This blog was written by Nicole Rodden, for World Kindness Day.
World Kindness Day is an opportunity to reflect on being kind to others, to ourselves and to our communities.
Practising kindness has multiple benefits, not just to others but for ourselves too. It may seem obvious that it is good for us but research shows there are significant health benefits in practising kindness. Rather than focusing on large acts of kindness or kindness that involves buying someone a gift, instead showing it through small acts such as asking a barista how they are as they make your coffee or giving a compliment to a stranger has just as much impact.
Kindness can also involve thinking differently. Imagine you are on your way to work and someone pushes past you, without apologising. One reaction might be to shout at them or nudge them back. However, a kinder approach would be to think, perhaps they have had a really tough morning, perhaps they are going through a difficult time. This thought process will have an impact on how you react to that person.
Why is it important to practise kindness?
It matters to our mental health
“It helps reduce stress, brings a fresh perspective and deepens friendships. Kindness to ourselves can prevent shame from corroding our sense of identity and help boost our self-esteem. Kindness can even improve feelings of confidence and optimism” (mental health.org.uk, 2020).
It sets a good example for others
We often say to children and young people to be kind. Yet research shows that modelling behaviours is a huge part of how we learn. Therefore, if we expect young people to be kind to others, we need to show them how to do that. How we react to others in everyday life in the shops, how we respond to people online and how we respond to others outside of our own communities directly demonstrates to children that this is the best way to act.
Self-care as kindness
Having recently returned to work since having a baby, I have been reminded of the need for self-care and being kind to yourself, especially when you are going through a period of transition. For me, this was making sure I did something out of the house everyday, going for walks or reaching out to meet new people. Ensuring my needs were met everyday enabled me to be a better parent and person! I also experienced immense it when navigating the world of a newborn including neighbours giving us hand-me-downs, friends cooking us meals and colleagues checking in to see how we were doing. These small things really make a difference!
Choose one action that we can do on World Kindness Day:
- Do a small act of kindness to someone
- Think kindly towards someone (including those who are not showing kindness to us)
- Be kind to yourself, do something that make you feel good