10 random acts of kindness you can do today

random acts of kindness

February 12th sees the start of Random Acts of Kindness Week. I don’t care much for these types of campaigns – although I’ll admit National Doughnut Day has made me reconsider – but if there’s something to raise awareness about, being kind to one another does nothing but good things in my book.

From a mental health perspective, showing kindness to a stranger is incredibly powerful. You’ll never know how important a welcoming smile could be to a person with anxiety, or offering your parking ticket to someone who’s so stressed that they forgot to bring change for the meter.

As someone with depression and anxiety I also take pleasure in being kind to others. It can lift my mood, make me feel productive and worth something on days when my brain wants me to feel otherwise.

1. Give to a homeless person

Since living in Birmingham I’ve become very aware that homelessness is a real problem in this city. I pass a homeless person almost everyday on the way to work and I try and give him something to eat. If you can do this today then I know it would help.

2. Give a stranger a compliment

I work in a customer service environment so I meet hundreds of people everyday. I regularly have an inner dialogue which goes something like this, “She has a lovely smile. I love her top. She’s so friendly”. Then I go on with my day and forget all about it. The few times where I’ve actually vocalised a compliment to a stranger have always ended well. People love to receive compliments!

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3. Buy someone a coffee

This is my go-to act of kindness when I’m feeling generous. Who doesn’t appreciate a free coffee? Ask your mate out for a drink and don’t let them pay or simply take a hot drink into work for someone who needs it. You won’t regret it.

4. Listen

We all have those friends or colleagues who can talk for Britain. If like me, you tend to zone out when they speak then try and spend today really listening to what they have to say. It could be that you actually find it interesting!

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5. Tip your server

As a cafe worker I’m obliged to ask that you consider us who prepare your food and beverages everyday with a smile. OK I don’t smile all of the time but believe me, I’m making a huge effort not to look grumpy when we make eye contact. I can guarantee you that a generous tip does not go unnoticed to us minimum wage earners, so consider popping an extra few coins in the jar on your way out today.

6. Send someone flowers

Valentines Day may have passed, but giving someone fresh flowers never gets old. It might be an elderly neighbour who helps feed your pet or the childminder who always goes the extra mile for your little ones, but whoever it is you can be sure a surprise bouquet will put a smile on their face.

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7. Giveaway something you don’t need

Cleaning out your closet is a great place to start if you’re looking for something to giveaway. I recently gave away a few brand new t-shirts that were too small for me and I was glad they went to someone who wanted them. You might find you have something of use which you can give to a friend, if not just fill up a box for charity.

8. Offer your services for free

If you run a business then why not run a competition where someone can win something that you would normally charge for? Or you could simply pick one of your customers at random and give them a special discount. These little freebies are also a great marketing tool that give your business the human touch.

9. Give to a charity

Instead of buying a sandwich at lunch, why not bring in a home made meal and put a fiver in the nearest charity box? You could also donate a box of unwanted clothes or household items to your local charity shop or sign up to a fundraising event like a run or walk.

random acts of kindness mental health blogger UK

10. Make the call

Remember, you don’t need to spend a penny to be kind. Promise yourself that today you’ll make that call you’ve been avoiding. It might be your mum, a sibling or an old work friend that’s gone off the radar for too long. It only takes a few minutes but it can make someone’s day.

Tweet me and let me know what random act of kindness you performed today!

Why I’m grateful for my mum

gratitude mum mental health blogger

 

This week in the Year of Gratitude Challenge the topic of conversation is my mum. I don’t want to bang on about it too long because let’s face it; we all love our mums. I’m sure you can identify when I say she’s been there for me no matter what, looked after me when I’m ill and washed all of my cider-stained clothing throughout my university years. So let me keep this light-hearted, simple and to the point. Check out fellow blogger LuLu’s posts on gratitude too.

She spoils me

As much as I like to think of myself as a strong, self-sufficient girl boss (not quite a Beyonce but I’ve definitely got a Kelly Rowland vibe going on) there are still times when I need my mum to bail me out. Not in any serious sense like paying my rent (OK maybe that has happened) or credit card debt, but more in a “I’ve ran out of clothes” kind of way. Recently she treated me to a selection of Marks and Spencer underwear (that’s some fancy shit as far as I’m concerned) and I was on cloud nine for a good few weeks. She is also exceptionally good at keeping me fully stocked with my Liz Earle favourites which to be honest makes life more bearable on so many levels.

