Hi and welcome back to Mental Health Monday with me, The Spoonie Mummy. Today I thought it was only right to acknowledge the start of Mental Health Awareness Week which starts today in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation.
The theme of the week this year is KINDNESS. I thought that was a perfect topic to do a post about today and hope you all enjoy reading.
Kindness is an interpersonal skill and is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. Often people confuse kindness with weakness or naivety, but actually, being kind often takes strength and courage.Words associated with kindness include warmth, gentleness, concern, care, sympathy, tolerance,, tenderness, humanity and affection.
As you know, I am currently studying psychology and have been looking at the science of the mind this year. Part of my studies have been about the evolution of the mind. For me, I was looking at this from an anxiety point of view which actually leans towards us not really evolving since the days of the caveman – I will leave the ins and outs for another post but it is an interesting way of understanding anxiety.
However, being kind does show that as humans we have evolved. From the survival of the fittest mentality, which indicates a good deal of selfishness, we now have research which shows that being kind is the most important predictor of satisfaction and marriage stability. More research has shown that sharing resources brings a lasting sense of wellbeing, as opposed to keeping more and more for yourself.
There are many simple, small things that can be done every day to demonstrate kindness. A smile, holding open a door for someone struggling with lots of bags or a pushchair perhaps, saying thankyou or giving a compliment are just a few ideas. When giving a compliment ensure it is honest and make it personal. Don’t simply tell someone they look lovely – making it personal to them, for example saying “I love that shade of lipstick on you” ensures the person you have really taken the time to notice them.
You could also show kindness by celebrating someone else’s success, noticing when a person is struggling, refusing to gossip and telling the truth in a gentle way. Opportunities for this type of thing have become so much higher since social media has come into our life, which can be a hotbed for negativity if you are not careful.
Many of the every day kindnesses now cross into our lives on social media. For many, social media can be a place that is fun, social, interesting and informative – but for others it can be a place of bullying, gossip and unkindness.
One thing you can do is to cultivate your social media to be a place of positivity, in whatever way that means for you. Don’t follow people who cause you to feel sad. Many platforms now have the option to ‘mute’ people if you are worried about what will happen if you hit the ‘unfriend’ button. They won’t know about this and it means you do not have to see their content. There is also the ‘blobk’ button which you should utilise in any cases of bullying. Follow accounts which will inspire you and make you smile.
Often people will try and explain their behaviour by saying they are just being honest. If these opinions were not invited, they are not needed, for example telling someone you don’t like the dress they are wearing when they post a family photo is unnecessary. They weren’t asking for opinions on what they were wearing, simply sharing a happy moment. You can be kind and gentle when telling the truth. You should be in a trusted relationship with the person you are communicating with and making constructive criticism, rather than simply expressing a view. The basic rule of staying quiet if you can’t say anything nice (or constructive) should always be adhered to.
If you can’t say nuffin’ nice,
don’t say nuffin’ at allThumper, Disney
Showing kindness to ourselves is also really important for our mental health and wellbeing. Self care has become a little bit of a buzz word lately, but I am not talking about trips to the nail salon or weekends away – although those might be nice! Simple things like ensuring you are drinking enough, going to the toilet when you need to, eating properly (not just the kid’s leftovers) and taking a little time to do things that you enjoy, hobbies like reading are all important You may want a soak in the bath rather than a quick five minute shower, or take a social media/tech break.
Not only will this help you but will also demonstrate the importance of being kind to yourself to your kids. They learn best when they see behaviour being modeled, rather than just being told what is best but never seeing it in action.
With all that being sad, we have had our world turned upside down recently by the Covid-19 pandemic. Although things may look a little different now, we can still demonstrate kindness to our community, to ourselves and on social media.
Seeing people put rainbow pictures in their windows and coming out every Thursday to clap for our keyworkers has warmed my heart lately. It may seem like something little, but the effort that people have made to show appreciation will not have gone unnoticed and has helped bring people together.
Following the government guidelines is also a way we have been able to show kindness to our community. Washing our hands and staying socially distant to help prevent the spread of the disease are all ways of us showing kindness to our fellow humans. It may feel difficult to show kindness in lockdown but as demonstrated here, there are so many different forms of kindness, which can still be done while we isolate
Across the world it has been recognised that people need to show and receive kindness to obtain a sense of wellbeing. Show an act of kindness towards someone, start a ripple. These people will then take this and carry it on and those ripples become waves that reach further than your own family and community, they can be spread around the world. And in all this never forget yourself – although the desire to take care of others first may be strong and understandable, there is a reason you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others.
I would love to hear about your acts of kindness this week – given or received, small or big. This morning I received a message from someone on social media. I gave them some advice a while ago about how taking a step back from social media may be beneficial to them. My act of kindness came back on me today, as he sent me a message to say that he has been doing this more and more since I suggested it and it had really helped him. Him taking the time to pop me a message of thanks really gave me a boost after the last couple of rough weeks and it was good to know that in the end, we helped each other out. I hope you are all well, keep safe and take care,