"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."
- Princess Diana
The world, at the moment, and actually for quite some time has been a scary and hostile one. Let's face it, we are surrounded by negativity, the media focusses on the worst events, and the positive is so often overshadowed. Is this because the reality is there is so many heartbreaking, sad, negative events in comparison to uplifting ones, or because the media choses to focus more heavily on them? This is not to say that those events that cause sadness, and understandable so, should not be given media coverage - in fact with certain events I don't feel enough coverage is given. It's a difficult balance isn't it? We need to have an awareness of the injustice and suffering of those around us so that we can work to improve as a society, but it can be incredibly distressing to see so much pain and sadness around us all of the time. This world seems so full of hatred at the moment and it can be all to easy to be caught but by it, but I encourage you to always try and choose to focus on the ample amount of good and kindness around you. There are still some incredible humans in this world that are in your corner; be there for those around you and kindness will always win. Choose to be kind in an unkind world; to others and to yourself.
Kindness, I feel is different from 'niceness', growing up I was taught to 'be nice', whether it was genuine or not, it seemed more of a pleasantry, a general politeness. I feel the pressure is more there on females, to smile and be cool, calm and collected no matter the situation so not as to seem 'bossy' or 'feisty', words often only used to describe women. Kindness however, it comes from a far more genuine place, it is heartfelt, there is care towards the wellbeing of others, it stems from a place of love. Whilst being nice, is well... nice, we need more kindness to create a much more forgiving, safe and empathetic world.
Kindness can at times be so underestimated, people often overlook the shear power that it holds. But actually, for myself, and many others who are suffering with a mental health problem, one small act of kindness can be the difference between getting out of bed and leaving the house, and staying in the darkness of your bedroom for days on end. Time to Change's latest campaign 'In Your Corner', has highlighted the significance of being there for loved ones, showcasing the ways in which we can all be in the corner of a friend who is experiencing a mental health difficulty, and actually how we can all just be more kind to each other. When I had a months hospital stay ahead of me I felt isolated from my friends who were all living their lives as normal back home, I didn't feel connected at all. That was until I was left a note on my pillow, one for every single morning that I was inpatient for. My friend had written a motivational, uplifting and personal handwritten letter to be left on my pillow each morning. She was 160 miles away and yet she made me feel so much less isolated, it gave me a reason to fight another day, I was excited to see what the next letter had written on it. This was an act of kindness that I will never forget, and it made an incredibly difficult time just that little bit easier.
Whilst it is so incredibly important to be kind to others, it is just as, if not that little bit more important to be kind to yourself as well. We are taught from a young age to be kind to others, to share our toys, to say please and thank you, so why is it that being kind to ourselves is so often overlooked. Let's face it, I think we all know someone, or we are that person who does so much for other people, who drop's everything to help someone else, who wears themselves so thin trying to balance every aspect of life that they forget to be kind to themselves, to make room for self-care, and ultimately look after their own health. Self-care is those actions in which we undertake to look after our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. They are acts which personally nourish us, calm us, comfort us and make us feel good. Due to the variety of personal circumstances the actual activities will vary from person to person, what may work wonders for someone may actually be detrimental to another. It is therefore in some senses a ‘trial and error’ of getting in tune with your mind and body and finding what works for you, but most importantly be gentle with yourself.
Five simple ways you can show kindness:
1. Call a loved one to catch up if you haven't spoken in a while.
2. Feeling thankful for someone? Express your gratitude.
3. Drive kindly - let a pedestrian cross the road, or a car that's indicating to come out of the turning.
4. Send a friend a silly animal gif (I am secretly asking you all to send me silly animal gifs).
5. Be considerate of what your needs are and allow yourself a break.
Simply, choose to be kind in an unkind world - kindness will always win in the end.