Being Kind to Others & Yourself Can Improve Your Mental Health

By Patrice M. (Patti) Fetzer on February 8, 2021

One thing we could all use more of right now is Kindness. Did you know that kindness is linked to improved mental health? Yes, acts of kindness positively impact not only the receiver, but also the giver. Giving and receiving acts of kindness releases happy chemicals like serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin that reduce our symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety. Watch this brief video to learn more: The Science of Kindness.

Did you know that spreading one act of kindness inspires you and those around you to spread many more acts of kindness? This multiplier effect brings more kindness into your home, neighborhood, school, and the world.

Here are some simple ways to add more kindness into your life—and hopefully lift you and others up a little—during this time.

Be Gentle with Yourself and Others

The last pandemic was in 1918—more than 100 years ago. We are all experiencing a wide range of new and often overwhelming family, school, and work life stressors, routines, and losses. We are all adjusting to wearing masks, keeping a 6-foot distance, and navigating virtual technology. We are all adapting to evolving family, work, and school scenarios; witnessing traumatic events through news sources; and experiencing many, many losses.

Everyone is adapting in some way. Everyone is doing the best they can right now. Simply being kind and offering grace towards yourself and others will go a long way. Which brings us to the next point.

Check in with Others

A very simple way to spread kindness is to check in with others. Taking the time to simply ask others how they are doing and listening to their response is Kind. Text a friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Call your grandparents each week. Set up a video call with your siblings. Check in with your neighbors. Check in with your colleagues at the beginning of those remote meetings.

Have Empathy

And, yes, as the saying goes, we never know what someone else is going through. We do not know the burdens they are carrying, the hurdles they have faced, or the losses or pain they are experiencing. This is true for strangers and those in our workplaces, schools, and homes. So, always, BE KIND.

Know that people who are under an immense amount of stress might be unkind toward you. But you have the power to respond with kindness and maybe help them feel a little bit better.

Use Your Gifts or Skills to Help Others

There are many families, food banks, local foundations and social service organizations that can use donations as well as volunteers. Many people have found themselves on the brink of hunger, evictions and job loss. When people are struggling with basic needs, their mental health can suffer.

Think about what skill or gift you have to offer. Then look around to see where you can share your skill or gifts. There are so many ways you can be of service to spread some kindness.

Interested in tutoring or mentoring? Perhaps tutor a cousin or neighbor who is learning from home over Zoom. Or, check out the many mentoring and afterschool opportunities that could match your tutoring or mentoring interests to youth who need YOU at www.mentorstark.org.

Enjoy cooking for others? Make meals for your elderly neighbor or the colleague who is struggling with balancing work and family demands. Or you could volunteer at a local hot meal site or foodbank.

Needing extra motivation to clean out your closets and decrease the clutter in your home? Think of all the people in your community who could benefit from the clothes and household items you no longer need or use.

If you learn that someone in your family, school, workplace or neighborhood needs a hand, start with sharing your gifts and skills, even if it is just a kind, listening ear and a connection to 211 or starkhelpcentral.org.

Be Kind to Yourself

Finally, but most importantly, be kind to yourself. You need to keep yourself fueled in order to have the energy to help others. Take a moment each day to ask yourself what you need. Incorporate some ways to show yourself kindness. Put together a list of activities you enjoy and add them into your daily or weekly routines. It could be as simple as taking five minutes each day to enjoy a warm beverage or taking a daily walk through your neighborhood. Speak kindly to yourself. Treat your body kindly with nutritious foods, fresh air, movement and sleep. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether that’s confiding in a friend or finding a mental health professional near you. Taking time to reach out to a trusted friend, mentor, or counselor is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself.

Helping others feels good, and helping yourself can feel just as amazing. Yes, this pandemic has been challenging for many who are experiencing stress, loss, and loneliness. And yes, kindness to ourselves and those around us can make all the difference to get us through this stronger and healthier.

If you are interested in more opportunities to Bring Kindness into your home, neighborhood, school or world, check out the following:

If you have additional questions about your mental health and other needs related to the pandemic, check out local resources on StarkHelpCentral.com.

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