Kindness has never been more needed right now. People shouting at the television, social media literally on fire with varying viewpoints; enduring weeks of isolation has taken its toll. The action of being ‘amiable’ and being supportive to a friend, family member, virtual acquaintance, work associate, neighbour and last, but not least, yourself.
Be kind to yourself
The character trait that mostly involves outward gestures is often, in our busy lives, the one we forget to practise to ourselves. I often forget self-care, even though it is vital in maintaining good mental health. Luckily I have family and friends who regularly remind me to: ‘Take time out; be kind to yourself, as only then are you in the best place to help others – you’ve got this’. As a result – it has become my current mantra. I even designed an image with this wording to appear on my phone screen as my wake up greeting. It has got me through lockdown isolation thus far.
Positive actions during lockdown
Starting the day with exercise – Being active and letting off steam with an ’emotional’ run to get rid of sad or angry feelings building up. I miss martial arts and HIT classes so I attempt to do a You Tube workout first thing in the morning because it makes me feel more productive in my outlook for the rest of the day.
Music makes me happy – Have alternating playlists to suit your mood or get an Alexa echo to make one up for you. Dance around the house playing it full blast. Jump off the sofa performing air guitar. Sing ‘Three Little Birds’ by the iconic Bob Marley for reassurance. Play ‘Eye of the tiger’ and raise your arms in triumph at the end of a Joe Wicks class, believe me, completing that is a victory. Memories like these – you can’t buy. (In case you’re wondering the neighbours don’t mind, they asked for my 80s and alternative/rock playlist so they can sing along too).
Being creative – I remember my parents being told I was a daydreamer and too expressive at school. Nothing has changed. Homeschooling has been a mash up, for want of a better word, consisting of educational apps (with Minecraft and Roblox mixed in), you tube, movie editing and performances (Horrible Histories featuring ‘the floss’). This imaginative teaching approach has improved memory recall and enabled little ones to become more empathetic. Even so, I am counting down the days when they can safely return to school and be taught by a proper teacher.
10 minute break – Close your eyes, breathe and do absolutely nothing. Zilch, Nada.
Weekly video chats – Rotating on Zoom and House Party, catching up with friends, family and playing quizzes. I now have a wealth of general knowledge. Did you know an octopus has 3 hearts? Well, now you do.
Reading and writing – Find new genres to explore. Write down ideas, aspirations, frustrations in a weekly planner in the evening. It clears lingering thoughts, lightens the load and stops procrastinating. The little ones have a feelings diary, with stickers and emojis – which significantly helps to control their anxiety, especially at a time when I am unable to answer endless questions about the future.
What will kindness achieve?
Do you remember being told repeatedly as a child to be kind – so what’s changed?
I have been asked this question recently. Although 2020 will be considered by most of us as the year to forget, I found myself reeling off numerous acts of generosity of spirit from individuals and groups:
- Clap with neighbours as a community on a Thursday night to thank NHS workers and keyworkers in all their guises
- Virtual strangers buying each other gifts on Amazon Wishlist
- Charities and local communities providing foodbanks and helping the homeless find shelter. Certain people are so often dismissed as if they are invisible – they are not.
- Colonel Tom’s walking challenge before his 100th birthday which raised millions for charity. Melted the hearts of a nation with his selfless act of kindness.
- A neighbour makes a family treat every Wednesday night and she hands it over the fence to save me making dinner that day. Makes me cry happy tears every week as I am not used to people offering help. For instance, last week it included dessert – a cheese board and wine – kindness at the highest level after a long day.
- Picking up freshly baked bloomers from the local bakery for my elderly neighbour and a friend on her own on my road. I leave it on the doorstep and I love their reaction, inhaling the bread and giving a thumbs up. I know they both struggle a bit getting shopping in, so I pick up extras for them when I do my food dash.
- Giving change to a complete stranger who did not have enough for his food shop and forgot his bank card. I laid the fiver on the checkout table. It is not often that I see someone have tears in their eyes in public – that day I did.
Kindness achieves many things. Consequently, it can change a person’s outlook for the better or improve their luck for the day. Sometimes a little gesture can make a big difference.
Will kindness end after lockdown?
I really hope not. People, for the first time in a long, long time, are honestly interested in the answer to: How are you feeling? Being in the same boat, as the saying goes, has brought compassion and a shared understanding. Being appreciative and taking the time to talk to each other.
People use the phrase to ‘love unconditionally‘, this pandemic has taught me that it is equally important to ‘listen unconditionally‘ – to offer comforting words when needed or to give space and be there when the time is right – that is what support and kindness means to me.
The Jennifer Dukes Lee quote ‘In a world where you can be anything – be kind’ couldn’t be more on point now.
A good friend has a t-shirt with these words scrawled across it and it makes me smile. Anyone who knows me well, knows I like a good slogan t-shirt.
If we learn anything from this pandemic – let it be this phrase.
© May 2020
Follow me on Twitter Maria M @TravelRunMum
Check out my blog TRAVELRUNMUM www.travelrunmum.co.uk
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