Carolyn Barber of Portsmouth’s Good Mental Health Cooperative, and local researcher and social entrepreneur, shares advice and resources on how to manage your mental health in lockdown. This week, Carolyn explores the theme of this week’s Mental Health Awareness Week (run by the Mental Health Foundation since 2001), 18th – 24th May, Kindness.
Kindness originates from the old English word ‘cynd’ – which means community. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme chosen because of the pandemic experience we’re all going through is ‘Kindness’.
Kindness is about our common humanity, and is what has shone through in recent weeks. Donations of food and essentials, contributing much needed funds and resources, or volunteering time, skills and energy to support others. Whether you’re the giver or receiver of acts of kindness, evidence shows that helping others is actually beneficial for your own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress, improve your emotional wellbeing and even benefit your physical health.
But kindness is also scary. There’s the risk we might look foolish or be taken advantage of. That’s why we so often retreat from it in practice. We usually associate kindness with trust in others, we expect kindness to reward us ‘in kind’, at least with gratitude, and even kindness in return. Sometimes if our kindness is taken for granted, or even abused, we can lose confidence and seek to defend ourselves.
So being kind takes courage, and we need to support each other to spread small acts of kindness and celebrate the giving and sharing that helps to build mentally healthy communities. This coronavirus pandemic gives us pause to think about what’s most important in our lives and in our communities – let’s not squander this opportunity in the haste to return to ‘normal’.
If you’d like to contribute to a wider conversation on mental health, take a look at this survey and share your experiences and thoughts. It’s completely anonymous.
Each week I’ll be sharing a range of strategies and resources to help you build mental and emotional resilience during the Covid-19 crisis.
This is just as important as our physical strength if we were planning to run a marathon! And just like our physical health, taking care of our mental health is about establishing good habits as part of our regular routine.
We’ve been hard at work updating the Resources section of the Good Mental Health Coop website – these are resources you can use to build your mental and emotional resilience during these testing times. The Resources are divided under 4 themes – Meet, Relax, Learn, Create – please take some time to browse and check them out.
This article was originally published as a newsletter. Check out the Good Mental Health Coop website, where you can sign up to receive Carolyn’s weekly mental health updates by email, and find out more about the amazing work the Coop do. You can also follow the Coop on Twitter and Facebook, and you can read all of Carolyn’s articles for S&C here.
Image by Mental Health Foundation