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01 May 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week

Be kind to yourself and to other people

Kindness is a principle we can often forget, but it is a hugely important facet of our health and happiness. While we're all learning how to live our lives in the new world with coronavirus, being kind to ourselves and to other people is more important than ever, but it can also feel like the last thing we have the time or energy to do. 

The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 is kindess and Able Futures is joining the conversation about how being kind to ourselves and to other people can help us be kind to our mind.

What being kind can mean

Caring. Compassionate. Loving. Helpful. Friendly. Considerate. Kindness can mean being all or any of these things. It can take courage to be kind and it's a skill that can take a lot of practice to feel as if you've got it right.

If you asked yourself whether you are kind to yourself, a lot of people will think unkind thoughts about themselves in response - maybe you think you are "too kind" by giving yourself a treat to eat, instead of thinking kindly to yourself that you've worked hard for the food you are able to provide to yourself. It can take practice to think kind thoughts to yourself and to behave kindly to other people 

So here are some things you could think about to help you be kind to yourself and to others. 

  • Help a friend get active by asking them to join you in your daily exercise.
  • Make an extra portion of food to share with someone who needs it. 
  • Give yourself a break from self-criticism when you do something wrong. Tell yourself it's good to learn from a mistake. 
  • Let yourself get into bed an hour earlier than normal so you can relax and unwind after a long day.
  • Random acts of kindness can brighten up your day and help other people around you.

Read more about how random acts of kindness can help our mental health. 

Why is kindness important?

Human beings are social and caring species, and the principle of being kind to those around us is an instinctive characteristic. When we act compassionately and practice kindness, our brain releases oxytocin which causes chemicals to be released in our body that reduce our blood pressure and improve heart health. Oxytocin also helps us feel more connected and loved, which are both beneficial to maintaining mental wellbeing. Kindness also makes us happier and gives us a feeling of gratitude and positivity which can help us be more resilient and cope with issues such as depression. And it can stimulate the release of the hormone seratonin which is another helpful way to improve mood and help tackle feelings of anxiety and worry. 

But it isn't always easy to know how to be kind, or to feel that we are instinctively able to respond kindly to other people when something happens. Here are some ideas from Able Futures about how you can be kinder to yourself and other people this week. 

Kindness Matters Ideas

  1. Take your full lunch break – eat something nutritious, go out for a short walk and don’t start back at work until you’ve had your full lunch break.  
  2. Ask someone you work with if there’s anything you can help with – sometimes just sharing some ideas about a new task is a good way to help someone you work with relax and feel more confident about what they are achieving.
  3. Post something kind on your social media during Mental Health Awareness Week and use the hashtags #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.  
  4. Arrange to take your tea break with someone you’ve not caught up with for a while. Having a quick virtual chat while you’re both making a cuppa could be a way to ask someone if they need to talk about anything that’s on their mind.
  5. Share an inspiring story of kindness that you’ve seen in action with your friends or colleagues. 

How kind are you?

Take this Psychologies quiz to find out how kind you are. 

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