
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RU OK? Day is around the corner, with locals encouraged to have meaningful conversati­ons.
Ask the question: RU OK? Day is around the corner, with locals encouraged to have meaningful conversati­ons.

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