Taking extra steps to add kindness into your life

Published: 05 Jun 2020
Category: Editorial

The state of your mental health is very important. If managed poorly, it detrimentally affects health and lifestyle, and can lead to a need for medication. In recent years, greater emphasis has been placed on understanding mental health and tackling the growth of mental health issues. With the rise of ‘burnout’ in the workplace and academia, special care is needed to ensure people maintain a positive work–life balance and weather any problems that arise.

‘Kindness’ is the theme of 2020 Mental Health Awareness Week. Kindness can be defined as the quality of being generous, helpful, and caring about other people. Acts of kindness help people build a sense of community, give a positive purpose to actions and reduce stress. Stressful events (e.g. a break-up or losing a job) are where acts of kindness can make the most impact on your own mental health and support the mental health of others. Kindness can be intrinsic (kindness to yourself) or extrinsic (kindness to others), with each perspective contributing to a healthy balance and good mental health.

Be kind to yourself

Being kind to yourself provides an opportunity to reflect on your reactions when under pressure. The seeds of poor mental health can stem from a wide area of incidents in day-to-day life. Taking a step back and understanding where the stress comes from is the first step in managing mental burden. It could be poor diet, less time spent on hobbies or the lack of personal time. Take the opportunity to decide what is going wrong in the current situation and take positive action. The initial step can be small: go for a quick walk, switch off electronics for a while, or meditate. Kindness to oneself by taking positive action builds a solid base for larger issues to be tackled.

Be kind to others

If your mental health is in a positive state, take the opportunity to reach out to others who are not coping as well. Whether it is complimenting a colleague who has been struggling at work or walking around your garden to raise money for the NHS (like the wonderful Captain Tom Moore), each action promotes comradery and helps in times of mental anguish. In the current crisis, quarantine and social distancing measures have limited the opportunity to grab a quick cup of coffee with colleagues and friends in day-to-day life. This does not mean the opportunity is completely lost, however! The plethora of video call apps provide a new opportunity to catch up with family and friends, especially across different countries and time zones. ‘Old-fashioned’ methods of contact, like a phone call or text message, are of course still possible, and might be even easier for each party to use.

It’s good for everyone!

So, on the next occasion when work pressures become overwhelming or someone you know is struggling, take the time to extend an act of kindness. It will help everyone's mental health.

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