She has no expectations

Yes, I am grateful for the fact that my own mother has never had any expectations of what I should become. I’m sure she’s always had hopes and dreams, but never once has she led me to believe that I should do something in particular to please her. Never once has she scoffed at a failed essay, an ignored hobby or a poor outfit choice (remember when satin shirts were in?) and for that she’s the best. When I left university without Honours she was totally cool with it, and looking back it was such a gift to feel free enough to do that without any guilt. She also agreed that quitting my job was the best thing to do for my mental health.

She gives me space

It’s hard to explain to people what I mean when I say I need space. What I really mean most of the time is that I need to be alone. Often for days at a time. I have a small amount of energy to deal with stressful situations (which for me are busy places, socialising with people, being away from home) and when that energy is used up I need to recharge. Being such a stereotypical introvert means that I regularly need to be left alone with only myself for company. I know to others that might sound selfish, but luckily my mum can tell when I need that time and she lets me take as long as I need.

What are you grateful for this week?

 

Why I’m grateful for my family

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It’s that time again where I want to set my other work aside and practice gratitude. This is a task I’m taking great pleasure in if I’m honest, and I didn’t realise just how much I have to be grateful for until I started this challenge. I’m also joined by Lu Lu Blue who is doing this challenge too.

I won’t talk about my husband today as he got an entire blog post dedicated to him last week, instead I want to talk about my close family. I come from a small family. It’s just my parents and my two brothers and I. We are a quiet bunch of folks and we get on pretty well.

Here are a few specific things I’m grateful for and why:

My parents always encouraged extra-curricular activities. My younger brother Colin played football and my older brother Stuart has been a drummer in a band since he was a teenager. I was in a drama club, played piano and loved drawing and writing as a kid. We were always expected to try our best in school, but as long as we could promise mum and dad that we ‘tried our best’ we were never judged for our grades. This helped build our social skills and let us express ourselves creatively in a way which has made us who we are today.

We’ve all done stupid stuff. Thank god that we’ve stuck by each other through it all. No one holds a grudge in my family and we all remember the good – and embarrassing – times more than anything else. When we get together we generally have a laugh about stupid shit we’ve done and enjoy it. There’s no judgement.

We live apart but it’s not too bad. One of my brothers now lives in Australia, and although it’s hard not to see him at family events I’m grateful that he’s found a partner and settled down in an exciting new place. I’ve moved away from Scotland too (only to Birmingham, so not quite so far) and I’m grateful that my parents still make the effort to come and visit me as much as possible. I’m also grateful that they forgive me when I get busy and forget to call them for a few weeks. I need to work on that one!

Above all, I’m grateful for the unconditional love I receive from all of my family members. As someone with depression and anxiety it’s easy for me to feel like I’ve become a burden to others when I’m going through a particularly bad period. I know I have family I can rely on and I can ask them for anything. That’s what I’m most grateful for.

 

 

Year of gratitude week 2: Spouse

 

It time to explore the year of gratitude again, and I’m so excited to talk this week about how grateful I am to have my husband! If you like this post then check out this post from LuLu Blue on the same subject.

I don’t think you need to be in a relationship to be happy. Quite the opposite in fact; you need to be happy in yourself to develop a good relationship. I don’t talk much about my marriage online because it was my choice to start blogging – not his – and it’s not my place to start sharing our private life online. There are however a few things I want to highlight;

He has showed amazing strength throughout my mental illness

When I quit my job and soon realised I was unfit to work at all, he was incredibly supportive. He didn’t make me feel guilty about being unable to provide an income to our household and even though I often felt like I wasn’t contributing, I never felt under pressure to go back work until I was ready. I acted irrationally for many months. My social anxiety was particularly crippling but he was always by my side in those situations where I felt I might have to ‘escape’ at any moment. As soon as I needed to leave I gave him the secret nod and off we would trot, calmly without any fuss. This was an immense help to me because when I felt like a total weirdo he didn’t question it.

grwhat i'm grateful for 2017

He brought me to Birmingham

When he was offered his dream job in June 2016 and given a month to relocate, I didn’t think twice about screaming “Yes! Let’s go”. I’ll admit I had some teething issues when we first arrived – no surprise there – but I’m so happy we left Glasgow to come here. Obviously I still pine for real potato scones and Irn Bru on tap but Birmingham has given me so many opportunities with regards to blogging, work and meeting new people. I’m pretty sure I would never have ended up here (geographically and mentally) if it wasn’t for him so I’m incredibly grateful for that.

