Staying in touch with friends, colleagues and others we're socially connected to is important for our emotional and physical wellbeing. But if you know someone who's having a tough time - perhaps through bereavement, illness, redundancy or another of life's challenges - you may have noticed they haven't been in touch lately.
If you've ever hit a rough patch yourself you'll no doubt realise how easy it can be to feel cut off from your friends and colleagues, and also how difficult it can be to ask for support. That's why it's important to reach out to those in the ICAEW community who are having a hard time and who risk losing contact with their support network.
According to Action For Happiness compassion when others are in distress is at the heart of happiness and flourishing communities and societies. There's also plenty of evidence to suggest helping others is beneficial for your own mental health and wellbeing - so in reaching out to someone in need you'd be helping yourself too.
The Mental Health Foundation's guide entitled Doing good does you good outlines some of the ways helping others can benefit you, including the following:
It feels good
Helping other people promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness. It may also distract you from your own issues and boosts your self esteem.
It keeps things in perspective
Doing good for those in need can give you a real sense of perspective and help you be more positive about things that may be causing you stress.
It could help you live longer
Studies of older people show those who support others live longer than those who don't.
Acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place, says the charity. It can also encourage others to do good deeds too, and contributes to a more positive community.
What can you do to support the ICAEW community?
If you're reaching out to someone in the ICAEW community who's in need, here are some suggestions to help get you started:
1. Be sensitive
When you first get back in touch, try to be a good listener before doing anything else. Really pay attention to what your friend or colleague is saying and plan your actions accordingly. If you have something in mind, tell them how you would like to help them and ask if they would be okay with it before jumping in at the deep end. Try not to force your help on them - it could make them feel worse.
2. Think small
You don't have to perform a grand gesture to show an old friend or colleague that you care. Small gestures such as sending someone a text message to let them know you're thinking about them, or having a chat over the telephone can make a huge difference.
3. Lend a hand
If your friend or colleague is feeling overwhelmed or needs support, offer to take some of the strain away. You could for instance help out with some household chores, walk their dog, do their shopping, look after their children for a few hours or offer to help them with a tricky project at work.
4. Encourage activity
Many people who are going through a tough time can feel isolated and low. If this is the case, try to think of ways to get your friend or colleague to be more active, ideally outside of their home environment and with other people. Physical exercise can really help lift someone's mood, so ask them to join you for a walk around the park. You could also ask them to keep you company at a dance or exercise class, or to join you in playing a sport.
5. Keep it up
After reconnecting initially stay in touch every few days - but try not to make a nuisance of yourself, especially if the person you're trying to help particularly values their privacy. If you call them too many times you could end up driving them away. But a quick ‘hello' to find out how they're doing every few days or so can help them realise someone out there cares for them.
6. Suggest that they contact CABA
Remind your friend or colleague that CABA offers lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members and their families, including spouses, life partners and dependent children up to the age of 25. So whether they've fallen out of touch with us recently or have never contacted us before, we're still here to help them whenever they need advice, practical help, guidance or just someone to talk to.
We're here to help 24 hours a day on the phone or online. Call us on +44 (0) 1788 556 366 or chat to one of our advisers online.