Moments of Kindness
This year Mental Health Awareness week is all about ‘Kindness’ 18th-24th May.
During this week, it’s about being mindful and taking the time to attempt to make the world a better place. Celebrate and promote good deeds- pledging acts of kindness, with as individuals or as organisations. Yes, it’s going to be challenging this year due to the current COVID-19 pandemic where we find ourselves in lockdown. We are going to have to be more inventive. This is a no better time to really dive into ‘Kindness’ because of our global situation.
Kindness is not just about being kind to others, it also about being kind to yourself, which can sometimes be really hard. Take time to really invest in yourself with self-care. This is also a great time and opportunity to bring awareness to others.
Making others feel good with kindness can be really rewarding by making us feel great about our actions. By practicing kindness helps us to become happier and compassionate towards others, This has a profound effect on our own mental & physiological health.
Research shows that showing kindness to others helps increases our serotonin and dopamine levels which are our happy feel-good hormones. These boosts our own immune system, can slow the aging process, lift our self-esteem, and improve blood pressure, as this produces oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone.’ Oxytocin causes the release of nitric acid in the blood which expands the blood vessels, therefore, reducing blood pressure.
How the Brain Responds to Kindness lead us to have adverse effects on our body such as:
- resulting in a weakened immune
- weight gain/loss
It is important to remember that, positive and negative emotions are closely linked to both mental and physical symptoms. They do not work in isolation. By merely, controlling negative emotions you can have a positive physical reaction.
Think about how when you smile at someone that a smile can be infectious, well kindness is the same. Kindness has a positive effect on others that has spreads contagiously without even realising.
Kindness is something so valuable that is very often undermined and forgotten. Forgotten because we live in a society where we are constantly rushing and thinking of no one else but oneself. We live in a world that our primary communication is constant texts, emails, and social media. Let’s try and use this time to truly connect and by that, I mean pick up the phone or use video calling. There is nothing better than hearing a voice at the other end. It costs absolutely nothing to say hello or gesture a smile- a true authentic smile and greet.
With kindness, also comes Forgiveness. Practicing Forgiveness, without any underlying motive are all simple acts of kindness. This brings about great Happiness that seems to be forgotten within our society. It’s funny how we spend years searching and striving for happiness and not realising that with happiness comes kindness. Kindness is a behavioural response of compassion and actions that are selfless- a mindset that places compassion for others before one’s own interests.
How important is it to look after your mental health?
The way you value yourself
What you think about yourself
How happy you are as a person
What you do when you have knock-on effects, in your life.
A Magic Wand? There is no magic wand to stops feeling stressed, anxious, or even depressed. There are lots of actions and changes you can take to help avoid or limit these. Remember, only you can make a difference by taking control of your life and using the tips, tools, and support out there in your everyday life. In return, this will help improve your mental health and self-esteem.
“Kindness is igniting a light in someone else for no reason other than to watch them enjoy the glow” Raktivist”
Think for moment
How often do you actually and truly show kindness?
How does it make you feel when you do?
How does it impact your feelings if others do not show kindness?
Would it really affect your life drastically if you spared a minute to just simply smile at someone passing by? Perhaps, holding the door open? A smile at the check-out counter? Letting someone pass before you or just giving your loved ones a hug or saying I love you. The list is endless, and there are many more acts of kindness that can be practiced on a regular basis. I believe that many of these can be done without thinking because it costs us nothing.
Positive effects of kindness impact our mental health for these reasons
- Anxiety & Depression – kindness improves mood, depression and anxiety. Kindness stimulates the production of serotonin which heals wounds, calms, and increases happiness.
- Stress – people who are kind, age slower and have lower stress than the average person.
- Pain – kindness releases endorphins in the brain.
Feel good factor sparks happiness – Research shows that people who donate or give either money. Food or goods are generally happier overall than those who do not. They get a great sense of fulfillment.
Living longer – There have been studies that have shown that people who openly volunteer or spend a significant amount of time serving others, tend to live longer – encountering less stress and anxiety
Show kindness today and every day – Try to engage in a simple daily gesture to help someone else.
Be kind to yourself. Self-care is an act of kindness that often goes unnoticed. If you are not fulfilled or happy, then others around you will notice and the negative energy is transferred onto them.
Promotes empathy. These feelings inspire happiness and reduce negative emotions as mentioned earlier and impact positive mental and physical health benefits by starting a life-long habit of being kind to others.
Practice forgiveness – We all make mistakes, but we all have the chance to make amends and ask for forgiveness.
Donate and volunteer your time is a great way to give back to your community and it can also give you a sense of fulfillment.
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, stated: “We all have so much going on in our lives, lots of strains and stresses, and we are currently living in a combative political atmosphere. Being kind can get pushed to one side, in favour of what is urgent or what is trending now. But taking time to be kind to other people can make you feel good, help reduce stress and be beneficial for your own emotional wellbeing.”
Let’s look at other acts of kindness that improve mental health
Words matter- Interact – This is the most important one. What you say to someone can truly make a difference. In cases, it has saved lives. Gestures and words of kindness are one of the biggest things you can do to improve your mental health as well as those of others.
Look at what you consume- Eat Healthier – It doesn’t mean cutting out the things you love but finding that balance and knowing what your body needs. Form good eating habits. Look at your behaviour patterns when it comes to food.
For example, Yes, chocolate does help our moods and we often want to indulge in it but find the balance. Unsure? Speak to a qualified nutritionist and get the facts right. Check your alcohol and drug intake. Alcohol is a major depressant descending from drugs. If you are feeling low the last thing you should be doing is consuming alcohol or taking drugs. Note: Always seek medical advice.
Get your Zzzzzz’z in -Sleep – Yes, this should be an obvious one, but how many of us actually put sleep at the forefront of our priorities? This means to look at your working hours; the hours you spend looking at a screen; the food and you consume; switch off from digital devices at least an hour before bedtime; look at your routine for relaxing after work/before bedtime.
The glory of Exercise – Do we have to be a Gym Bunny? Absolutely NOT! What is recommended is that it is important to do moderate exercise. This is proven to do wonders for your mental health and wellbeing. Just by doing simple activities, especially when feeling down can raise the good feel hormones. You’ll feel more focused and energised.
These unprecedented times for sure have affected many peoples’ mental health and wellbeing. It feels that the world is not at rest and that we are fighting against a global virus- COVID-19, It is now more than ever to take action and carry out a random act of kindness for yourself and for others as much as possible.
The smallest act of kindness really could save lives- don’t underestimate the power of a smile or a hug.
“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves” William Arthur Ward
Resilience Wellbeing Coach & Co-founder of The People Skills Course