Knowing when and how to ask if somebody is okay is not always straight forward. It can be so hard to start that conversation, especially when COVID seems to have affected everyone. We often hear people ask what even is “being okay” when the world seems to have slowed to a crawl and all we know is changing?
In saying this, showing your willingness to have such a conversation can be life changing for those around you, a small step to better the world. The R U OK? team has some amazing resources to know when and how to start a conversation, please do read them. This post however is about why human connection and support is so crucial to our wellness. Supporting others can be so much more than asking a question, it can also include building community and fostering safe spaces.
In a world where lockdowns and isolation are constantly required, connection can be the remedy for that hurt. We know humans are pack animals at heart, and that working in a team with a good culture makes even the hardest workdays achievable. Opening yourself up and helping others, while it can be very scary and confronting, can also benefit you. In a study where people chose whether to give support to somebody or not, those who did experienced greater wellbeing afterwards (i.e. increased positive affect/mood and a boost in self-esteem). This isn’t unexpected, it can feel good to do something for somebody else. Why it does feel good however has been under investigation for a while and is not entirely solved. What we do know is that giving support to others can make us feel more connected, our brain also releases “feel good” hormones like oxytocin; some have claimed may even help you live longer. Supporting your friends, family and co-workers is something that we all benefit from, even you. So why not read over the guides on how to ask “R U OK?” and arm yourself with a skill set to be there for others?
Guide to ask R U OK? In the workplace: https://www.ruok.org.au/work
Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS medicine, 7(7), e1000316.
Inagaki, T. K. (2018). Neural mechanisms of the link between giving social support and health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1428(1), 33-50.
Inagaki, T. K., & Orehek, E. (2017). On the benefits of giving social support: When, why, and how support providers gain by caring for others. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26(2), 109-113.
Weinstein, N., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). When helping helps: autonomous motivation for prosocial behavior and its influence on well-being for the helper and recipient. Journal of personality and social psychology, 98(2), 222.
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