Kindness and listening

May 21, 2020, 02:47 PM

There are good mental health reasons to be kind; for the people we live with, the wider community, but just as importantly, for ourselves.

The theme of Kindness has been chosen during mental health awareness week as it’s central focus this year

It is often the case that we have so little time or space in which to manoeuvre during our busy lives, that being kind is not always our top priority.

For some of us, since lockdown, we have noticed and been more deeply aware of what’s happening, both for the people we live with and, those who we aren’t able to see due to social-distancing.  Nature has at times,  taken centre stage.

There seems to have been more kindness around, whether simply people chatting more to neighbours, or volunteering to help those who aren’t able to help themselves.  Maybe, there’s a friendlier feel in the air at the moment?

There are good mental health reasons to be kind; for the people we live with, the wider community, but just as importantly, for ourselves.

There is a large body of evidence now,  that compassion and kindness is associated with better mental health and well-being,  and  for instance, is well established within positive parenting programmes. Compassion helps people respond more skilfully to distress, and there is promising evidence coming through from biological markers like lower stress induced inflammation.

Mindfulness trains our mind to be calmer, stiller so that we can make more skilful moment to moment choices as we live our lives, when we remember!  But if it was just an attention training exercise, it wouldn’t be Mindfulness.  Mindfulness needs kindness,  during any moment of meditation we are training our attitude to ourselves, an attitude of kindness and gentleness, that allows us to make mistakes, learn from them and make mistakes again.  We are human!  Kindness doesn’t come easily to many of us, even the word itself, can bring out cynicism and resistance.  Which means that this is a training that we need to practice.  Something that helps our mental health in the short, medium and long term, can’t be too bad!