WRITTEN BY MEGAN L.
One thing can make all the difference…
This year, the theme for Mental Health Awareness week was shifted from ‘Sleep’ to ‘Kindness’ in light of the pandemic. Now more than ever, it’s important to show kindness to yourself and those around you.
From the Mental Health Foundations’ latest update, we are left with this thought:
“We want to use Mental Health Awareness Week to celebrate the thousands of acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health. And we want to start a discussion on the kind of society we want to shape as we emerge from this pandemic.” (Mentalhealth.org.uk)
This is such an important statement and we should be reflecting on this time as a time to create change. Small acts of kindness to help everyone stay connected and protect our mental health. Already, it has been amazing to see so many of us coming together in a time need to demonstrate this and too see how kindness is prevailing. Ranging from:
- Charities creating and distributing food parcels.
- Those who are volunteering to shop for the more vulnerable.
- Companies that are stepping up in anyway that they can by either; donating to charities or the front line and making personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Overwhelming groups of strangers coming together to celebrate a common cause by weekly clapping for our front line hero’s. (Thank you to the entirety of our front line hero’s globally. You are all amazing!)
- People donating accommodation, creating online fitness classes and educational/creative classes for children.
- TV presenters helping out by discretely promoting the domestic abuse helpline number, for those who may need it the most.
- A UK Teacher walking five miles each day to delivery free school lunches, to the children and families who are struggling.
(… Just to name a few!)
Thank you to all the unsung hero’s doing your random acts of kindness each and every day!
What random act of kindness could you set out to do?
- Reach out to your friends and family, particularly those who maybe struggling.
- Call a family member you haven’t spoken to for a while.
- Have virtual catch up’s.
- Offer to help a neighbor who maybe vulnerable, elderly or self-isolating (If you can).
- Donate to a charity (If you are able)
- Volunteer to your local charity to help deliver food parcels or sign up to ‘check in and chat’ with the people who are isolating alone. (If you can)
Don’t forget about yourself in the process…
I also want to take a moment to remind you, that it is just as important to be kind to yourself. Being kind to yourself is not an easy task, particularly if you are struggling with a mental illness. Mental health can be cruel and the majority of people find it easier to be kinder to others than to themselves.
During difficult times social media and general media overloads can be daunting. It can become too easy to slip back into any negativity and anxiety over what you should be doing during this time. A pandemic doesn’t have to be a time where you become the ‘Best’ version of you. It’s a time to look after and be kind to yourself and others. An achievement doesn’t have to be physical or academic. An achievement can be getting up that day, finding something that makes you smile. Everyone has their own journeys and everyone is at different stages of their own. You will have time to set out and do the things you want to, it doesn’t have to be now.
The science behind it all…
Being kind to yourself and others has been scientifically proven to have substantial psychological and physical benefits. Studies show putting pressure or being overly harsh on yourself triggers your sympathetic nervous system (or simply, fight or flight mode) and elevates your stress hormones, blood pressure and heart rate.
By being kinder to yourself you will:
- Allow your body to feel less under threat and be able to relax.
- Lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
- Reducing your stress levels.
- Boosting your immune system.
- Reducing anxiety and depression.
- Help relieve some chronic pains.
It does have significantly deeper and long lasting impacts than you might think. By making this your aim you will start to rewire your brain and give yourself the best chance you have at starting to heal; a new habit that is definitely worth investing in.
What does being kind to yourself mean?
Being kind to yourself means:
- Not judging yourself or hold yourself to unrealistic high standards.
- Respecting and taking excellent care of yourself.
- Trying to stop and retrain negative self-talk – we have an upcoming article where we go more in-depth about this. If this is a particular area you may be struggling with go check it out!
A lot of this is easier said than done. It’s a process; it will take some time and work.
How can you be kind to yourself?
- Not being overly harsh on yourself, if something goes wrong or not according to plan.
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive and encouraging people.
- This is perhaps up there with one of the harder things to do but try not to compare yourself to others. (Who wants to be a carbon copy of someone else anyway? You’re great as you are!)
- Treat yourself how you would a loved one.
- Think, “What do I need?”
How can I be kinder to myself whilst self-isolating?
Pick a self-care activity you enjoy and stick with it. Find a place for it within your daily routine.
Find something that makes you laugh; laughter is proven to reduce anxiety.
Talk and connect with friends and family.
If you feel up to it, increase your daily physical activity: this could be as simple as meditation. A consistent activity level enhances a better sleeping pattern and ‘feel good’ hormones.
If you are able to, spend some time outside to switch off and reconnect. Alternatively check out some of the great program’s being streamed to help connect you with the outdoors or maybe catch a live stream of the local zoo.
Say ‘no’ to things you really don’t want to do.
Don’t feel like you have to be an over-productive working machine!
If you have any pets, spend more time with them.
Binge watch some new series’ or your favourite films. Try your hand at baking some new treats to accompany your movie marathon! (Since everyone seems to be mass-producing banana bread)
Do whatever it may be you need to do at that time, to get you through.
Put you and your mental health first and don’t feel bad about that!
This is a difficult time and it is normal to not feel like yourself and struggle. The most important thing to remember is, that particularly now more than ever, you are not alone and you will get through this.
Give yourself a break. You’re doing great!
If you would like any more information, tips and advice from looking after your mental health, working from home, finance and housing, please visit:
If you are struggling with any Mental Health afflictions or want to access any mental health services, please visit:
NHS Every Mind Matters:
Mind Support Services:
Day or night contact a Samaritan:
Call: 116 123
Email: [email protected]