"Are you ok?"
The past year has tested the limits of our relationships. And our latest national lockdown means that once again, our links to friends and family have to be maintained through screens and phone calls. So today I ask myself: how can we maintain good care of ourselves and others while the world is so stressful out there, and when everything has become so remote?
Maybe let's start with “Are you ok?”: While it’s easy to brush this small question off as unimportant, I find it crucial to keep communication channels open, free of judgment, and start with this simple act of caring. We all need kindness and support, and this is what we strive to give to our loved ones. But sometimes, don't we feel at loss on how to reach out? There's enough hardship and misinformation going on in the world, which is why I find that helping each other and having open conversations around topics like mental health is so important right now. Actually, it’s been proven that being a helpful and supportive friend improves one’s own resilience and reduces anxiety. So, now more than ever, would be an appropriate time to show up and be a kind listener to each other.
Just because we're communicating remotely doesn't mean we can't take care of each other. It's worth starting a conversation with a simple "Are you ok?" and really listening to the answer. Whether it be a text or a call. When you know someone might be overworked and not willing to spend time texting, why not plan a call for the weekend? Voice messages are, for some, a useful channel that allows to express yourself in a manner that feels more genuine: you hear your friend’s voice and tone, thereby bringing you closer. All these small steps can bring us towards better mental health and a sense of community under these complicated circumstances.
For more isolated family members or elderly friends who are suffering from loneliness and anxiety, times are especially difficult when living alone. A small text or even a picture can make someone's day. This lets them know that they’re not alone. There is someone thinking about them, and these small act of kindness are the ones making a difference. If there's a special occasion —or no occasion at all, spontaneity is golden — like sending fresh flowers or a hand written card would be such a nice display of attention for anyone.
After a year of social distancing it feels essential to have these honest conversations with friends who we know are struggling, or expressing our true feelings when we ourselves are. Let's not forget that in order to take care of others, we must be able to take care of ourselves. Self-love is so important when looking after those around you. Ask yourself “Are you ok?” and cherish yourself in order to cherish others too. This is a virtuous cycle that we can all participate in. I hope you’re ok <3