At Code Like a Girl we love bringing our team together to share their experiences and stories. That is why for R U Okay Day this year we want to share how two different members of the team make space for their mental health and their perspectives on R U Okay Day conversations.
The importance of looking out for ourselves and our community grows more and more. R U Okay Day acts as a check-in point for recent hardships and how important it is to seek support if you are struggling.
However, I do feel a sense of cynicism creeping up when I spot corporate virtue signalling. I want people to feel safe in opening up, not because a calendar notification sent by an absentee boss said so. An afternoon of ice-breaker activities feels lacklustre in its attempt to accommodate an entire office’s mental health.
I am grateful to work for a supportive organisation like Code Like a Girl. I feel empowered every day when I open Slack and check in on my colleagues. Little things like sharing a “90’s Pop Party” playlist, sending a funny GIF just because, shouting a co-worker a coffee. We ask if people “are okay” all the time.
The unfortunate truth though is that most companies do not prioritise mental health in this way. I acknowledge my place of privilege where mental health messaging is normalised. Outside of my echo-chamber, the reality is that employees are silenced due to toxic bosses, fears of rejection or workplace discrimination. If your community fails to provide year-round support, asking for accommodations is an impossible task.
For workplaces that lack the resources, R U Okay Day is the first step in welcoming mental health discourse. Despite my scepticism, having a national day to check in can bring permanent change.
So let’s use R U Okay Day as a starting off point. Let’s keep the conversation going. Let’s aim for little acts of compassion year round. “Checking in” doesn’t stop at a corporate sponsorship. Let’s ask R U Okay over the next 365 days.
These are lofty goals. Societally we will get there. In the meantime, I have 3 nifty little tools that help keep me grounded to maintain a mentally healthy equilibrium.
This may be controversial but R U OK Day should start with you. Take a moment to check in with yourself. That leaflet on the plane comes to mind - fit your oxygen mask before attempting to help those around you.
That’s how I see this day and all the occasions when checking in with those around me. Of course the nature of my job means that checking in with colleagues is a staple of the role. But it starts with me first - if I’m out of balance or out of sorts as we Brits say, how can I be at my best or fully present when checking in with anyone else?
So, start with checking in with yourself. It doesn’t have to be a scheduled occasion, it could be in those quiet moments when you’re just waking up; take stock of how you’re tracking, perhaps take a couple of deep breaths as you sit up. I find that works for me.
Other things that I tap into that you might want to try:
That is all to say, that R U OK Day starts with YOU. Gift yourself with space and time to check in with yourself as you check in with those around you. And let’s try to do it every day.
Share your tips and resources with us too!
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