USE ‘KINDFULNESS’ THIS CHRISTMAS 1000 358 The Flyer Magazine



People respond to stress in various ways. Most people don’t develop long-standing mental health problems. However, a state of low wellbeing can lead to mental health problems if left unchecked. Poor mental health is where ability to cope with the everyday pressures of life, work productively or contribute to a community are reduced. A person’s ability to function is affected because it impacts on their emotions and thinking, and in turn their behaviours. If you know someone like this, give them extra time to chat and suggest they call 1737 to talk it through for free with a counselor anytime 24/7, or see their GP.

So, for those who you notice aren’t quite themselves, they may need a big dose of ‘kindfulness’ with your ‘G’day, how you going?’ Ask them, ‘How are you really?’, and listen for the response, giving your time, asking what would be helpful, reassuring them and encouraging them to seek further help if needed. Kind words or gestures might be all that is needed. There is also a ‘ripple’ effect of kindness from one person to another that naturally happens and it’s also physiologically good for us – stimulating feel-good hormones, lowering blood pressure and causing a relaxation response in us.

So, let’s follow through with being kind to ourselves and others this Christmas and into the New Year. Kindness is not just treats and a positive ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. It’s about giving time, our full attention and having patience with others, as well as offering our support. In order to do this we need to develop our awareness (mindfulness) to others, as well as our internal state. ‘Kindfulness’ is a combo of mindfulness and being kind with it. We can offer kindfulness to ourselves too. Many people find that offering kindness to others is easier than to ourselves, but we deserve it too to boost our wellbeing.

Kindfulness Tips

Slow down! When we’re rushing we miss things, are less patient, don’t notice others around us and don’t have time to let someone in the queue before us. Even leaving home a minute before you need to will allow you to cultivate patience
and be kinder.

Put away your phone when talking to people so that they have your full attention.

Don’t suggest they “harden up” or “suck it up” as this elevates the fight and flight part of our nervous system and makes us more tense and stressed.

Small things make a difference, such as phoning a friend you haven’t seen in a while or baking a cake for someone having a hard time.

Be kind to all kinds, even those who are not kind. It elevates our mood and will make them think – again the ripple effect.

Give others the benefit of the doubt. That person who just cut you up in traffic might be having a tough time. Thinking the best of everyone will increase your capacity for kindness.

Dr Kirsty Freeman, Registered Clinical Psychologist and Mindfulness Trainer.
[email protected]