Practising kindness this Mental Health Awareness Week

Friday 22nd May 2020

Woman smiling at manOver the past few months, we’ve been taking a look at how you can take care of your mental health and wellbeing during a time when many of us may be feeling more anxious than usual.

One of the topics we’ve touched on is kindness, which is also the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. To mark the campaign, this week we’ve been delving deeper into the importance of kindness on your mental health and how you can practise kindness in your day-to-day life.

What is kindness?

It might seem a simple question, but what does it mean to be kind?

Kindness is going out of your way to help others. It’s putting someone else’s needs before your own, and doing something good that comes from a genuine place in your heart.

Being kind isn’t about the amount of money you spend or donate – kindness often costs nothing.

Whilst kindness is often aimed at others, kindness is also about being forgiving to ourselves. Take the time to help out others, but balance this with looking after yourself.

Why be kind?

We all know that kindness can have a huge effect on others. It can make people feel good and valued, help them through a difficult time and positively impact their mental health and wellbeing.

Looking at the bigger picture, kindness can contribute to a happier and warmer society. People can learn from acts of kindness and hopefully encourage that behaviour in others.

The Mental Health Foundation has found that almost two-thirds of UK adults say that being kind to others has a positive impact on their mental health. Just one small act of kindness can also boost our own mental health and reduce stress levels. If you’re going through a bad time, it can even help distract you and keep things in perspective.

How can I practise kindness?

Without thinking about it, many of you may already be practising kindness every day. It could be something as simple as holding the door open for someone or making your family a cup of tea. It’s often the little things that matter the most to people.

If you do want to make an active effort to be more kind, there are plenty of things you can do.

To help you, we spoke to staff across Bloomsbury Institute to hear what recommendations they had on practising kindness, from practical tips to principles to live by.

Before you head out (or stay in!) and get started, it’s important to bear in mind the Mental Health Foundations’ three tips: Do something you enjoy, keep others in mind and don’t overdo it. Don’t forget the reason you are being kind and who it will benefit, but don’t let what you do become a pressure on your our own mental health and wellbeing.

Sarah, our Director of Student Engagement, Wellbeing and Success team, offers some simple tips that can really make a difference to someone’s day, particularly during this difficult time: 

  • Cook or bake something for an elderly or vulnerable neighbour or a key worker, such as your postman/woman.
  • Smile and say hello to people when you are out doing your daily exercise or shopping.
  • Swap jigsaw puzzles, books or games with your close neighbours, but don’t forget to clean them with disinfectant wipes first.
  • Facetime or Zoom with a friend or relative who you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
  • If you have a balcony or garden, leave water out for wild animals and birds in the hot weather.

Nadia, Disability and Wellbeing Advisor here at Bloomsbury Institute, also shares her practical tips: 

  • Randomly tell a family member or friend how much you love and appreciate them.
  • Reach out to a fellow student and offer to help them if you know they may be struggling with their studies.
  • Give praise to a colleague for something they’ve done well.
  • Donate to a food bank if you can.

Graham, our Business lecturer who also holds a weekly slot on Bloomsbury Radio, explores how you can be kind from a business prospective:

  • Go that extra mile with your customers and make them feel special and valued.
  • Ask you customers if there is anything you could do to improve your services or products and then give feedback to that customer to show that you have listened and taken steps to make the improvements.
  • Contact a regular customer and offer something you have for free, just because you can.
  • And if you cannot help a customer, refer them to another business who you know can.

And Maria, our Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion gives food for thought on what principles you can consider to build kindness into your day-to-day life: 

  • Do more than just hear – listen.
  • Remember to give and not always take.
  • Try making one random act of kindness a day.