The Coronavirus outbreak doesn’t only cripple millions of lives financially and physically, but it also affects many people’s mental health. It doesn’t spare anyone regardless of race, caste, class, gender, age, or nationality. It instantly became the world's common enemy—a silent and invisible enemy that will attack you when you least expect it, especially if you're not following health and safety protocols.
That's how lethal and nerve-wracking this contagious virus is. Not to mention the impact it has had on the mind, making many paranoid and anxious. It has caused hopelessness for those who have lost their livelihoods. Those who have lost their loved ones to the virus are still grieving. But how can you properly grieve when you couldn’t have a proper farewell for your departed loved one? These are just a few of the reasons why deteriorating mental health is becoming a silent epidemic affecting millions of lives worldwide. .
Fortunately, there is an inexpensive way to boost someone's mental health. It is cheaper than any medication and therapy, which may cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars. What is it? The act of passing kindness onto others. It may be as simple as walking your neighbor's dog, leaving unused quarters at the laundromat, or giving away mental health awareness t-shirts to those who need to uplift their spirits. But is it effective? Let's find out in this article.
Imagine that you're living your life to the fullest, or that you're one of the lucky people who can get by day to day. You have a stable job, or you're doing well in school. You look forward to the weekends because this is when you hang out with your family and friends. You never miss any important holidays or birthdays because they mean instant family reunions. Paydays are synonymous with indulging yourself with a new shirt, trying out a new dish, or traveling to an unknown destination. Every morning you make time to walk your dog or jog at a nearby park.
Then the Coronavirus epidemic happens.
All of these things are "taken away" from you in a snap because of mandatory stay-at-home orders. Your movement is limited to buying essential goods. Your daily trip to the grocery store is now filled with dread because you're worried that you may catch the virus and spread it to your family on your way back home.
Social gatherings are prohibited. Recreational activities like traveling, shopping, partying, hiking, and any public outings aren’t allowed. Business establishments and schools are closed. Added to your list of concerns is job stability because other companies are cutting jobs or, worse, filing bankruptcy. It happened to them, so there is a possibility that it may happen to you too.
This chaos is happening worldwide, and no one is spared. It is unimaginable how a virus that is smaller than a human hair can do all this to us. It is like living in a post-apocalyptic world, where only the fittest can survive.
But how can you survive if everything is happening all at once? You want to do something about it, but the looming threat of a deadly and contagious virus is limiting all of your movements. One wrong move and it’s checkmate.
No data is needed to show just how impactful the COVID-19 pandemic is to mental health and well-being as you've probably witnessed and experienced the nightmare yourself.
As the saying goes, "Doing good does you good." The feeling of goodness you get is the same for the recipient of the kind gesture. If you're still skeptical about the health benefits of altruism and how much you can do, don't worry because kindness is teachable. According to Dr. Ritchie Davidson of the University of Wisconsin:
"It's kind of like weight training; we found that people can actually build up their compassion 'muscle' and respond to others' suffering with care and a desire to help."
The researchers at the University of Oxford conducted a sort of kindness training or experiment. They analyzed the psychological effects of seven-day kindness activities. What is the result? The study concludes:
"...that performing kindness activities for seven days increases happiness. In addition, we report a positive correlation between the number of kind acts and increases in happiness. Neither effect differed across the experimental groups, suggesting that kindness to strong ties, to weak ties, and to self, as well as observing acts of kindness, have equally positive effects on happiness."
Besides happiness, here are other benefits of performing, receiving, and observing acts of kindness, as enumerated by Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, United States:
What's more, you don't have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to get all of the health benefits outlined above. All you need to do is be kind to others.
Here are fun ways to perform acts of kindness even when you're on a budget:
In other words, be considerate and grateful to your server. It is as simple as making eye contact and smiling at them while they're serving you. If you’re feeling extremely generous, try leaving a big tip on the table.
This is the easiest way to reach out and help people worldwide. Join an online community that you enjoy or one that interests you. Answer questions, give feedback, or "like" the content of others. In this way, you will make members feel supported and appreciated even if you're miles away from each other.
This is relatively trivial, but sometimes we forget to do it because of our busy lives. Those two short phrases are enough to let someone know that you're thinking about them.
Do you know someone whose bank account is a bit strapped right now? Fill a box with essentials or random things that the recipient wants like healthy snacks, chocolates, stress relief candles, bagels, relaxation kits, or mental health awareness clothing. Bridge the social distance through these thoughtful care packages.
Since we still need to physically distance ourselves from our loved ones and friends, you can still boost their mood by ordering shirts for mental health awareness and sending them directly to their addresses. These mental health awareness t-shirts have messages such as "you are worthy," "focus on the good," and "treat yourself with kindness."
Performing random acts of kindness is a surefire and affordable way to improve one's mental health and well-being. Make a positive difference through sending a letter, running errands, calling a friend, leaving a box of doughnuts, or sending mental health awareness t-shirts. When you're kind to others, you're also kind to yourself in return. Your kindness helps make the world a happier place.
Kindness is contagious, so infect everyone with it! It is more viral and powerful than the invisible enemy we're up against. Together we can make a better world for all.