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If you’re Googling “acts of kindness”, chances are, you’re after some ideas for things to do that’ll make someone smile.
An act of kindness, in its simplest form, is simply doing something nice for someone or something just because. As Dr Radha Modgil, a BBC Radio 1 presenter and wellbeing expert pointed out at a recent event hosted by ACS International School Cobham, “kindness is a gesture motivated by genuine feelings for others and can mean a lot of different things to different people.”
By that, she means what you perceive as kind – someone making you a cup of tea at work when you’re back-to-back with meetings or remembering your go-to breakfast order at a cafe – will be different to someone else. Every person is unique and their perception of the world is unique, too.
Did you know? Research by the Mental Health Foundation shows that 63% of UK adults agree that when other people are kind, it has a positive impact on their mental health and the same proportion of people agree that being kind to others has a positive impact on their own wellbeing too. Don’t miss our health editor’s go-to self care ideas, morning routine ideas, and methods for reframing negative thoughts, while you’re here.
What is an act of kindness?
So what does kindness mean to Modgil, then? “First and foremost, I believe kindness is a tool for self-care. It is a form of therapy – something that makes us feel better and which can help us to recover,” she shares.
Kindness, secondly, is an act of courage. “When people aren’t necessarily showing kindness themselves, it takes a lot of courage to step up and actually be kind,” she shares. “But no matter how vulnerable it may make you feel, your acts of kindness can make such a difference to somebody’s life and overall wellbeing.”
Dr Essam Daod, a child psychiatrist and co-founder of Humanity Crew agrees, further adding that kindness is an act of self care. “The best thing you can do for your own wellbeing is to give to others, but in order to help others you need to look after yourself first, too.”
Why are acts of kindness so important?
Wondering why an acts of kindness article is appearing on the health and fitness section of Marie Claire UK? Good question – and because, in short, kindness and wellbeing are intrinsically linked. “We know that performing acts of kindness can help us feel more capable and so can boost self-esteem,” shares Modgil.
Not just that, but it can be a lifesaver, too. “When someone is really struggling, simple acts of kindness and being listened to – whatever the interaction is – really can save someone’s life and help them on their path to feeling and getting better.”
“Kindness really is an action.”
Kindness can also help us to strengthen our relationships and social connections with others, which is well established as being essential for good mental wellbeing, share both experts.
18 acts of kindness to try tonight
Because, remember: taking a few moments out of our day to be considerate of others can have a huge impact. We recommend checking out the official Random Acts of Kindness website, too.
1. Holding the door open for a stranger
2. Texting your sibling or friend to see how their day was
3. Listening to those around you and in need
4. Asking others if they need help
5. Volunteer at a charity
6. Offer your time to a worthy cause, like a
7. Find a pen pal and write to them
8. Go for a run with someone who struggles with fitness motivation
9. Wish someone a good morning
10. Smile at a stranger
11. Eat lunch with a new colleague or friend
12. Write a positive review
13. Praise a friend
14. Bake a cake and share with your neighbours
15. Add your pronouns to your email signature and social media accounts
16. Let someone jump in front of you in a queue
17. Help someone with directions
18. Thank your postman.
Reporting by Dionne Brighton.