This week is Mental Health Awareness Week with the theme of kindness. Our lead Chaplain, Lucy McGrath, who is currently furloughed, has spent time reflecting on the importance of showing kindness to ourselves, as well as others, during these uncertain times:
“When I think about the work of our staff at YMCA DownsLink Group I can see that kindness can be found at the heart of what we do. Our frontline staff have demonstrated their ability to be imaginative, adaptable and resilient, working hard to make sure they can still provide the much needed support to the young people who access our services and live in our housing projects. Similarly, our back office staff have been equally creative, flexible and adaptable enabling frontline services to function. It is really amazing what is and has been taking place at YMCA DownsLink Group to ensure that young people are supported during this pandemic.
Around us in the world we see many examples of people going the extra mile, helping neighbours, supporting the vulnerable, and of course the health and care workers who are right up against it – working flat out in the midst of illness, death and immense grief.
Surrounded by so many examples of heroism, creativity, and resilience it can be very easy to give ourselves a hard time if our own experience is a real struggle. Maybe we are working to our limits and have a sense of purpose and value but at a cost of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted at times. Maybe we are furloughed and feeling a bit useless. Maybe we are struggling to manage work and small children, or even teenagers or older relatives. Maybe we live on our own and haven’t spoken to anyone in a few days. Maybe family life is anything but the Waltons and relationships are under huge strain.
Whatever our situation, kindness can help and it needs to include ourselves. Most of the major religions of the world encourage us to “Love our neighbour as ourselves”. Only you know what most helps you – perhaps making time consciously to do something you like doing or ringing a trusted person up for an offload. Whatever it is I hope each of us is making time for kindness to ourselves.
From a place of kindness to ourselves it is easier to be kind, showing kindness to others helps us as well as them. We may not be in a place to do heroic things but each of us has the power to be kind every day. It’s as simple as asking the next shopworker or delivery man how they are or giving someone a smile as you step onto the road to allow them to pass.
Coronavirus may be incredibly infectious, but I think the outpouring of kind acts all around us show that kindness is even more contagious, and that fills me with great hope that this pandemic is birthing a kinder world.”