Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, be Kind
because now more than ever humanity is all we have.
Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 is focused on kindness, a theme that seems particularly pertinent when we have little else to thrive off. We’ve heard so much about the acts of kindness of recent times, that bring so much to so many. Indeed, even the 8 pm Thursday clap gets me blubbing like an emotional train wreck.
So what is it about giving that gets us so weak at the knees, indeed giving is even listed as one of The Five Ways to Wellbeing. Why when we watch acts of kindness on films do our tear ducts quiver and why is giving so romantic? A while ago at NLF, we explored the concept of happiness and it is truly striking that so much of what we believe to bring happiness is sold by societal construct. True happiness is delivered by the simple acts of ‘humanness’.
Researchers (1) suggest that kindness is a gesture motivated by genuine, warm feelings for others this is an amazing intertwining of both emotion and behaviour. In contrast, it is far harder and energy-sapping to be angry with someone, disconnection doesn't sit well within the human psyche unless we are in a fight or flight situation.
We get the most from altruistic kindness, so expecting something in return for that exceptional strip tease you shocked your partner with to zhuzh your sex life doesn't count. We have to give and enjoy just giving (2), which sucks in the bedroom but can reap rewards in other interactions.
“In April of 2020, the Mental Health Foundation worked with YouGov to conduct an online survey of 4,246 UK adults aged 18+. We found that 63% of UK adults agree that when other people are kind it has a positive impact on their mental health, and the same proportion agree that being kind to others has a positive impact on their mental health.”
This has been evidenced time and time again in a multitude of research with differing methodology (3) even remembering acts of kindness gets those happiness hormones surging. Kindness not only boosts mood, but also helps us feel more capable, and reinforces our connections with others.
In times of crisis, people have been found to “tend-and-befriend” more than usual, an evolutionary response from the learnt behaviour that we reap the rewards of sustaining relationships when we need them (4). This in a sense perhaps also helps us to understand the embodiment of humbleness; “he was humbled by his many ordeals”. The impact of kindness in social interaction is so profound it has even been illustrated as a reliever of depression type symptoms (5).
In the same survey as mentioned above,
“over half (55%) of UK, adults agreed that it is important that politicians value kindness”
I’d say we’ve got a long way to go before we achieve this, especially as our current Prime Minister can’t even bring himself to be nice enough to his hair-dresser to get a decent haircut.
However, we do have it in our reach to have a go at a few random acts of kindness this week and see where it leads, no sexual innuendo intended.
So, get out there and if you need some inspo watch the video below.
All my love Becky xxxxx
1. Canter D, Youngs D, Yaneva M. Towards a measure of kindness: An exploration of a neglected interpersonal trait. Pers Individ Dif. 2017;106:15–20.
2. Caldwell C. Understanding Kindness – A Moral Duty of Human Resource Leaders. J Values-Based Leadersh. 2017;10(2).
3. Curry OS, Rowland LA, Van Lissa CJ, Zlotowitz S, McAlaney J, Whitehouse H. Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. J Exp Soc Psychol. 2018;76:320–9.
4. Taylor S., Master SL. Social Responses to Stress: The Tend-and-Befriend Model. In: Contrada R., Baum A, editors. The Handbook of Stress Science. New York: Springer; 2011. p. 101–7.
5. Zeng X, Chiu CPK, Wang R, Oei TPS, Leung FYK. The effect of loving-kindness meditation on positive emotions: A meta-analytic review. Front Psychol. 2015;6(NOV):1693.