During the pandemic, life has been very different for all of us. Many of us have never had to deal with this type of stress before. A large part of the population is facing things that they didn’t think were possible. Experts say that people with a substance use disorder are particularly vulnerable to risks during COVID-19. Anxiety, stress, and loneliness are at an all-time high. So how can you check in on a loved one to make sure they’re okay?
Before All Else, Find Your Bearings
Worrying about another human being is a noble thing. First of all, make sure you’re in the right place, mentally, to handle helping somebody. If you’re holding on by a few threads right now, it’s not your job to “save” somebody else. (You can ask a friend or family you have in common, maybe, to check up on them?)
How to Check-In On a Loved One
If you’re worried about a loved one’s mental or physical health, talking one-on-one is essential. You may not be able to meet in-person due to COVID lockdowns, but video conferences can be an excellent way to connect. Set a meeting with your loved one and keep it.
Here are some tips when you check-in:
- Make sure that when you check-in, you’re not distracted. Close all of your other windows on your computer. Wear headphones. Make sure you are respectful of their time if they have said it’s limited. (Some people have their kids, their spouse, or their work obligations to tend to, too.)
- Make sure you’re in a private environment – close the door — where your loved one will feel safe and secure.
- Have a natural conversation. Ask about your loved one, their life, etc. Don’t jump into your fears or worries. Use open-ended questions.
- Try not to judge. Everyone is coping with the pandemic in the best way they can. For some people, sadly, this has led to self-destructiveness.
Sharing Your Concerns
Many people have been coping with mental health issues exacerbated by the pandemic. Some people have relapsed who were once in recovery. Others are picking up a drug habit for the first time. Addiction is a disease, just like any mental health disorder. When people check-in with loved ones, it can remind them that they’re loved.
Whatever the problem is, you want to help, not hurt or shame your loved one. Let them know this! Once you have been conversing for a while, share your concerns, talk about your feelings. Use “I statements” so that you aren’t blaming them.
For example, “When I hear that you’re not getting much sleep, I worry that you’re staying up late at night.” Or, “When I hear you’re having trouble with your depression, I worry you aren’t taking your meds or need to try something new. I’m scared you’ll try to hurt yourself.”
Set a Plan To Check-In Again
While you talk with your loved one, you can formulate a plan, even if it’s just a promise to check in next week at the same time or place. You can offer to help with baby steps – such as looking up a therapist’s name to help with depression or anxiety. You may also get them to commit to starting a yoga routine or a morning run to lift their mood. They may need to commit to going to a 12-step meeting online every day for 30 days.
If the issue is more serious – such as a relapse or new addiction – you may need to enlist the help of professionals and other family or friends. Your job is to “be there” – not fix everything all at once! Don’t overextend. And make sure to ask your loved one to take a step or two on their own toward getting the help you need.
If Your Loved One Is Depressed
If somebody you love has mentioned suicide plans, this is a medical emergency. Do not leave them alone if you can help it. You can call 911 to get them to a hospital or have a welfare check. You can also ask for resources from the National Suicide Hotline by calling 800-273-8255 if you’re unsure what to do.
Don’t ignore somebody who talks about suicide or suicidal feelings. Get the emergency help and enlist others’ help (sponsors, other friends, other family) until they can speak to a professional. If you are afraid somebody is going to hurt themselves, trust your gut.
Being there for somebody is great, but know your limits! Make sure that you take care of your own needs and don’t overextend. Check-in with yourself about your own energy levels. How are you feeling? Sad, good, worried? Let yourself feel. Get a good night’s sleep, take a long walk, or have a nice long bath at the end of the day.
Getting Help for Addiction
Nobody plans to have an addiction or relapse. The good news is that recovery can always be a part of the story! Everyone deserves a chance to reclaim their life. Give us a call to learn more about what we can offer at 800-970-8774. All calls are confidential.