As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, I wanted to talk about how we can ALL make a difference, whether you struggle with it or not. This looks different to everyone. I'm talking about showing ENCOURAGEMENT & KINDNESS! Even though the majority of conversations with people we encounter on a daily basis may only be surface level, the tone and level of kindness in which we speak to them is crucial. This means we have to put our pain and struggles aside for a brief moment and put their feelings first. This may be impossible for some - I get it. But, in my experience, when someone has gone out of their way to really talk to me, to be kind, I remember them. Always. The truth is we don't know what someone else is going through, even though they may look completely fine - and even if their social media posts say the opposite. Social media is not reality - it's only what you want people to see. Why would you want people to see the ugly, broken parts? Think about the people you encounter on a daily basis. Maybe they could use a friend? Some words of encouragement? A bible verse? This is what we are called to do as it clearly states in Ephesians 4:32
Here are 7 ways we can ALL encourage others:
1. Text/Calls - I know texting is the new normal, but even now, people don't respond. A simple encouraging text can make someone's day! An even better idea would be a phone call. Many people are not used to talking on the phone anymore, which makes me really sad. We are slowly losing touch. Through a phone call, we get to hear someone else's voice and tone, which can mean so much more. That's when real conversations actually happen. We have to be there for each other!
2. Getting Together - Having in-person, face-to-face contact can tell you so much more about a person than any text, post, or phone call. It's more meaningful. Getting together doesn't have to be anything fancy either! I have found that I really enjoy going on walks with friends. I'm outside in the fresh air getting exercise, and I'm with someone I know and trust. Any sort of time together with a friend - to help lift them up or not - is always a good idea! Invite them somewhere! The point is to invest in others, to ask questions and show that you care - to be a friend.
3. Prayer/Bible Verses - There is nothing more encouraging then someone who says, "I'm praying for you". I used to say this a lot. It was the kind of statement that I would say but not give a second thought. When you say you pray for someone, do you REALLY do it? This is something I'm working on. We are all very selfish people, and we get very busy. So, pray for someone and let them know that you have prayed. Send them a bible verse that relates to their situation. There can NEVER be enough of this for anyone - in any season of life!
4. Help Them - I know this is easier said than done, but sometimes, people simply need to be asked, "how can I help you?." People often don't want to accept help out of pride, hopelessness or other reasons. But, this at least shows them that you care about what is going on and their struggles. It could be as simple as running an errand for them or taking something off their plate! These little acts of kindness can go a long way!
5. Following Up - This gesture is very important. Encouraging someone during a challenging time is important, but I think it's extremely critical to circle around and follow back up with them. Why? Because I'm positive they are still in the midst of whatever battle it is they are facing and could use more. We all could! I have had my share of fair-weather friends, and I have probably been one myself. I think we can all do better. So, reach out to a friend, whether they are going through a tough season or not! Make the effort! :)
6. Handwritten Notes/Cards - Notes can be done anonymously or not. But, it is another great way to show encouragement - a sticky note, a mailed card, a handwritten note, you name it! It is a very thoughtful gesture, and anytime we can communicate our love and support, we should find a way to do that!
7. Pinterest Gift - This may go to the extreme, but I love crafting. I highly recommend Pinterest because they have thousands of thoughtful ideas for gifts, but you may be able to come up with some of your own! This is definitely an attentive way to give someone that little extra boost they might need. It can really brighten someone's day, knowing that you took the TIME to think about them.
If you are reading this and you are the one who is struggling, reach out to someone - a friend, a parent, even me. Let someone listen to you. Nothing you say is silly, too small, or embarrassing!!
So, go the extra mile and give a little to those who need a smile! :)
Photography by: The Birds Nest/Jessica K. Haas.