Each year there is a theme for Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the theme is ‘Kindness’. This may seem like something we all do on a daily basis, but these nine tips will give you some benchmarks and ideas to be kinder to yourself and others!
Do not set yourself unrealistic expectations
It’s important to make sure that you do not put too much pressure on yourself, even when times are busy. Take a moment to step back and see if you are being reasonable. If you set yourself up to fail you are being unkind to yourself and this can have a knock-on effect to your motivation, productivity and self esteem.
Small deeds reap big benefits
Being kind can seem like a big task. This isn’t always the case! Something as small as smiling at a passer-by, saying ‘good morning’ to your neighbour or telling a friend that you are thinking of them are all kind actions that can have a positive impact. Big gestures are wonderful! But don’t discount the little acts of kindness that make the world a nicer place.
If you wouldn’t say it to someone else, don’t say it to yourself
It’s easy to self criticise, but whenever you say something to yourself think – would you say this to someone else? Would it be fair to speak to them in this way? If the answer is no, then try to be kinder to yourself. Being too self-critical is an easy path to go down. Because it’s not hurting someone else, you may not realise its affect on you. Noticing this can really improve your own mental health awareness.
Lift people up, don’t tear them down
We often see the negatives and mistakes that someone else makes before anything else. Rather than criticising, take the time to teach and grow! Don’t give false hope as honesty is also of paramount importance. But by lifting someone up and teaching, you are helping them grow and reach their potential.
Remember, everyone makes mistakes
There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t made a mistake at some point in their life. Try not to blow your errors out of proportion and be self-deprecating. It’s important to be patient with yourself. In most cases, mistakes can be resolved, it’s not the end of the world! You are not a failure even if you feel the urge to tell yourself that. Don’t beat yourself up every time you make a mistake. Learn from it, and grow.
Self-care is an essential kindness
It is so important to look after and be kind to yourself. This doesn’t have to be a colossal change – it can be as simple as eating some ice-cream when you’re feeling sad or soaking in a hot bubble bath after a stressful day. It can also be making sure each day you take just five minutes to look after and appreciate yourself. This too often gets forgotten, but it’s one of the most important acts of kindness we can perform.
Using the skill of ‘tentativeness’
When lending an ear for support, it’s important to keep the correct tone. As it was likely hard enough for someone to open up to you in the first place! ‘Tentative’ means ‘not fully worked out, uncertain, or hesitant,’ from the Instead of assuming an expert stance, take a tip from the Buddhists and offer observations with a ‘beginner’s mind.’ For example, say, “I could be wrong, but it seems to me….”; “It sounds like…”; “Maybe you are feeling…”; “I’m not sure, but perhaps you worry that…”; or, “If you felt comfortable doing it, you could consider trying ….” When you use this skill, you communicate that you don’t have an easy solution all wrapped up in a bright red bow. If the problem were simple, your friend wouldn’t need you!
Celebrate your victories like you do for others
Do you remember the last time your friend got a good exam result? Or a promotion? Or told you they were getting married? And do you remember how you celebrated? How about when you last achieved something? We are all very good at encouraging and supporting others but very often we forget to congratulate ourselves. We also sometimes do not see the achievements we make. What is a victory for you may be completely different to what is one for someone else, so it’s important to take stock and pat yourself on the back when you achieve something.
Half for others and half for yourself
One of the most import things to remember when being kind is that you must never over-extend yourself. Practicing your own self-care is just as important as being kind to others. Giving too much of yourself to others in the long term will likely cause your own mental health to decline.
Acts of kindness makes us feel good, valuable and alive. Many people already extend kindness as part of their good nature. But if we ALL made a more conscious effort to be even kinder by practicing kindness regularly, and rasing mental health awareness, the world could be a kinder place every week.
See some of our other blogs on Mental Health here.
RI & COAST Admin