As we all know, mental health is an important topic that is increasingly spoken about, with the latest evidence stating how 1 in 4 people will suffer from a form of mental health ‘issue’ at some point in their life. A few years ago, The New Economics Foundations came up with the ‘5 ways of wellbeing’, a project based on evidence that aims to increase a person’s wellbeing, quite simply by that person meeting each of the 5 suggested ways. The 5 areas are: Connect (i.e connect and communicate with others), Be Active (i.e to engage in more physical activity), Take Notice (i.e look at your surroundings and the little things in life), Learn (i.e a new fact, a language, or read) and finally Give (i.e to give back to others). I think these 5 areas are vastly important and are very achievable within a day-to-day routine and I understand why evidence has shown that those who meet these areas regularly report a better sense of wellbeing than those who do not meet these areas.
What I particularly want to write about is regarding the last element: GIVE. Research has acknowledged that people are more likely to be more giving around the festive period and for some strange reason, Christmas in England begins in September. In fact, I saw Christmas cards in the shops in August! This means that if we are more likely to give around the festive period, we should start now (It’s September today). Giving does not mean giving huge amounts of money, in fact it doesn’t have to involve money at all! To give just purely means to give back to society, to do something for someone other than yourself; a friend, family member, colleague, neighbour, stranger, anyone! Today, I release this blog which lists 22 ways to give, no matter how big or small, scary or easy. I do consider myself someone who is helpful and that I would do something for someone else in a given situation, from opening doors to carrying bags for my neighbour, but I recognise I don’t necessarily go out of my way to make sure I ‘do a good deed’ today. Though my new aim is to make sure I give back at least once a week, starting now.
It is really important to do something nice for someone else. Not only will you have done something nice for someone else that would have made their day, but you will also receive some small, internal reward, almost like a ‘pick-me-up’ and you will feel really good about yourself for doing something kind, hence why this has shown to positively contribute to wellbeing. However, it is important that I stress that it is NOT good to do something nice on the basis that now that you’ve done something nice, you can tell someone else what you did, like a Facebook status to announce ‘hey guys, I just donated my last £100 because I am such a great person’; you should just do that good deed for the pure benefit of that person and not for the added benefit of being able to portray a better perception of yourself to others. I recommend doing a good deed and not telling a soul, because that’s when you know you’re doing it just to be a great person! That said, it seems daunting to think of random nice things that you could do on a weekly or daily basis that will allow you to give back regularly without breaking the bank. Therefore, the purpose of this blog is to provide almost a written diary of positive things that I did very recently, with the aim of sharing ideas of things that WE as a society can do that can make positive differences to others around us and to our wellbeing. I hope that this following list gives you some ideas that you could copy or use as inspiration, I encourage you to challenge yourself to do something kind at least once during the next 7 days.
22 ways I gave:
1 – A friend of mine commented on how she loved one of my coats I barely wore, so I told her that she could be its new owner
2- I bought a friend a fresh cake from a bakery and a thank you card to say thanks for being a good friend
3 – The RSPCA received their monthly donation from me
4 – Cancer Research UK received their monthly donation from me
5 – I overheard a lady on the bus saying she didn’t have enough money for her bus fare, it was raining and rather than her scurrying around trying to find a cash point, I paid the rest of her ticket for her
6 – I offered my services my friend and helped with DIY at their new house
7 – I put away all of my nearby neighbours’ black bins so that they didn’t have to come and do it individually
8 – One of my nearby supermarkets were raising money for charity by rounding up everyone’s bill (after consent) by a few pence and I agreed to round up my bill
9 – I sent a friend some thoughtful birthday gifts and a card in the post
10 – I left some cake on my neighbour’s door step anonymously so that they could be pleasantly surprised (though they knocked on my door 2 days later to see if it was me)
11 – I saw that a young girl on the bus had 3 kids under 5 years of age, she was in the middle of feeding her newborn who was probably no older than 1-week when her 2 other kids were calling her to help them with their food and drink, I could see that she was busy feeding the newborn, so I asked her if she would like me to help with her other 2 little ones while she finished
12 – I signed up for the 10k MoRunning event for 6-weeks time in aid of the Movember Foundation which aims to spread awareness of Men’s health and to stop the number of men dying prematurely from prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention to name a few
13 – I called a friend to wish her luck for starting her new job
14 – I sent flowers to a relative after hearing the sad news of someone’s passing
15 – I act as a role model for children and young people across Bristol (most often in areas of deprivation) by delivering physical activity and nutrition sessions once a week, with the aim on inspiring them to live a healthier and more active lifestyle (paid)
16 – I gave 3 bin-bags worth of clothes and ornaments to my local charity shop
17 – I signed up to the ‘Shoe Box Appeal’ which is one of my favourite things to do in the build up to Christmas, this is where you use an old shoe box, wrap the cardboard in Christmas wrapping paper and fill the box with various gifts such as fun toys, hygiene items, school supplies, a photo of yourself if you choose so and more. You then take this to your nearest store (often a toy store) with £5 to cover flight costs and this gets sent to a child somewhere else in the world who is less fortunate. If you go online you can print a barcode for your box and in a few months’ time you will receive an email which tells you which country your box went to
18 – When my boyfriend is home late (which is literally every night) I cook dinner for him so that he can spend less time cooking and more time doing things he likes to do during his limited available time
19 – I always try to leave 1 nice, genuine comment a day on someone’s photo or status
20 – I knew some friends were looking for jobs / houses / cars etc so I looked for them in my spare time and emailed them a list to give them a head start
21 – I registered and set a date to give blood at my local blood bank
22 – I bought an item of food in the supermarket and put it in the food bank box
Thank you for reading. Whether you’re someone who already considers themselves a ‘giver’, or whether you’ve never really ‘given back’ before, I hope this has inspired you to do something nice for someone else tomorrow, this week or this month. That said, if you’re interested in creating your own shoe box appeal in time for this Christmas, you can do this through the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child. Also, if you’re in the UK and are interested (or know someone else who would be) in finding out more about giving blood, you can find out through the NHS’s blood donation site.
If you’re local to Bristol and are interested in giving back by giving your time, the NHS are regularly looking for volunteers who are willing to spend just a few hours per week (1-3) with sick or lonely patients on the wards and in the community, this can be found on the NHS’ website . Alternatively, you could find volunteering opportunities through Volunteer Bristol . Finally, there is a Facebook group and website called Helpfulpeeps, where people share their time, skills and knowledge to help each other for free.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – Ghandi
© 2017 Naomi Laws. All rights reserved.