Back in Feb 2019 we launched our ‘There’s Kindness In All of Us’ campaign with the 12 Days of Kindness challenge on our social media platforms.
Given the current global situation there has never seemed like a better time to re-visit this challenge and make sure we are acting with kindness both to ourselves, to others and the environment.
Below are 12 tasks that can be practiced day to day. Some may need to be altered slightly depending on your current situation but all are achievable and hopefully act as a welcome distraction to the chaos.
Day 1: Pay it forward
What does that mean? In simple terms it’s the idea that as a beneficiary of a good deed you repay others instead of the original benefactor.
Why? Because it starts a chain reaction of generosity and compassion. It creates a moment of joy that can be mutually shared by both the giver and the receiver. It feels good to do a random act of kindness for another person. The receiver feels valued and is thus more inclined to do a similar good deed for another person. And the cycle of kindness begins.
There are several ways you can do this but perhaps one of the simplest ways of seeing it in action is paying for the next person’s coffee when you are getting your own. Or in the current climate perhaps it’s paying forward by complimenting the first three people you speak to today. Or maybe there is a way you can do it online, next time you are ordering something, perhaps ask the online store if you can purchase something extra for the next person that orders?
Day 2: Gratitude
We’ve said it before and you’ve maybe heard others banging on about it but does it actually help? The short answer is YES.
When you are going through a tough time it can be hard to find things to be grateful for but practicing it regularly has a tone of benefits.
It boasts your mood, increases well-being, can balance out negative thoughts and can make dealing with tough situations easier.
There has been plenty of research done to show the impact of gratitude, with neuroimaging studies showing positive brain changes in subjects that practiced gratitude regularly.
For the remaining 11 days of the challenge write down 3 things every day that you are grateful for. Whether you write them on a scrap piece a paper, your phone or a notebook. Make it a daily ritual.
Day 3: Go Outside. Leave the phone at home.
Respect social distancing and resist the temptation to take your phone, go on a walk and pay attention to the world around you.
Whether it’s 5 mins or 50 mins studies by the University of Michigan have proved that taking nature walks resulted in several mental health benefits: decreased stress, depression and anxiety and an improved sense of well-being.
It’s an opportunity to be mindful, taking in your surroundings and being present in the moment rather than worrying about things from the past or future.
Plus, walking is also known to trigger a creative boost in thinking which is helpful for all kinds of situations.
When you come back jot down 3 things you noticed while you were out or tell someone what you saw.
Day 4: Reconnect
Whilst right now you might not be able to do it in person, pick up the phone and get used to FaceTime.
Got a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages, simply because life got busy? Or when was the last time you called an elderly relative?
Social isolation and loneliness are the leading causes of depression in older Australians. Reaching out to an elderly relative or friend to reconnect can have such a positive impact.
Plus with years comes wisdom. There is lots we can learn from those older than us. Asking them Q’s like ‘what is your most cherished memory?’ Or ‘what events have had an impact on you?’ Are a good start to unlocking a meaningful conversation.
If it’s not an elderly relative, catch up with an old friend. Find out how they are, and take the time to reminisce about special memories you share together. If you can’t call, text hello or share an old photo of you together just to let them know you are thinking of them.
Day 5: Save water
The environment could use some kindness too.
Want to know the easiest way to save 80L a day or 29,200L a year?
Challenge yourself to a 4 min shower. An average shower is 8 mins and uses 20L a minute. Cut your time in half and you save 80L of water. You’re basically a superhero.
Set the timer on your phone before you get in the shower and see if you can scrub-a-dub-dub within 4 mins. Can you do it?
Day 6: Be a Cheerleader
We’re not talking pom poms and ‘Bring it on’, we mean offering words of encouragement when someone needs it most.
By providing your positive comments you can help build self confidence in others and enable them to achieve their goals.
Cheering on your fellow athlete at the gym is something we actively promote. Whilst we have to do this virtually for a while it’s still important.
