Showing and receiving kindness

In May this year, the theme for Mental Health week was “Kindness”. This theme was chosen as a result of the pandemic and as a reminder to people to remember to be kind to those around them and especially to themselves. This word has been on my mind for the past few weeks, and I thought it would be fitting to speak about it in this week’s blog since many of us are continuously facing challenges as a result of the pandemic, and our general daily lives.
 

What is kindness?

Kindness is a very simple term that is used when someone is being generous, friendly, and considerate. if a person is showing kindness to someone they might be showing some form of affection or gentleness towards the person, or their actions might be those of concern that exhibit warmth towards that person.
 
Showing and receiving kindness really gives you a warm and loving feeling inside.
 
Many people often believe that being kind and showing kindness, by being affectionate, warm, gentle, and caring, is considered being weak. Some also attribute this characteristic or act as being more feminine than masculine. However, being kind and showing kindness is not gender-specific. It often requires courage and strength to be kind. It requires some level of emotional intelligence as well. For you to take the time out of your day to remember someone else to simply check up on them, or give them something, is one of the most unselfish things you can do. Depending on how you show kindness to someone, it also puts you in a vulnerable position. Being vulnerable with someone takes a lot of courage. Weak/weakness is, therefore, definitely NOT a word that should be associated with kind/kindness.
 
 
 

What does kindness have to do with our mental health?

Our mental health is largely influenced by our thoughts, behaviors, and the social support we have, or don’t have. Performing acts of kindness towards others allows our relationships with others and ourselves to get stronger and deeper. According to research by the University of London, three hormones are stimulated when we give an act of kindness. These three are:
 
  • oxytocin, which aids in keeping our hearts healthy, increasing self-esteem, and lowering blood pressure
  • Serotonin- this is the hormone that helps us to feel happy and calm; also called the “feel good” hormone
  • Endorphins- this hormone helps to give us a feeling of euphoria, especially when exercising and acts as the brain’s natural pain killer.

Benefits of being kind

Boosting our feel-good hormones- oxytocin, serotonin and our endorphins- are not the only positives behind showing kindness to others. The Mental Health Foundation in the UK and the University of London‘s research posits that the act of being kind, also called being altruistic, can result in people experiencing some of the following:
  • Feeling good for helping others
  • Feeling a sense of belonging
  • Reduces the feeling of being isolated/ wanting to be in isolation
  • It helps us keep things in perspective with how we view others, ourselves, and the world
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. 
  • Higher energy levels, feelings of optimism, and self-worth.
  • Increased social connection and meaningful interactions.
  • The potential to live longer, more fulfilling lives
 
 

Who to show kindness to?

Yourself

Showing kindness to others is important, but sometimes we don’t take the time to show kindness to ourselves. YOUR mental health, YOUR mood, YOUR well-being, is just as important as everyone else’s in our lives. Take the time to look after yourself first! You will be in a stronger position to help others if YOU are feeling good. A couple of ways you can start showing kindness to yourself include:
  • Saying positive statements to yourself in the mirror- “I am good enough” and “I am beautiful”
  • Taking a break when you need to and just relax
  • Treat yourself to a movie or your favorite dessert
 
 

Friends & Family

It’s very easy for us to think that the people in our lives know that we care, love, and appreciate them. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Many people wonder if they are appreciated by their friends and family. Some even wonder if they have people in their lives they can call “friends”. 
 
Take the time to show your family and friends that you appreciate them by:
 
  • Making the time to have lunch, eat dinner or go for a drive together
  • Set aside quality time for a virtual catch-up to ask a friend who is living overseas how they’re feeling – this could be someone you know might be feeling a bit overwhelmed right now or having a challenging time.
  • Send someone a funny or uplifting video.
 
Performing acts of kindness benefits, not just the receiver, but also the giver. Notice the way you feel after you do something for someone and their facial expression alone creates warmth and happiness inside of you. Notice how you feel the next time someone randomly checks up on you, buys you lunch, or maybe even simply gives you a hug. Kindness is something we should all feel and give.
 
Give a little kindness to someone or yourself today!

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You’ll feel good about it!

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