Kindness is easy to practice and good for you

Invest in mental health has been the message that has been going around lately especially with world mental health day celebrated on Saturday, October 10, 2020.  For us in Oman it was the webinar Be Kind by Whispers of Serenity that gave an in depth sharing of experiences from various individuals from Oman and abroad.

What I took home was an important aspect that was discussed by the speaker  Dr Mona Reda, Professor of Psychiatry, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.  What she spoke about the kind words spoken to us and the impact it can have.

According to her a kind word although it is auditory stimulation to our eardrums it affects our brain altering the way we feel.  That seems to be natural because the words have feelings and emotions attached to it and they are conditioned too.  But what she says next is even more interesting.

“These changes are done via neurotransmitters and hormones circulating throughout our body affecting our organs,” she said.

She asked us, “Still doubtful?”

She continued, “Remember when we passed an important exam and got the job of our dream (heart rate, respiration and muscle tone were skyrocketing.  And now what about when you lost a loved one?”

In my experience losing a loved one makes you carry the pain in the chest for almost ever until you find means to survive knowing very well accepting the situation is the only way to move on.  At the same time I remember the reactions of receiving good news.

And this is when she brought out the question – why be kind to others?  Many can ask – what is in it for me?

The answer is simple, she said, “You boost healthy hormones and neurotransmitters to your systems, which reduces stress, anxiety and depression.  It also connects with oneself.”

Now this is where I was reminded of the fact that we are always so busy with proving things that we often fail to connect with oneself.  Even when we feel bad we do not take time to ask yourself why we are feeling that way.  Most often we have answers for our own problems.  But as long as we disconnect from ourselves yet give importance to connecting only with others we will never find our true selves.  Spend some time with yourself and you will realise what an interesting person you are!

Meanwhile Dr Reda continued, “While being kind to others you will boost your self esteem.  You also upgrade your positive thinking.  You connect with loved ones and rewarding to oneself- sense of worthiness and value.”

I have noticed how important it is to have a sense of belonging because there are individuals who suffer silently as they feel lost.  And this is where being kind comes in.  Dr Reda explained that being kind warms up your feelings of belonging, flourish healthy relations and minimize interpersonal conflicts.

The ways to be kind, according to her – be understanding, avoid personalization, be logical and not emotional.

Now  I know for those of us who are blessed with emotions, logical thinking always comes a few seconds late almost as an afterthought.  But I suppose it can be trained too so we have hope.

Her tips are to read a positive thought or quote every morning something that is motivational or inspirational.  At the same time do good to people and most importantly spend time to meditate and relax to be clean oneself from negative charges.

The exciting part came when she gave some practical tips such as tagging a friend on a funny video because laughter helps reduce anxiety.

Here I remembered as children how we laugh easily for no reason and we are taught to control our urge to laugh out loud until we reach a stage where we forget to laugh.  But a good company is the one that makes us laugh no matter what stress we are going through and no matter what the age is.

Now pets are important too as she added, “Spend some time with a pet or volunteer at a shelter.  Say ‘no’ to social events that overwhelm you.  Enjoy 15 minutes of sunshine.  Take a walk with the family or play a game.”

Now this is important, “Take a break from social and meet real friends.  Stop sharing negativity on social media and donate items to charity instead of money.”

I am glad I could listen to her and other distinguished speakers.  Most importantly the easiest way to spread kindness – say something kind.  And the beauty is you can do it right now.