The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation (of which I have been a proud ambassador for the past 6 years), is Kindness. This theme was chosen as a specific response to the current pandemic in the hope that by encouraging and celebrating kindness, we can collectively help to improve peoples’ mental health during this time.
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Now more than ever, we need to re-discover kindness in our daily lives. We want to use Mental Health Awareness Week to celebrate the thousands of acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health. And we want to start a discussion on the kind of society we want to shape as we emerge from this pandemic. One thing we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing in uncertain times, helping people to connect and communities to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Kindness is simply defined as the quality of being friendly, compassionate or generous. It is one of the most powerful and beautiful gifts we have within us and it has the most incredible effect on the mental and emotional wellbeing of both the giver and the receiver. When I speak to people who are feeling lost or low, or who are just having a rubbish day, I’ll often say to them “just go and do something kind for someone else without expectation of anything in return.” As my mum always told me growing up, ‘it’s nice to be nice’. There is no greater joy than making someone smile or doing something kind for someone else. It gives you a sense of purpose at times when we need it and it gives us this innately good feeling within us. I genuinely believe that the majority of us are born kind and that when we act on it, and show kindness to others, we are honouring our true nature. And of course, as any of you reading this will know, when someone does something kind for us, especially at a time when we are not feeling our best, we feel seen, valued, appreciated and loved. All of which gives us an increased sense of wellbeing.
Kindness gives us an opportunity to connect to one another, whether that is to someone you know and love, or to a stranger. Kindness literally connects humanity and I actively take time every day to observe all the acts of kindness people are offering each other across the globe during this time and it genuinely fills my heart with joy to witness it.
Here are some simple acts of kindness that you can offer someone you love or a stranger that cost nothing at all:
- Offer a safe space of non-judgment
I don’t think there is anything kinder than allowing someone the space to be completely themselves. There is something liberating about being around someone and being able to just be you, without fear of judgement. Offer that space to those you love by accepting them as they are, not who you want them to be, and giving them the opportunity to express themselves without criticism.
- Check in
Never underestimate the power of the simple question, “how are you feeling today?” Make an effort to check in with your friends and family, ask how they are, and actively listen to them. During uncertain times, people can feel overwhelmed, fearful and alone. Hearing from a friend can be just the thing to turn someone’s day around!
- Support their fundraiser
So many people are making incredible efforts to raise money for various charities. Rather than scrolling past, take a moment to donate to their fundraiser if you can, or simply send them a message of encouragement and appreciation for what they are doing.
- Give someone a compliment
How often do you have a nice thought about someone but not take the time to tell them? Next time you have a thought that is complimentary, say it out loud. It takes no effort at all, but can cheer someone up when they might really need it. Boosting each others’ self esteem is a beautiful thing to do and I always encourage people to do it more.
- Express Gratitude
Always take the time to say thank you to people for whatever they have done for you, no matter how big or small. Cultivating gratitude into every area of our life is so important for our overall wellbeing, plus it makes those around us feel valued, appreciated and respected.
Have you ever exchanged a smile with a stranger and noticed that you feel instantly uplifted? It gives you a feeling of connection that is so important especially during this time of social distancing. Plus, smiling has been proven to improve our mood, release endorphins and reduce stress.
Kindness is contagious, so sprinkle it everywhere! Let’s make the world a better place together, Love Roxie xx