Today is World Kindness Day. With all the hostility occurring around us, did you know such a thing existed? Every year on November 13th, people and groups around the world celebrate what it means to be kind. They also highlight how easy it is to accomplish kindness. Why does this matter? If you're caring for someone, why do simple acts of kindness matter all the more?
Individuals who are caring for a loved one in any capacity are drained. Our study, Modern Caregiving Challenges Facing U.S. Employees, found that 25% of the user activity in our solution surrounds self-care for the caregiver themselves. Symptoms of stress and strain may vary, depending on the severity of a situation at any given time. Ask any parent or an adult child who is taking care of their elderly loved one. They are tired, stressed, often sleep deprived, eating poorly, not exercising enough, skipping their own medical appointments, not connecting with peers, and overall putting themselves second, third or last. Statistics reveal that between 40% and 70% of family caregivers experience depression, isolation and loneliness.
Where does kindness play a role in caregiving? It's so simple. Last year at 55, my husband went through cancer treatment. While trying to work full time, raise two boys and care for him, the small acts of kindness around me were the only things that kept me sane. Small acts can immediately relieve some of the negative emotional, physical and mental issues noted above. Scientists have proven that kindness increases serotonin in the body, energy levels, happiness, and lifespan. It also has been proven to decrease pain, stress, anxiety, and blood pressure.
Here are a few very easy ways to show kindness to a caregiver in your life:
- Bring them dinner or a gift card for take out
- Send a note or text simply telling them that you care
- Show up at their house with rakes in the fall and snow shovels in the winter
- Watch their children for an hour or two
- Stock their freezer with meals
- Give an ear to simply listen
- Offer to pick up groceries or other items, while you're already out running errands
- Bring over their favorite box of tea, flowers, or other token
- Give a hug - a long one
- Remind them that taking a break is best for everyone
- Assure them that their feelings are OK
- Send them a podcast, which you feel may help and is easy to listen on-the-go
- Be patient with them and give them some compassionate "hall-passes"
- Say "I love you" when they least expect it.
Kindness doesn't require money, and often it doesn't require a lot of effort. It is doing something for someone else and not expecting anything in return. It is having sympathy, empathy, patience and understanding. It is simply being nice, lending a hand or sometimes just a smile. Take a moment today to realize how quick and easy you can turn around someone's day - or perhaps even more.