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Celebrate kindness this Mental Health Awareness Week

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Published: 20 May 2020

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Alisa Tsyhostky, Health and Wellbeing Manager at the University of Sunderland in London, is back with a celebration of Mental Health Awareness Week. Read on for her tips on things we can all do to improve our mental health and be kind to each other.

“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” Bob Kerrey, American politician and commentator

Mental Health Awareness Week, a yearly celebration of topics around mental health, is happening Monday 18th to Sunday 24th May. This year, the Mental Health Foundation, which runs the event, has chosen the theme of kindness.

In our society, where how much we own is a mark of our worth, kindness can sometimes be seen as less important. But it can be shown in a lot of ways; to our peers, community and neighbours, and most importantly, to ourselves. 

As the Mental Health Foundation writes, ‘Kindness unlocks our shared humanity and is central for our mental health. It has the potential to bring us together with benefits for everyone, particularly at times of great stress’. 

Before the lockdown, you might have dreamt about having more time to be kind to yourself or do more in your community. So maybe it's not surprising to see people doing acts of kindness for each other now that our lives have changed so much.

Being kind to yourself has become vital to surviving this time of crisis. We should all remember that it’s OK to lower the expectations we have of ourselves. Slow down and don’t try and overdo your to-do list. There are a few things we can all prioritise: keeping safe, staying healthy and avoiding anxiety.

Another thing you can do for yourself is to help others. The NHS consider helping other people to be one of the five key steps to mental wellbeing. It lets us learn something new and connects us with other people; two more the NHS’s steps. The Mental Health Foundation had put together a list of things you can do for other people, take a look through for some inspiration. The full list can be found on their website.

At home and in your community

  • Call a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while
  • Post a card or letter to someone you are out of touch with
  • Send flowers to a friend out of the blue
  • Find out if a neighbour needs any help with shopping
  • Send someone a handwritten thank you note
  • Tell your family members how much you love and appreciate them
  • Check on someone you know who is going through a tough time
  • Pick up some rubbish lying around in the street
  • Smile and say hello to people you may pass by every day, but have never spoken to before

At work

  • Remember to say hi to colleagues and ask how they are
  • Get to know a new member of staff
  • Lend your ear - listen to your colleague who is having a bad day
  • Say thank you to a colleague who has helped you
  • Praise a colleague for something they have done well

If you would like to talk to the Health and Wellbeing Team on an individual basis, about what we’ve covered in this article or anything else, you can book a one-to-one meeting with them by emailing londonhealth@sunderland.ac.uk or calling them on 0207 5317 343.