This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and it’s a week that’s very close to my heart. As a meditation teacher, supporting people’s mental health is a big part of my work. Particularly as not managing my own stress very effectively was what ultimately led me to setting up Food At Heart.
But it’s also a slightly strange one this year as this week is normally one of my busiest when it comes to events and workshops. To say this year is slightly different is a bit of an understatement.
If anything, talking about mental health is more important than ever as we deal with our new world of Covid-19 and lockdown. Everyone single one of us is being challenged in one way or another at the moment.
It’s why I’m so pleased that this year’s theme is Kindness.
Being kind can sometimes feel a bit of a ‘meh’ thing to think about with everything else that’s going on in the world. But not only, in uncertain times, is this an area of our life that we can genuinely control (i.e. how kind we are to both ourselves and others), but being kind is a really important tool for boosting mental health.
Being kind doesn’t need to be big or grand (though it might be, if you’re Captain Tom Moore walking 100 laps to raise colossal amounts of money for the NHS). It’s the everyday, small acts that build up and ripple out. Kindness comes in many forms, from the individual to the organisation.
I’ve therefore put together my own suggestions for 7 acts of kindness over 7 days.
This is not supposed to be exhaustive list, but is intended light a little kindness spark – and see what glows on from this!
7 Days, 7 Small Acts of Kindness
Monday. Offer a kind word or smile to someone you see in the street or at a shop (you might even like to offer a word of thanks to someone working behind the till).
Tuesday. Take 2 minutes to sit in silence during your day. This is particularly self-kind if you have a busy day or a busy household. Kindness isn’t just about what we can do for others; it’s also about how we can care for ourselves.
Wednesday. Post or share something joyful or kind on social media. This might even be to support rather than criticise someone. You could perhaps even check your response if you’re about to leap into a ‘Twitter furore’ and offer a kind word instead.
Thursday. Write and send a postcard to someone you care about but haven’t been able to see in a little while (or to someone you think might need a boost). There’s something truly joyful about receiving something heartfelt and handwritten in our time of mostly electronic communication.
Friday. Pick up some rubbish. For most of us, our outside exercise time has been extended so as you’re walking around you may notice a little rubbish lying around. It’s easy to leave it and think it’s someone else’s job, but it’s a kind thing to do for your neighbours (and the environment!) to tidy up. Take a glove with you for protection and just pop it in the closest bin. If you’re very organised you could take your own bag and grabber, and do a mini-litter pick.
Saturday. Bake some delicious biscuits to share with a neighbour, partner or family member (I highly recommend this Homemade Hob Nob recipe I tried over the weekend). It doesn’t matter if you think you can’t cook as it genuinely is the thought that matters. And if you don’t have an oven or really, really can’t cook, you could even buy a pack of Hobnobs or Ginger Nuts to gift to someone you know will enjoy them.
Sunday. Support a small business. This could include buying something, but it might actually be to share a post or to tell a friend about them. Or to send a message to say you love what they are doing. There are human beings behind these businesses, and many are struggling in the current environment. I can tell you from firsthand experience how amazing it has been to have this kind of support during the lockdown.
How could you be more kind – this week and every week?
Want to find out more? Here’s some further reading…
The War for Kindness by Jamil Zaki
The Transformative Effects of Mindful Self-Compassion – article by Kristin Neff & Christopher Germer