During this years Mental Health Awareness week the theme was kindness, something which is perhaps even more important than ever with our current situation.

It is plain and wonderful for all of us to see that there has been so much good, and so much kindness seen, felt and experienced these past few weeks. It seems that out of uncertainty and fear, kindness really has prevailed. 

From those that worked selflessly overnight putting leaflets through the doors of the isolated, the unwell and the elderly, offering support and friendship. Picking up fresh food supplies and medicines. Picking up the phone for a chat, thoughtful gifts and letters in the post; closing the gap on isolation and loneliness. To people coming together in unison to sing on their balconies, clap and paint rainbows to show gratitude for the NHS. To each of us smiling widely as we pass each other from two metres on the street. Gestures and acts of kindness everywhere, big and small, and they all matter.

This time has shown us that although we’ve all had to make huge changes to our daily lives, we’ve also been reminded of what’s truly important. Looking out for each other. Community. Kindness.  We’ve been reminded what it means to be a neighbour. And in being kind to others, the chances are, quite wonderfully, it made us feel good about ourselves too. 

So it seems perfectly fitting that the theme for mental health awareness week this year is kindness. Research shows that kindness can reduce levels of stress and anxiety, and in time can increase our happiness and the way in which we see ourselves, kindness to others leads in increased self esteem and feelings of kindness towards ourselves too- not always easy to master, but essential for our own mental health and wellbeing. It promotes social bonding, emotional warmth and leads to feelings of increased trust, generosity and calm. Kindness really does have the power to make the world a happier place, for all of us. 

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”

So what better time is there to feel good about being kind than now? As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, you may want to join in the “bingo-style Kindness Challenge” which The Mental Health organisation has thoughtfully designed. All you need to do is come up with small simple tasks that can be carried out by yourself from home, to show kindness to others and yourself. Just think of the ripples and waves of kindness that could flow on forever from today if we all did one small thing? 

You can find out more about taking part here.  

Sometimes it’s easy to forget with the many challenges we face, individually and collectively, that being empathetic, compassionate and kind is our natural state. Yours, mine, your neighbours, everyone’s, everywhere. Our love and kindness is free, infectious and limitless. 

So remember, “be kind whenever possible. It is always possible”. And that absolutely includes being kind to yourself. Because you really are wonderful. Look after yourselves, let your kindness flow and let the waves of kindness flow right back to you. 

If you have been, or are affected by mental illness and want support, or would like to read more and see how you can get involved in your community, you can visit any of the following.