Not at the gym? It doesn’t have to be exercise related it can be as simple as encouraging a friend or family member to reach their goal, whatever it might be.
Day 7: #take3forthesea (lake or river)
Another act of kindness for the environment because we all need the planet to stay healthy.
Thanks to the legend that is David Attenborough, we are all aware of the devastating effect plastic waste has on the ocean; with an estimated 8 million tonnes entering water ways every year.
#take3forthesea is a simple way to make a small contribution to a bigger issue.
Heading out for a walk this week? Make a conscious effect to pick up three items that don’t belong in our waters.
Although we encourage walks without a phone, if you do have it with you feel free to snap what you find.
AND make sure you practice good hand hygiene before and after collecting the waste.
Day 8: Stretch
We could all do with a little extra stretching in our lives.
Not only does it help increase your range of motion but it can also improve the quality of your sleep, increase blood circulation and reduce stress.
From 5 minutes to an hour, taking some time to incorporate stretching into your daily habits can help prepare your body for the pressures of the day.
When we launched this post on socials Sam demonstrated some great stretches for the hips, shoulders and neck, perfect for those that have a desk based role.
Check out the post here on our Instagram or attend one of our stretch and mobility classes at the gym.
On whatever surface is comfortable, get stretching and show those tight muscles some kindness.
Day 9: Meat Free Monday (or Tues, Wed, Thurs - whichever day this lands on!)
Those that know us will know how much we love meat with our meals but there’s no harm in mixing things up and going meat free for a day. It’s kind to the environment and it’s kind to your insides.
It’s recommended that you have at least 5 fruit and vegs portions a day to ensure optimal fibre intake to keep your tummy happy and keep you regular. .
Plus a colourful plate of veggies ensures you are consuming a varied spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
As for the environment, there has been a few studies done in recent years which indicate that a reduction in meat consumption will assist with the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions caused by meat production.
For inspiration check out vegetarian sections of taste.com.au (they even have ‘meat free Monday section) or if you have a favourite vegetarian meal share it with us in the comments.
Day 10: Write a thank you note
We’ve already touched on the benefits of gratitude and hopefully your still writing your daily grateful list but today we want you to take the time to write a hand-written thank you note.
It can be to a loved one or someone that you are grateful to, maybe a tutor/boss that encouraged you, or a friend that was there for you during a tough time. Write what you are thankful for and how their kindness impacted you.
Think this will be awkwardly received? Wrong! In an article featured in Psychology Today it was revealed that people often miscalculate how a heartfelt thank you note will be received. In the study recipients answered surveys after receiving thank you notes and the majority recorded being ecstatic, scoring 4.5 out of 5 whilst the senders believed the recipients would only score them 3.
Whether it’s a post it note left on the fridge or a letter that gets mailed, grab a pen and paper and start writing. Both you and the recipient will benefit.
Day 11: Gift an inspirational book
Ever read a book or listened to a podcast that changed your perspective on the world?
Give someone the gift of inspiration to see things differently.
The best thing about books or podcasts? There are millions of choices. From cook books, to fiction to real life stories, there is genuinely something for everyone.
Gift the book to someone you know or leave a note in the cover about what inspired you about this book and leave it in a community book exchange or simply share it with friends and family on your socials.
What books have inspired you or made you think differently? We’d love to hear about them.
Day 12: Self Reflection
Congratulations! You made it to the end of the #12daysofkindness. Thank you for following along and hopefully you have attempted at least one of the challenges and you can see that there’s kindness in all of us!
This last one is all about you and reflecting on the amazing human that you are.
Today’s challenge is to write 3 things that you like about yourself.
It’s often easier to think of the things you don’t like but we encourage you to take the time to reframe these and celebrate what you do like. To quote Shahroo Izadi ‘stop focusing on what’s wrong, focus on what’s strong.
Why? Because negative self talk can prohibit growth and change but showing yourself kindness can positively impact the achievement of goals.
Write them on a piece of paper or on your phone. However you do it keep it in a place that can be referred to when you need a reminder.