Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, is called such as it’s supposedly the most depressing day of the year. This date has apparently been calculated due to factors such as weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas, time since New Year’s resolutions have been broken, low motivational levels and the feeling of needing to take action. Whilst there isn’t much scientific backing to this claim, it’s never a bad time to reflect on your mental wellbeing or consider how other people may be feeling.
With this in mind, and with the aim of encouraging conversations around mental health, here are a few tips that may help start a conversation or two with our friends, family and colleagues.
How do you feel?
Sharing how you feel and what challenges you may be facing is a good way to get others to open up about their own frustrations, struggles and concerns. Showing a vulnerable side can go a long way to helping make others feel more comfortable and able to be open and honest about theirs.
Ask more than once
Most people automatically respond with ‘fine thanks’ when asked ‘how are you?’ even when they aren’t. Mind, the mental health charity, highly recommend asking this question a second time to get a more authentic, considered answer.
Set time aside and avoid disturbances
Having conversations about mental wellbeing challenges takes time so make sure you have time to listen to the answer when you ask how someone is. If you appear in a hurry or distracted it’s unlikely you’ll get an honest response from someone who maybe wants to share their struggles. If you’re checking the time, your phone or emails it’ll make it much harder for someone to open up to you than when they have your undivided attention. Enable them to feel like your conversation with them is the most important thing to you at that point in time.
Allow people to vent
It’s always tempting to offer solutions when someone is having a challenging time. However, this can sometimes seem like you’re trivialising their problems or that they’re at fault for not being able to see the answers that are seemingly apparent to you. This can stop future sharing, leaving that person feeling more alone than before. It’s not that you shouldn’t offer ideas or potential solutions, but it is important to allow people to talk and vent their worries and frustrations without interruptions so that they feel heard.
The more we talk about mental health and wellbeing, the better we will all get at sharing, listening, and supporting those around us.