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Behavioral Health Column – October 2020

VPPPA has partnered with experts at MindWise Innovations to present a monthly Q&A article addressing questions that members might be hesitant to ask about. These columns will address your questions about mental health, substance abuse, brain injuries, family issues and more.

By: Lisa Desai, MindWise Innovations 

“Hey, How’s it going?”  It’s a question we probably ask many times a day, or a version of it, such as “What’s up?”, “How are you?”, etc. For most of us, it’s like saying hello. So, how often do we wait to hear how the other person – our co-worker, friend or even family member – is doing?  In our busy, stressful lives taking a few minutes to hear about how people are doing can seem unrealistic. However, many studies show that staying connected with others – even through small ways like checking-in – keeps us emotionally connected, helps with stress management, is good for physical health and reminds us to check in with ourselves!  Here are some tips for checking-in with others.

  1. Try Active Listening – take 4-5 minutes to hear what the other person is saying. We are all guilty of thinking about our own thoughts, or being distracted by our to-do list, to pay full attention. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we feel too busy. But, giving our full attention to our friend allows us to be in the moment – be mindful – and when the other person feels heard, the result is a huge feeling of connection. You might think back on when you share a few minutes of conversation with someone and how energizing it can feel – that is connection! 
  2. Don’t Feel the Need to Fix It – Checking-in and asking how someone is doing does not mean you have to solve their problem, or even suggest a solution.  Listening without judgment and trying to understand what a person is going through is enough.  Describing how we are feeling and what we might be experiencing can often be a relief in itself. 
  3. Even Small Gestures Can Make a Difference – Checking-in can happen during a quick lunch or water break, through a text message exchange, or via a zoom coffee chat.  In these times of uncertainly during the ongoing pandemic – whether it is school being in limbo, families facing quarantine in the home, and work pressures – checking in with our coworkers, family and friends is more important than ever.