It’s Mental Health Awareness Week (for why it should always be click here) and the theme is being kind. It’s definitely the perfect time to be talking about this topic given what is happening in the world. More than ever it’s important to be kind to each other and it seems like we’re getting the message. Captain Tom has raised nearly £33 million for the NHS, his original pledge was £1000. This is a incredible feat made only more amazing by the fact that he has just celebrated his 100th birthday. Speaking of Tom’s, Tom Hanks replied to a letter he received from a kid whose was being bullied for having the name Corona. He told the boy “You are the only person I’ve ever known to have the name Corona – like the ring around the sun, a crown.” And sent him a corona typewriter asking him to write back.
Kind to Others
Those are just two examples of people being kind to others which have sprouted during the pandemic. But we don’t all have to become involved in grand sweeping gestures. The little things count too or in the words of Tesco: “every little helps”. As I wrote in a previous blog post, the small, everyday kindnesses are often the ones that go unnoticed on the big world stage. But we shouldn’t underestimate the huge impact they can have on a person – to – person basis.
One example of someone doing their bit is Ellie who has founded Corona Cards. She’s recruited a few people to create cards and send them to those who may be isolated or ill or just generally need a bit of cheering up. You can request one for someone else or for yourself. Because being kind doesn’t always mean money and whilst fundraising is hugely important, we can’t underestimate the value of putting a smile on someone’s face.
Being Kind to Ourselves
If there’s a second lesson we have learnt during this pandemic it’s being kind to ourselves. Many of us struggle with this on a daily basis. But, some of us, myself included(!) have decided to use this time at home to focus on being kind to ourselves and investing in some self-care.
This is a brilliant use of our time and we can think of this quite broadly. Being kind to ourselves may include investing time in new hobbies, strengthening relationships virtually, taking up new exercise, building new routines and de-cluttering our living space but also our minds.
But a focus on self-kindness right now also comes with it’s own challenges. In some ways it may be easier. We’ve finally got the time to do it, which is often our biggest barrier to self-care. Without the daily commute or pressure to socialize, the ability to run to the shops or do numerous other chores we have time on our hands we can invest elsewhere. Having said this, being stuck at home possibly with others means we may be bumping heads and tempers may flare. It may also be harder to maintain our boundaries and have some time to ourselves when space, rather than time is at a premium.
Being Cruel to Be Kind
If you read my blog post on mental health inspiration from two weeks ago, you’ll be familiar with one of my favourite self-care quotes: “don’t set yourself on fire to keep other people warm”. To me this gets to the heart of the matter. It is, in some ways, easier to say ‘yes’ to everyone else but a lot harder to say ‘yes’ to ourselves. And it’s time that changed. Whilst it’s amazing to make yourself available to those around you and spread kindness, we need to ensure that a ‘yes’ to others isn’t a ‘no’ to ourselves.
There must be a balance which allows us to still be the wonderful and giving person that we are. And the sort of mythical person who puts themselves first. Knowing that this is not a selfish act but is in fact the epitome of selflessness. Being ‘cruel’ to others, by sometimes saying ‘no’ or even ‘not right now’ enables us to be kind to ourselves. And this self-kindness gives us the energy and capacity to support those around us. When we find this equilibrium our kindness becomes bi-directional and everybody wins.
So, my challenge for you on this Mental Health Awareness Week is to give this some thought. How can we find the balance of kindness that will nurture both ourselves and others? Can saying no become an act of kindness and empowerment rather than an act of defiance or selfishness?
As always I’d love to hear your thoughts. Whether you’re channelling kindness inwards or outwards let me know how in the comments!