Fierce Kindness

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 18th to 22nd May 2020. In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s theme is Kindness. Pre Covid-19, 1 in 4 people had been diagnosed with a common mental health conditions such as depression, bi-polar or anxiety. There is no meaningful long term data to measure the impact of social distancing and self isolation on people. However with concerns about catching the disease, worries about family members and about finances, I’m sure we could all do with some kindness in our lives just now.  

 


 

I have certainly valued all acts of kindness during these times and recognise how have they added up to supporting my wellbeing. After all, wellbeing is contentment. From the text messages checking in with me, to the Facetime with my new great nephew –  they all add up. My neighbour left these flowers in my porch. They were part of some flowers she received and she thought I might like them. How loved, supported and valued do I feel?! 

lilies

Fierce Kindness

In a world of striving, to give and not receive holds little merit for some and maybe considered to be an act of weakness and naivety. But, in my experience it sometimes requires strength and courage to be kind, particularly when your actions are contrary to those around you or when you put yourself at risk. During this pandemic we have witnessed some amazing acts of fierce kindness with medical staff often working long hours in uncomfortable PPE and sometimes catching the disease themselves. 

Not all of them have survived. It must have taken huge courage to walk in to that environment every day.  

Fierce Kindness

 

Like Covid-19, Kindness is Contagious 

Anyone seeing Captain Tom’s wonderful effort to raise funds for the NHS during lockdown will see how one person’s act of kindness can inspire others. Practising kindness and witnessing acts of kindness can help to reduce blood pressure as it produces oxytocin – also known as the ‘love hormone’. It’s no wonder people want to join in! According to research by Stanford Psychologist Jamil Zaki, “Participants who believed others were more generous became more generous themselves as a form of positive conformity.”

 

So kindness breeds kindness, and if we want to see it we have to be it!

 

Kindness is an acknowledgement and response to someone elses needs which comes from a place of empathy. My hope is that by practicing empathy and then acting with kindness we may strengthen the links between us and help to grow a stronger post Covid-19 society. Maybe we need more fierce kindness as part of our new normal?

If you are stuck in a kindness quandary it may be that you want to do something but are afraid it will be the wrong thing. Offer your brand of kindness and if it comes with no need for reciprocity  – if it is not wanted, that’s fine – but you will have been true to you. Here are some kindness ideas to try this week. 

7 Acts of Kindness

  1. Pass on a book, or buy a kindle book for a friend. Let someone know you are thinking about them. 
  2. Invite new people in to your friendship group. Maybe chat to a neighbour in their garden, find out what you have in common.  
  3. Make a donation to a smaller charity or sponsor a friend for their lockdown efforts. 
  4. Self kindness is still kindness! Be kind to yourself and stop negative conversations. It can dampen your mood and makes it harder to spot the good things in life. If you cant spot life’s sweet spots it’s harder to spot when someone needs help. 
  5. Keep in touch with friends and family. Put a thank you email in to someone’s inbox, send a letter or card or create a virtual postcard of a lovely view from where you are now. Let someone know you care. 
  6. Apologise first. You can be right or you can both be happy. So does it really matter? If it doesn’t think about the long term impact and position you want in someone’s life and apologise. 
  7. Do something today which will make someone smile – and don’t tell them it’s from you. Kindness is about freely giving without the expecting anything in exchange. It is all the better if it is something they want to receive rather than something you want to give.  

 

Kindness in the workplace 

 

 

Kindness is not just hugs and smiles, it is also the willingness to celebrate the success of others, speaking up for those who are unheard and saying no to actions which are outside of your personal ethics or companies ethos. Something which is often overlooked is that whilst bad behaviour tends to spread if left unchecked, so does good behaviour! Increasingly, organisations are encouraging kindness as it builds better working relationships and promotes creative thinking. 

 

Workplaces can encourage kindness by showing kindness. Leading with empathy, taking feedback well and acknowledging how others feel are all aspects of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). According to the World Economic Forum, EQ is currently a top 10 workplace skill to move us forwards. There is a part in all of us which can go over and above our agreed work schedule, however it is only workplaces which promote kindness and trust which truly benefit from this golden nugget of extra worker participation. This isn’t about working longer hours. This is about spotting opportunities and providing top class customer service. Afterall, if you are not kind to them, why would they be kind to your customers and build your business? 

 

Making kindness part of your culture

 

As we all look at how we will go back to work, we have the opportunity to make a positive change amongst all of the necessary safety changes.

  • Recognise the parts of your systems which fail to take in to account the whole person. Where does inherent unfairness sit? What can you change about it? 
  • Be inclusive and have a two-way feedback system between all stakeholders. How can you allow people to be heard?  
  • Allow mistakes to be acknowledged without personal blame and approach issues from a training perspective.  

 and finally….. 

 

 I hope someone has been kind to you today. There is always an opportunity to pay it forward and make kindness your priority. Self-care is a great starting point – you can choose from our events and get extra support from us as part of My Wellbeing Club, take a look at the events and benefits here. In the meantime, if you are looking for more peace and happiness in your life our new book is only 99p on Kindle. The official launch is 29th May but you can pre-order here.

 

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About The Author

Sharon Critchlow

Sharon Critchlow is a Wellbeing Advocate, speaker and facilitator at Discover Your Bounce for Business. Passionate about people being the best they can be she is a Time To Change Champion for mental health and holds a Masters level qualification in strategic coaching for performance. Sharon is a qualified accountant and has 20 years experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. www.discoveryourbounce.com www.time-to-change.org.uk