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Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 – Kindness

This week (May 18-24) is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme this year is kindness in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which is having a huge impact on our mental health globally.

If there is one thing that small businesses have in spades, it’s kindness and throughout this pandemic I have felt so lucky to be cheerleading this wonderful, innovative and unstoppable community!

Something I always talk about, and which every expert, founder and small business owner I have spoken to throughout SME: SOS has commented on, is the power of community. And right now, across the world, we are seeing genuine, heartfelt connection and kindness within communities unlike anything I have ever seen, and it is these expressions of kindness that are helping us all get through this incredibly challenging time.

So I want to share some more information about kindness, because kindness goes far beyond obligatory ‘thank you’s’ and it’s a power that needs to be recognised! Mark Rowland, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said that “we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-imagine a kinder society – one that protects all our mental health”. The charity is asking the government to think about kindness when they are making decisions about how the country is run.

I can’t contain my joy when reading things like this right now. Being a glass-half-full person, I can’t help but try and see the silver lining in any situation, and it would be an absolute travesty if we didn’t use this ‘great pause’ to take stock and make changes, because my god do we need them! I believe this is all part of what I’m calling the ‘Enrichment Era‘ – as we build a better and kinder world…

From clapping for our carers each Thursday and shopping for those who are vulnerable to creating happy rainbows for our windows and signs to thank the postie, these acts have no hidden motive or agenda, they are expressions of genuine kindness and thanks, and they are just the tip of the iceberg, as it is all the little acts combined that are creating this wave of change. Because did you know that kindness is contagious? Whether giving, receiving or observing a kind act, the chemicals released mean you will feel the positive effects of kindness, and be significantly more likely to act kindly yourself. It creates a ripple effect that can improve the day of loads of people!

The Mental Health Foundation recently conducted a survey into kindness and found that:

  • Two-thirds of people say that when someone is kind to them it has a positive impact on their mental health – and it works in reverse too, with the same amount of people finding that being kind to others had a positive effect
  • Almost 50% of people said that being kind to themselves had a positive effect, something we all need to get better at!
  • And three-quarters feel it is important to learn from the coronavirus pandemic to be more kind as a society (woohoo)

On top of this, being kind has been scientifically proven to benefit us in SO many ways. Through the oxytocin (the kindness hormone), serotonin and endorphins it releases, kindness:

  • Is good for your heart
  • Contagious
  • Slows ageing
  • Gives you energy
  • Makes you feel happy
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Supports your immune system
  • Reduces pain

Our motto at Holly & Co has always been inspired by the great Margaret Mead quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. And whilst the small business community might be made up of many small groups, together we are a powerhouse of influence and I think the world is more ready than ever to have our back and receive our magic.

From Dave Buonaguidi and Rob Ryan, sending out free prints to lift peoples spirits, to Freddie’s Flowers delivering floral thank you’s to nurses, there’s so much kindness pouring out of the small business community right now, and I just want to say the biggest THANK YOU, from myself and the Holly & Co team. It doesn’t go unnoticed, we see you and we’re so proud of you.

It’s a bank holiday this weekend which is the perfect time to go and spread some kindness in your world! Send some handwritten happy mail, bake a cake and drop it round to a friend you miss, support your local garden centre and buy yourself some plants to tend to (a well know mood booster), smile at people, say thank you and don’t forget about yourself too #SmallChangesTheWorld #kindnessmatters

@mentalhealthfoundation

Human Kindness bottle featured created by the brilliant Vinegar and Brown Paper.