Mental Health Awareness Week 2020
Kindness matters. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week.
The theme for 2020 is Kindness. #kindnessmatters
The Mental Health Foundation works to prevent mental health problems and is the home of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Mental health problems can affect anyone, at any time. Mental health is everyone’s business and we need to start talking about it more.
Lots of things affect our mental health. Things like our living conditions, body image, support system (or lack of), nutrition, activity levels, sleep and physical health.
So why focus on kindness?
One thing that we have seen all over the world over the last few weeks is that kindness is prevailing in uncertain times.
We have learnt that amid the fear and loneliness of COVID 19, there is also community, support, love and hope.
I have witness numerous acts of kindess in my local community.
I have seen my kids show kindness to others, my colleagues at work do lots of wee thoughtful extra things for patients and have experienced the kindness of others first hand.
Clearly, doing something kind for someone will benefit them. Helping others is an obvious motivating factor for people.
But there are other positive outcomes to helping others.
Being kind to others is good for our own mental health and wellbeing.
It can help reduce stress and improve your emotional wellbeing.
Kindness and COVID 19
The impact of COVID 19 has been severe and far reaching.
As a society we have had to deal with the loss of tens of thousands of lives. Many of us have been personally affected by the loss of a loved one. Some families have lost several members.
But there is also economic fall out. The division of wealth has increased and thousands are struggling to feed themselves and pay basic bills.
Allowing this to happen without acting is not showing kindness.
We must aim to come out of this pandemic with a greater sense of community and kindness towards one another.
As the Mental Health Foundation state in their mission statement for this Mental Health Awareness Week:
Kindness could transform our schools, places of work, communities and families. Let’s shape a society that tips the balance in favour of good mental health, for all of us, but especially for those who are most vulnerable.
So what can you do?
There are lots of things you can do that will make a difference to someone else’s day. It may be that small gesture that makes a big difference to their mental health.
Kindness Matters: Kids have the right idea.
When you look at little kids its clear to see that we, as human’s are biologically wired to be kind.
Children hold out their hand to share their food-even if it its sometimes half chewed.
Kids walk up to strangers and smile with abandon. They rush to help when someone falls or hurts themselves. They offer a hug when they see someone crying
So what changes?
So what changes? Is it embarrassment? Fear? Lack of confidence? Selfishness?
Maybe modern life has rendered us all too busy, too distracted?
Perhaps it’s a mix of all of the above but at some point we become hesitant to help.
With positive role modelling, encouragement and a bit of practice we can really hone this natural ability as we grow.
Furthermore, we can learn how to leave a positive mark on the people we encounter on a day to day basis.
Kindness Matters: It’s good for your health.
Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that when we do something nice for someone else we get a release of feel good hormones. Endorphins and serotonin (the happy hormone) are released leading to the feeling referred to as ‘helper’s high.’
When we hold hands with someone or get involved in a hug, another hormone called oxytocin is released.
This cause a reduction in blood pressure and also makes us feel happier.
Helping others also helps you focus on someting outside your own life.
So, even if your own life is a bit stressful, doing something nice for others can help you take a break from that stress and give you a few monents out of that situation.
Added to that, the positive hormonal changes that come with being kind can help reduce your own stress.
It’s also a great way to build relationships with other people. Lastly, studies have shown that being involved in acts of kindness on a regular basis can improve your self confidence and self esteem. as well as reduce levels of depression and anxiety.
Kindness Matters: start a kindness cascade
It has been shown that if you do something kind for someone else they will be much more likely to perform an act of kindness themselves, often to more than one other person.
So you see, it only takes one person to start a kindness cascade. Watching the ripple effect spread is amazing.
As you can tell, I’m a big believer in the power of kindness and it’s ability to improve out mental and physical wellbeing on a personal level and as a society.
Small things make a big difference and COVID won’t stop us
The concept of kindness being far more important than just giving someone a few brief moments of happiness has been raised by many people over the last few years.
Simple things like saying hello to someone makes a difference. Giving them a few seconds of your attention and the warmth of your smile is a small, but significant, act of kindness.
COVID restrictions don’t prevent us from smiling at one another.
Kindness Matters: Some ideas to try.
- Check in on your neighbour: chap their door or leave a note to check that they are ok
- Volunteer: Got a spare hour or two? Why not see what voluntary organisations could use your help. lots of places are offering support via telephone just now
- Call a friend: Know someone who might just need a wee chat? Give them a call. Have a friend who has been a bit quiet recently? Pick up the phone.
- Pay someone a complement: Why not take the time to pay someone a complement each day?
- Make someone in the family a cup of tea without them asking
- Send someone a letter: Even if it’s someone you speak to every week, take a few minutes and write them a letter. They will appreciate the thought and effort.
- Let someone go in front of you in a queue
- Tell someone who has helped you how much you appreciate it: think about people working hard to stock the supermarket shelves or the people delivering our mail and emptying our bins.
- Support a charity: why not find a local charity and offer some support.
- Be kind to yourself: Take time this week to do something you enjoy. Put yourself first and don’t feel guilty about it.
For more blogs on kindness and mental health check out
For more information on Mental Health Awareness Week 2020