During social unsteadiness, mutual respectful, listening and support have never been more substantial

The recent social dispute and criticism may be frustrating and annoying to most of the ordinary residents. We may easily feel bewildered, lost or even irritated by the differentiation. In fact, we should be more calm, respectful and supporting than ever when acute sentiments occur.

Three Principles of Action

When communicating with an individual in acute sentiment, the following three principles can be adopted: observing, listening and connecting.

1. Observing

Pay attention to discover any person with the following symptoms of serious obsession among your friends and families. Those include:

The above symptoms are some of the typical examples. Most people manage to recover as time goes by, especially when assistance is offered from friends and families. However, if the trauma was disastrous, or assistance became invalid after a long period of time, the victims must not be left alone to guarantee their safety until acute sentiments vanish or profession help can be provided.

2. Listening

When we approach a patient, we must inquire if he/she is willing to be listened or to receive help. If the reply is positive, find a safe and tranquil location and make sure he/she feels comfortable by friendly gesture such as offering a glass of water. Next, we may help him/her sort out issues that should be pondered upon by inquiring his/her request and worry, but not to force and compel. If the patient becomes agitated during conversation, do not leave them alone and make every possible effort to restore a peaceful mind state of him/her.

The below approaches can be helpful to restore a peaceful mind state for individual in serious obsession:

  • Maintain a peaceful and gentle tone during conversation;
  • If culturally appropriate, try to make eye contact during communication.
  • If the patients are abstracted from the conversion, try guiding them to do the Grounding exercise:
  1. Firstly, lead them to cling both feet on the floor and feel the touch with the ground;
  2. Then, ask them to tap the knees with fingers or both palms;
  3. Finally, encourage them to focus on the inhaling and exhaling process, and to breathe mildly.

3. Connecting

People who went through traumatic incident tend to feel fragile, lonely and incapable. They are more likely to suffer from pressure and take longer to recover due to the heavy disturbance of their normal life and insufficient support from around. We can always connect them to the professional organization to provide practical assistance in order to restore their self confidence and regain possession of their own situation.

Practical assistance includes:

  • Basic needs and services provision, such as medical services, clothing, baby food. We should pay extra attention to the needs of those vulnerables and the minority;
  • Solution provision, such as to search for help from the surrounding and to give practical advice;
  • Information provision, such as the location of accurate information, when and where to gain most updated messages, and to explain the source of information and its credibility;
  • Close personnel and social support provision, such as connecting the patients with their families or religious personnel (if necessary) regularly, or to convene the patients together to offer comfort and help to each other.


Fully committed to caring and listening

During the whole observation, listening and connecting process, attitude must be constantly remained gentle and positive. Oral language and body language of both sides of the conversation are equally important, such as facial expression, eye contact, gesture, sitting or standing posture, etc. The following body parts are where our attention should be concentrated on:

  • Eyes: to show your seriousness and awareness to this conversation;
  • Ears: to sincerely listen to the patients;
  • Mind: to care and truly respect;
  • Mental State: always be calm and to show proper understanding, respect and solicitude.


Tips for Appropriate Wording and Behaviour

In today’s multicultural social background, appropriateness can be unique in various situations. Cultural background, age, gender, customs and religions differences should be taken into account when we speak and act. The following advice for appropriateness is only for guidance. It is the integrity and sincerity when we offer help to the people in need that truly matters.

Appropriate ✓ Inappropriate ✗
Fine a tranquil place to talk in order to minimize the external disturbance. To force the patient to describe their tragedies.
To keep a proper distance according to his/her age, gender and cultural background. To interrupt or compel during conversation.
To reply with nodding or ‘En’ to inform patient of your attention. To touch patient without confirmation.
To stay patient and peaceful. To be judgmental to patients’ incident or feeling, such as ‘You should not think that way’, or ‘You should feel lucky to be alive’.
To offer genuine information, regardless of you knowing or not knowing. To make up things that you do not know.
To understand their feelings, and to show reaction to their losses or acute sentiments by saying ‘I am really sorry for you lost, I can imagine your pain and anger.’ To give fake guarantee.
To accredit them when they demonstrate power and self-assistance. To give impression to the patient that you are capable of solving all problems.
To allow silence. To criticize them with wording such as ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’.


Reference:Psychological first aid: Guide for field workers. (2011). Geneva: World health organization.

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During the social turbulence, we should take better care of ourselves.

Tips 1- To monitor yourself
  1. You can always monitor your mental state through Grounding exercise. Find a quite and safe place to rest, sitting or standing are both feasible. If sitting, cling your feet on the floor and lean your waist and back to the back of the chair to feel the touch with the ground and the solid support given from your back. If standing, straight up your back and open your feet to the width of the shoulders. Rest your arms along both sides of your body. Stomp the ground a few times to feel the solid touches with the floor.

  2. Sitting or standing, you may take deep breath and focus on the feeling of your body to find out the most comfortable part of it. Then invest all awareness to that body part to gain mental steadiness.

  3. The next step is to pay attention to the physical perception to find out if: heart rate rises, breath hurries, muscle tensed, or any other body part is unwell. Simultaneously, pay attention to your emotional state as well to find out if you feel: angry, frightened, helpless, agitated, sad, worry, etc. Regarding mind and thought: if there are imaginary pictures constantly appear, or any internal conversation, thought, imagination, residual sadness or worry of future recur. When we sense their existence, accept them, and recognize that they are the normality in abnormal incidents.

  4. The voice guidance of Grounding practice can be obtained by clicking this link.

Tip 2 - Refocusing your mind

Tip 3- Make effort to maintain regular daily routine

  1. Continue your daily habit and routine even in difficult time, such as eating breakfast on time, brushing teeth and washing yourself after waking up, having shower daily, guaranteeing sufficient intake of food and water, and having enough sleep, etc. Do not underestimate these minor habits, they are substantial in preserving good feelings at all time.

  2. In insomnia or when suffering from bad sleeping quality, pay attention to ‘sleep hygiene’ - that is to stick to regular sleeping and waking time, refuse intake of food and drink with caffeine after 3pm and remain balanced between work and rest.

  3. Reserve a micro break for yourself daily - even it is merely a 3 minutes’ break. Indulge yourself in this little moment to enjoy your favorite activities such as playing video games, stretching, having appetizer you love and so on. These activities do not only reduce pressure, but also recharge our body engine.

Tip 4 - To seek assistance

Besides the Grounding exercise, you may also release your frustration by conversing with the one you trust and tell them how you really feel.

  1. If thoughts of hurting yourself appear, please call any of a psychological support hot line immediately such as: Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong(2389 2222)and Suicide Prevention Services (2382 0000).

  2. If the thought does not go away, please seek help from Integrated Community Centre for Mental Wellness (ICCMW) spread over all 18 districts of Hong Kong. Those centers are operated by non-profit organizations and free of charge. Instant help can be provided by the social workers on duty during office hours.

Grounding Tips

When you feel unsettling, frightened, stupefied, sad or interrupted by other strong sentiments, the following tips may help.

Click HERE to download the Grounding Tips (Traditional Chinese Version Only)

Click HERE to download the audio file (Traditional Chinese Version Only)

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