6 Ways to show kindness during Mental Health Awareness Week
It’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, and this year’s theme is acts of kindness. Showing and witnessing kindness has a physiological effect on our bodies, producing oxytocin, which reduces stress, lowers our blood-pressure and has a positive impact on our general physical health. It also has an impact on other people, doing the same for them and making them feel cared for and appreciated. So, let’s spread some kindness this week!
We’ve broken down some different ways that you can show kindness while in lockdown. Get creative and think about what will mean the most to someone. If you always buy gifts, try another form of kindness to mix things up!
This is the cheapest gift you can give but the one that people struggle with the most. This is a very difficult time for people and many will be feeling isolated. Reaching out with a zoom call or organising an online evening with friends will go a long way. One of the biggest acts of kindness you can do is to listen. Give someone the space to talk about their worries or even just their day and dedicate yourself time listen without distractions!
- Organising a quiz night with a group of your friends and family over Zoom
- Setting aside 30minutes to message a friend about how they’re doing and have a proper conversation
- Watch a synchronised film with someone and message throughout it (we recommend watching a truly awful film so there’s lots to message about!)
By affirmation, we mean telling someone that you care, complimenting them and telling them that you love them. If you don’t naturally steer towards being affectionate, this might be a challenge, but it is worth doing all the more if this is the case! Send a message, say something nice to someone face to face or over a call, or write it in a card. Things like: ‘I had a really lovely day with you today’, ‘I miss going to the beach with you’ and ‘You’re a fun person and I really appreciate your positivity’.
- Tell someone what they mean to you and be generous and meaningful with your words
- Leaving a little sticky note on a friend’s car or gate if you’re passing by
- Download some Small Things cards & graphics to send to friends so they know you’re thinking about them and feel loved!
Doing something for someone can go a long way as a gesture of kindness. This is usually the one that people appreciate the most, as it takes time and is a gift in itself! When people are overwhelmed, an act of kindness helps to lighten their load. Think about what you most want when you’re feeling stressed. A clean and tidy workspace, one less job to do or a meal on the table at the end of a long day.
- Cooking lunch or dinner for someone, especially their favourite or one with lots of veggies to help them feel their physical best
- Make the next round of tea or coffee without being asked
- Volunteer some time to help vulnerable members of the community
It’s a classic! While we’re distancing, personalised gifts are a great way of reaching out and showing someone that we’re thinking of them. When we say gifts, we don’t mean just buying something on Amazon though. Try making something for someone and either, sending it online, posting it or dropping it round when if they’re close to where you live.
- Painting or drawing a card for someone - keep an eye out for our upcoming prize draw, where we'll be promoting some random gestures of creative kindness!
- Baking! Because who doesn’t love receiving some sweet treats! (Keep an eye on @aubsu_matter for some recipes this week!)
- Being thoughtful – is there something that your pal is missing in lockdown and unable to get that you could give them? Have they been saying that they wanted to start to learn to crochet but don’t have any wool? Could you design them a new personalised laptop background to give them the good feels every time they log in to check their emails?
When you’re out for your walk or at the shops, try sharing a smile with a stranger or saying thank you if someone steps aside to give you space to pass. Now more than ever we are very conscious of others but there’s a lot of anxiety and fear that creates a barrier between us. Help re-foster the community connection we have with others in the small ways!
- Going out to clap on Thursdays and waving to your neighbours
- Opting to support local business who might be struggling at the moment
Above all, remember to strike the balance between being kind to others and being kind to yourself. It's generally much easier to look after others and we often put it above our own needs. Take a step back and make sure that you're also showing yourself some kindness this week. If you’re more introverted, you may benefit from some dedicated time to yourself. If you’re feeling low, energise yourself by connecting with friends or family. Think about your physical needs (rest, food, hydration) but also your mental needs - it's okay to be focusing on looking after youself during lockdown. Tell yourself that and cut yourself some lack if you need it! If you're struggline, seek help.
- Taking a long walk somewhere beautiful and natural
- Do something you love; anything from painting to watching your favourite Netflix show, organising a fun online games night to experimenting with some new recipes
- Looking after yourself physically by getting an early night, cooking something with extra veggies or setting yourself a routine so it’s clear when to work and when to rest.
For more tips, visit actionforhappiness.org. This article has been brought to you by Hannah, as part of The Small Things Matter, a wider mental health campaign put together by AUBSU. We'd love to hear any feedback you have on our blogs, or the topics you’d like us to cover. Check out TSTM instagram @aubsu_matter for regular updates and TSTM page for more content. If you feel that you need further support, please contact Student Services or some other places we'd recommend.