“Conversations have the power to change lives” is a really powerful statement isn’t it? But it’s true and something we should all be reminded of today, Time to Talk Day, and in fact every day. I have been quite vocal about my mental health on social media, being honest about the days I feel less than positive and every time I open up I get messages thanking me for my honesty, how other people are feeling the same way and DM’s saying “I am here if you want to chat”. I am also reminded that it is time to talk if I go quiet for a day or two, people check in with me. Since hitting peri-menopause my anxiety has been off the charts and I find myself catastrophising almost every situation. Let the dog in the garden? No don’t do that he will run away. Kids ten minutes late? They are in a ditch. Didnt get a reply to an email? They hate me. Honestly it’s exhausting but I have found myself returning to this post I wrote last year about tips for helping my anxiety.
So as today, February 3rd, is Time to Talk Day here are some ideas I think might work for starting a conversation today:
- Ask “How are you?” and then ask “No, how are you really?”
- Be ready to listen. I am so guilty of asking a question, thinking I have heard the answer but then about five hours later thinking “actually what was the response?” You know when I am doing that catastrophising thing where I go over every conversation I have ever had. I have made much more of a conscious, phone down, properly listen effort.
- Ask if you can meet a friend for coffee or even better a walk. I often find that walking rather than sitting means it is easier to start a conversation and feels a bit more natural. It also means you probably wont be overheard if you want some privacy
- Send a text to a friend you haven’t heard from in a while to tell them you have been thinking about them. Or if you are up to it, give them a call. I am nervous about phoning people out of the blue, I worry about interrupting, but am going to make a concerted effort to drop Whatsapps to people to say hello.
- If you are out with a friend, open up about your own mental health, by doing that you are showing that you understand and it might give them the courage to do the same if they need to.
- If they have opened up in the past then asking how they are might be tricky for them to answer but asking a more “how are you feeling?” type question might be easier to answer. Or maybe ask them if they have any tips of things that helped them, so you can help another friend / relative / neighbour / colleague.
Reports suggest that one in four of us will struggle with our mental health at some point and to be honest I am surprised that figure isnt higher, especially after the past couple of years. It is only by openly talking about mental health that we will be able to carry on breaking down the taboos around talking about it.
If you want more information about Time To Talk Day you can read more here and also download resources to help get the conversation started, particularly in the work place where there are posters to print out etc.