Time To Talk Day: 8 Lessons We Can Learn From Time To Talk Day 2023
8 minutes read
Today is Time To Talk Day, and we can relate if you find it difficult to talk about mental health and open up to other people. Indeed, it takes a lot of hard work and honesty and puts a person in a position of vulnerability. If you are in the same situation, know you’re not alone. A survey has found that 66% of Brits admit feeling they have nobody to talk to about their mental health, relationships, or money.
Most of us tend to keep our feelings to ourselves, not knowing it can be a lot more damaging. As a result, one in four UK adults experiences a mental health problem each year and one in six experiences common mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week.
“When struggling with mental health, we tend to shut down and isolate ourselves. It’s important that we start to break the stigma, shame and guilt associated with mental health. People think admitting or sharing they’re struggling is a sign of weakness.
Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness; it’s strength. It’s a superpower. Open up and get things off your chest,” Neil Shah, Founder and Chief De-Stressing Officer at Stress Management Society, tells Beauty Daily.
While talking to a family member or friend can be scary, it can be really powerful. So to mark Time To Talk Day2023, Beauty Daily sat down with Neil Shah, founder of UK’s Stress Management Society, to discuss the importance of being comfortable talking about our mental health, how we can open up more and be better listeners and, ultimately, how we can get involved.
What is Time To Talk Day?
Time To Talk Day is a UK national day devoted to talking about mental health. It was launched to draw attention to topics about mental health and the importance of reaching out to others.
This is also when various charities and campaigns work together to reduce mental health-related stigma and discrimination by raising awareness and changing the narrative so more people feel confident and comfortable reaching out for help when they need it and not suffer alone.
When is Time To Talk Day?
In 2023, Time To Talk Day will take place on Thursday, February 2nd.
8 Lessons We Can Learn From Time To Talk Day 2023
1. Knowing you’re not suffering alone
One of the main reasons you find it hard to reach out to other people is that you don’t feel quite emotionally safe. It comes with the constant fear that we might be judged or criticised about our problems or we think the other person might not be interested. But how will you know if you’ve never tried? Having these negative feelings or burdens lingering with you will negatively impact the quality of your life.
“A problem shared is a problem halved or maybe even solved. The process of being able to vent and offload makes you feel differently about what you’re experiencing. It can be a good opportunity to recognise that you may need access to different support, perhaps a professional one. As we open up, it allows us to be more connected to the people around us,” says Shah.
The good thing about opening up about your problems is that you’re not alone. Some people are as good as you at masking their problems.
“You may start to find other people are going through similar things. So, for example, if you’re going through a tough time and you share [your problems] with a family member, your partner, your work colleague, you develop and foster deeper and more meaningful connections with them,” Shah adds.
Opening up ensures that you don’t suffer in silence and don’t keep your worries and personal issues to yourself.
2. Opening up can help to ease the load
“If we get better at opening up early on, it can prevent some mental health problems from escalating and becoming bigger and more challenging issues. When it comes to mental health, sadly, people don’t open up until it’s too late. It’s okay not to be okay. Asking for help and putting your hands and saying you’re struggling is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength,” says Shah.
3. Learning not to overthink
Finding the right time or place to talk is why people don’t discuss their mental health. So don’t wait for the right time, don’t overthink it, just let it out.
“In terms of talking, be willing to share without necessarily having filtered what you’re saying or sharing,” says Shah.
Sharing without filter or holding no reservation will you get the advice or help you need.
4. Finding someone you can genuinely rely on
When it comes to finding the right person to confide in, it all boils down to how confident and comfortable you are with the person.
Shah says, “Sometimes it can be worth going beyond friends. They have perspectives on what’s right or wrong. In the end, friends are part of the process, but you will need help to connect you with the resources you need. It should be someone who can help you to get the ball rolling should you require further treatment.
Sometimes, even talking to a colleague or someone within the workplace can be a handy place to start.”
But what’s important is finding someone who is at least willing to listen, whoever that might be.
“Start with people who you can rely on being supportive early on; it will help you practice gaining confidence. Then, find someone who’s not trying to fix you or offer you guidance, counselling, or advice but is just willing to listen. Then, don’t stop until you find someone who will listen and who can help put you in the right direction. There’s always someone out there who will.” he says.
5. Developing empathy
Having a conversation is a two-way street. Of course, most of us could listen better. But it’s not enough to listen when someone is opening up.
“Listening is an important skill, but it’s not just listening. It’s listening with empathy.”
Listening with empathy is trying to see things from someone else’s perspective. Trying to understand where they are coming from. It’s not being silent but not equally telling them what to do.
“Asking open-ended questions, giving them eye contact, not interrupting and listening without judgement or jumping to conclusions can help them continuously pour onto you. Then, wait to start planning what to say next. Don’t impose your opinions and solutions,” Shah says.
6. Creating your coping strategies
It can be an excellent opportunity to explore how we can develop coping strategies when faced with life’s inevitable struggles. By opening up or sharing with other people, we gain knowledge, enrich ourselves with their experiences and learnings and therefore take learn from them and build our coping strategies.
“Even if you’re not suffering from any diagnosed illness, it can be beneficial to talk to a professional and understand how to listen and support your mental health space. It can be talking about what you want to achieve. Be willing to talk about not just your challenges and problems but the positives and things you’re grateful for,” says Shah.
7. Finding the importance of a strong support system
As human beings, we’re social creatures. We require social connection; we’re not lone wolves. We need a pack. Whether that’s a big or small pack, it makes a difference and gives you confidence when dealing with the most challenging and daunting life situation.
Research has shown that having a solid support system has many benefits, including higher levels of well-being, better coping skills, and a longer and healthier life. Social support can also reduce depression and anxiety.
Who do you turn to for fun? Who do you turn to for a reality check? If you’re having a tough time, who will listen to you? Who’s going to give you a positive advice? If you need a hug, who’s going to be the person you reach out to?
“It doesn’t need to be dozens of people; few people you know have your back, and you theirs. That support system will improve your overall health and reduce your stress and anxiety because you know that there is a safety net. As you walk on the tightrope of life, you know some people will catch you when you fall. Having a strong support system and people you rely on whenever you need them the most is the greatest feeling of all,” Shah says.
8. By speaking up and showing vulnerability, you permit people to do the same
“Time to talk day is an opportunity for us to open up and start sharing our stories because, as we do that, we’re permitting other people to do the same. But, most importantly, reach out and have that conversation with a friend, a neighbour, a colleague, or a loved one. Ask how they are doing. But don’t ask just once. Ask twice because often when you ask someone ‘how are you’ you get a standard response: ‘I’m fine’, I’m good, ‘Can’t complain’. But, by asking the same question again, just following up, ‘How are you’ and you get your answer and follow up with, ‘how are you really?’
By asking the same questions again, you get a different response because what you’re saying to the person is, ‘I do want to know how you are’. That, by itself, opens the door to having a deeper and more meaningful conversation and that, for me, is what Time To Talk Day is all about. Creating the time and space to have conversations that require each other’s well-being and welfare and do that meaningfully rather than just a gesture.”
Opening up about our problems can be difficult. For many of us, shame, guilt, and trauma can hinder us from talking, but once we find our safe space and be more open and honest with ourselves, it’s easier to open up with others.
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