This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and whilst we all have so much going on in our lives including competing strains and stresses, not to mention the current Coronavirus pandemic, this can see kindness pushed to one side in favour of what is urgent or trending now. If we take the time to be kind to other people, we can reap the emotional benefits and ultimately really make a difference, especially for people who are vulnerable or struggling.
The Mental Health Foundation have written a guide to show the positive impact helping others can have on your own mental health, including some tips and suggestions to inspire you. The full article can be read here.
Helping others feels good
Studies have found that acts of kindness are linked to increased feelings of wellbeing. Helping others can also improve our support networks and encourage us to be more active. There is some evidence to suggest that when we help others, it can promote changes in the brain that are linked with happiness.
It creates a sense of belonging and reduces isolation
Helping others is thought to be one of the ways that people create, maintain, and strengthen their social connections. For example, volunteering and helping others can help us feel a sense of belonging, make new friends and connect with our communities. Face-to-face activities such as volunteering at a food bank can also help reduce loneliness and isolation.
It helps keep things in perspective
Many people don’t realise the impact a different perspective can have on their outlook on life. There is some evidence that being aware of our own acts of kindness, as well as the things we are grateful for, can increase feelings of happiness, optimism and satisfaction. Doing good may help you to have a more positive outlook about your own circumstances.
It helps to make the world a happier place – one act of kindness can often lead to more!
Acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place. An act of kindness can boost feelings of confidence, being in control, happiness and optimism. They may also encourage others to repeat the good deeds they’ve experienced themselves – contributing to a more positive community.
The more you do for others, the more you do for yourself
The benefits of helping others can last long after the act itself, for those offering kindness, and those who benefit. This, in turn, can improve our self-esteem.
Acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place. We want to see a world where kindness is built into business decisions, government policy and official systems. However, we can start by individual commitment to showing kindness in our words and our actions.
At home and in your community:
– Call a friend who you haven’t spoken to for a while
– Post a card or letter to someone you are out of touch with
– Send flowers to a friend
– Find out if a neighbour needs any help with shopping
– Ring someone who is on their own (or video call)
– Send someone a handwritten thank you note
– Tell your family how much you love and appreciate them
– Help with household chores
– Offer to help an elderly or vulnerable neighbour
– Check on someone you know who is going through a tough time
– Remember to virtually say hi to colleagues and ask how they are working at home can be lonely for some
– Offer to support colleagues who may not be familiar with video conferencing or new software that you have already used
– Set up a virtual coffee/lunch club
– Have a conversation with a colleague that you might not speak to daily
– Get to know any new members of staff – it is hard to join a new workplace under these restrictions
– Lend your ear – listen to your colleague who might be having a bad day
– Say thank you to a colleague who has helped you
You do not need to be hard on yourself if you haven’t learnt that language you said you would at the start of lockdown or ran the 5k you promised yourself you would – that’s ok. If things are hard right now, try and find some small achievements such as repotting that little cacti or painting your nails in the evening.
Here are some pointers to help:
– Prioritise some “me” time – relax and reflect on how you’re feeling and how your day or week has been so far
– Turn off from your social media channels for a day, or even a week
– Treat yourself to something small, such as buying or planting some flowers
– Do something you enjoy, like listening to a favourite song or dancing in your kitchen
– Spend some time with nature, it is good for our mental health after all
There is more information about how to look after and manage your own mental health on the Mental Health Foundation’s website.
Click here to find out more.