Today we have a guest post from Abbey who is an Integrative Therapist based in SW London. She will be highlighting to us the importance of kindness and compassion to mental health.
This week is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK and the theme for 2020 is Kindness. Right now I think that kindness is an even more important topic than ever. Right now for many people everything is a little raw, and they’re feeling more sensitive than usual. The situation that we all find ourselves in now is unlike anything we’ve experienced before, and after a couple of months of being in this situation many of us are finding that our resources and our coping skills are not helping us as much as they used to.
This is where the importance of kindness comes in.
When we think of kindness most of us think of it as an action or a feeling that flows outwards, but it’s also an attitude and an action that we can direct inwards. If we were to bring some kindness and compassion to our thoughts about ourselves and the situation that we find ourselves in now, how might that change the way we feel?
Many of us already struggle with anxiety anyway, feeling like we are out of control and unable to stop worrying about situations or people. In situations like now that anxiety can grow even larger than normal and the benign occurrences become symptoms of a disease or illness. We start to experience intrusive thoughts about things that may happen to our families or loved ones.
The general advice given to people struggling with anxiety is to use cognitive behavioural tools to rationalise and put the feelings into perspective. Tips include challenging your thoughts by determining the actual likelihood of them occurring, reducing the number of times that you seek external reassurance and keeping yourself busy doing things that occupy your mind.
At times like these however, our levels of stress have increased to the degree that engaging in a rational debate with ourselves might feel impossible. Advice that might help in calmer times possibly may be too difficult to implement because their mind is racing with different scenarios. In the face of a pandemic, people with anxiety will most likely not just be worrying about themselves, but their family, children, neighbours and society around them.
Find self-care routines that suit you and your life style.
Life as normal isn’t going to exist for some time. In these trying times we would do well to prioritise both self-care and care-for-others. Bring that spirit of kindness and compassion to the way your treat yourself. Take the time out of your day to do something that you enjoy, make sure that you’re eating well and exercising regularly, even when you really don’t feel like it. Encourage your friends and neighbours to collaborate and build community. Lean on each other and learn from each other.
Since the start of the pandemic we have seen incredible acts of kindness flourishing, within our communities and across the worlds as people come together and support each other. Recognise that stress and anxiety are common experiences that we all share and that there are helpful and less helpful ways of dealing with these emotions.
Turn that process inwards as well.
When you notice that you’re criticising yourself or your feelings about something that’s happening, take a pause for a few moments and reflect. Would you speak to your friends or children that way? What might you be able to say to yourself that acknowledges that feeling? Even if the thought or feeling is inconvenient, is it trying to tell you something important? Get curious about it, rather than critical. Ask yourself what small act of kindness or reassurance you could perform for yourself that might resolve that feeling. We can change our whole experience of life just by treating ourselves with a bit of kindness. Try it and see!
Abbey Robb is an award winning Integrative Therapist based in SW London. She specialises in working with people who have chronic health conditions including autoimmune conditions, anxiety and trauma. She also assists with the running of a training school for therapists in London and strongly believes in the power of kindness and compassion. For more information about her work, including free morning meditation sessions and community workshops (run online) visit www.abbeyrobbtherapies.co.uk or follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/abbeyrobbtherapies
You can leave any questions below in the comments section or on Abbey’s website. Thanks for reading.
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