Last week, my son suddenly became really ill. He went from bouncing around, and being his normal self, to being in pain, with a fever and hardly able to sit upright or keep his eyes open, within 30 minutes. After speaking to the Nurse on Call service, we ended up at the emergency department at our local hospital, to find out what was wrong.
Luckily for us, after a few hours in hospital, some tests and medicine, he started to feel a bit better. He was even bantering with the nurses. We were sent home, and while he was still unwell that night (we were awake many times), and a little out of sorts the next day, he made a full recovery.
I was so grateful and relieved that it was nothing serious. And I was also exhausted.
The next morning, my husband performed some sort of miracle and convinced my son to leave the bedroom quietly and leave me to sleep. I’m not joking when I call it a miracle. My son would usually refuse point blank to get up without me and since he sleeps next to me most nights, he would normally keep poking me, touching my face, talking, complaining and making noise until I gave up and got out of bed. So, in our house, it feels like a miracle for me to have an uninterrupted sleep in. When I did get up, breakfast was waiting for me. What a lovely start to the day.
An hour or so later, I checked my phone, and I’d received a message from a beautiful lady that I had only met recently in the online business community. She knew that we’d been in hospital the day before, and she took a minute out of her time with her own family, to think of me and send a message to see how we were. I was touched by her kind gesture, especially given we hardly knew each other.
The ways in which these people showed kindness to me made a huge difference to how I felt for the rest of the day. I’m still talking about it!
I’m hoping you also have plenty of examples of when people have showed kindness to you.
How did it make you feel?
- Like you mattered?
- Cared for?
- A little less stressed or overwhelmed?
- Closer to the person who helped you?
I’m sure we’d all agree, that when others show us kindness, it can be great for our wellbeing.
What I love though, is that when we show kindness to others, not only is a great for the receiver, it is also great for our own wellbeing. That means that showing kindness can actually be a form of self care.
Plus, when we show kindness to ourselves, it is seriously powerful!
We’re often much kinder to others than we are to ourselves. It’s important that in being kind to others, we aren’t being unkind to ourselves. Sure, sometimes you’re going to put others’ needs before your own (ok, I know you do this A LOT, lovely mum). But overall, in the longer term, remember to include yourself in your acts of kindness.
The benefits of showing kindness
Think about a time when you have shown kindness to others.
Did you notice any change in how you felt?
Here are some of the benefits to your wellbeing when you show kindness to others, or yourself: (Note: kindness is a contributor to these results, not usually the sole cause)
- Strengthened relationships with others and increased feelings of connectedness (we need connection to thrive)
- Reduced stress, anxiety and depression (lowered cortisol levels)
- Improved resilience when dealing with challenges and negative emotions
- Makes you feel happier and calmer (increased serotonin levels help you relax)
- Helps you feel loved
- Improved confidence, energy and optimism
- Increased feelings of self-worth
- Helps you experience more gratitude
- Improved ability to be empathetic
- See yourself in a more positive way, and therefore help others see you in this way also.
Some studies even suggest that regularly showing kindness may slow the ageing process and reduce pain. Once study showed that kindness was more attractive than good looks.
Interestingly, it’s not just the giver and receiver that benefit from acts of kindness. Even people who see you being kind feel happier (this is called elevation).
What showing kindness is not
There are some misunderstandings out there around kindness, so let’s take a moment to clear those up.
Kindness is not:
- Being weak or allowing people to take advantage of you. You can be strong, assertive AND kind.
- Always being nice. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for someone (including yourself) might be something that doesn’t initially please them. For example, saying no to something that you know isn’t right for the person, or making yourself do something that is needed, but you’d rather not do, for example, medical check-ups, limiting excessive spending or exercising when you’d rather stay snug in bed.
- Acting with the expectation of getting something in return, including acknowledgement. It is, however, completely fine to appreciate these things when you do receive them.
Inspiration for showing kindness
There are opportunities for showing kindness all around us every day and everyone can benefit from having someone show them kindness.
Here are 50 ideas about how you can show kindness to others and to yourself. Perhaps you could try some new ones and look after your wellbeing at the same time!
Showing kindness to others:
- Help or share the load with someone who needs it.
- Notice when others are struggling or suffering and show your concern.
- Speak kindly to others.
- Give compliments.
- Give practical help that is not necessarily needed, but is still valuable, e.g. opening doors, offering to help carry something.
- Give, share or lend things.
- Celebrate others’ successes.
- Deliver difficult messages in a gentle yet honest way, with the intention of helping someone.
- Judge less, even when the thought pops into your mind.
- Choose to be quiet, when something (negative) doesn’t really need to be said.
- Send a text message that says “I’m thinking of you”.
- Donate things you don’t need to charity or an organisation / person who needs them.
- When you hear a conversation turning negative in regards to someone who isn’t present, steer the conversation to be more supportive.
- Send a handwritten thank you note (I love these!).
- Forgive someone (this one is really good for your own wellbeing).
- Say hello and smile at the people that you pass.
- Leave someone a kind note or small gift, just because.
- Be totally present when you are with others and really listen.
- Pay attention to what people like and value and do something related. For example, pick up their favourite treat from the shop, make their favourite meal.
- Smile empathetically at the mum who is visibly having a hard time (help if you can!).
- Tell someone about the positive impact they have had on you and your life.
- Keep an open mind when you’re talking to others, and see what you can learn from them, rather than having to be always right.
- Extend compassion to others, remembering that there is often a deeper reason for people’s actions and reactions.
- Remember things that people tell you and ask them about it later, for example, their plans, birthday, family, etc.
- Have realistic expectations of people, including your children.
Showing kindness to yourself
- Speak kindly to yourself as you would to a friend.
- Show yourself some compassion in challenging times, remembering that you are human.
- Devote time and energy to taking care of yourself and your wellbeing.
- Forgive yourself for mistakes.
- Have realistic expectations of yourself.
- Believe in yourself.
- Smile at yourself in the mirror (I know that sounds weird but it works!).
- Make time for the things that bring you joy.
- Recognise your achievements and the things you do well.
- Be your own cheerleader / encourager (don’t rely on everyone else!).
- Avoid comparing yourself to others.
- Keep your promises to yourself.
- Honour your dreams and needs.
- Speak up when you need to stand up for yourself, or voice your opinion or ideas.
- Learn to comfort yourself.
- Accept yourself as you are and give yourself permission to be your authentic self.
- Be honest with yourself.
- Accept and validate your own feelings.
- Trust yourself and back your own decisions.
- Release yourself from guilt.
- Ask yourself “what do I need right now?” and do that!
- Rest more when you think you don’t have the time.
- Identify the things that cause you stress and proactively manage them.
- Continue learning about yourself.
- Place as much value on your own needs as you place on the needs of others.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” – AESOP
These 50 examples of showing kindness are only just a starting point, lovely! There are endless options. This week, I encourage you to find new ways to show kindness both to others and to yourself. And you can consider it self care!
What is 1 new way you will show kindness to others?
What is 1 new way you will show kindness to yourself?