“It’s Groundhog Day!”. Whether working from home, taking online classes, or using this time to unwind, it is easy to become disheartened by the monotony of the lockdown routine. For many of us the days seem endless, made up of a series of repeated tasks with no tangible distinctions.
But, every now and again there are glimmers of hope. An act of kindness – whether it’s a 100-year old veteran doing laps of his garden for the NHS, a teenager using his spare time to create medical-grade visors, or simply someone checking in on a friend, these are moments which stick out, and hold more gravity than ever. These will be what define our response to this crisis, highlighting that physical distance from others doesn’t mean that we’re alone, or that we ought to make less of an effort to be kind.
Being kind to yourself
Lockdown has brought out many responses from people – there’s everything from fitness fanatics to avid bakers and new-found authors, all using this time to reinvent themselves and hone new skills. Whatever your situation, there is this undeniable social pressure to react to the pandemic in a certain way.
In my first few weeks of working from home, I put so much pressure on myself to overwork and prove myself in my new role that the only result was high levels of unnecessary stress. Putting yourself under this pressure to react to the pandemic in ‘the right way’ makes it hard to be kind to yourself, and then spread kindness to others. We are often quick to reassure others of their worth at such a time of distress, yet neglect giving ourselves the same courtesy.
Check in on people
From this pandemic has emerged a plethora of different ways we can connect and be kind to each other, with everything from Zoom and Skype, to TikTok and House Party. Almost every social occasion now has a virtual alternative, including birthday parties, dates, pub quizzes and coffee chats.
It’s important that we try not to miss out on social events we would have otherwise had, making sure much of the time we would have spent connecting with others is maintained. Especially in a world where it is becoming the norm for newer starters to know their co-workers better virtually than in person, staying connected is important in whatever way we can.
It’s all about the ‘moments’
Introducing more kindness into our daily routine is not about a radical transformation, where we become somebody who always puts others first and radiates positivity. Especially when living in a pandemic, with the entailed anxieties and strains, it’s an impossible standard to weigh ourselves up against.
Instead, it is about the moments. The moments where we ask somebody how they’re doing, genuinely because we care about the response. Where we offer someone a helping hand, not just because we feel like it’s expected. These moments if repeated enough become habits, and inspire others to follow suit with the same motivation. These steps, however small they may seem, are steps towards creating a culture of kindness.
If there is a positive message from Groundhog Day, it’s that even with the same day over and over, there is the potential to become better.
The Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ runs from the 18th-24th May 2020, and this year’s theme is Kindness. Find out more about the campaign, and how you can get involved here.