It's mental health awareness week and it's most timely when we are in the middle of a prolonged period of lockdown and 'normal' life, whatever that might be, seems a little beyond reach. The theme for the week is 'Kindness' and it's one of those strategies for managing mental health that comes up in most weeks of the Kintsugi Hope Wellbeing Course that we run here at Harbour in Cheshire.
Why is kindness so important as a strategy? An unexpected kindness from someone else can be so uplifting - remember when you were on the receiving end? I've been in a car park struggling to find change, when a stranger has given me what I needed (in the days before we could pay by phone!) and the rest of the day just felt that bit brighter. Being kind to ourselves is hugely important - do we talk to ourselves the same way as we would talk to a friend or are we far more self-critical?
But the really powerful kindness is the one where we are giving kindness to others. It's an antidote for depression and anxiety, as we move from focusing on our own thoughts and needs. It affirms the value we place on others and in doing so we affirm ourselves and our own values. It has the power to break cycles of unhealthy behaviours by redirecting our actions. It isn't just being kind to people that helps. One mental health unit in our area kept chickens and rabbits. Being kind to those animals, taking care of them, was therapy for the youngsters in the unit. I guess the proof of that is that we are now left with a couple of rabbits in our garden whilst daughter is living life to the full and independently! Being kind to the earth is also a self-esteem boost.
So, what will you do to surprise someone else with kindness this week? To boost their own mental wellbeing, and in doing so boost your own?
Mental health is a continuum that we all move around on. If you want to learn more about strategies that you can use for your own mental wellbeing or to support others, our next Wellbeing course will be starting towards the end of June - online, of course! Register your interest here.