Kindness and your mental wellbeing by Sarah Preedy, Assistant Clinical Director in Wigan, North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Last December, Caroline Flack shared this message on Instagram – “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Since her sad death earlier this year, this message and the hashtag #BeKind have been shared across social media urging people to think more carefully about the impact of their words and their actions.
For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (18 to 24 May), the Mental Health Foundation has chosen to focus on kindness and this year, more than ever, it feels as though we’re really recognising the value and importance of kindness.
So, what is kindness?
Kindness is doing something for others or yourself, which is motivated by a genuine desire to make a positive difference. It’s being friendly, generous and considerate. Qualities you might think of when you think of kindness are someone who is gentle, patient, caring, open-hearted, giving, non-judgemental and welcoming.
Everyone has challenges. You won’t always see or know what these are but kindness is about showing compassion and empathy towards others even if we don’t really understand their actions. It can take strength and courage to show kindness in these situations but for that person, it may be the gesture of support that they really need.
Showing ourselves kindness is also important. Instead of being self-critical, self-kindness means being patient and accepting of our perceived flaws and inadequacies.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t spend time comparing yourself to others instead spend time practising self-care, take time to do things you enjoy, be kind to others, rest and set boundaries (it’s okay to say ‘no’ sometimes).
The value of kindness
Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. When someone treats you with interest, concern and consideration it makes you feel like you matter.
Being kind and receiving kindness boosts self-esteem and confidence and can help distract you from your worries and anxieties.
Acts of kindness can improve feelings of confidence, being in control, happiness and optimism.
Random acts of kindness can also encourage others to repeat the kind act that they’ve experienced – it contributes to a more positive community!
Random acts of kindness
Why don’t you see how many of these random acts of kindness you can carry out and see how it makes you feel?
- Hold the door open for someone
- Let someone into your lane while driving
- Send a letter, postcard or note to someone who may be isolated and lonely
- Give an honest compliment
- Let someone who wants to help you, help.
- Say hello
- Make time to call or text a friend you haven’t spoken to for a while
- Check in on someone you know if going through a tough time
- Thank someone you appreciate
- Think before you speak
- Donate to your local food bank
- Don’t join in with gossip about someone
- Help an elderly neighbour
- Let someone know you’re proud of them.
Small, simple acts are exactly how change happens and as the ancient Greek author Aesop once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Throughout Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ll also be sharing information, ideas and celebrating your acts of kindness on our social media channels so share your stories via on twitter to @NWBoroughsNHS using the hashtag #KindnessMatters or like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nwboroughsnhs
You can also get involved in Wigan’s #BeKind movement by visiting: www.wigan.gov.uk/bekind
For more ideas about how you can support this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (and for a range of fantastic wellbeing resources) visit: www.mentalhealth.org.uk