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Mental Health can affect anyone, any day of the year. Now more than ever, it’s so important to be kind to one another. The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 is kindness, so we’ve asked our leadership team what kindness means to them and their experiences of kindness.
Philippa Fieldhouse, Managing Director at Richmond Villages tells us what kindness means to her:
What does kindness mean to you?
Kindness is all about warmth, concern and care. It can be demonstrated in the small things such as a kind word, a smile or thanking people. It’s about opening your eyes and ears and really seeing and listening to others – actively thinking about what challenges people might be facing and where they may need help or just celebrating their success and giving a genuine compliment.
When was the last time you gave or experienced kindness? Or what acts of kindness have struck you, either during COVID or ‘normal’ life?
What’s struck me recently is how everyone is really taking care of and looking out for each other. There’s a feeling that we’re all in this together. Hearing about all the little acts of kindness on our daily calls – the sharing of positive messages and gifts has made me so proud. The team have forged such a strong bond during this crisis – and although it’s been a stressful time for lots of people, it’s also brought everyone together.
Many of our residents and families have felt the love and kindness across our villages too and we’ve seen an outpouring of their appreciation in compliments and messages we’ve received in recent weeks and months. It makes all the hard work worth it and I am so incredibly proud of everyone.
How do you try to be kind to yourself?
Kindness is also about taking good care of yourself. I’m an extrovert so it’s been difficult for me at times. Keeping in contact with people has been very important for my mental health and making sure that when I do catch up with people we’re not just talking about work, but about how we’re feeling. I’ve had some of the best open and honest conversations with my friends recently and of course lots of laughter – everyone’s been going out their way to check in with each other.
I’ve also been taking part in ‘family bingo’ – two words I never thought I’d say! One family member loves organising it – it’s hilarious and something everyone can get involved in, including my 80+ year old parents. It’s the sort of thing I’d love to keep going in future.
What advice would you give others this MHAW?
Mental Health Awareness Week is a time to reflect and think about kindness. Are you allowing yourself space to be kind to yourself? I encourage my team to take time out during the week for themselves, particularly now while everything is so full-on. Giving yourself time and space is crucial to maintaining positive wellbeing. If you’re in a bad place, it’s hard to be kind to other people. I find practising yoga helps me relax and focus on where I am. My local yoga group has been hosting sessions on Zoom, so it’s been great to be able to continue that during lockdown.
Forgiveness plays a big part in being kind to ourselves too. We’ve all had to make decisions quickly and under pressure and sometimes you reflect and think – was that the best position? Try to let go of any guilt or shame you’re feeling if you didn’t quite get it right. Just learn and move on. We’re all working in incredibly challenging times, and we won’t always get it right first time, and that’s okay. Remember to forgive yourself.
When this is over, I’m looking forward to meeting up with residents and staff to say thank you in person. A few words, no matter how small – a thank you for making the tea, can make all the difference to someone. But it’s not just about what you say or do but how you make that person feel. That is what kindness is all about.
Every day this week we will be sharing a blog post dedicated to Mental Health Awareness Week. Tomorrow, Martin Young, Head of Development at Richmond Villages, shares his thoughts on kindness.
Kindness quote of the day:
"Be kind and gentle with yourself. Acknowledge that you are just as deserving of the same love and care you lavish on others."