be kind to your mind during Winter

with KIND’s mental health lead, Harry

As the nights draw in and temperatures fall I will be focusing on kindness, and its undeniable power to support our individual and collective mental health. I’ll be sharing my personal thoughts, reflections and tips based on two themes; being ‘kind to yourself’ and being ‘kind to others’.

Kindness requires action, and it is within the action where the true power of kindness comes to life. Often, when people are carrying out a kind act or reflect on their ‘good deed for the day’, it can fill them with joy and improve their own well-being in the process. Not only that, but that person or group of people who are the recipients of the kind act itself, will often also feel a sense of joy and happiness associated with the action. In its simplest form, kindness can bring us closer together and the reciprocal benefit of a kind act, is needed now more than ever, in these uncertain times that we find ourselves living.

It is within those very small acts of kindness to ourselves and to those around us, that we witness monumental benefits and gains to our mental health and overall wellbeing. Throughout 2020 we have witnessed remarkable kind acts that truly deserve to be celebrated. The efforts of Sir Captain Tom Moore are a true embodiment of the power of kindness. The world was in awe and people rallied to support him and his amazing work. People were united in their support for Sir Captain Tom Moore, and it instigated more people to carry out kind acts. This kind act created a concertina effect, whereby people became so energized by what they were witnessing, that they to wanted to replicate or do something in a similar vein (an act of kindness to themselves or to those around them). This was echoed in the efforts of the nation during the 2.6 Challenge where individuals took on their own challenges to raise over £11million for UK charities.

I feel these examples are  important today. Not only do they fill me with joy, but they  also give me real hope and inspiration. I’m certainly not saying that every kind act will snowball to the size that we witnessed with Sir Captain Tom and the 2.6 Challenge, but what I do believe is that our individual efforts to be kind to ourselves and those around us, can support our overall wellbeing. It shows me that our collective mental health can be supported by our individual efforts.

As the Mental Health Foundation recently stated: ‘kindness has the singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practice to be fully alive’ (Rowland, 2020).  

So, during lockdown and, in what has been a difficult year for many people, let’s come together and be that bit kinder to ourselves and those around us. Let’s not be hard on ourselves, let’s make sure we are taking time for those things that support our physical and mental health, but let’s unite and be there for those around us.

Be kind to yourself

  • Are you holding yourself accountable for looking after your body and mind? Let’s take a moment to pause and check in with how we are doing.
  • Take time to stop and reflect. Perhaps, try breaking your normal routine? Personally, I love to spend time outdoors – especially in the autumn! That said, I also love a full day of relaxing on the sofa! Both allow me to fully reset and recuperate.
  • It’s important to carve out time for yourself, daily. I try to do something that makes me happy, nobody else – just me! Exercise has always been something that I need to carve into my day. I come away from exercise feeling stimulated and so much better about myself, I know I need to embed this into my everyday structure.
  • Last but not least – Please remember, there is always support available and rest-assured you are never alone. We have added a list of some amazing charities that can offer support and guidance.

Be kind to others

  • Today, let’s find time to reach out to someone in our network, community, family that we haven’t spoken to for a long time. The power of small connections is immeasurable – by checking in with someone, you may truly have a sizable impact on their well-being. It’s the small things that we can all do that can make a big difference.
  • If our gut instinct is telling us that somebody is struggling, let’s be active to help that person. Let’s be that person that you would want by your side, if you were ever struggling.
  • Let’s surprise someone with a kind act.
  • There are some amazing resources available for us to use and signpost people to. We have included 3 of those below.

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – helpline 0800 58 58 58

Samaritans – helpline 116 123

Hub of Hope