How Being Kind is Good for Your Mind

With the 13th November being World Kindness Day and the 9th November being Social Media Kindness Day, we decided to explore the relationship between kindness and mental health and wellbeing. Wellbeing is an absolute priority for Kent-Teach. Kent-Teach have dedicated Wellbeing Advisors for schools in Kent as well as plenty of wellbeing resources and information on our website. We use our social media channels to regularly share wellbeing content, signposting you to either our website or trusted wellbeing sites and resources. Some of the wellbeing campaigns and content Kent-Teach have provided, alongside our on-hand Wellbeing Advisors, include regular blogs dedicated to a wide range of wellbeing issues, wellbeing activity calendars, handy helplines poster for education staff and the Managing the Menopause bitesize training sessions. 

What Is Kindness?

Put simply, kindness is a powerful and positive force to be reckoned with. It allows each of us to connect with our innate humanity and is something we all have in common. The foundation of individual and collective health and wellbeing is kindness. We all need kindness in our lives; the positivity it projects and the powerful impact it can have is essential to fully living life in the best possible way; a way which allows happiness and wellbeing to thrive. 

The Oxford Languages Dictionary defines kindness as, ‘the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.’ Kindness is an action which expects nothing in return and has wholly-positive and honest intentions. 

Famous & Significant Acts of Kindness

World War One – Christmas Day Ceasefire

In 1914, the first year of WW1, Christmas prompted a temporary truce between the opposing armed forces. During this ceasefire it is believed many acts of kindness occurred including trading cigarettes and food items, collective carol singing, trading prisoners, collection of wounded/deceased troops and, most famously, a game of football. No-mans land was temporarily transformed into a place of kindness and humanity. WW1 is historically one of the most violent events in our history. Yet, briefly, kindness managed to interrupt the conflict. 

Mother Teresa

Saint Mother Teresa dedicated her life to humanitarianism. Her acts of kindness are seemingly endless ranging from creating soup kitchens to caring for abandoned babies. The majority of Mother Teresa’s time was spent in the slums of Kolkata (previously known as Calcutta). She founded The Missionaries of Charity, which was dedicated to caring for abandoned infants and helping those living in extreme poverty. Her life centred around kindness, particularly towards those suffering from illness, poverty, and marginalisation. 

Diana Princess of Wales

Princess Diana is known to many of us as a true patron of kindness. During her life, Princess Diana dedicated much of her time to charitable causes. She famously described how she was in a prime position to help others; not due to her royal title but the deep-rooted connection she felt to those who were suffering, in light of her own personal struggles. The Princess of Wales was most well-known for her dedication to helping those who were misunderstood and rejected by society at the time; namely people who had contracted HIV and leprosy. Historically, Princess Diana was the first member of the Royal Family to touch a person with HIV/AIDS without gloves. For example, when she held hands with a patient dying from AIDS. At the time, HIV and AIDS were significantly misunderstood and there was a great deal of fear and stigma. Diana wanted to reduce the fear surrounding such diseases and spread compassion and kindness. 

Why Is Kindness Good for Mental Health and Wellbeing? 

Research has revealed a positive link between kindness and mental health. Altruism, defined as ‘disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others’, is built on a foundation of kindness. The Mental Health Foundation revealed there is evidence showing mental health and wellbeing can be positively influenced by helping others and engaging in acts of altruism. 

The Mental Health Foundation go on to provide 5 key reasons why kindness and altruism can positively impact our mental health. 

1) We all know that helping others makes us feel good. There is evidence suggesting that helping others can trigger physiological changes in the brain which is connected to happiness. Moreover, by helping others, we can widen our support circles and it can prompt us to be more physically active. All of this can then positively influence self-esteem. 

2) Altruism can prompt feelings of belonging and helps us to form new friendships. Activities, such as volunteering in the community, can reduce loneliness. 

3) Gaining a different perspective can improve our own outlook on life. For example, helping those less fortunate than ourselves can help us to appreciate the positive things in our own lives. Evidence suggests your own acts of kindness and the aspects of your life you are grateful for can improve happiness, optimism and contentment. 

4) Kindness can have a powerful influence. The feel-good nature of kindness can contribute to making the world a better and happier place. Acts of kindness can prove inspirational and may encourage others to follow your example.

5) The more you help others, the more you help yourself. The effects of altruism and kindness are long-lasting for both the recipient and the giver. 

Kindness Quotes

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams

“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” – Barbara De Angelis

“What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.” – Charles Glassman

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart

The key thing to remember is kindness is an entirely positive act. If you are practicing kindness, thinking kind thoughts and speaking kind words, you are flooding yourself with positivity as well as those on the receiving end of your kindness. Your kindness has the potential to be influential, acting as a source of inspiration for others as well as the positivity is projects. Positive words, positive acts and positive thoughts can only have a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing.

If you enjoyed this blog, our article ‘How Do You Foster A Classroom Environment Founded on Mutual Respect, Kindness and Support?’ is ideal to read next for educators in particular. 

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