The art of intentional check-ins

Posted by Kelly Dare on

New Zealander's are feeling tired—not all of us—but many of us have a low resilience battery after dealing with uncertainty for over a year. And that's exhausting! 

One of the things that I've loved doing over the past few weeks is intentional check-ins with the people I care about, both personally and professionally. 

What's an intentional check-in?

An intentional check-in goes beyond simply asking, "how are you?" in the morning. Instead, it's about setting up the space and time for someone to tell you how they're really doing. 

We've all been guilty of saying, "oh, you know, I'm great", when it often isn't that simple. We all have good days and bad days, and look, I've had a bad month, in all honesty! 

A deliberate check-in with people gives the time and space for people to explain how they're really feeling, and what that looks like for them. 

While having meaningful conversations over Zoom or Teams can be difficult during a lockdown, there are a few things that I like to do to set myself and the person I'm talking to up for a good deep and meaningful. 

Make it intentional

Set aside the time and call it what it is: an intentional check in on their wellbeing. This means that the person can be in a comfortable, relaxed environment, and you can be too. I like to do these from an armchair in my office or bed (depending on the friend!). If you're able to do it in person, maybe it's going for a walk or after dropping some goodies off at their house. 

Try to use video or Facetime

Being on video calls can be exhausting, so check if this will work for the person you're talking to! The reason I like video calls is that so much of our communication is non-verbal. It's much easier to notice if someone is down if you can see them. 

Don't judge

Avoid saying anything that might be misconstrued as judging or shaming. While it's sometimes tempting to say "right" or "ok", try to follow up statements with something like "how long have you been feeling like this" or "I'm sorry to hear you're dealing with this".

Give them time, and space

Try not to dominate the conversation. Let them fill the silence. This encourages them to keep sharing, and you're more likely to get a view of the whole picture. It's also signalling that you're there to listen and are letting them guide the conversation. 

What's next?

Setting up the next time to check in or encouraging them to reach out to a professional is vital. For some people, seeing a therapist makes them feel ashamed for needing extra help. Reassure them that putting your hand up and asking for help is brave and strong. For others, seeing a therapist is out of their financial reach. There are lots of organisations around New Zealand that offer free or low-cost counselling options. I've linked a few of them at the bottom of this page. 

Continue to chat with the person—knowing that someone gives a shit can profoundly impact their wellbeing.

Looking after you

This is the whole put your oxygen mask on first piece. It's not your responsibility to have all the answers or solve all their problems. You can be a listening ear, but you don't have to be their only support. 

Using Kōura to help them

Remember, that the Digital Download is free - and you can send loved ones a physical journal anytime! 

Some places for support

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time.

Talk to a trained counsellor or call:

  • the Depression helpline – 0800 111 757
  • Alcohol drug helpline – 0800 787 797
  • Gambling helpline – 0800 654 655

Healthline – 0800 611 116 – to get help from a registered nurse 24/7.

Lifeline – 0800 543 354

Youthline -  0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat

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