August 25-31 is National Be Kind To Humankind Week this year, and that means everyone should take the time to think of a few ways that being kind can make the world a better place to live in. During the global pandemic which confronts us all, everyone would benefit by extending several acts of kindness to their fellow man, just to demonstrate a little caring in Water Valley and elsewhere throughout the country. In the world of senior home care, it will be very easy for caregivers to extend a little more caring and a little more concern, and seniors themselves can be a bit more tolerant and appreciative of the care they receive. If we could create a pandemic of practicing kindness, the whole world would indeed be a much nicer place to live.
Empathy is the quality of being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to feel what they’re feeling, and to see the world from their point of view. Everyone would benefit by having a more empathetic attitude toward the people we come in contact with because it would undoubtedly cause us all to behave more charitably toward them. One of the biggest impacts of the coronavirus has been to isolate people to a greater extent, and this is especially true of seniors. Given the fact that seniors are the most vulnerable age group to be affected by the virus, there has been a greater need to isolate them and protect them from possible infection.
This can easily cause a situation of social dis-connectedness and a feeling of depression in seniors who are obliged to withdraw from socializing. Reaching out to seniors during this time of crisis can be an act of genuine kindness and caring, and it will almost certainly be much appreciated. Seniors who are able to connect with others during this pandemic will find that it provides a mechanism for controlling their emotions, and to avoid slipping into the trap of total withdrawal. There are lots of ways to practice being more empathetic, including listening attentively to others, doing service acts, and imagining yourself in their position.
Social distancing vs staying connected
Everyone, of course, is obliged to follow governmental guidelines for social distancing, and this is a good thing because it helps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, even while practicing social distancing it will be possible to stay connected with others, and this too is a good thing, because it prevents a senior from withdrawing into their own little shell and becoming isolated from the rest of the world. Social distancing does not mean that you have to be emotionally distant, and if you can remain engaged and involved with friends, family, and acquaintances, it will reduce the likelihood that you become depressed and stressed out over the pandemic situation.
Medical benefits of kindness
Believe it or not, there are actually some scientific reasons why practicing acts of kindness can be medically beneficial for you. Studies have shown that when humans perform an act of kindness or at least witness one, they invariably end up feeling better about themselves. The reason for this is well-grounded in science and physiology. When engaging in an act of kindness, the body releases a hormone known as oxytocin, which acts as a direct counterpoint to the stress hormone called cortisol.
This of course, reduces the level of stress you would ordinarily have been feeling, and it also has the effect of lowering your blood pressure. It can reduce the level of inflammation in your body, which is another major stressor, and it lowers the number of free radicals that are present in your cardiovascular system. Free radicals are responsible for causing significant damage to tissues in the body, and for promoting and accelerating the effects of aging. Thus, performing a simple act of kindness can contribute greatly to your own general health and sense of well-being.
Tips for practicing kindness
One of the first things to be aware of when practicing kindness toward others is recognizing those same acts when performed by others. If someone is kind to you in some way, show how grateful you are because they went out of their way to be nice to you. Understand that everyone will be affected by the pandemic in a different way, so have some compassion for what they may be feeling as a result of their specific circumstances.
When you feel compassion for others, that becomes a precursor for demonstrating acts of kindness toward them. Another thing you should keep in mind about practicing kindness is not to leave yourself out – you are deserving of some self-kindness yourself, and that means you shouldn’t be as hard on yourself as you may have been in the past. Don’t worry about being perfect, and instead cut yourself some slack, recognizing that your shortcomings are part of who you are, and that now is not the best time for self-improvement.