Me: …y’alright mate?
Friend: Yea sound, you?
Me: All good yea. See the match this week?
How typical does this sound as we meet in the pub or at the kids’ swimming lessons before the conversation tails away in to something wholly less ‘feels’ and all the more practical; the weather, sport, the car, how busy are we at work…
I was delighted to see this article written up by our content editor Ruby Phillips who offers up some really interesting insight in to how we can better check in on each other.
? You might also find it useful to have a read of how to check in with your own mental fitness.
? Also helpful might be the article supporting ideas on how to get started with mindfulness for us busy working Dads.
Don’t forget to watch ? on YouTube. Dads In Business YouTube has conversations with Dads, professionals, experts in personal development and business.
how to check in with your mate – sometimes a hug can go a long way.
Maintaining friendships can be important for busy dads. Friendships are that important medium between family life and work life. But what does it mean to ‘be there’ for your mates, and how can we do this in a healthy way?
Healthy Ways to Communicate
- Approach conversations about mental health gently if you suspect your friend could be struggling.
- Words of affirmation. Let them know how much you care about them. Tell them you love them. You can make it clear that you are a safe place where they can express emotion by demonstrating it yourself through affection.
- Take the lead. Is your friend particularly shut off, considered the ‘strong’ one? You might find if you start by talking about the things going on in your life and head, they follow in your steps.
- Ask if they want a hug? Sometimes a big hug really does help when someone is hurting, so don’t be shy. It’s good to ask first, in case they don’t want physical touch in that moment.
Here are some example prompts to trigger a conversation regarding mens mental health:
“You can talk to me, I’m here to listen to you – I care.”
“Talking about things is good, what’s been getting you down?”
“How are you feeling in yourself recently, let’s talk about it?”
“It’s okay if things aren’t okay, let’s talk it through and figure out what we can do.”
Even if a friend doesn’t want to chat straight away, if they need to in the future they will know that they have your support.
Ideas for Meet ups that Don’t Involve Alcohol
If you are concerned your friend is relying on alcohol / substances, it’s even more important to be aware of choosing the right meet up spaces. Alcohol can make people spill things before they are ready; This can have negative effects on them in the following days or weeks if they weren’t prepared for the depth of the chat.
Taking the kids to football can create a great opportunity to chat with other Dads and your friends.
There’s also the added temptation to wash away the conversation with a night out afterwards (and feel even worse the following day!). It’s a sticky spiral.
Being there for your friends doesn’t necessarily mean opening a whole can of worms. You don’t have to get into the nitty gritty or delve into their childhood. Simply show support by spending time together, and checking in. To approach conversations in the healthiest way, let’s look at other ways you can hang out without getting boozey…
Take a walk together. Drive somewhere beautiful. Fresh air and green spaces set a good environment for reflection. Having a countryside walk and a chat allows you to walk it off and get fresh air. This gives space and time for you both to talk about what’s on your mind.
2. Café Meet Ups
“I couldn’t go without my monthly coffee catch up!” – Anonymous
Grab a hot drink and a pastry. Or push the boat out, treat yourselves to lunch! If your mates having a bad time this gets them out of the house – possibly out of a bad headspace – and into another without the temptation of alcohol.
“I think a lot of men use golf as a reason to talk when they feel unable to ask for help.” – Anonymous
Golf is known to improve both physical and mental health. Men’s Health report on a study that found that ‘golf is a certified stress reliever’. Doing a sport with friends regularly can build up confidence, self-esteem and physical health as well as strengthening friendships. Doing sport together is a good way to get endorphins flowing in a healthy way (without booze!). Get’s you all out of the house and opens windows of opportunity to check in on each other. So, why not invite your mate to go play?
Noticing Signs that your friend might be struggling with their mental health.
Some warning signs that someone might be struggling with their mental health include:
- Speaking negatively about life
- Obsessing over work life as a distraction
- Consistent low moods
Men typically struggle more to reach out. This makes it more important to check in on mates in case they are trying to mask their feelings, to be ‘strong’ and ‘manly’. There is no shame in asking for help or checking in on each other.
Encourage them to open up but don’t be pushy. You can do this by explaining that you are here for them. Providing them space to talk about how they are feeling and allow them to do it at their own pace.
Follow this link for advice on what to do if your friend is showing serious signs, such as suicidal thoughts and worrying behaviours: When You’re Worried About Someone
At the end of the day, you still need to think about yourself and your family. You are always in your right to set boundaries with your friends.
It’s all well and good being there for each other, but there’s a limit to offloading. If one of your mates is constantly offloading onto you, let them know your boundaries. If their behaviours and mental health seem worrying or out of hand, direct them towards some free services and platforms they can use:
Services / Platforms to support mental health care and fitness:
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check in on each other!