This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme for this year is kindness. Over the last fortnight at Snowplow, we’ve been sharing the kind things we’ve been doing for not just others, but also for ourselves. We discovered that generally, we were quick to help others out and to surprise them with kind gestures, but we weren’t really looking out for ourselves in the same way.
From sending friends little gifts in the mail to popping the kettle on and making my partner their 8th coffee of the day, I realized that I carry out more kind gestures for others than I do for myself. Of course, I didn’t stop doing kind things for others, but I made sure I spent some more time on me: giving myself a manicure, buying a new game on my Nintendo Switch, adding a cheeky bar of chocolate to the basket of my grocery shopping order - those kinds of things!
I opened this topic up to the rest of the team, just to see how kind they had been to themselves recently, especially in these challenging times.
Simon - Content Marketer says:
“Kindness means being gentle and generous with yourself and others. Another way to put it might be that kindness is love in action.
I recently made my family a playlist of our favourite songs so we can listen to music and think about each other while we’re apart. It’s a really odd playlist, everyone’s personal music taste is so different!
In the last few weeks, I’ve treated myself to a couple of video games and clothes to keep me happy. I’ve also enjoyed cooking and eating a lot!
Apart from exercise and meditation (which are really important to me), I’ve been looking after myself by spending time with my dog, face-timing my family every week and eating and sleeping as well as possible. These things have all really helped my mental health during the crisis.
I’m lucky to work with a group of people who are genuinely kind, funny and who I consider good friends. Not everyone is so fortunate!”
Victoria - Senior Sales Development Rep says:
“Kindness is not judging people, letting them be who they are, listening and providing support to the vulnerable and those who need it.
Today my husband and I offered our time and our car to help a friend out who’s expecting a baby. I am also constantly supporting a cancer project in Ukraine which helps the families of children who cannot afford treatment.
Personally, I allow myself to sleep in till midday on weekends and yesterday I baked cinnamon buns. I like to take courses which help to improve both my mental and physical health, as well as reading books on these topics.
I am a member of a chat with a psychologist who I respect and trust. They cover various topics which allows me to understand myself and my mental health and what I can do to help improve it. Next, I aim to read “Emotional Intelligence”, a book about how we can live in peace with our emotions.”
Pavol - Support Engineer says:
“Kindness is giving caring attention. I have recently spent some time with a friend over the phone who is trying to give up smoking. We’ve been killing time and creating distractions with humor, encouragement and thought-provoking conversation.
I have recently treated myself to an issue of The Economist after a long time and took the time to read the Briefing section attentively.
I’ve been looking after myself by keeping a routine, cleaning the house and giving myself things to look forward to”
Claire - Customer Support Specialist says:
“Kindness is the extra sparkle you have the choice to use to make the world a warmer, lighter and more welcoming place for yourself and others. It’s a real super power.
Celebrating other people’s achievements and giving meaningful praise is a great way to practise kindness. Taking a moment to stop, talk to and really listen to the people you love and care about also works magic. Being kind to myself is a work in progress. Today it looked like reminding myself that it’s okay and perfectly acceptable if my brain isn’t 100% focused all day every day and if some days are less productive than others.
I am allowing myself to feel everything - the happiness, the frustration, the sadness, the hope - all without restraint or trying to justify my emotions. Then it is talking to my girlfriend, family, friends and colleagues openly and honestly those feelings.
Being busy, constructive and creative with my time brings me a lot of peace and fulfilment. Lately that has translated to writing a short weekly magazine in our flat that we share with our families, cooking a lot - especially new recipes, working out daily and running a new Instagram account focused on sustainability and mindfulness.“
Chrissie - VP Marketing says:
“Kindness is the consideration you give to everyone, regardless of their reaction, behaviour and the outcome. It doesn’t have to be recognised, but it should always be given.
This weekend I sent a bouquet of flowers to a friend just to make her smile as she’s really been struggling in lockdown,
I’m ashamed to say that I can’t actually recall the last time I was kind to myself, but I am staying in touch with friends and making sure to be present when spending time with my family. I’m also making sure I’m going outside for a walk everyday.
If you ask my children for any of my ‘go to’ phrases… they will tell you that I say ‘always be kind’”
Aidan - Solutions Architect says:
“Kindness is doing something to improve someone’s life without expecting anything in return.
The last kind thing I did for someone else was review a friend’s CV. The last kind thing I did for myself was splurging on nice food from M&S.
Over lockdown, I’ve been making sure to stay in touch with friends and family, making sure I get enough sleep and trying to get outside everyday for a little dose of vitamin D from the sun”
Archit - Solutions Architecture Lead says:
“Kindness is taking action based on an empathetic assessment of a situation.
This morning I put a chair out on the balcony for my girlfriend before she got up because it was sunny outside.
Last night I took a long, hot shower to unwind (Sorry environment!). I’ve also been making sure to set up calls with people I like, both inside and outside of work.
I genuinely feel so lucky that I live with someone I really like, I have an apartment I like, I don’t have major responsibilities yet (like children) and my job allows me to work from home. I know this pandemic must be really hard for many people particularly if they know someone taken ill, I am just grateful that so far my life has remained relatively unaffected.”
Miriam - People Ops Manager says:
“Kindness to me is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes before you act or speak. It’s realising that you don’t know everything about someone, why they may be behaving in a certain way or the things that are going on in their personal lives, and therefore acting with compassion. It’s about being considerate of others, and of yourself.
Last week I bought flowers for my friend in South Africa because it was her birthday. I also took some time out of my day to a yoga session. Sometimes I find myself sitting at my desk for hours so giving myself that time to move and relax feels great.
I really struggled with my mental health at the start of lockdown because I was sick for a couple of weeks so wasn’t able to exercise, work or even go outside for fresh air. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been exercising daily, have taken up longboarding and running, and have got back into rollerblading. Being outside and keeping active are both super important for my mental health so that’s all been helping.
To me, being caring, kind, respectful and considerate of others is something that I highly respect in other people, and I think it makes any relationship - be it work, friends or with a partner, healthier and more enjoyable. I’m basically the girl in Mean Girls who wants to bake a cake made out of rainbows and smiles so everyone can be happy. If you know you know.”
Nienke - Solutions Architect says:
Kindness is making someone feel valued as a person.
Over the last few weeks we’ve been doing groceries for my in-laws, so they don’t have to risk going out. And we usually include something nice they didn’t ask for, just as a surprise.
I recently started playing an instrument again and I make sure to make time to practice. I’m trying to keep things as normal as possible with regards to day to day activities. I already meditated before, but it’s been really nice during lockdown as well and I make sure to go on a walk once a day, just to leave the house.
Denika - Talent Acquisition Manager says:
I think kindness is being polite, nice, helpful and considerate to anyone (regardless of whether you know them or not) without expecting any reward in return.
The last kind thing I did was pretty random - I was in a McDonald’s drive thru and decided to pay for the food that the car behind me ordered (as well as my order). I hoped that they would pay it forward.
I’m trying to get back into exercising and meditating regularly. After having children, it is easy to forget about yourself. Exercising and meditating has reminded me to be kind to myself, my mind and my body. I am trying to force myself to log off at 6pm every day during the working week and avoiding my laptop on weekends. Also, finding fun ways to interact with my family via zoom has made lockdown a bit easier to handle.”
We’ve all been doing different things to ensure we’re looking after ourselves. Being kind doesn’t have to be a physical thing, such as a long hot bath and face masks, sometimes we can be kind to ourselves by saying no to things we don’t have the physical or mental capacity to do, or remembering it’s okay to have days which may not be as productive as others.
What have you done for yourself recently?