- generous, helpful, and thinking about other people’s feelings
With a strong focus on wellbeing in recent weeks, Mental Health Awareness Week this year seems both well-timed and much needed.
Now over eight weeks since lockdown was announced in the UK, many of us are still struggling to navigate through this alien period of uncertainty.
While some seized the chance to learn new and build upon existing skills, others have found themselves paralysed with worry and unable to motivate beyond the necessities. All of these reactions are normal responses in coping with huge shock and we can begin being kind to ourselves by remembering this.
Here at Engage, we’ve had our eye on wellbeing for some time, most recently with a working from home focus.
Having created a new People development and Culture function at the start of the year, we’re keen to step up efforts to support our team through the disruption of COVID-19.
The theme set by the Mental Health Foundation this year is kindness, which is particularly important when times are challenging.
The idea that it’s better to give than receive is backed by research; the benefits of being kind are shared. Kindness isn’t so much something we do, more something we give.
While this seems obvious, busy lives can get in the way of the thinking time we need to consider what could help those around us. Which is exactly why now is a wonderful opportunity to do something small which could make a big impact!
Kindness to yourself
Contrary to the topical content I’ve consumed, I’m going to begin with the radical suggestion that your first act of kindness should be for yourself.
In many different ways, we’re all doing our bit in this fantastically diverse world and your contribution relies on you being in good shape when you make it.
Have the sugar in your coffee, watch your favourite YouTube video again, run a bubble bath first thing in the morning, allow yourself to draw that pointless doodle, turn your phone off and read that book you’ve been meaning to make time for, cook yourself a gourmet meal and don’t let modern guilt stop you. Do it early, make it a priority.
Self-care is not narcissism. Put your own life jacket on first and all that.
And then, when you’ve created that moment of joy, however brief, you’ll be in a much better frame of mind to create more joy for yourself and others.
Kindness to others
With volunteering opportunities less accessible at the moment, perhaps explore ideas closer to home. Sending a message to say thanks, paying a compliment or reminding someone of a happy memory is as easy as ever when separated, thanks to technology.
If you’re able to head outdoors for fresh air, smile and say hi to anyone you pass. That small interaction might just give them the boost they need.
The Mental Health charity, MIND, are harnessing the connective power of social media with the hashtag #SpeakYourMind, encouraging everyone to reach out via positive messages and share personal coping tips.
Your story of navigating this time might make someone feel less alone, resonate with their experience or convince them to try something different.
While we’re all imagining what a ‘new normal’ might be, let’s try to weave plenty of kindness into the future too. It doesn’t have to be grand or extravagant, rather simple and sincere.
You may have heard the phrase “Look for the helpers” in negative situations, to shift focus to the positive. In these extraordinary times, we can all be helpers. The ‘Be Kind’ directive now feels even more pertinent, with the potential to be made more meaningful.
Why not commit to an act of kindness today, it could make all the difference.