Can you give yourself the thumbs up?

R U OK day is on the doorstep. There will be conversations and social media posts galore about reaching out and asking the people in your life if they are OK. A vital service checking in on the welfare and safety of those around you.

The creators of R U OK day, ask people to consider a couple of quick questions about being in the right headspace, having time the team needed and being ready to genuinely listen?

What does it mean to be in the right headspace? Pause for a moment, ask yourself this question: “Am I OK to be asking RUOK?”.

The world has been a very different place for many of us in the past 18 months, with the impact of the COVID pandemic, lockdowns, debates of all sorts about the right or effective approach to dealing with the public health problem, adapting our ways of working and dealing with many associated issues. Have you done an honest assessment of yourself, and how you are?

How do you ask yourself if you are OK?

Here are a few questions to help yourself do this assessment:

  • Has my behaviour changed?
  • Have my feelings / overall baseline mood changed?
  • How is my sleep pattern?
  • Apart from the impostion of lockdowns/social distancing – I am avoiding people? (or am I avoiding people more than usual if you are a strong introvert)
  • Am I cynical and disengaged?
  • Am I still finding joy and fulfillment in the things that once brought me joy?
  • How are my eating/alcohol consumption patterns?
  • How is my “self talk”?

If your honest responses to yourself suggest that you might not be OK to ask someone else R U OK, then it is important that you take the time to initiate some self-care!

It’s OK to not be OK! But it is not OK to languish in it and not take action to move towards being OK.

There are many great resources to do more structured assessments of your own mental health, and great resources that can be of assistance to yourself and others if you find yourself or them not being OK. You can find these through organisations like Beyond Blue , The Black Dog Insititute , Sane Australia and of course R U OK. Don’t forget many workplaces also have links to services and mental health programs.

For those who want a deeper dive, I also recommend a couple of books – Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman (and his related books), and Change Your Thinking by Sarah Edelman.

If the response to your own self assessment is “I’m OK”, great! Then I encourage you to take the time on R U OK day to check in and make sure someone else is OK too. Here are another 50 ways to reach out to someone without directly asking “How are you”.