It’s R U OK? Day today. A great opportunity to reach out to those near and far and say “I see you, how do you feel today?” And a reminder to keep doing that each and every day, not just once a year when the charity so thoughtfully reminds us.
It shouldn’t take a reminder to check in with our kids, our friends, our parents, our neighbours, our colleagues, our community and the guy who delivers the groceries, and the lady who serves us at the chicken shop. Asking people “how are you” should mean something.
Of course, it can awkward AF to launch into an earnest “Are you okay today? No, really, I want to know” moment. But do it anyway. You can also reach out to people in other, more subtle ways.
Noticing and remembering
The easiest way to do it is to notice each other, and the other way to do it is to remember each other.
Noticing means we really see people, observe something about them that’s positive, and feed it back to them to give them a lift. Yup, the good old compliment often gets a ‘shallow’ rap, but it doesn’t have to be shallow. In fact, compliments can help us create very deep connections.
Remember, sometimes that comment about their pretty dress is the only nice thing a person hears all day. You just never know. Hence the need for R U OK?Days in the first place…
Remembering is just as important as noticing. It helps to weave people together in a way that is bonding and important. Remembering is simply reminding each other of other good times (or bad). Reminiscing over the shared history that threads its way through community. It can be big events, or tiny moments that are remembered.
Some ideas for noticing and remembering today and tomorrow:
- Complimenting someone on their new hair cut and saying you also liked it when it was shoulder-length.
- Giving the green grocer a smile and saying “it’s much quieter today, do you feel less stressed? I was in here when it was crazy last Thursday!”
- Taking some flowers you picked from the garden to a friend because today is three years since she had her miscarriage.
- Thanking your kids’ teacher/s for giving them some extra help and reflecting on how far your kid has come since they’ve been in their class.
- Thanking the bus driver for always getting you home.
- Sending your mum a card with a daisy print on the front because you know she’s always loved daisies.
- Telling your neighbour their garden is looking even better this year than last.
- Leaving the postie a note and a small gift every now and then.
Making time for each other
Mostly, though, checking in is making time for each other. Our time is the greatest gift we could possibly give each other and the only way to know R U OK? or not. If we don’t truly know each other, how will we know when someone needs help? How will we feel secure enough to ask for help ourselves?
It might feel like we can’t spare the time to stop and engage, but we must. There will always be someone who needs your time far more than your to-do list.
More ideas for making time for each other:
- Scheduling in standing catch ups with people, not just when you think of it.
- Pausing when you bump into a friend down at the shops to have a five minute catch-up, instead of a 10 second “how are you? Busy!”.
- Following up when you say “let’s get together really soon” to invite a friend to go for a walk and talk on Saturday morning.
- “Watching a show together” over Zoom with a bestie. Even without lockdowns, getting together can feel like hard work. But zooming in to watch TV together from the comfort of your own loungeroom is completely doable. The laughs are exactly the same.
- Dropping some soup over to an elderly neighbour. Or some flowers. Or this loaf (because it’s awesome).
- Cooking with friends and neighbours on a weeknight, enjoying the meal, tidying up and all heading home.
- Setting up groups on WhatsApp and checking in with each other weekly.
- Taking time to eat dinner together as a family as many nights as you can.
- Eating breakfast together each morning.
- Doing things together that you’d usually do apart. Like gardening at your place one weekend and theirs the next.
- Buying the barista a cup of coffee or the bartender a beer and stopping for a chat and a laugh.
- Trawling around the supermarket with a friend instead of on your own.
- Having monthly ‘date nights’ with your darling. Or weekly if you can possibly manage it. It doesn’t have to be the fancy dinner every time. Heading out for a walk after dinner to grab a drink together is just as nice. So is going to the movies, dancing or roller-skating.