R U OK? Day

Written by Danielle Schembri, Lead Occupational Therapist
Danielle Schembri

Things that go together. Bacon and Eggs. Avocado and Toast. Fish and Chips.  

Me and You.  

People are social animals. We exist in community with one another. Whether it be your work colleagues, school, sports teams, or even the fact that we are part of this community of humanity. Whatever you call it! Community? Village? Society? Home? We exist together.  

However, with our fast pace, our social media, our commitments and our bills, it can still be easy from time to time to feel alone. Sometimes, something like social media (which has the power to connect all of us) can even be the thing that divides us and makes us feel further apart. It’s easy to compare ourselves or shame ourselves against Jim with the perfect diet and Jenny with the perfect family. It’s easy to feel like we are ‘less than’ or ‘not enough’.  

Occasionally, we are caught up in the ‘thick of it’ and we need that reminder that we are not alone. 

R U OK? 

Thursday the 14th of September marks R U OK?Day. Encouraging us to reach out to others and start a conversation. The wonderful team at R U OK? Propose that we follow the acronym ALEC. Ask. Listen. Encourage Action. Check In.  

The beauty of living in a community together is that we aren’t limited by one day either. ALEC can be something that we do at any point in our day, week, month, year.   

I’d like to start a conversation here today, to check in with you. It may seem odd coming from the words on a page. After all, how can I hear you? Well, I can’t! But, as a fellow human who exists in your community, I see you. And I know without ever having met you that you matter! Your mental health matters! So, I encourage you to truly consider my question. R U OK? And I implore you to take action to put yourself first.  

What might this look like?  

It may be prioritising your own mindfulness. This could be stepping out into nature, taking a walk, focusing on your breathing, or something more meaningful to you. It could be one minute in your day. It could be longer. Either way, it is time spent that will return through the focus and other health benefits that you truly deserve.  

It may be promising that you’ll do one thing today that is completely, totally for you. Take a bath. Eat the cake. Lay in the sun. Go to bed earlier. Offer yourself the same compassion that you would give to somebody else in your community who you love.  

It may be asking for “help”, be it from a neighbour, family member, trusted friend, or even your employer. You are worthy of help and as a community we need to continue to normalise asking for it.  

It may be remembering that you need to make sure you’re ‘OK’ first. In order to ‘be there’ for the wonderful people around you (those who you mean so much to), you must first be there for yourself. After all, we need to put on our own oxygen mask before we can do so for those around us, right?  

It may be encouraging you to seek out a professional. A doctor, a local health centre, or one of the many recommended organisations on the R U OK? Web page, located here.   

Whatever it is, however you take action, your needs matter. You matter.  

Thank you for being a part of this community.  

Written by Danielle Schembri, Lead Occupational Therapist

***If you are having suicidal thoughts, please seek assistance by contacting your trusted healthcare professional or calling Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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