Kindness as a cornerstone of Mental Health | 22 May 2020
This year, the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week (May 18-24) chosen by the Mental Health Foundation is ‘Kindness’. While the week is mainly observed in the United Kingdom each year, it is an ideal opportunity to explore the reasoning behind this very special theme.
During the current coronavirus pandemic that is affecting people across the world, we are encouraged to take advantage of ways and means that are accessible to us to improve and maintain our mental health. Among these is kindness; kindness to ourselves and to others which is always and easily achievable.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, kindness and our mental health are deeply connected, with research showing that kindness can help people in the following ways:
- As an antidote to isolation
- Creates a sense of belonging
- Reduces stress
- Brings a fresh perspective
- Deepens friendships
- Kindness to ourselves can prevent shame from corroding our sense of identity
- Boosts our self esteem
- Improves feelings of confidence and optimism
Following what the Mental Health Foundation has recommended to commemorate the week, Seychelles NATION spoke to a few members of the local population to ask them to reflect on acts of kindness, and to share their stories with us. It is hoped that these will inspire us all to find ways to always be kind to ourselves and to others.
“I remember when I was a little girl and when I got home after school, many times my father had set up my dolls and teddy bears in a circle on my bed and he used to tell me that while I was at school they had come together by themselves to have tea. This made me smile and laugh as a child, amused and secretly questioning whether my dolls and bears had magically really moved by themselves to do this. As an adult now, when I think back, I smile and feel emotional not only because my father is very funny but also because I realise now that even before he collected me from school, my father had willingly spent time at home thinking of ways to do something that would surprise me when I arrive, that would make me laugh, that would make me happy. This act of love and kindness is one that warms my heart as it is one where he put the time, love and energy when no one could see him, where no one would praise him. A selfless deed that ended simply with a very happy and amused child.”
“A few years ago, one morning I started feeling unwell and I was diagnosed with dengue fever. Although I did not have any complications, the illness was debilitating and I could not take care of myself. Luckily my partner showed me great kindness and care during that time. She did everything for me, from preparing healthy food (and I don’t even tend to make healthy food for myself) to encouraging me to drink papaya juice, to giving me all my medications that I needed on time. She even helped me to walk between the bedroom and bathroom. In between all this, she sat in bed with me, keeping me company, chatting to me and this helped my mental state. A lot of times people are sick and alone and it is very important to have someone to talk to, not only to pass the time, but to feel that connection to someone else. All this made me feel loved and safe; I felt I was being taken care of and I was not anxious that the illness might become more severe. I am very grateful to my partner for showing me a great act of kindness because she went the extra mile to make sure I recovered quickly and for devoting her time to me.”
“Many years ago, I helped my sister for her exams. For a whole week prior to the day of the exam, I sat with her every day and we went through the course content together. It was a statistics exam, something that I had some prior knowledge in and which enabled me to help her with some of the more challenging concepts. I had to show a great deal of patience to be able to make her understand these concepts fully. She was having a lot of difficulties because she would always complain that her teacher did not explain these concepts well enough in class. For many hours during the weekend and all my free time after work, I sat with her and helped her revise. Little by little, she began to understand and was able to answer many of the questions from past papers correctly. On the morning of the exam, I woke up earlier than usual so that we could cover one last difficult concept which she hadn’t had time to study yet. I even went down to the bus stop with her that day and we sat there while waiting for the bus, and although I was late for work, we finally managed to finish covering everything. I have to say I was delighted when she got her exam results as she did really well.”
“Years ago when I moved into a new home, a black and white cat strolled through the verandah, meowing and looking for food; she wasn’t scared of me at all. I grew up liking dogs way more than cats and up to that point, I had very little experiences with cats. At first I was very reluctant to feed her and interact with her but other members in my family encouraged me to give her some food. She was very happy when I fed her but then she left, only to come back the next day around the same time for more food. Again, reluctantly, I gave her a little bit more. This went on for weeks and gradually she stayed longer and longer, and I began to like having her around as a pet. I even looked forward to seeing her and soon enough I had given her a name. Despite being reluctant, I feel it’s important that no animal should go hungry and that they should have a loving home where they can feel safe and be cared for. Over the years I developed a strong bond with my cat; I take care of her and I feel that she has become like a friend to me. She makes me happy, makes me laugh, keeps me busy, teaches me how to be patient and caring and I find that she is a very good listener…anyone who has a cat knows what I’m saying! This would never have happened had I not shown a little bit of kindness.”
Compiled by F.P.