We have been through some extremely difficult times as a nation these past few weeks and, although many of us have experienced hardship, this pandemic has demonstrated something else too.
It has shown us that when we pull together and reach out to others, we can provide hope and reassurance amid the fear and insecurity; a sense of community rarely seen since the Second World War.
That’s why 2020’s Mental Health Awareness Week has kindness as its theme. The Mental Health Foundation is asking everyone to reflect on or carry out an act of kindness between May 18th and 24th to keep making the world a better place.
“Kindness could transform our schools, places of work, communities and families. Let’s shape a society that tips the balance in favour of good mental health, for all of us,” the organisation says.
As many of us return to work, it’s interesting to note that we’re being encouraged to communicate more deeply with our colleagues than we perhaps were before. Lots of people will be nervous or anxious, so the simple act of asking how your workmate is could really go a long way as you reconnect after many weeks apart.
And it looks like this is something that’s already going on, with a new study by 8×8 showing 31 per cent of workers reporting their officemates are taking more time to check in on them and a quarter being more likely to offer help than before the pandemic.
Remember, though, that kindness needs to start from within. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so it’s vital to go easy on yourself first. To make a start, turn your inner voice into one that your best friend might use instead of your usual, critical monologue.
Use affirmations if you like, or a talismanic necklace that prompts you to think something uplifting whenever you see or touch it.
It’s amazing how much more positive this can make you feel. You can then start to pay this positivity forward by intentionally doing a kind deed a day for a friend or colleague.
In the workplace, this might translate into offering your time to one different person each day – or it might be something as simple as that ‘how are you doing?’ that we mentioned earlier.
If you’re the boss, could you show your appreciation using something your employees can keep? Finances might be too tight right now to think about big bonuses, but a token like some inexpensive costume jewellery or a brooch with a symbol that everyone can wear each day could let them know you’re thinking of them.
Above all, keep talking to each other and keep building those kindness circuits with good deeds. And, to paraphrase Charlie Mackesy, remember that if you’re struggling with your mental health, sometimes the bravest word you can say is ‘help’.