Mental Health Awareness Week (18th-24th May) this year (2020) is themed “kindness”, simple but effective – the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.
During this global pandemic, communities have pulled together and shown kindness to one-another, through the most difficult of times it has given people hope. For the first time, mental health has been on the daily agenda – let’s keep this going!
Being kind to others lets them know that they’re not alone. Even the smallest act of kindness can have a big effect, perhaps and text, a phone call or a plate a cookies left on the doors step, these things say “I’m thinking of you and I care”.
My first blog this week asked you to say to someone “how are you, really?” – have you tried it? Did you listen to the answer? How did it go? The conversation doesn’t have to be incredibly deep and heavy, just meaningful and meant with kindness. It’s a way of connecting and could have a profound impact on that person.
This pandemic crisis is putting a lot of strain on relationships because spending enforced time together can be incredibly difficult! If relationships are frayed, I’ve heard some people say it helps to stand back and think “what’s best for the relationship?”. It might be hard, in the moment, but showing the relationship some kindness could save it in the long run. If, however, you’re living with an abuser, this is entirely different, I sincerely hope you can find support to leave.
If you receive kindness you feel good but an act of kindness, boosts the mental health of the person who gives it as well! Thinking of someone else can lower stress and improve mood!
Being kind to ourselves is important too. Most of us can think of ways of being kind to other people but when it comes to being kind to ourselves, we’re stumped! At this time, you may have had things taken away from you that you usually enjoy, it might be hard to find new things to treat yourself. Try these things to show kindness to yourself:
- Plan a period of time that’s just about self care for you – reading books, watching TV, having a bath, playing music, doing things that you really like
- Try a new creative hobby – perhaps drawing or painting
- Get an early night – take time to prepare yourself and the bedroom, perhaps listen to a audiobook or podcast. Make sure the bedroom is dark and not too hot or too cold.
- Write down your feelings in a journal – if you don’t know what to write, just start writing anything and see what happens.
- Join a support group (online) to get ideas from other people about how they’re kind to themselves
- Act opposite – have a pyjama day if you’ve never it! Or, if you’ve not got dressed for a few days, find some lovely fresh clothes and get dressed.
- Note down 3 things each day that have gone well and reflect back at the end of the week/month
- Call a mental health helpline to speak to someone about how you’re feeling
Sometimes we need to turn away from unhelpful habits that may be harming us in order to show kindness to ourselves. Drinking too much, talking harshly to ourselves, eating too much or too little, going to bed late, stifling emotions or many other forms of self harm. As we grow up we set ourselves some core values that come to define our character; step back for a second and consider if these are benefiting you or harming you? It won’t be easy but could you let go of some of these a little to give yourself a break?
I challenge you this Mental Health Awareness Week, you can choose, being kind to others or being kind to yourself (or both if you like!). Whichever you choose, do 1 act of kindness each day, if you think you need accountability, keep a journal and write down the 1 thing you did each day when you’ve done it. After a month, look back and reflect on the difference it’s made in your life.