Kindness helps build relationships and allows us to share in the best elements of humanity while also boosting our mental health and the mental health of those around us. Kindness is something to be celebrated but it’s often something that can get lost in the busyness of day-to-day life so this is a great opportunity to cast the spotlight on it.
Kindness and Mental Health
According to the Mental Health Foundation: ‘Kindness is defined by doing something towards yourself and others, motivated by genuine desire to make a positive difference’. Research has demonstrated that kindness creates a sense of belonging and acts to ease feelings of isolation, which may be more prevalent now than ever before. Kindness to ourselves can help boost our self-esteem and improve feelings of optimism, which could be just what we all need.
One Act of Kindness
Kindness shows courage because there is a risk involved. That risk might be rejection, looking foolish, being taken advantage of or any number of other things. This means that kindness is courageous and something we should all be commended for.
This pandemic has brought many uncomfortable and sometimes insurmountable issues for millions of people but it also brings a host of opportunities and one of those opportunities is to focus on what positive work we can do in our world. Kindness tends to operate with a ripple effect and we could find that just one act of kindness has on onward effect that starts a chain reaction of positive change. If we are kind in nature that is invaluable but this time is to focus on applying kindness is a real and practical way.
Your Kindness Task
Spend some time thinking about what would make you feel good and then plan it out. Directing kindness towards ourselves gives us a great opportunity to reflect on just how great it can feel to be on the receiving end of an act of kindness.
Below we have listed some ideas on acts of self-kindness but feel free to follow your own imagination and share some ideas with us and others.
- Create some deliberate quiet time in your day
- Buy yourself something that brings you joy
- Take time to re-watch your favourite movie
- Say three kind and positive things about yourself
- Have your favourite meal
- Give yourself the opportunity to have the perfect nights’ sleep
- Say ‘no’ (with love) to something you just don’t want to do right now
If you would like to complete a Random Acts of Kindness calendar with your child or even your colleagues and friends, this information might help you get started. Feel free to print off the blank calendar and complete as many days as you possibly can. Being kind doesn’t just make the people we help feel better, it can also make us feel much better.
What does kindness mean?
Think about what the word kindness means and perhaps spend some time discussing this with your family or colleagues. Draw a mind map and write down some words related to kindness. How does kindness make you and them feel? Write or draw what kindness means. You can share this with your child’s teacher or email it to email@example.com and it will be displayed on the Wellbeing Hub online.
Five kind acts
Think of five kind acts you can encourage your children to do over the next few weeks. Perhaps as we can’t go out too much at the moment they can be more helpful at home. You might encourage them to be kind to a sibling or pet, or see how they could support a good cause. The same goes for the adults in the house too, perhaps the children will have some interesting ideas for you.
Remember by staying at home as much as possible we are all helping save lives – and this could be one of our kind acts for this time. Washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and water and maintaining a safe distance from others when you all have to go outside are all acts of kindness.
If you’re struggling for ideas you can always use the list of suggestions on this page.
Reflecting and sharing kind acts
At the end of the week or month you can look back on all of the kind acts carried out by you and your family and all that they have achieved. Your kindness calendar will help you remember them. When we’ve done something kind we can ask ourselves: How did it feel to be kind? What did it mean to the person you were helping? What might you do next?
Imagine if everyone in the world carried out just one small act of kindness everyday, how might that change things?
Sharing your acts of kindness
Feel free to take pictures of your acts of kindness and we will share these on our website and social media and hopefully encourage other people to be kind and give them ideas of what they can do. It might also feel good to write down three words that describe how you feel after these acts of kindness and we can share those too.
You can print out an acts of kindness calendar here to keep you inspired, or alternatively you could create one yourself and fill it in with all the wonderful things you do for others.
Six Random Acts of Kindness for today and everyday
1. Thank someone
Telling someone you’re grateful for being there to listen, cooking you a meal, taking out the bins or lending you their bike is bound to put a smile on their face. This simple ‘thank you’ shows that you really care about what they have done and that it has made a difference to you. Gratitude is proven to boost mood and happiness so it can be great for both of you.
2. Ask someone in the older community about their past
Sometimes older people may live alone or feel isolated from the rest of the community because they cannot be involved in the same way. Make them feel valued by asking them about their history and hearing their stories. A simple call or email can make a huge difference to their day but the likelihood is we will learn something valuable from them.
3. Send a friend a message
Let someone know you’re thinking about them, whether they’re going through a hard time or not. Reaching out doesn’t always have to be about asking for something from people or trying to fix things. Just a simple message to say ‘hi’ can improve someone’s mood and letting people know we’re here for them can alleviate feelings of isolation and anxiety.
4. Have a judgement-free day
If we really tuned in and paid attention to the amount of judgment we pass day to day, we might be shocked. When we encounter someone with different lived experiences and opinions to us, it can be second nature to make assumptions about them and perhaps even pass comments. It might be a judgment about how they look, what they do or the choices they make in their own life. Judging others is often a subconscious attempt to boost our own sense of self-worth, but being unkind is never going to enhance our own feelings about ourselves and it certainly won’t make other people think highly of us. When you find yourself passing judgment try to replace that negativity with at least one positive observation.
5. Donate something you no longer need
There’s a huge difference between things we want and things we need. If you have something in your house that you once wanted but no longer have a need for it and the desire has worn off a bit this might be a great time to think about donating. With certain items the best thing to do might be to sell them and donate the money raised, otherwise you might consider donating in the following ways:
Hestia: If you have an operational smart phone that you no longer use you might like to donate it to Hestia where victims of modern day slavery will be able to use it.
Unicef UK: You can donate money to Unicef UK who are helping to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus infection by providing vital medical equipment to places in the world who are already struggling with poverty. Unicef are involved in a number of different aid projects so there might be something else you are interested in supporting.
The Trussel Trust: Help the Trussel Trust ensure that nobody goes hungry by donating food to established food banks. We are likely to be in a privileged position of being able to buy and store large quantities of food whenever we need or want it. Consider those who are unable to do this and how any small gesture of kindness and generosity from us can make a change in their day.
Keep is local: If you are keen to give back to your local community you might be interested in visiting this website and seeing who needs your help in your area.
6. Be kind to yourself
Although this is at the end of our list in many ways this is the most important act of kindness. Show yourself some compassion today whilst you’re busy planning and acting out kindness to everyone else. Sometimes it is easier to give someone a compliment or take care of their needs than it is to be your own supporter. Our inner critic can be loud sometimes and it is important that we challenge what they have to say. Today, tell yourself that you are more than enough, just as you are. Recognise all of your achievements and avoid comparing yourself to other people. Give yourself a compliment and if you are speaking with genuine care to a close friend.