Archive May 2020
Kindness has a huge effect on both our physical and mental wellbeing. From a neurological perspective, when we practise kindness and compassion, our brain releases oxytocin (also known as the “love hormone”) and this as a result causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which lowers our blood pressure and improves heart health.
Kindness has many benefits including increased happiness and a healthy heart. It slows down the aging process and improves relationships and connections, which indirectly boosts our mental health and well-being.
Humans are social creatures who historically until now, need connection to survive, evolve and develop, as only through human connection, interaction and team work humans can become stronger in confidence, physical stamina, spirit and ability/skills, all important elements contributing towards a balanced mental well-being and mental health. It has been shown since history that only through kindness humans can peacefully overcome conflicts and create unity and peace between dissimilar groups as by having a perspective of kindness, peace and compassion and not a perspective of competition, one can see how similar human beings are between them rather than how different.
Acts of kindness have a tendency to draw us closer to each other; having positive relationships with friends and family has been shown to have positive impact on our mental health. According to research that has been carried out by to Robert Waldinger, an American psychiatrist, it has been indicated that people with healthier relationships were the ones who were healthier and lived longer. Now, good relationships by default are based on kindness being given and also being received as it is only that way that trust and connection can be built and good and healthy connective relationships can be created. Simply knowing that we are loved and supported can reduce the effects of anxiety and depression.
Happiness is spread collectively through each and every one of us. The sense of being kind is innate in humans as it is shown in little toddlers where by instinct they try to help one another, but it is not until later that competition is learnt and reinforced and that kindness instinct can be consciously placed on the side.
How many times we see humans become emotional or moved and cry when they witness an act of kindness, such as people or nations running to save others in a state of an emergency, relevant to nowadays clapping all of us together for the front line staff that fight every day to help COVID patients. This emotional/moving state is triggered because we are humans and we cry and are moved because an act of kindness or an act of bravery resonates with our ‘humanness’.
Kindness can come across in different ways and can also be encouraged through different actions. Some ideas around acts of kindness can be:
- Smile (it has been shown that try to smile a lot increases endorphins as the muscles of your face when you smile send the signal to your brain that you are happy even when you are not and then by default you become happier)
- Offer your help. (I met someone who challenged himself to offer his help to one person every day and they experienced a more balanced mental health)
- Say thank you. You might say thank you 100 times a day.
- Compliment someone.
- Hug (it has been shown that only 5 minutes of close hug can increase the oxytocin hormone, the ‘love hormone’)
- Hold a door for someone
- Be grateful towards someone and show appreciation
- Pick up litter
- Let someone into your lane while driving
- Give a small present to someone
- Take a neighbour’s garbage bins to and from the curb
- Compliment a friend, co-worker, or family member
- Send a text to a loved one
- Notice someone who seems lonely and invite them along with you
- Let someone who wants to help you, help
- Offer food to a homeless person
Kindness can also be encouraged through:
- Modelling acts of kindness
- Giving responsibilities and opportunities
- Inspiring positive actions toward others
- Teaching empathy and compassion
Giving and receiving kindness is a way to connect at a deeper level and can be broken into two main categories:
- Being kind
- Receiving kindness from others
Being kind sometimes can be easier to some people from receiving kindness. Most people, paradoxically, find it easier to be kind than to be on the receiving act of a kind act. For example, when someone compliments them, they will tend to reply, “it was nothing” or “no problem”. This is usually the result of many people having adopted this learned behavior as a way of being humble or selfless, but what this actually does is stops the flow of the energy of giving and receiving. If someone gives you a compliment, not receiving it stops its power for both the giver and the receiver.
Vasia Toxavidi, Counsellor at Mind in Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster said;
According to my experience as a therapist, I have noticed that people who don’t allow themselves to receive kindness or support, are the ones who struggle with interpersonal relationships as they cannot balance the connection to flow within their relationships and also the ones who do not practice compassion for themselves- if they only care to be kind to others and they never allow kindness to them how this reflects a sense of self love, nurturing and compassion to one self?”
