Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 18-24 May 2020 and the theme is ‘KINDNESS’
Now more than ever, in the current lockdown that we are all living through, is the time for kindness and compassion for others. Every day in our newspapers and social media, we read and hear of all the small acts of kindness by people to friends and family, communities and strangers all over the world. These are selfless acts that shows how people choose to put other’s needs before their own.
You are probably familiar with the expression “it is better to give than receive”. This is not just a meaningless phrase. Research shows how beneficial being kind and compassionate is to your own wellbeing and happiness by reducing stress and anxiety. By taking the time to be kind to other people, we can reap the emotional dividends and in turn it will really make a difference, especially for people who are vulnerable or struggling.
Now is the time to re-imagine a kinder society that better protects our mental health.
Kindness doesn’t just have to apply to interactions between friends, families & communities, it could also be incorporated into business decisions, government policy and official systems in a way that supports everyone’s mental health and also reduces discrimination and inequality. The start of this is of course by individual commitments to showing kindness in our words and our actions.
The Definition of Kindness…
Kindness is choosing to do something that helps others (or yourself) which is motivated by genuine warm feelings.
Kindness, or doing good, often means putting other people’s needs before our own. It could be as simple as giving up your seat on a bus to someone who might need it more or maybe offering to make a cup of tea for someone at work.
Evidence shows that helping others benefits your mental health and wellbeing by reducing stress as well as improving mood, self-esteem and happiness.
There are so many ways to help others as part of our everyday lives. Good deeds needn’t take much time or cost any money.
The Health Benefits…
Studies show that acts of kindness are linked to increased feelings of wellbeing. Helping others improves our support networks and encourages us to be more active which in turn improves our self-esteem.
Helping others is one way to create, maintain, and strengthen social connections. It also creates a sense of belonging and reduces isolation (such as volunteering at a food bank or charity shop).
There is also some evidence that being aware of our own acts of kindness can increase feelings of happiness, optimism and satisfaction.
The Way Forward….
By continuing with acts of kindness and increasingly factoring them into our daily lives, we all have the potential to make the world a happier place. It is within our power to boost feelings of happiness and optimism throughout our communities, one small step at a time.