Random acts of kindness

This week’s blog was written by our Assistant Psychologist Gabby Donaldson.

One year on from our first lockdown and it is clear the world has changed. Social distancing is a habit, handshakes are avoided, and face-to-face interaction seems like something of the past! Because of all of this, I often wonder whether this has led to us sometimes forgetting to show acts of kindness to one another. With having to avoid and keep our distance from other people, it sometimes seems that everyone is in their own little world and no longer having to take notice of other people.

With all of this, there is never a better time than now to remember the quote: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible”.

At Headspace Guildford we are always talking about Action for Happiness which suggests that one of the ways to happier living includes doing things for other people. Showing people kindness, especially in challenging times, can make all the difference and give people a sense of happiness. When these acts of kindness are unexpected, it can make people feel really good, noticed and valued. It is really important that within our communities we look after each other as this will help to develop a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation.

Helping others and being kinder can also be really beneficial to our own mental health. It can make us feel good about ourselves, improve our emotional wellbeing, reduce stress, reduce negative feelings and helps to improve our own self-esteem. Research has even shown that altruistic behaviours and kindness not only helps other people, but also releases endorphins (chemicals which reduce stress and boost mood) into our brains which can improve our own happiness.  

There are many random acts of kindness you can show to others which include helping, caring, sharing, giving and thinking of others. Some specific acts of kindness could include:

  • Calling/messaging a friend or family member to let them know you are thinking of them
  • Checking in with someone who may be having a difficult time
  • Talking to someone (safely at a distance) who may be feeling lonely
  • Smiling and saying hello to people you pass when you’re out and about
  • Having a clear out and donating some clothes to charity
  • Offering to cook dinner
  • Popping into a coffee shop and offering to pay for someone else’s coffee
  • Saying good morning/afternoon, please and thankyou
  • Letting someone know you’re proud of them
  • Talking to the shop assistant when paying at the till
  • Offering to walk a friend’s dog
  • Offering to go grocery shopping for an elderly neighbour
  • Helping someone with work/schoolwork

You don’t have to do all of these at once or all of these each day – even just one random act of kindness a day is a really good start! Whenever I go to a coffee shop, I always pay for someone else’s coffee and this makes me feel really good as I know I have helped someone else out. I also really like smiling at other people when I am out and about, although I must admit, wearing a mask does make this a little tricky! We need to change the belief that social distancing measures means we cannot be kind to others as there are so many other ways that we can start to show kindness. It is really important to not forget about being kind to others, and I think that these small acts of kindness are a great first step in making the world a kinder and happier place following this tough year we have had.   

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘smiles are contagious’? Let’s start showing kindness in our day-to-day life and watch as the kindness spreads.   

So, I leave you with a little challenge this week to try and engage in showing these random acts of kindness and please let us know how you get on!