Who we are Blog Why kindness is good for you Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place 18-24 May 2020. The theme is kindness. Our wellbeing consultant, Jen Wood, shares her thoughts here about why kindness can be good for you. "As lockdown continues and my emotions are like a roller coaster, I cherish the small things, like a smile from a stranger or an unexpected call from a friend. Surrounded by so much uncertainty, things I may previously have taken for granted have become treasured moments. Whenever I have helped others, it has lifted my mood. Evidence shows that helping others can have a positive effect on our mental health and wellbeing. But why is kindness so good for us? We feel good when we help others. This is partly why The Yard has so many wonderful volunteers and supporters. It helps us connect with others, which increases our wellbeing, and reduces loneliness and isolation. It helps us have a more optimistic outlook on life. Kindness is contagious. We can help others and feel better; it’s a win win! When we care for others, the effects last far longer than the act of kindness. (Source: mentalhealth.org.uk) Writing down any kindnesses, given or received, can also increase the benefits. I use a daily gratitude practice called ‘Three Good Things’. It’s a simple but powerful way to feel good, fast. Kindness tip – Three Good Things Spend a few moments remembering your day before you go to sleep. Think about three things that went well for you or brought you joy and gratitude. Write them down in a journal or notebook. Spend some time really savouring each one. Remember how each one felt. Drift off to sleep and have sweet dreams! When we slow down and become more aware of the present moment, we can start to notice kindness and beauty all around us. Being kind is linked to having a more satisfying life, happier relationships, better physical and mental health, and living longer. We all need this just now more than ever. Sometimes it can be hard to be kind to others, and especially to ourselves. We can have unhelpful beliefs about ourselves and might not feel we deserve kindness. Fortunately, our minds have an amazing capacity to change. One effective way of doing this is to remember times when someone has been kind to us. This develops our kindness muscle. Kindness tip – Remembering Kindness Sit in a comfortable position, with relaxed and open body posture and facial expression. Allow your breath to deepen and slow down until you feel more relaxed and centred. When you are ready, remember a time when someone was kind to you. Remember what it was like to receive that kindness, using all your senses if possible. What did it look, sound and feel like? Imagine you are reliving the experience. Remember the facial expression of the person who was kind to you and copy it if you can. When remembering the memory, follow these steps if you can: Remember what the person said. Notice the tone of their voice (for one minute). Focus on the emotion this person felt for you (for one minute). Focus on the whole experience, particularly on how this act of kindness kindled feelings of gratitude within you (for two minutes). Write down any thoughts, feelings or sensations that emerged for you. Who knows what life will look like when we come out of lockdown. If we are kinder to ourselves and others, more deeply connected with our loved ones with more gratitude for the little things in life, we will have found the silver lining in this dark, COVID-19 shaped cloud. Kindness really can be contagious. Let’s spread it! How can you be kind today?" Jen Wood is an emotional wellbeing coach, therapist and mindfulness teacher with 20 years’ experience. She is also our wellbeing consultant at The Yard. Jen is offering weekly bite-sized videos sharing mindfulness techniques and wellbeing tools for our members (check your inbox). For more information about Jen, visit jenwoodwellbeing.com.