Shepparton News

Don’t forget to ask yourself, R U OK?

- By Caitlyn Grant

With much of the past two years spent in and out of lockdowns, this question has never had more importance.

“R U OK . . . mate?” They’re three little words that need to be asked much more than they currently are — because there’s no doubt after the past 18 months, many are struggling.

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 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

lockdowns has meant much of this 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 Cara

Tucker of Thrive Wellness and Consulting said the only way to properly give to others is 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.

Taking the time to do things you enjoy was an important element of being grounded and able to help someone else, the expert recommende­d.

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

“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 has showed 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’s a scary feat, not just opening up but also asking the questions.

There are steps to be taken before giving someone a supportive shoulder that can often be overlooked.

Asking the questions isn’t always easy, but it could save a life.

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