He accepts me entirely

We forget when we fall in love that things change. People’s interests and desires grow and adapt over time and this has been true for me over our 12 year relationship. When we met I was a rock-chick who slurped cider for breakfast. Now I’m a gym-addict who loves nothing more than a night in with a face mask and a bowl of soup. I’ve been a size 20 and a size 10. I’ve had a well-paid management job and now I work for minimum wage. No matter what decision I make or how I think I look to others, I know that I’ll always have the unconditional love of my husband.

What are you grateful for this week?

 

Year of gratitude week 1: Why start this challenge?

mental health blogger uk gratitude 2017 challenge

If you didn’t catch my post earlier this week, click here to find out more about the year of gratitude challenge that I’ve decided to try out on my blog.

I won’t lie. I kind of decided to do this at the last minute. I was at my in-laws house over Christmas and I was hiding in our allotted guest room whilst my husband was out with friends. I’d hit the wall with socialising and needed some time to myself. Whilst scrolling through Pinterest I came across this pin listing 52 writing prompts in relation to gratitude. Had I stumbled across this in the middle of August, it’s likely I’d have thought ‘nice idea’ and moved on. But with New Year’s Eve imminent and the thought of a new calendar of blog posts to plan, the concept seemed interesting. Here are a few specific reasons…

Weekly deadlines

When it comes to goal setting I’m a firm believer in ‘fake it until you make it’. I will set a deadline or sign up for something that seems totally unattainable, knowing deep down that the act of setting the goal is what forces me take action to make it happen. When I signed up to run a half marathon several years ago I knew that I would do it because I’d booked and paid for my place. I didn’t think about the end goal much, just the steps I had to take to get there. I announced it publicly – albeit just on Facebook – which it held me accountable; another mind trick I regularly use on myself when I’m putting off doing something. I like the idea of having a weekly schedule of ideas to write about from a blogging point of view. More importantly, I like that I will be reflecting on my life in a positive, helpful way on a regular basis. I believe this is going to set me up to have a strong, healthy outlook over the next 12 months.

My mental health

I’ve overcome some things in 2016 that I’m really proud of. I didn’t plan to do most of them but for whatever reason, I felt confident enough to try and I wasn’t disappointed. I started writing more regularly, made progress with my social anxiety, started to work through my body image problems and faced up to my issues around food. Blogging about mental health has been a cathartic process for me and for that I’m eternally grateful. I hope I always have the ability to write in some form, and committing to this challenge is a way to secure that for the next year. I know it will help me work through some negative thoughts as well as give thanks for everything that’s brought me to this point.

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I make myself cringe when I read some of the crap I drone on about on here, and I’m fully aware that I sound like some self-proclaimed internet ‘life coach’ when I say you get what you give in life. I know you’ve heard it a hundred times before, but I truly believe that you receive the energy you give out. When you are constantly negative then your life becomes negative by default. I use the word ‘energy’ with no spiritual connotations; it’s merely the best word I can find to describe what I mean. I want to use this challenge as a way to send out positive energy about all the good things in life. I want to point out the small things that make my world a happy place, even when I’m not necessarily happy myself. Suffering from depression means that those days will certainly come, but I know making time to pick out the good will help me ride out the storm until it passes.

What are you grateful for today?

Why I’m making 2017 the year of gratitude

2017 mental health blogger UK gratitude

I’m always trying to be more mindful.

I’m getting better at it thanks to the odd yoga class and learning to put down my phone once in a while but of course, it’s all rather difficult.

Learning to count your blessings is difficult when you have depression. I feel empathy for complete strangers and bruise easily about causes which I don’t necessarily relate to my own life. I can feel heartbroken thinking about something I did year ago, and that inconsolable dread that accompanies my condition is sometimes hard to shake.

I’m slowly getting better though, and felt inspired when I stumbled across this post on Gurl.com and liked the idea of following the 52 weeks of gratitude challenge. Over the next year I’m aiming to write a short blog post each topic on a weekly basis as a way to document my journey of learning to be more grateful. Here’s the topic list in full if you want to join me….

52 weeks of gratitude mental health blogger UK

If you don’t blog then I think this is still a great tool to give you a writing prompt every week to reflect in your personal journal, or even just spend a few minutes peacefully reflecting on what you’re grateful for.

What do you think?