Helping one another: Some essential tips

Thank you for joining us for this week’s blog. Last week we focused on a new service we are offering to our clients: occupational therapy. This week we wanted to shift back to an important issue that we must be mindful of during the pandemic: how we can look out for and help one another. We typically talk about how to care for yourself, which is still critically important, but something that is needed right now is caring for others as well.

Currently, many people have limited resources available to access, especially those that are considered high risk (for example, the elderly). We are fortunate enough to have access to the internet that offers a wealth of information, just like reading this blog. In the spirit of trying to reach more people with some helpful information, we thought we could summarize ten simple steps that you could use with your friends and loved ones who need some extra support. We want to encourage people to support each other, especially right now, and we are here to support you in doing this in the best way.

The following are ten simple steps to guide you through supporting your loved ones:

You cannot pour from an empty cup!

  1. Self-Care. “You cannot pour from an empty cup”. This is imperative if you are going to support someone else; to help others, we need to help ourselves first. This means practicing proper self-care techniques to ensure that you have enough energy and focus to be present for the ones you are supporting. Supporting or caring for others can be emotionally taxing; therefore, having a healthy and stable foundation is an important place to start. If you follow along with our Instagram page, we are offering some great self-care techniques. Here are a few quick ideas: take some deep breaths, get some fresh air outside, stretch, do a quick workout, have a bath/shower or take five minutes just to clear your mind by journaling or listening to music.
  2. Consider your environment. Ensure you have the right amount of time set aside, as well as an environment free from distractions/interruptions. This enables your focus to stay in the moment and be present while you are connecting with that other person.
  3. Reach out. Think about one person who would most benefit from a connection with you. There may be many people, so try to prioritize and focus on one person per day. It is tempting to reach out to a few people that you feel might need urgent support; however, you must have a balance of caring for others and yourself. By choosing one person, you can entirely focus and provide dedicated support. Your support will be more effective and likely make more of an impact if you are focused on one person per day.
  4. Be clear about your intention. At the beginning of your conversation, let the person know that you would like to support them during this difficult time, and you are hoping to chat. This enables the person to know you have intentionally set aside time. This will help to focus and centre the conversation around that person, especially if you share why you need to connect with them.
  5. Listen – truly, listen. We all have experiences and wisdom in life that seem to creep into all of our conversations with our loved ones. It’s tempting to start from a place of offering that advice at first – so here we challenge you to do something different. Focus on listening, as opposed to talking. A favourite quote from Brene Brown captures this tactic well,

    Be as passionate about listening as you are about wanting to be heard”. 

    We all want to be heard, so focus on providing that opportunity to the other person.  
  6. Validate. Validating is a way to reflect back to the person what you are hearing. It is often called “active listening”, and it is how people genuinely feel heard. A simple example of what this might look like is: “I am hearing you say you are feeling stressed, tell me what you think is causing you the most stress right now?”. This strategy informs the other person that you heard what they are feeling, and you are interested in learning more. Once again, as with Step #5, try to avoid offering advice at this time, and instead focus on continuing to listen and validating through reflection and just being curious.
  7. Offer positive feedback and insight. Take an opportunity to celebrate the other person! Focus on their strengths and positive attributes and share this with them. Here are some things you can share:
    • What do you love about them?
    • What have they done, or are doing, that is admirable?
    • What have they done, or are doing that makes you feel proud?
    • What are their strengths?
    • What are some positive memories that you have with them?
    • What are you looking forward to in the future with them?
    • How have they made an impact in your life?

      Think about how good it feels when someone else takes some time to celebrate you – even in the simple ways noted above. This is exactly what you are hoping to achieve by offering it to someone else!
  8. Plan your next connection. Take some time and plan your next call. Set a date and time, and this will affirm their importance in your life. It also helps you be purposeful and intentional about when you can support them again and gives you both something to look forward to!
  9. Return to self-care. After you have ended the conversation, return to Step #1 and practice some self-care. It is important to recover so you can continue to focus on caring for yourself and possibly those that are in your home. Having a balance of caring for yourself and others is very important.
  10. Share your tips with someone else. Let’s spread the love around! If you’ve attempted this list and feel like you have made a successful connection, reach out to others in your circle of support and offer your tips and tricks to help one another out. As we keep hearing from our government and health officials, the most important thing we can do right now is be kind to each other and just be there, in whatever form of support that takes.

The steps we featured here are very simple, but we can assure you they will make a big impact. We value simplicity at its core for everything in life, and this list is no exception. Following these steps will help you to streamline the process, ultimately making it less stressful for both you and your loved ones.
If you are interested in counselling or would like to speak to a member of our team, please contact us, we would be happy to speak with you.