Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness week which runs from 18-24th May. This year’s theme is kindness, which can have huge implications good mental health.
Now more than ever, in situation we all find ourselves in, a little bit of kindness can go a long way. Surrey FA’s Football Development Officer for Diversity and Inclusion, Tamsyn Woodman, has put together her top tips of how to be kind to others.
1. No act of kindness is too small.
Small acts of kindness can make a huge difference, especially in a time where we’re all a bit disconnected from people. The tiniest thing may well brighten up someone’s day at a time where they’re feeling extremely low and alone, having not seen friends and family for weeks. Something as seemingly insignificant as letting an older person go ahead of you in the queue, or smiling at a staff member in the supermarket and tell they they’re doing a great job and you’re grateful for everything they’re doing- can be the difference between someone feeling alone and potentially depressed, and feeling connected and happy.
2. Pass it on.
If you’ve ever had a random card in the post from a friend just to say that they’re thinking of you, or a family member order a surprise delivery for you, or a loved one dropping by (pre-lockdown!) to say hello and bring you some flowers, then you know the power of kindness! So don’t keep it to yourself, pass it on! When someone does something nice and unexpected for you, try and make a point of then doing something kind for someone else. It doesn’t have to cost anything or take a lot of time, just a message or text to check in with someone and tell them they’re great, or picking up shopping for a neighbour who is struggling. If the chain of kindness can be maintained by passing it on, the world would be a much happier place!
3. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.
Often we’re much harder on ourselves than we are on others. If you wouldn’t say it to someone you love, then don’t say it to yourself- try to be kinder, more forgiving and practice self-care more often. We tend to hold much higher expectations for ourselves than we would for those around us, and punish ourselves when we don’t meet our own impossibly high standards. Kindness comes from within- so be kinder to yourself and you may find that your own mental (and physical) health is better for it!
4. Celebrate kindness!
Do you know someone who has done something wonderfully kind and has made a positive difference, or have you done something like this yourself? Then shout about it! The world could use a little positivity right now- take Captain Tom Moore’s amazing fundraising for the NHS and the amount of volunteer community groups recently set up as examples. These things are wonderful acts of kindness that can inspire others to do the same and spread positivity and joy in a time where it’s truly needed the most. Why not share an act of kindness online during Mental Health Awareness Week with the hashtag #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek? You may be surprised by what it inspires others to do and the impact it can have on your own mental wellbeing!
5. Channel your inner Ronan Keating.
The age-old saying of, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” applies in particular to social media. People often forget that on the other end of the keyboard is a real person with real feelings. It’s actually less effort to not type out and post a critical comment- think to yourself, “Is my opinion really needed here? Will it help? Could it be hurtful?”. You never know what the person reading it could be going through, and even if you think it’s just a joke, tone doesn’t translate well on the internet and it could significantly impact negatively on someone’s mental health. So channel your inner Ronan Keating, as sometimes both online and in person, “You say it best, when you say nothing at all”.
6. Be brave with your kindness.
We often think that what we do doesn’t matter or get noticed, or we want to keep our heads down and don’t want to look silly or get taken advantage of. Sometimes acts of kindness need a bit of courage, to step outside of your comfort zone but it’s worth it for the effect it will have on someone else, and the effects it can have on you too! There are a million different ways of being kind- some much bigger and riskier than others- but the benefits will always outweigh the negatives. Start small and build it up- you won’t regret it!
7. Build kindness into your day to day life.
You don’t have to raise millions for the NHS or bake a cake for everyone in your street to demonstrate kindness- it’s important to build the little things into our daily lives so that kindness becomes part of who you are. Adding a few items to the foodbank donation whilst doing your supermarket shop, making a point of every post you put on social media being positive, or setting time aside each day for some self-care means that kindness becomes commonplace- an integral part of yourself, and part of society. As the saying goes, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind”.