What do we mean by kindness?
You may recognise the expression “it is better to give than receive” but did you know this is backed up by research. People who are kind and compassionate see clear benefits to their wellbeing and happiness. They may even live longer. Kindness can also help reduce stress and improve our emotional wellbeing as well as improve mood, self-esteem and happiness.
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. If we take the time to be kind to other people, we can reap the emotional dividends. It can really make a difference and especially for people who are vulnerable or struggling.
Now is the time to re-imagine a kinder society that better protects our mental health. Kindness is choosing to do something that helps others or yourself, motivated by genuine warm feelings. Kindness or doing good often means putting other people’s needs before our own. It could be by giving up our seat on a bus to someone who might need it more or offering to make a cup of tea for someone at work. There are so many ways to help others as part of our everyday lives. Good deeds needn’t take much time or cost any money.
Although acts of kindness for other people can make us feel good, we need to also keep in mind why we’re doing it – which is for their benefit, not ours. Part of being kind is considering the feelings of others, so it is very important that your kindness is something which others will find helpful. Kindness is something that needs to benefit both parties.
Acts of Kindness
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, out of the blue
- Find out if a neighbour needs any help with shopping
- Ring someone who is on their own, or video call them
- 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 say hi to colleagues and ask how they are – whether that’s face-to-face, or virtually if you are working from home
- Offer to support colleagues who may not be familiar with videoconferencing or new software that you have already used
- Set up a virtual coffee/lunch club – with your regular colleagues and with new ones
- Have a conversation with a colleague you don’t normally talk to
- Get to know a new member of staff – it is hard to join a new workplace under these restrictions
- Lend your ear – listen to your colleague who is having a bad day
- Say thank you to a colleague who has helped you
- Praise a colleague for something they have done well
In public places
- Follow the rules on social isolation – but don’t make negative assumptions about others
- Wish a passer-by a good morning or afternoon from an appropriate distance (2 metres or more)
- Be a considerate cyclist/driver
- Pick up some rubbish lying around in the street
- Smile and say hello to people you may pass every day, but have never spoken to before from an appropriate distance (2 metres or more)
On social media
- Take time to reach out online to people you haven’t seen for a while
- Write something nice or encouraging on a post you appreciate
- Acknowledge and validate someone’s story – if they are having a difficult time you don’t have to have all the answers, sometimes a like or a brief ‘I’m sorry to hear this, is there something I can do?’ is enough to make them feel heard
- Think about what you share – look at the source of the post, and the tone. If it isn’t kind, think twice. If something could upset others and you feel you need to post it, use a trigger or content warning
- Think about your comments and replies. Try not to say nasty things, or pile on where somebody questions another person’s actions
Evidence shows that being kind really does improve your wellbeing.1 What’s more, the more you do for others, the more they are likely to do for you.11
With this in mind, we’re suggesting that we all try to help others once a day for a week and see if it makes a difference to how we feel.
You can take joy in being deliberately kind – whether by recognising the time you have for your kids or partner, to speaking more to family, or by volunteering in your community.
Be kind to yourself
- Prioritise some “me” time, so you can 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 in nature, which is good for our mental health