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October 18th, 2023 | Edition #15

How Are You - For Real?

Truthful Answers That Won’t Freak Out Your Friends Colleagues

“Hi, how are you?!” We’ve all asked this question, and we’ve all given at least one of the following responses: “Great!” “Not bad.” “I’m fine.” And while sometimes we really are doing great, sometimes we also really are not. So how should you respond when someone asks how you are, and the truth is, you’re not okay?

TIP #1: Something Funny

Humor is a great way to smash right through those eggshells we’re conditioned to walk gently upon when it comes to discussing our feelings and admitting we’re struggling. WonderMind, a resource for exploring and discussing emotions and experiences, has a few great suggestions. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • “One minor inconvenience away from crying in public.” This is almost guaranteed to be the last response your grocery store cashier is expecting. But honestly, sometimes it’s true! On days when you sleep through your alarm, spill your coffee on your favorite shirt, and accidentally send a screenshot of a text to the person who originally sent it, admitting that you’re thiiiiis close to a meltdown can be really cathartic.

  • “Filled with caffeine and existential dread.” First, this is a great way to explain exactly how you may be feeling, and sometimes just saying it out loud can help you feel better. Second, put the espresso down and step away! Research shows that while caffeine doesn’t necessarily cause anxiety, it can worsen its symptoms. Particularly in people with panic disorder, too much caffeine can increase the risk of panic attacks.

TIP #2: Something Vague

While voicing how you’re really feeling is a great step to feeling better, it can be difficult. Before responding, consider your relationship with the person you’re talking to. Being honest with a family member or close friend may feel more comfortable to you than unloading on a coworker or supervisor—and that’s okay. Authentic but vague responses such as “looking forward to the weekend” are absolutely appropriate for situations in which you don’t totally feel like divulging.

TIP #3: Something Honest

They do say honesty is the best policy. So, if you’re comfortable opening up to the person who’s asked how you’re doing, go for it! It’s important to remember that being honest about your feelings is not a sign of weakness, but rather, a sign of bravery. As far as how much to share, that’s totally up to you. Make sure you’re talking to someone you trust who will value your vulnerability.

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Riveredge Hospital

Riveredge Hospital offers a comprehensive variety of mental health services, including inpatient and outpatient care for children, adolescents, and adults. Among these services is a variety of support groups that are tailored to participants’ needs and age. Riveredge also partners with NAMI Metro Suburban to provider support to families of someone with a mental illness. To learn more about Riveredge Hospital and their services, click here; follow the link at the bottom of the page to request an assessment today.

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RUSH Oak Park Hospital

According to Jeanette Lee, a social worker and therapist at Rush, “[s]tress and anxiety are part of everyone’s life…. Just naming what you’re feeling can be helpful”. Rush’s department of Psychiatry and Psychology Services offers a variety of services ranging from therapy to medication. Lee reminds us that doctors are used to talking to people with anxiety, and can work with you to find the best option for relief. If you feel you may benefit from talking to someone,

call 888-352-7874 or visit their website today.


(708) 622-9223

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American House Senior Living

“How are you?” We hear this so often during the day, our replies become automatic; “Fine” or “Good, thanks!” Passing several people in the hallway of your senior community, the question is generally more of a greeting and simple answers are best. However, when asked directly in a quieter setting, how does one respond? If the person is a caregiver or a close friend, you have the opportunity for emotional

connection. If neither, it becomes a matter of “reading the room.” Is the person looking for genuine conversation? In either case, if you are interested in chatting it’s best to simply ask. A fun retort may be, “Do you want the long answer or the short one?” or more directly, “How much detail would you like to hear?” Then you can converse accordingly. If you want to keep it short, but give a sincere reply, think of something positive and share it quickly, “Thanks for asking, I’m having a great day, my son is visiting.” In this case, the opportunity for conversation is presented, and whether it occurs or not, the exchange is pleasant and genuine.

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For more great health and wellness tips:

Visit our Wellness Wednesday page below to view all of our past Wellness Wednesday newsletters and learn about the great tips and ideas we've shared. Stay tuned for more!

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