By Vickie Mitchell
18th – 24th May is Mental Health Awareness Week. Organised by the Mental Health Foundation the theme of the campaign this year is Kindness. In a time where nerves are frayed, and our mental health is stretched to its limits the theme this year is apt to our current COVID-19 situation.
Results from a survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that two thirds of adults believe being kind to others has a positive effect on their mental health. Several studies show that doing acts of kindness releases the hormone Oxytocin. This helps to reduce anxiety; blood pressure and the results also improve blood circulation which gives us that ‘rosy cheek’ look that is rumored to make us look younger so a win-win all round!
No act of kindness however small, is ever wasted.
Communication Is Key
During the lockdown period, some people are speaking to their friends more than ever through FaceTime or over a Zoom fancy dress quiz on a Saturday night however others are enjoying the solitude. When you are in communication with friends or family think to yourself when was the last time you lent an ear to ask them how they really are? Even with most of the country working from home when did you last to check in with a colleague to see how they are juggling their normal responsibilities? Maybe they are also homeschooling their children and could do with a chat? Following the Government guidelines to stay home, so many people have lost their hobbies, regular activities and contact with others. Keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues – remind them that they are not alone.
Random Acts of Kindness
The concept of Random Acts of Kindness has become quite popular in recent years! It revolves around the idea that when an act of kindness happens to you, then you pay it forward and this sets off a chain of events in which kindness affects as many people as possible in a day. It is usually trending on social media with members of the public sharing the lovely, kind gestures that other people who (they usually!) do not know have done for them – a popular one is paying for the next persons coffee whilst they are waiting! In our Motivation Monday podcast (episode 1) Joyful Jane told us about a story where a couple in Warwickshire paid for a key workers’ shopping in the supermarket and then got the supermarket to give him a round of applause!
So, how can you make a start on committing these Random Acts of Kindness? Perhaps if you have a vulnerable family member or neighbour you could deliver them (social distanced of course!) a lockdown package of their favourite foods or some flowers to brighten their day. Send a handwritten thank you to somebody to let them know how grateful you are for their presence in your life. Compliment a stranger- if you admire their shoes, dress, or tie then tell them. And of course, if you would like to sprinkle some extra kindness then go ahead and pay for someone’s shopping at the supermarket!
Doing good makes us feel good.
Get involved with a local community project
A great way to be kind in the current pandemic is to join a local community project. It is likely you will be helping to make such a difference in a life and there are multiple ways you can get involved and could help you build a sense of community that will last long after lockdown has left us. Check out your local social media pages for ideas!
Sign up for a 30-Day Kindness Challenge
There are many different versions of a ‘kindness challenge’ available now. Quite simply a calendar that lists one act a day to encourage kindness and the amazing bonus is they are also available for children to inspire kindness from an early age.
Be kind to yourself!
Lastly but by no means least – practice some self-compassion. In these unprecedented times it is easy to get caught up with a lot of emotions such as self-doubt, be kind to yourself and know that you are doing the best you can. If feelings are present that are unpleasant try practicing some Mindfulness and Meditation through the Headspace or Calm apps and remember that feelings come and go. At a time when we feel alone kindness can connect us so reach out to people you trust if you need to talk.