R U OK? want to remind everyone that Christmas can be a difficult time for many Australians and encourage them to make a real difference in someone’s life by giving the ‘Gift of Conversation’.
More than two million people experience social isolation at Christmas and the R U OK? Gift Guide provides ideas to support family, friends, and colleagues who might be struggling at this time of year.
“Think about the people in your world who may be struggling and make time to check in with them,” says Annie Fardell Hartley, suicidologist and registered psychologist.
“Instead of feeling festive, happy and loved, people might feel lonely, be grieving, sad, nostalgic, frustrated or stressed. By asking R U OK? and giving the ‘Gift of Conversation’ this Christmas – you are able to make a difference to the people in your world.”
Suggestions on how best to support someone at this time of year include:
Make the time: Think about the people in your world who may be struggling and make time to check in with them. You might start with a text, send them a card, tee up a walk, call them on the phone or drop by for a visit.
Acknowledge it: Let them know it’s OK to feel overwhelmed, sad, or stressed at this time of the year. Acknowledging what they are feeling, physically and mentally, can help them manage the intensity of the emotion they might be feeling.
Be gentle: If someone doesn’t feel able to celebrate in the same way as they have in the past, give them space to set boundaries or adapt their routine or put their routine on hold for the year.
Old traditions and new traditions: Established traditions of the season might cause sadness if someone is grieving, can’t be with loved ones or is financially stretched. If old traditions no longer bring joy perhaps think about new traditions, you can set up to mark the season.
Offer practical support: If someone isn’t ready to talk, think about what practical support you can provide. Whether it is making a cuppa, helping with childcare, or cooking a meal, small gestures can be comforting for those finding the season difficult.
If you or someone you know needs some extra support this Christmas, visit www.ruok.org.au. For support at any time of day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.