From My House to Your House – Let’s Spread Kindness
By emotional wellbeing coach, psychotherapist and mindfulness teacher, Jen Wood
The 18th May marked the start of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, and this year the theme is kindness. During lockdown, I have found solace in the many small acts of kindness that have punctuated the last few weeks. A smile from a passing dog walker, an offer of help to pick up groceries, a neighbour checking in on me or an invitation to an online dance class from a friend have all warmed my heart. While we are surrounded by so much uncertainty, things that I may previously have taken for granted in my busy life, have become moments to cherish.
To help balance the roller coaster of emotions that I’ve been experiencing, it felt important for me to record these small kindnesses. I resumed a practice which I often invite clients to do. The ‘3 Good Things’ practice is a simple but powerful way to increase positive emotion by literally ‘letting in the good’. It can also set us up for a good sleep and sweet dreams.
Kindness Exercise – 3 Good Things
- Spend a few moments reflecting on your day before you go to sleep.
- Think about 3 things that went well for you / brought you joy and gratitude.
- Write them down in a journal or notebook.
- Spend some time really savouring each one.
When we can slow our awareness down and reconnect with the present moment, we can start to notice kindness and beauty all around us. I’ve been hearing more birdsong and enjoying the lush nature that surrounds me. Even the rain feels nourishing.
Kindness and generosity are linked to a more fulfilled life, more satisfying relationships, better physical and mental health and living longer. It feels like we need this so much just now. Kindness also contributes to a positive feedback loop. When we are kind to others we tend to feel happier, and when we feel happier we tend to show more kindness to others. It’s a win win.
Our impulse to be kind is also increased when we feeling more connected to others, so how can we cultivate this during lockdown? One evidence based mindfulness technique shows that we can use the power of our minds to recall memories of feeling close and connected with others, which will in turn increase our ability to be kind.
Kindness Exercise – Memories of 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 of your senses if possible.
- Recall the facial expression of the person who was kind to you and model it, if you can.
When remembering the memory, follow these steps if you can:
- Remember what the person said, including the tone of their voice. (1 minute)
- Focus on the emotion that this person felt towards you. (1 minute)
- Focus on the whole experience, particularly on how this act of kindness kindled feelings of gratitude within you. (1 minute)
After doing this exercise, journal your thoughts and experiences.
You can also try Jen's Loving Kindness Meditation - stop and take just 15 minutes out of your day to help yourself feel better.
We don’t know what life will be like when we come out of lockdown. If we can emerge with a deeper sense of gratitude, feeling more connected to those who matter most to us and able to show more kindness to others, and to ourselves, we may have found the silver lining in this pandemic cloud.
Kindness is contagious. Let’s spread it during Mental Health Awareness Week, and beyond.
How can you be kind today?
Jen Wood is an emotional wellbeing coach, psychotherapist and mindfulness teacher with 20 years’ experience. She is also our Wellbeing Consultant at Restoration Yard. Jen is offering online Mindfulness Meditation (Mondays) and Reduce Stress - Feel Good (Fridays) classes via Zoom on Mondays and Fridays at 12noon. Jen also offers individual wellbeing coaching, therapy and mindfulness sessions via Zoom or by phone. To find out more, head to Jen’s website.