Our blog this month is written by the wonderful Jane Jennison. She has kindly contributed this amazing section on our theme of the month Kindness.
Small acts of kindness
Why “Small Acts of Kindness”?
There’s a lot of research into how performing Random Acts of Kindness (RAKs) helps us feel better, and contributes to some-one else’s well-being too. ). RAKs are for strangers, with no recognition or reward (visit the RAK website here for more on this).
We have recently had children’s mental health week, RAK week, and Time to Talk, all focussing on improving mental health. (For a full list of National Awareness Days, click here.). Our mental health seems to be on the decline, so are there small things we can do at home, to help, as well as reaching out to strangers?
As I write, we are facing the global pandemic of Covid-19. This is impacting on our mental health, and lockdown restrictions mean that our social and work contacts are reduced. What can we do, to help our own mental health, and support the mental health of our nearest and dearest?
I invite you to take part in the ‘Small Acts of Kindness’ Challenge. It’s not on any calendar; I have just conjured it from the ether! Here’s how it works:
Small Acts of Kindness challenges us to be kinder to people in our circle; family, work, or friends. It’s our opportunity to practice thoughtfulness, consideration and generosity. These are not RAKs as they are planned actions for people we know.
Your challenge: your way. It’s up to you how to run this challenge. You could plan one small act of kindness a day, or perhaps set up a Small Act Circle with some people also participating, so you can support and encourage each other.
Be authentic to yourself. Set yourself challenges that are true to your values and strengths. (For more about strengths and how to identify your values, visit here.). This helps build your own well-being by choosing actions allied to your interests and expertise.
Build on micro-connections. Small Acts of Kindness can be done for people in your close circle, but you can also extend this. There may be people you see regularly who you can include. Is there a coffee shop you often visit, or some-one you are on ‘nodding’ acquaintances with? By expanding our interactions with these people, we can build new friendships and find shared values.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Send a copy of your favourite book to a friend.
- Write a note to a friend or colleague to say thank you for their support or help.
- Make a bookmark and send it to your favourite reader.
- Write a thank you card to your optician or dentist.
- Have ‘movie night’ at home with your family or friends (adhering to lockdown guidelines, of course!), snacks and a favourite film.
- Text a friend your favourite joke. Mine is ‘what’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot’.
- If there’s a page on Social Media that you find inspiring, share it and comment why you like it.
- Send a birthday card! Posts on Social Media pages *really* are not as satisfying as receiving a hand-written card.
- Write some-one a letter. If you are rusty of pen, or need ideas, look here
- Send some flower seeds to your gardening friends. If you are not sure what to send, try these
- Organise a litter-pick for your area. Your local council will have guidance. Here’s ours
- Make your partner a cup of tea or coffee when they are having a lie-in.
- Mind your Ps and Qs. Being polite costs nothing, but is often overlooked at home. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to your house-mates and work-colleagues.
- Send a postcard when you are on holiday. If there’s not one you like, you can use Touchnote.com to send them from photos on your phone.
- Give a little gift. You don’t need to buy a Faberge egg for someone to feel appreciated. Tokens of thanks just need to be thoughtful and personal.
- Help out with the chores before you are asked.
- Check in with a friend or family member you have not seen for a while. Many people who have poor mental health are reluctant to reach out, so reach out to them, instead.
- Shop locally. Support your local community and build new friendships!
- Organise a coffee morning. Lots of charities have themed events, check here for a full list of National Awareness Days. (Please wait until lockdown restrictions are lifted, or organise a virtual one.)
- Support your local Hospice. Most are only partly funded by the NHS and rely on charitable contributions for the rest.
- Support your local Library. Many have been privatised as a result of Austerity, and are run by a mix of volunteer and paid staff, and have to raise their own funds.
- Buy some-one a gift card.
- Prepare their favourite meal or snack for a loved-one.
Please adhere to the physical distancing guidelines that are in place where you are, and keep safe.
Finally plan ahead, and have fun!
Guest post by Jane Jennison
Jane Jennison is a positive psychology coach and author. She is founder of Adopting Positivity, Director of Autonomous Ideas Limited, and co-founder and co-organiser of the Positive Psychology Summit: UK. Her workshops help people identify their strengths, build positive relationships and find authentic happiness. She also works one-to-one with coaching clients. She writes for Goldie Media, which focussed on positive aging and Home for Good and Adoption:UK, who support families touched by adoption, fostering and special guardianship. She also publishes on Substack. Her grassroots-driven approach to practicing and sharing Positive Psychology is one that is much needed in communities today