The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness.
Kindness is defined by doing something towards yourself and others, motivated by genuine desire to make a positive difference. Research shows that kindness and our mental health are deeply connected.
Being kind to yourself
Being kind to yourself can boost self-esteem, reduce stress and improve feelings of confidence and optimism.
Some of the ways in which you can be kind to yourself:
Prioritise some “me” time so you can relax and reflect.
Treat yourself to something small like buying or planting yourself some flowers.
Do something you enjoy like listening to a favourite song or piece of music or reading a book.
Spend some time in nature, which is good for your wellbeing.
Do something creative.
Talk a long bath.
Being kind to others
Evidence shows that helping others can have a positive effect on your own mental health and well-being as well as having physical health benefits. For example:
Helping others feels good - When you help others, it promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness. Helping others improves social support, encourages us to lead a more physically active lifestyle, distracts us from our own problems, allows us to engage in a meaningful activity and improves our self-esteem.
It brings a sense of belonging and reduces isolation - Being a part of a social network leads to a feeling of belonging.
It helps to keep things in perspective - Helping others in need, especially those who are less fortunate than yourself, can provide a real sense of perspective and make you realise how lucky you are, helping you to achieve a more positive outlook on things that may be causing you stress.
It helps make the world a happier place – Acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place. It can also encourage others to repeat the good deed that they’ve experienced themselves – it contributes to a more positive community.
The more you do for others, the more you do for yourself - Evidence shows that the benefits of helping others can last long after the act itself by providing a ‘kindness bank’ of memories that can be drawn upon in the future.
It reduces stress - Positive emotions reduce stress and boost our immune system, and in turn can protect us against disease.
It helps get rid of negative feelings - Negative emotions such as anger, aggression or hostility have a negative impact on our mind and body. Engaging in random acts of kindness can help decrease these feelings and stabilise our overall health.
It can help us live longer - Giving and helping others may increase how long we live. Studies of older people show that those who give support to others live longer than those who don’t.
Some of the ways in which you can be kind to others:
Call a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while or someone you know is going through a tough time.
Email or text someone that you are out of touch with.
Send a present to someone out of the blue.
Tell your family members how much you love and appreciate them.
Help with household chores.
Say thank you to someone who has done something for you.
Evidence shows that being kind really does improve your wellbeing. What’s more, the more you do for others, the more they are likely to do for you. One act of kindness can lead to many more!
Mental Health Resources
Should you be concerned about your mental health please contact your GP. A list of other sources of support can be found on the following NHS website by clicking the below button: