Sometimes it’s useful to be reminded that as simple as it sounds, talking can be incredibly helpful and therapeutic for all of us. Open communication builds trust and it’s essential for healthy relationships whether that’s with colleagues, family, friends or partners. Not only that – it’s brilliant for mental health too!
Recently we heard an experience from somebody who had struggled with addiction in their past. Coping alone was the worst thing about it; resulting in insomnia, increased shame and anxious thoughts among other things. When they finally opened up and told somebody they trusted, the sense of freedom was greater than they could have imagined… Talking about it was that crucial first step to recovery.
For most people who suffer with a mental health condition, talking is an essential element to recovery. For some people, being able to talk about their experiences almost becomes the cure itself… So, talk to the people around you! There might be somebody suffering with a mental health condition, a bereavement or perhaps going through a low patch in their life. BE that person who is willing to give them the time of day; help them talk, and then listen.
Sometimes you need to be intentional with the kind of questions you ask. In particular, open questions cause a responder to reflect and reveal a bit more about themselves. Whatever your reason for starting a conversation, here are some handy openers that you could try:
- What was the best part of…?
- What was the worst part of…?
- How did you feel…?
- What is it like…?
- Can you tell me more about…?
- How will you feel when…
As you listen, it’s important to outwardly show that you are listening too. Make sure your body language is open, use eye contact, nods and encouraging prompts as a person speaks. Remember that you don’t always have to provide solutions – just having somebody listen in an empathetic way can work wonders.
“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
So next time you think of it – put down your newspaper, turn off your TV or gadget… and start a conversation. Who knows what may come of it.