Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern and consideration for others. It is considered a virtue, and is recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.
Our world is in chaos. I feel like we are living in a dystopian novel and anyone who knows me will know that I am not a fan of science fiction literature nor futuristic films. I can remember studying Ted Hughes’ ‘Crow’ poetry anthology for my A Levels and learning the word ‘nihilistic’. It would be very easy to become negative, fearful and to lose hope very quickly right now. More than ever, in the current situation we need to be positive, optimistic, hopeful and kind. Above all we need to be kind.
So how can we spread love and not fear during these uncertain times? What small acts of kindness can we make to help others during this anxious time? How can we look after ourselves and our loved ones, whilst also being kind to those around us?
Science tells us there are health benefits to being kind, so as we worry about our physical health, let’s make sure that we are looking after our mental health too. Being altruistic will help us to hold on to our sense of belonging, feel part of our community and keep our spirits up. But being altruistic does not mean being a martyr and putting others first at our own expense. We need to strike the balance between self-preservation, selflessness and selfishness.
Kindness to others: there has been much reporting about the selfish streak that comes out at times like this, especially when it comes to resources. Stockpiling and the supermarket sweeps have left some people feeling vulnerable and anxious, others have been left but little resources such as toilet paper and dry food goods. Yet, there have also been some heartwarming stories about people putting others first. Let’s be kind and think about everyone, not just ourselves. Let’s take what we need, not hoard at the expense of others. Let’s consider who might be going without.
Kindness to strangers: in a world where we are less physically connected, we can go days without seeing our immediate neighbours, we can go weeks without speaking in person to our loved ones. I have already heard of some brilliant community driven initiatives to ensure that those living by themselves, who may be less mobile are being looked after. There has been a lot of talk online in my educator community about supporting vulnerable families and those who are disadvantaged – we need to ensure that our FSM children who might only get one meal a day in school are looked after as we approach full school closures. Let’s put pressure on the Government and on the bihg super market chains to step up and look after those who are going to struggle the most.
Kindness to the community: I have seen social media light up with a sense of belonging as communities pull together. I have a whatsapp group with my neighbours and my work colleagues and will be checking in on them regularly. For my online community I know lots of my contacts are school leaders dealing with considerable stress and carrying the weight of heavy decisions, I also know a lot of educators who work freelance who will take a financial hit with work drying up over the coming weeks. We need to remember that we will respond differently to what is going on, and that is okay. Let’s reach out to those who we would not normally talk to and be a listening ear.
Kindness to the environment: I read a great post yesterday about Mother Nature being given time to heal as we lock down and stop damaging the world through our human endeavours of driving and flying. However, we also need to be mindful that we do not fall back into our disposable ways of eating processed foods with lots of packaging. Who knows when the recycling collections will stop. Let’s consider the impact that our changing habits will have on the environment over the coming months.
Kindness to self: as always we need to remember to be kind to ourselves. I am genuinely very worried about the mental health and wellbeing of lots of people who suffer from anxiety as social isolation will aggravate this. I have already spoken to family and friends this week who are feeling highly-stressed, this situation is triggering their worse fears and they are worrying not only about the day to day, but what the future might bring. Let’s be kind to everyone, including ourselves. Let’s address the negative self-talk and turn our inner critic down, we are in survival mode, and that is okay, for now.
Kindness to our loved ones: we are sometimes meanest to the people we love the most as our guards come down. Being cooped up with a partner and children, estranged family members is going to put pressure on what might be already strained relationships. Let’s watch what we say and how we say it. Let’s consider what working and studying from home, together, will look and feel like. Let’s talk about what is not working and how to make it better for everyone on the short term.
Random Acts of Kindness:
I have read lots of articles about things people are doing to combat the #CoronaVirus with Kindness. Loving Pret A Manger gifting free hot drinks and 50% off of food to NHS workers.
Here are some ideas – add more in the comments or via a tweet:
- Reach out to that person who lives by themselves who may be feeling lonely. A text takes seconds and might just brighten their day to know that someone cares.
- Ring a friend, a colleague or a family member, better still skype or face time so they can see you too. A friendly voice or face may be just what they need.
- Help a neighbour or an older person in the community with their shopping. You can join the #ViralKindness campaign here. There is a template for a note you can leave on doorsteps for people to reach out.
- Share your time with others – there are already lots of pop up events like online coffee meets and catch ups so people can connect and converse. Think about what you have to gift and share with others.
- Share activities that people can engage with for free, online – join one of the free online concerts started by Chris Martin and John Legend. Arrange to meet friends online who share your musical preferences.
- Go for a walk in a National Trust property – now free access.
Go forth and be kind! Let’s restore our faith in humanity.