This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. This week’s awareness week is led by the Mental Health Foundation in the hope of driving conversations around mental health issues and raising awareness of to create lasting change.
Mental health awareness increases the chances for early intervention, which can result in a faster recovery. Awareness reduces negative associations and means that mental health can be seen as an illness, which can be treated.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment approach that is widely recommended for problems such as low mood/depression, anxiety, worry and panic, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bulimia and more.
Our Living Life to the Full courses teach a range of life skills that are based on the tried and trusted CBT approach, to aim to improve wellbeing and resilience as you go through the journey of life.
Life is a journey, sometimes it is blue sky and sunshine, admiring the view from the peaks. Whereas sometimes it seems far harder, a struggle which feels constantly as if we’re going uphill with storms, it can feel lonely and cold.
Developing kindness is a crucial part of being a happy person. Being kind to others can actually make us genuinely happy in a number of different ways. Everyone wants to feel valued, and we can all play a really important role in society by making a positive impact and one of the most powerful ways we can do this is through kindness. Genuine kindness lifts us up, inspires and motivates us and pushes us to do more both for ourselves and for others.
Every time we practice kindness we not only become kinder but we also improve other virtues that come along with it such as patience, tolerance, gratitude compassion and love. These virtues can be improved by practising mindfulness. Perhaps a lot of the time you are so busy rushing through life, going through the motions each day that you feel you are only surviving rather than living. Our new book, Slow Down and Be helps to teach you how to practise mindfulness, and being kind to yourself, and others.
It’s very easy to be tough on yourself and to let bad thoughts take over—we tend to do it a lot, much more than we realise- we are often kinder to others than we are to ourselves. Take a step back and consider how you look after yourself. When things seem difficult or hard, what’s the tone or how do you speak to yourself? Encouraging and warm or critical and pulling down?
What would it be like if you let yourself off the hook of your own self-judgement and critical inner thoughts?
Most people just want to be happy, healthy and at ease. We would want that for someone we cared for such as a loved child. How can you allow yourself to experience the same kindness right now?
Practise recognising and choosing not to listen to the inner critic. Realising that life- and us as human beings- are imperfect. Instead accepting you as you are, with all your strengths and weaknesses. Celebrating who you are and the journey you are on.
To help you do this, access free worksheets such as 10 things you can do to feel happier straight away and more here.
Like all living things, we flourish in an environment of warmth and kindness, rather than cold and criticism. How can you begin to be a little kinder to yourself? Discover more about building kindness towards yourself by practising mindfulness techniques and kindness meditations in the linked audio files here.
When we forgive ourselves, accept our perceived flaws, and show ourselves kindness, we practice self-compassion. It’s often a lot harder than it sounds, but with the right techniques, we can learn to make it a habit that sticks.
Being Kind to Others
In a similar way, it can really pay to practise kindness towards other people. It is easier to be kind to someone who is kind to you and who you care about. If you have any harsh critical thoughts and judgements around a person, you might like to try and see what it is like to wish that person well. Let’s not try to forget that we are all searching for the same thing- to be happy, healthy and well.
It may be harder to develop compassionate thoughts about others- people you don’t know so well; the cashier in the supermarket, the postman or other passengers on the bus. But these people also wish for the same as you- to be safe and well. Imagine having a warm and compassionate attitude towards them? Download our kindness to others audio here.
Say Thank You
One of the easiest ways to be kind is by saying thank you. It’s easy to notice what you haven’t got or to see the negatives in life. However, if we choose to be thankful towards the people and things in our lives, we acknowledge others and build up bonds.
Being kind, and developing kindness doesn’t require research or planning, there are ways of being kind that may take no more than 30 seconds out of your day! Try saying ‘thank you’ or ‘I really appreciate you’ and you will see people’s faces light up and you’ll find there’s more kindness in the world than you thought.
So even though many of us may still be experiencing isolation during lockdown, you can start today- smile at someone, or everyone you meet. Make connections in any way that you can; by phone, video call or a smiley hello to a passer-by in the street.
Remember that what you send out, comes back. Being kind to someone else makes you feel good straight away, so start today spread a little kindness and let your kindness cause a ripple effect of goodness.
The Living Life to the Full Team.