Tuesday 19 May 2020

The Importance of Being Kind

For Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, Emily writes about the importance of kindness for our individual and collective mental health.

- Emily Maybanks

“How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.” – Morgan Freeman. 

Mental Health Awareness Week this year runs from 18th to 24th May 2020 and focuses on the theme of kindness. The kindness theme was chosen specifically as a response to the current COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, and is, perhaps, more important than ever. Kindness was chosen as this year’s theme because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community, and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Additionally, kindness is an intrinsically risky endeavour in that it can risk us looking foolish or even being taken advantage of, which is why we sometimes retreat into ourselves. To receive or to give kindness is an act of courage. 

This year, especially during this worrying and unprecedented time that we unfortunately have been forced into, it is more important than ever to be kind. At the beginning of 2020, we may have shown kindness to each other by taking a friend to the cinema or out for a meal or a drink, for example; or simply by meeting up to have a chat and offer a hug and a shoulder to cry on. Now, being kind might include buying someone a magazine or Netflix subscription, or safely delivering a care package, or speaking on the phone. Acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place; an act of kindness can boost feelings of confidence, being in control and optimism, as well as encouraging others to repeat the good deeds they’ve experienced themselves, thus contributing to a more positive community. 

Other ways to show kindness to our friends or the community include volunteering. Online, there are many things you could try to get involved with, such as seeing if there is anything you can do to support your local school or nursery. You could start up an online book club or film club. More simply, you could write a letter or a card to a friend or family member, or send flowers or chocolate for example. Also, when you are out for your exercise, you could say hello to passers-by. 

Most importantly when it comes to mental health and even more so at this time, it is vital that we are kind to ourselves. Prioritising some “me” time, so you can relax and reflect on how you’re feeling and how your day or week has been so far is a good way to start. Often, we are so caught up in busy everyday life that we forget about the importance of pausing for thought or reflection. If you’re working or studying from home, this too can be challenging and it is a good idea to spend some time doing what we enjoy doing or just relaxing, by watching TV, having a nice bath, chilling in the garden, calling a friend or pursuing a hobby. Personally, for me, the Karate club which I am part of have been running their classes online via Zoom and I have enjoyed taking part and continuing my training. Also, treat yourself every now and again (I have bought a lot of books since lockdown started!).

For more information Student Space is here to make it easier for you to find the support you need during the coronavirus pandemic.

For additional resources on supporting your mental health through COVID-19, please see here

My name is Emily (Em). In 2018, I graduated from Swansea University with my BA degree in Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting where I was also passionate about and dedicated to Swansea Student Media and the University students’ newspaper – Waterfront. In September 2020 I will be starting a PGCE at the University of Reading to train to teach Secondary MFL (French and German). I blog for Student Minds because I have experienced mental health issues as a student and now also as a graduate, as well as various other health issues, and I support friends who also have mental health difficulties. I am a passionate writer and writing has been important in my mental health experiences – both in helping me to explore and to cope with my mental health, as well as sharing my story in order to help and inspire others.

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