If you have a story of how a kind act made a difference in your life, please share it @BWWMind #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek #KindnessMatters. You never know how your story might impact the life of another.
Exercise is great for our mental health and there are plenty of ways we can continue to do this, even in isolation.
What type of activity might work for me?
Being physically active tends to be easier if you choose an activity that you enjoy, and that fits into your daily life. If you force yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, you’re much less likely to keep it going and experience benefits to your mental health.
There are lots of different things you can try – not everybody will enjoy or feel comfortable doing all of these activities, so you may need to try a few before you find something you like. You may also find that different things work for you at different times, depending on how you’re feeling.
If you think you might find it hard to get going with any of these things, check out this link and read on.
Activities at home
- Try to sit less – if you spend lots of time sitting down, try to get up and move around a bit every hour. If you’re worried you might forget, you could set an alarm to remind yourself.
- Chair-based exercises – if you have mobility problems, a physical condition, or find it difficult spending time out of a chair, the NHS has activity routines you can try while sitting down.
- Play an active computer game – there are a few different gaming consoles you could try which involve actively moving your body while playing computer games.
- Do exercises or stretches at home – the NHS has lots of different routines – click here to try them – or you could try an exercise CD or DVD.
- Do an online activity programme – there are lots of free, online exercise regimes designed for you to try at home, including everything from chair-based exercises to yoga and cardio workouts.
- Do active household chores – like hoovering, tidying or DIY.
- Include more activity in your day-to-day routine – run up the stairs instead of walking, carry your bags of shopping in one at a time or do some gentle stretching while you’re watching TV.
- Dance – put on some music while you’re cooking and dance around your kitchen, or have a mini dance party. There are also lots of online dance classes including some of which are free. Check out these ones for kids.
Activities out and about
Now that we are able to have unlimited time to exercise outside, why not take the opportunity to get out and do more?
- Walk a bit more – just go a little bit further, be it round the park or to the end of the road and back.
- Play a game in the park – if you have someone to play with there are lots of games you can play that keep you safe and 2m apart. Try frisbee, tennis or kicking a ball.
- Exercising on a budget – be it indoors or outdoors there are lots of ways to try new things out and exercise without it costing money. Click here to find our more.
- Outdoors gyms – some local parks have free outdoors gym equipment you can use. You can try your local council website to find the location of any outdoor gyms near you.
- Cycling – whether riding for short or long distances check out Sustrans for lots of ideas to get you started.
- Gardening or seated gardening – the Carry on Gardening website has information about gardening for emotional wellbeing and with particular disabilities.
- Be active in nature – our information on nature and mental health click here.
Motivation and extra support
- Music – putting music or a podcast on your headphones can help distract, entertain or motivate you while you exercise.
- Online communities – you could check in with other people are who also trying to get more active on an online community, such as Mind’s community Elefriends. This can help you stay motivated and connect with others in a similar situation.
- Apps and programmes – check out the NHS’s Strength and Flex and Couch to 5K programmes. They give you step-by-step programmes and help keep you motivated.
If you’d like to read more about the link between exercise and mental health, please visit https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-08/tl-tlp080718.php
Please share your tips and advice with others on our social media channels.
Mind in Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster is delighted to announce Dr David Spalter as the new Organisational Clinical Lead and latest member of the Senior Management Team.
During 2019, Mind in Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster conducted a strategic review of mental health needs and support, which identified the growing need for clinical services to support an increasing level of acuity. This led the charity to strategically reposition and deliver more NHS commissioned clinical services. This important new role was created following this change and will ensure that Mind in Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster safely, effectively and ethically provide support for people with more complex mental health needs.
Dr Spalter will lead all clinical policy, delivery and auditing with responsibility for supporting all colleagues on clinical matters. He will support the Board of Trustees on governance matters, including membership of the Quality Sub-committee and lead on clinical certifications.
Simon Thompson, CEO said ‘As a clinician myself by training, I have found a well-respected and knowledgeable senior clinician, that puts his colleagues and service users at the very centre of what we do. We know that to be sustainable and continue to grow and provide safe services having a dedicated person to champion this vital role will give assurance to commissioners, colleagues and service users alike.”