31 August 2018
I have a friend who asks me from time to time, often mid conversation, “When was the last time you went for a surf?” She’s not being rude, she’s not an avid surfer [she actually hates the beach], she just knows and understands me so well that she can tell when I’m overdue for some time in the ocean. What a friend!
Sometimes we get so busy and so stressed that we start heading down an unsustainable ‘autopilot’ path and forget to prioritise our own wellbeing. A lot of us find it really difficult to reflect and acknowledge what we really need and find it even more difficult to put it into words.
Put simply, “It’s ok not to be ok.” My favourite children’s mental health awareness picture book of 2017, Stand Up, Stand Out, reminds us of this. Not being ok looks different for everyone and this book illustrates that even when someone’s life seems great, underneath they may be struggling.
Change is inevitable and no one is immune to seasons of mental health challenges. What do you need to be OK today? Tuey the Toucan teaches, “Staying healthy is not just about exercise and good food. It’s equally important to look after your mind and your mood.” (Pilgrim, J & Revs, M 2017).
What could you do today to invest in your mind or mood? Is it as simple as clocking more time in the outdoors? Creative expression through art or music? Maintaining healthy boundaries? Increasing assertive communication (including saying no sometimes)? What about an appointment with your GP or relevant service? Or is there something else that you could really benefit from?
If you’re more than ok, have a think about asking someone else, “R U OK?” Just a quick question with a potentially big answer. It’s a risk to ask, and an even bigger risk to really mean it. Life throws all sorts of things at us that we feel inadequate to cope with, but you, with all your strengths and weaknesses, have got what it takes in four simple steps: 1. Ask 2. Listen 3. Encourage 4. Check in
September 13 is R U OK DAY. Let’s practise asking it from today and help others to find their ‘ocean’.
Dr David McClintock