Home Mental Health & Well-Being How Looking After Your Mental Health Is Just as Important as Washing Your Hands

How Looking After Your Mental Health Is Just as Important as Washing Your Hands

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As it would appear, and until we have a vaccination, the current coronavirus crisis cannot and will not be defeated by force, but in the interim, we can defeat it by patience and kindness. 

COVID-19 has brought a direct seismic and devastating change, not just to our country, but to the whole world. But indirectly, COVID-19 has also brought to society’s attention how important and powerful being kind to others is. Coincidentally, as we enter the fourth month of the UK’s pandemic, it is also the national Mental Health Awareness Week, of which this year’s theme is Kindness.

Never has this country ‘joined hands’ with each other the way we have done since the outbreak. Never have we hoped and prayed for one another the way we have done since the outbreak. Never have we been kinder to one another. It is true that out of darkness comes light; and out of one of the darkest times this population will ever experience, the light shining through and guiding us out of the Coronavirus crisis is kindness.

The ‘helper’s high’

Being kind is an easy step to take to help cure mental illnesses like stress and anxiety; all possible side effects being experienced by people across the world because of the current coronavirus crisis. 

Have you ever noticed that when you do something nice for someone else, it makes you feel better too? That’s because doing kind things for others boosts your serotonin levels, the neurotransmitter responsible for feeling satisfied. Being kind also releases endorphins, the kind you feel after you exercise, and so improves your overall well-being. 

It might be that during the coronavirus crisis, more and more people than ever before may experience feelings of stress and anxiety. But again, being kind and helping others is key to relieving these negative feelings.

Being kind naturally focuses the mind on someone else, allowing you to experience and think about something not related to your own stressors in life or feelings of anxiety and apprehension. This experience of being ‘outside yourself’ can better equip you to handle your own stressful situations and to keep anxiety at bay. 

Kindness and addiction

We might all be experiencing the same COVID-19 storm, but we’re not all in the same boat. Kindness can help people from all walks of life.

To a person in the midst and darkness of a mental health disorder, to someone in active addiction, a compliment or simple act of kindness from a family member, friend or even a stranger can remind them that life is worth living. It could make them feel less invisible. You could save the life of an addict simply by being kind to them.

Kindness is a crucial part of anyone’s treatment for addictions. Maybe for the first time in their lives the gesture of taking time for themselves and checking into a treatment centre to treat their addiction is, by itself, a sign of kindness.

Being kind to yourself is taking care of yourself. Only then can one take care and be kind to others. Seeking treatment is about putting yourself first and protecting the most vulnerable and lost person in the room; ourselves. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be a good catalyst to assist being kind to ourselves. CBT is about retraining the way we think and behave to have healthier outcomes to our lives. So the motto – Think good, feel good – is really applicable within this context.

Addiction treatment programmes instil kindness into almost all aspects of therapy in order for the addict to achieve the following goals; be mindful; challenge negative thoughts; develop new cognitive skills; learn strategies to contain unpleasant feelings; explore ideas for changing behaviour; understand approaches to problem-solving; and, above all, accept and be kind to yourself.

Within the therapeutic field, all therapies convey kindness to self, as they assist in taking care of the individual.

These are some of the most common therapeutic interventions that can be found in residential treatment for addictions: 12 Step; acupuncture; art therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT); family therapy; sound therapy; meditation and mindfulness; motivational interviewing; music therapy; self-help groups; psychodynamic therapy; relapse prevention; yoga; dance therapy; drama therapy; individual psychological interventions (IPI); music therapy; psychosocial workshops; reflexology; Reiki. 

Kindness and recovery

For those who get the help they need for their addiction, for those who are treated for their addiction, support and encouragement from others is paramount to the success of their recovery. Acts of kindness can be an incredible way to support and encourage someone in their recovery journey. 

Similarly, an addict in recovery should be encouraged to also practice kindness to support their own recovery journey. Doing so is a reminder that their addiction does not define them, and that there is a kinder way to themselves and others to live life.

Everyone in recovery from addiction could benefit from kindness, and now during the coronavirus crisis, more than ever. Encouragement and support is key to getting through this pandemic together. 

To know that someone cares about you, to know that someone has taken the time to be kind when there is something much bigger happening in the world, means the world. 

Your mental health is just as important as washing your hands. Being mentally well means that you have enough resilience to manage your day-to-day life effectively, whether you are in recovery from addiction or not. Keeping yourself mentally positive during these difficult times can be challenging, but your mental health really is as important as washing your hands.

Taking care to prevent any feelings of unhappiness during the COVID-19 crisis will help boost your immune system and give you the best chance of staying healthy.

For more help, support and advice on ways to boost your mental health during this time, visit UKAT.


Image credit: Freepik

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg. He interviews people within psychology, mental health, and well-being on his YouTube channel, The DRH Show.

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