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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Cee

Mental Health Week's Theme is Kindness

But, what does that really mean and how can we be more kind?

So, I'm on a bit of a downer today and there's a few reasons why.... firstly, I've just launched the digital version of See Say Signpost campaign and despite it being met with lots of enthusiasm and praise, for me it's been a coping tool, something to focus my mind on during all the madness happening around us. And, now that I've gone as far as I can with it at the moment, I kinda feel a bit lost; I call it post-project blues because I reckon it's to do with all the excitement (dopamine?) and pride (serotonin?) of doing and finishing it and it's a bit like a come down of all that now. I've spent the last few weeks obsessing about it and now I think I need to let it go, after all, I have loads of other jobs to do and it would probably fill the void that this project has now left.

However, there's a few other things that's 'gripping my shit' at the moment and for the want of going off on a rant about it (which I'm trying very hard not to do publicly on my Facebook account now), I'm really trying to let off some steam in a productive way, so I'm getting it out of my emotional mind (primitive brain) and trying to work through it in my intellectual brain. So, where was I, oh yes, kindness.... I suspect this theme has been selected firstly as follow on from Caroline Flack's untimely death earlier this year, and then followed by the most adverse phenomena that we're currently going through, thanks to something we'd never even heard of, let alone contemplated at the beginning of 2020. Yes, the Coronavirus has completely changed all of our lives in ways that we never expected, and for many, they will never be the same again.

Social media has probably been a lifeline for many like myself who have found themselves isolated and in need of ways to communicate in these strange times. Yet, the same people who changed their profile picture with the 'Be Kind' frames are the very same who have become self appointed judge and jury to people who might not be following the government's very ambiguous guidelines to their own interpreted standards. While I joined the naysayers myself and had a (hormonal) public moan about local people doing the conga in the street during VE Day, I do find that there seems to be a lot of window twitching and criticism of people who we have no idea what is going on in other people's lives. So I have reminded myself of my late mother's saying that 'people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones' and never before has this rang so true. Who the hell am I to judge what someone else is doing, I'm just trying to get through life the best way I can.

So 'kindness' - how can we be more kind? Well, I googled it and found plenty of hints and pretty much self explanatory.

  1. When you believe in someone, tell them directly. Convey your support to them.

  2. Consider kindness before you speak.

  3. Spread kindness that you have received.

  4. Be mindful of how you treat others.

  5. Don't discriminate who to be kind to.

  6. Set an example.

  7. Practice good intentions.

  8. Feel good about it.

  9. Reach out when it is less likely others will.

  10. Try to be kind every day.

There are loads of ideas here too:

I have to say I get a real sense of worth and pleasure out of being kind to other people; I try not to go over the top and I simply can't afford monetary based kindness as much as I'd like. But it's in the little things, being positive, smiling to strangers, helping someone with their bags, or holding a door open. I've been doing bits of shopping for my neighbour who is petrified of going out during the crisis, and although I'm struggling with my mobility, I'm happy to feel as if I'm some sort of use to someone. If I remember I try to do something nice for someone every day - which is harder now we're restricted from going out, but even if it's inboxing someone I haven't been in contact with just to say 'how are you doing' - letting people know you care.

I think it's also about being kind to ourselves. I know put a lot of pressure on myself and have a tendency to pull myself down for things, not being as mobile, feeling ill or not bothered about doing things and I have to remind myself that it's ok to give myself a break. Every day doesn't have to have some sort of challenge attached to it, even if I have got a to-do list as long as my arm, it's totally ok not to have to cross something off every day - just getting through the day in tact can be a challenge in itself these days so I'm going to say here and now - yeah, I'm actually doing the best that I can.

Another word for kindness is compassion and this is something that I've delivered in workshops with Samaritans called Working with Compassion. It has some really great advice and a section called Listening Tips which gives a handy acronym 'SHUSH' - I think we call learn some good tips and definitely helps to remind ourselves to practice every single day.

So let's be kind to ourselves first so we can be kind to other people and hopefully get some of that Karma flowing both ways.

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